AT&T Named Worst Cell-Phone Service Provider by Consumer Magazine
Published on: 1st Jan 1970: 1:33am
AT&T is now the USA's worst-rated mobile network operator, according to a new survey of Consumer Reports readers. U.S. Cellular, a regional carrier that provides service in 26 states, beat out the long-standing top provider Verizon Wireless with outstanding marks for value, voice service and customer support.
In this year's version of an annual Consumer Reports survey on cell-phone carriers, more than 58,000 ConsumerReports subscribers weighed in about their service and customer support experiences with contract and no-contract providers.
AT&T was the only carrier whose scores for overall satisfaction dropped significantly since last year. Verizon Wireless remains among the better performers, but Sprint has pulled even with the carrier in overall satisfaction. The carrier actually even scored better than Verizon in some aspects of customer service, a remarkable turnaround from past years when that was a weak point for the company. T-Mobile was only slightly behind those two carriers in overall satisfaction.
More than half of the AT&T customers surveyed owned an iPhone, the Apple smart-phone that is currently available exclusively from the carrier. Consumer Reports data, reflecting all versions of the phone, found that iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their carrier and rated data service (Web and e-mail) lower than owners of smart phones on other carriers that, like the iPhone, have a host of apps to encourage heavy data use.
"Our survey suggests that an iPhone from Verizon Wireless, which is rumored, could indeed be good news for iPhone fans," said Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor for Consumer Reports.
One in five survey respondents also reported receiving an unexpectedly high cell-phone bill in the previous year, often for exceeding their plan's voice, text or data limits - an experience called "bill shock." Half of those respondents were hit for at least $50, and one in five for more than $100.
More than 90 percent of Consumer Reports survey respondents' phones were serviced under a contract. Those with no-contract cell-phone service said they made far fewer calls and rarely used data, and perhaps due to their simpler needs were more satisfied overall. Among no-contract service providers, Consumer Cellular scored highest for satisfaction followed by TracFone. AT&T GoPhone was the worst provider in this category receiving relatively low marks for value and voice service.
The full article also features carrier Ratings in 23 metropolitan markets and is in the January 2011 issue of Consumer Reports.