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…