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Consumer Confidential: Happy wireless customers, Netflix rules the Net, organic products' lawsuit

May 17, 2011 |  8:51 am

Monkpic Here's your I'll-take-you-there Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- So which carrier has the happiest wireless subscribers? The surprise answer: Sprint. The company, once last in customer satisfaction among the Big Four national providers, now has the happiest subscribers, along with longtime leader Verizon Wireless. The American Customer Satisfaction Index also shows declines in customer satisfaction at the other two big carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile USA. That comes as AT&T has agreed to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion in a deal that could close next year. Sprint and Verizon Wireless rate a 72 for customer satisfaction in the ACSI survey, which polled 8,000 households in the first quarter. For Sprint, that's a big jump from a score of 56 three years ago, while Verizon's score has been steady. ACSI gave AT&T a score of 66, down from 69 last year. T-Mobile's score was 70, down from 73 points last year.

-- It used to be that Web surfing accounted for the bulk of Internet access by most homes. Now it's movie and TV downloads. A study by network company Sandvine shows that Netflix movies and TV shows account for nearly 30% of traffic into homes during peak evening hours, compared with less than 17% for Web browsing. Only about a quarter of homes with broadband subscribe to Netflix, but watching movies and TV shows online takes up a lot of bandwidth compared with Web surfing, email and practically every other Internet activity except file sharing and videoconferencing. The number of Netflix customers is growing quickly, to 23.6 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada as of the end of March. 

-- If a product says it's organic, it better have plenty of organic ingredients. But a class-action lawsuit claims Hain Celestial Group misrepresents its Jason and Avalon Organics brand "personal care products" as organic when they actually contain less than 70% organic ingredients. In the suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Rosminah Brown says she purchased a Jason Ester-C Super-C Cleanser Facial Wash at Whole Foods. She says the front label of the product prominently stated that it was "Pure, Natural & Organic." But, she says, of the 19 ingredients listed, only one was actually organic. By the company's own admission, only aloe vera leaf gel is organic and it is not among the most prominent of the 19 ingredients, ranking ninth on the ingredient list, excluding water. State law requires that cosmetic products sold as organic must contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Sprint cellphone customers are getting satisfaction, according to a new survey. Credit: Reinhard Krause / Reuters