Personally, I think they are all pretty bad, but our friends over at Consumer Reports have released their annual report on wireless carriers. AT&T is at the bottom again this year, dropping another six points from its low-ranking standings from last year.
Wireless users were surveyed for all major companies, including U.S. Cellular, Sprint, Verizon, TMobile, and AT&T. U.S. Cellular was at the top of the list for user satisfaction, which included questions relating to customer service, voice and data service, problem resolution, and staff knowledge. AT&T, the only carrier for the iPhone (and AT&T reports that half of its mobile phone users are owners of iPhones) continues to claim that its network is 20% faster and can handle more load than any other network, but as most AT&T users know, “fast” is relative.
I am an AT&T customer, but only because switching carriers at this point would be a huge, expensive nightmare (gotta love those contracts that keep you trapped). I have been unhappy with the lack of coverage in places there should be coverage. I often find myself with no signal, yet AT&T claims “97% coverage in the United States.” I must live and visit the only 3% that isn’t covered, then (so far, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Colorado are the places I’m in the most, and often have sketchy coverage).
But in addition to decent coverage and data plans, which most of us expect, when we have a problem we want to be able to resolve it. Poor customer service and lack of staff knowledge are killers when it comes to making customers happy. Fortunately, I’ve not needed customer service often, but I, too, don’t always get the answers I need in a timely manner. That can be frustrating and time-consuming, and time is one of those commodities not too many of us are willing to waste.
Verizon is still rumored to be getting the iPhone in early 2011, which may force AT&T to up their game to keep current customers, as well as get new ones (right now AT&T adds up to 2.6 million customers each quarter). But then again, if the customer service and satisfaction isn’t there, there’s no reason to change in the first place.