December 16, 1996
CONTACT: Eric Rabe of Bell Atlantic, 215-963-6531, or
e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Susan Kraus of NYNEX, 212-395-0500,
or e-mail, notes.skraus@
Be Wary of Service Comparisons Between Major Local Telephone Companies
Various news accounts have cited a Federal
Communications Commission survey of the quality of local
telephone service, and have drawn conclusions about the
relative quality and long-term trends in the service of Bell
Atlantic and NYNEX.
Some opponents of the Bell Atlantic -- NYNEX merger
have cited this study as well.
News editors should be aware of a basic problem
with drawing comparisons from the FCC survey results:
The FCC itself notes that the findings should not
be used to compare the service of one company to another's
because the companies use different standards when they make
their reports to the Commission. Furthermore, the FCC warns
that the data are not even reliable for a single company
over time because the companies have changed survey
techniques and the questions themselves.
Here are some of the disclaimers from the preface
of the FCC's "Update on Quality of Service for the Local
Operating Companies" (March 1996):
-- Maximum and minimum values ... suggest possible
internal differences in data collection and processing (page
-- In evaluating the data one should first note
that the FCC itself does not impose standards ... one should
be cautious in making premature judgments (page 1O).
-- One should be aware of the potential pitfalls
in using of (sic) the quality-of-service data presented here
-- ... Although the Commission has attempted to
standardize the data requirements among reporting companies,
one should not be lulled into the assumption that comparable
data items for different companies are exactly the same.
Different companies may have different procedures for
collecting and presenting the data that may affect the
quality and meaning of the data provided to the
Commission... caution should be exercised when attempting to
make direct comparisons ....
Relating to this is the problem of continuity of
measurement ... the companies themselves periodically wish
to change their internal measurement procedures from which
regulatory data are drawn, adding difficulty to long-term
measurement (page 15).
If the FCC cautions against the comparability of
the data in its own service quality report, what's a
journalist to do? There are other, independently conducted
surveys that go directly to customers to measure their
perceptions of products and services, asking them a standard
set of questions.
"Fortune" reported on one such survey in its
December 11, 1995 issue.
Referring to "one of the most comprehensive
customer satisfaction studies ever done," the article,
Americans Can't Get No Satisfaction, discussed the findings
of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a joint project
of the University of Michigan business school and the
American Society for Quality Control. According to Fortune
"It is based on a random sample of the actual users of 3,900
products and services ... statistically significant and
representative of national trends ... Roughly 30,000 people
participated in the telephone surveys in each of two years;
every company was assessed on its products and services
around 250 times ... Each score is a weighted average
derived from an econometric model of consumers' responses to
17 questions rated on a scale of one to ten ...."
For all products and services, the survey found
that the 1995 national satisfaction average was 73.7, down
1.1 percent from 1994. For the record, these were the
results for local telecommunications service:
|Bell South||83||No change|
NYNEX is a global communications and media
corporation that provides a full range of services in the
northeastern United States and high-growth markets around
the world, including the United Kingdom, Thailand,
Gibraltar, Greece, Indonesia, the Philippines, Poland,
Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The corporation is a leader
in telecommunications, wireless communications, directory
publishing and video entertainment and information services.
NYNEX is also managing sponsor of FLAG -- Fiberoptic Link Around
the Globe -- the world's longest undersea fiber optic
FAX copies of recent NYNEX news releases are
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