On March 27, Consumer Reports announced the results of its "TV reliability" survey and stated that it is removing its "recommended" designation from select televisions.
VIZIO was included in the survey and has been inaccurately represented. "We at VIZIO strongly disagree with Consumer Reports' results, which are inconsistent with actual VIZIO data, and it is disappointing that Consumer Reports has chosen to allow the results of a deeply flawed survey to impact the overall assessment of our products," says Scott Patten, SVP of Operations and Tech Support. Rather than provide meaningful insights, Consumer Reports' announcement threatens to mislead consumers about the likelihood they will encounter problems with their TVs in the future.
According to Consumer Reports, it asked respondents who purchased TVs between 2010 – 2018 whether their TVs "broke or stopped working as they should." Consumer Reports provides no context, no definitions, and no further information to help consumers understand the question; instead, it conflates or confuses the idea of "breakage" with minor frustrations such as Internet disruptions or third-party streaming services that failed to load quickly. Consumer Reports states that the most common problem reported was "inconsistent Internet connectivity" – an issue that may have more to do with a home's Internet environment, ISP or other factors not actually attributable to the TV itself.
Consumer Reports' survey is not clear on whether its reliability rating refers to operability or usability. It inherently assumes that TVs from 2010 should behave the same as TVs today in terms of performance. Over the survey period, TVs have evolved from relatively static non-Internet connected hardware to connected devices reliant upon software integrations and other technological innovations. The applications (apps) on connected TVs are dependent on a multitude of third-party service providers. The number of variables involved in the performance of connected TVs is greater than for non-connected TVs. Yet, Consumer Reports' survey does not account for this, meaning that a TV maker like VIZIO, which has traditionally had a higher concentration of Smart TVs across its lineup would be represented differently than other brands in the survey.
Consumer Reports chose not to collect data on the causes of problems or even their symptoms, or the percentage of total TVs that were connected vs. non-connected, and it freely acknowledges that the "survey didn't reveal what sorts of problems developed with televisions from specific brands." Due to this flawed method, if TVs from one brand experienced a total failure in operation, while other TV brands had more frequent, but temporary issues like slower-than-expected Internet connectivity or poor cable or satellite service (all U.S. cable consumers were forced to migrate to HDMI cable boxes throughout this period), the brands with temporary issues would be rated lower than brands with total failures. Consequently, Consumer Reports' survey is not helpful in understanding the nature of the problems or even which problems are encountered more commonly with some brands than others.
Consumer Reports' survey skews toward a narrow demographic that is not representative of the entire purchasing public, and the frustrations encountered with modern, connected devices may be attributed to difficulties adapting to, and a misunderstanding of, newer technologies.
For its part, VIZIO was among the first TV makers in America to emphatically embrace new technologies like smart functionality, full array local dimming, and faster refresh rates, while also driving widespread adoption or larger size TVs. VIZIO regularly releases new software updates to its connected TVs and commonly enables new features to be backward compatible. VIZIO's commitment to improving the customer experience, even after the purchase is made, is an example of our ongoing commitment to provide our customers with the best possible value. Because of these efforts, VIZIO may now be disproportionately punished by Consumer Reports' shortsighted view of reliability.
VIZIO requested more information from Consumer Reports about its methodology and results, but Consumer Reports declined, explaining instead that it may be willing to license its data at a later date for a fee. So, while Consumer Reports may feel its results "provide an opportunity for manufacturers to step up," it does not yet appear to be wiling to share the details of its results with those manufacturers. What remains is an unreliable survey, used to make nonsensical predictions about the "reliability" of future TVs.
Consumer Reports chose not to include VIZIO's complete response to their survey in their article. Had they included it, consumers would have been forwarned to scrutinize Consumer Reports' methodology and results, and also take VIZIO's complete comments into consideration as noted below:
VIZIO strongly disagrees with Consumer Reports' reliability rating. As a leading HDTV brand in the U.S., VIZIO takes product reliability and customer satisfaction seriously. VIZIO's mission is to deliver the best, most reliable products with the most relevant features at the best price for consumers, and we have been largely successful in that. The CR rating appears based on ambiguous survey questions that inherently conflate "breakage" with potential operability issues that may be the result of subjective opinion, misunderstanding or performance interruptions that are not fairly attributable to the TV itself. Critically, the data from CR sharply diverges from our own. A recent consumer survey revealed that VIZIO has a 3-year averaged recommendation rate above 80% among those who own a VIZIO TV. We enjoy a customer satisfaction rating of nearly 90% and are proud of the consistent 4- and 5-star reviews from VIZIO owners all over the country. Moreover, VIZIO has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has won numerous awards for its customer service efforts, including 20 Stevie Awards for sales and customer service in 2019 alone and over 100 awards since 2012. While we continue to investigate CR's results (as best we can with the limited information provided to us), VIZIO nevertheless feels confident in the quality, performance, reliability and support of our products. To learn more visit us at www.vizio.com.
In view of the above, VIZIO requests that Consumer Reports take the following actions: disclose the entire methodology for its survey; publish VIZIO's full comments; and rescind its decision to include the fatally flawed "reliability" data in its overall TV scores. These steps are prudent and necessary if Consumer Reports hopes to maintain transparency and trust with its readership. In the meantime, VIZIO will continue to embrace new technologies and pursue its mission to deliver the best most reliable products at an incredible value.