By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 12, 2010

Consumer Reports ranks its stores above the rest despite high prices and limited selection

You might think that the best place to buy a cell phone is from the store that has the biggest selection or the lowest price or a connection to the carrier you’ll be using.

But you would be wrong, according to the June issue of Consumer Reports. Based on a survey of 11,000 online subscribers, the magazine gave its highest marks (86 out of 100) to Apple’s (AAPL) retail outlets, even though Apple’s prices were high and their selection extremely limited: at the Apple Store, it’s the iPhone or nothing at all.

What impressed the respondents was the quality of Apple’s customer service and its relatively painless activation and checkout procedures.

Best Buy (BBY) got top marks for phone selection and better-than-average scores for price and customer service. Costco (COST) and Wal-Mart (WMT) were singled out for their low prices.

The article is available online here. To get the chart, you need a subscription.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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