Thursday, October 13, 2011

So you didn’t stay up until nearly 3:00 am last Friday morning to pre-order your iPhone 4S like I did, huh? Well, you missed out on all the fun! So there you are contemplating if you should go stand in lines Friday at one of the three cellular carriers or at the Apple Store. What to do? If you’re thinking, ‘No way I’m standing for hours only to be told there are none left,’ then you have the online alternative. BUT, which one should you go with? Best Buy? Radio Shack? AT&T? Verizon? Sprint? Take a look at STELLAService found before making your next click below and do it the easy way!

View Press Release »

New York City (October 13, 2011) – For consumers seeking to avoid lines by purchasing the iPhone 4S online, a report out today says Apple.com is hands down the best choice over the four other online resellers thanks to its consumer-friendly services and policies, including the superior quality of its customer service phone support and its expansive AppleCare+ warranty program.

“Apple.com outperformed its reseller partners hands down when it comes to customer service, and we found no reason that consumers should look anywhere else,” said STELLAService co-founder and CEO Jordy Leiser. “With pricing for the iPhone 4S uniform across all online sellers, the overall quality of customer service should be the deciding factor in choosing where to buy the iPhone 4S online”

For the report, STELLAService looked at the five retailers and carriers offering the iPhone 4S online – Apple.com, BestBuy.com, VerizonWireless.com, ATT.com, and Sprint.com. In addition to evaluating key policies and features, such as return and warranty policies, STELLAService rated the quality of customer service phone support by placing ten phone calls to each retailer and asking ten questions — from how to buy insurance to how to change a pass code lock.

Dedicated to helping consumers make more informed buying decisions, STELLAService is an independent company that leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate online retailers across more than 350 customer service metrics, including shipping, returns, and customer support.

Leiser said STELLAService conducted the study to provide consumers with clear guidance in light of unclear policies, misinformation, rumors, and scams relating to online retailers selling Apple products. Leiser points out that Apple.com, which provides a list of authorized online resellers for its popular products, such as the iPod and iPad, does not provide a list of authorized online sellers for the iPhone.

Other findings from the study include

To evaluate the quality of customer service phone support, STELLAService rated each seller based on factors such as product knowledge, issue resolution, and overall tone and attitude of the customer support representatives. Apple.com’s representatives earned the highest score overall (4 out of 5), significantly outpacing others when it came to their ability to address questions (4.4 for Apple vs. 3.6 for AT&T and Verizon). STELLAService said the average customer service quality score for consumer electronics retailers was 3.7.
While BestBuy.com allows customers to purchase the iPhone 4S online, it does not offer shipping and delivery. As of the days leading up to the iPhone 4S release, customers could only pick-up the product in stores.
Apple.com’s AppleCare+ warranty program is by far the most cost-effective. Even though it does not cover loss and theft, the monthly fees and deductions for BestBuy’s Geek Squad and AT&T’s and Verizon’s Asurion warranties come close to the cost of buying a completely a new iPhone.
Apple.com and BestBuy.com offer the most generous return window for a refund (30 days) versus 14 days for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon
Apple.com and BestBuy.com do not charge customers for returning an iPhone 4S, while AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon each have a $35 restocking fee.
AT&T is only online seller that does not allow customers to trade-in old phones by mail. AT&T customers can only trade-in phones in-store.

About STELLAService
Dedicated to helping consumers make more informed online shopping decisions, STELLAService is the first and only independent provider of customer service ratings for online retailers. The company leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate each site undercover, ensuring findings that are unbiased and true to the shopping experience. STELLAService has been profiled in Advertising Age (“STELLAService strives to give e-tailers credibility”) and its data has been featured in outlets such as Time, SmartMoney, Consumerist, and CBS Money Watch . Based in New York City, the company also publishes reports and other research to help companies worldwide improve their service operations. For more information, visit http://www.STELLAService.com. Follow us on Twitter at @STELLAService. Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/STELLAService


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