Notions of customer value of service have become increasingly important in utility resource planning, capacity expansion and rate making. In order to design and implement value of service policies, utilities have come to rely upon a variety of customer surveys. Unfortunately, theoretical and empirical analysis suggests that responses to such surveys may be seriously distorted by 'status quo' effects. Using both regression and choice-theoretic frameworks, we empirically investigate whether status quo effects arise in a contingent valuation survey addressing the value of service reliability for residential customers. We find substantial status quo effects, which must be explicitly understood and addressed. Copyright © 1990 Published by Elsevier B.V.