Consumer Reports: AT&T provides worst cell-phone service

AT&T provides the worst cell-phone service, according to a new survey of Consumer Reports readers.

U.S. Cellular, a regional carrier, beat out the long-standing top provider Verizon Wireless, Consumer Reports said in a news release Monday.

In this year’s version of an annual Consumer Reports survey on cell-phone carriers, more than 58,000 ConsumerReports.org subscribers participated, the release said.

AT&T was the only carrier whose scores for overall satisfaction dropped significantly since last year, Consumer Reports said.

Verizon Wireless remains among the better performers, but Sprint has pulled even with the carrier in overall satisfaction, the news release said.

Sprint scored better than Verizon in some aspects of customer service — a turnaround from past years when that was a weak point for the company, the release said. 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 release said. Consumer Reports found that iPhone owners were much less satisfied with their carrier. They rated data service (Web and email) lower than owners of smart phones on other carriers, the release said.

In response, AT&T released the following statement Tuesday:

“We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience. The fact is wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors.

“Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide. And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent — the equivalent of just one call in a thousand — of the industry leader.”

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

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250 comments Add your comment

at&t is terrible in nyc

December 6th, 2010
3:09 pm

i travel there often, so it’s not an option. and it’s also why i have a droid and not the iphone

primero!

PTC DAWG

December 6th, 2010
3:10 pm

I use AT&T…service works well, but other services do to. Sort of like buying soap…it all works.

Steve

December 6th, 2010
3:13 pm

This is truly no surprise. AT&T has gotten too bloated to give a crap about anything but its bottom line.

AJ

December 6th, 2010
3:14 pm

I have AT&T. The reception is fine, but the customer service and web support is as bad as it can be. You can either talk to someone with a very thick accent on the other side of the world who knows very little or try to navigate through their very retail-focused website. I sincerely hope some AT&T executives read these posts. My contract expires in a couple of months. Hello Verizon!

Kashi

December 6th, 2010
3:16 pm

AT&T is the worst service – I AGREE. I get tons of drop calls even in my apartment parking lot. Poor reception.

Dave

December 6th, 2010
3:16 pm

We have four users and Sprint saves us approx $150 per month (on their everything plan) over when we were with AT&T … we all have Droids and are very pleased with the Sprint experience.

Shannon

December 6th, 2010
3:18 pm

We will be switching to Verizon as soon as they have the iPhone. I’ve had so many dropped calls over the past two years, it’s pathetic. Now I remember why I dropped AT&T for Verizon years ago. If only Verizon had been smart enough to say “yes” to the iPhone in the first place!

Steve

December 6th, 2010
3:23 pm

ATT sucks! Their plans suck, their service sucks, their coverage sucks. I can be right next to a cell tower and have 1 bar on my iphone. They have no options with SMS packages… its either 1500 or 200… I send 500 or 600 texts a month… so what do I have to get.. the $15.00 per month package. What a rip.

jd

December 6th, 2010
3:23 pm

I agree with you Steve. I remember when they were Cellular One and how refreshing it was to finally have a cellphone company with employees who actually cared about helping their customers. It seems now that AT&T is all about the profits. They have too much going on to care about real service of their phones or the consumer.

partlycloudy

December 6th, 2010
3:23 pm

AT&T sucks big time. Less barns in more places should be the motto. When I lived in atlanta I had bellsouth which was great. AT&T outside of atlanta? Forget it and everything goes to voicemail.
Now verizon, wow, I’ve got it built into this computer and it is great. So I’m biding my time till verizon gets the iphone, then I jump ship and join up on verizon for cellular service.

partlycloudy

December 6th, 2010
3:24 pm

Oops make that bars………I just got back from the horse barn, LOL

not happy with AT&T

December 6th, 2010
3:27 pm

AT&T reception is poor. I receive no reception at my home, but friends with Verizon and Sprint receive good reception at my home. I am switiching this month!

Get It Right

December 6th, 2010
3:27 pm

I’ve got AT&T. Two of my kids have Verizon. I have had almost no dropped calls. The only problems I have is when I’m talking to one of the kids and their service drops the call.

Not My Real Name

December 6th, 2010
3:27 pm

Metro PCS is $40 per month. Call service is OK but there’s no such thing as customer service. I had to google to find out how to get a human on the phone.

Dana

December 6th, 2010
3:28 pm

AT&T might not be so bad if the company had better customer service…it doesn’t matter what country the representatives are located…all of them SUCK! THANK YOU VERIZON WIRELESS!!!!

Jodi

December 6th, 2010
3:30 pm

T-MOBILE!!!!! I can’t even get service at work or within 3 miles of my downtown job. So, its like I only have a cell phone early in the morning or at night.

ANW

December 6th, 2010
3:30 pm

Shannon, don’t forget you can’t use the phone and data simultaneously on Verizon due to their CDMA network. Their iPhone would mostly likely be CDMA-based as well, although there are rumors that it won’t be. So you would have to pick the lesser of two evils, lousy service or having to end a call to check an email or look up a movie time while on the phone! ARGHH!!!! Team iPhone!

Rocket

December 6th, 2010
3:34 pm

It’s my hope that another carrier will get the iphone..

Danny G

December 6th, 2010
3:34 pm

I have had Bellsouth, AT&T, Verizon, Nextel, and now Sprint. Sprint is the winner, especially with their good customer service.

TrafficHeadache

December 6th, 2010
3:36 pm

T-Mobile has been very good to me ever since I started (back when it was PowerTel and Voicestream). AT&T can send me all the mail circulars they want. I ain’t switchin’.

Big C

December 6th, 2010
3:37 pm

I have been with Sprint for over 12 years. Ups and downs, but I have been very happy for the last 3 years!

Brandon

December 6th, 2010
3:37 pm

I hope this story gets a billion comments and reads…. AT&T is BY FAR the worst service imaginable anywhere, and I plan to dip as soon as some other provider has rights to the iPhone. People have grown quite weary of AT&T’s excuses over the years, and it is incredible to go into their stores and listen to the silly things that their employess say to customers who complain. I had an experience where an old phone went out and they accused me of getting it wet (which didn’t happen). Several weeks later I was in the store again and heard them accusing an elderly lady of THE SAME THING WITH THE SAME PHONE. They insisted that the strip wouldn’t have a pink stripe if the phone hadn’t been wet… Well, how do you know that the strips aren’t defective? Maybe they are too sensitive to moisture changes in the air, or maybe the phones are. I felt really sorry for the lady as she plead her innocence, and I wanted to go tell her that they had accused me of the same thing earlier in the month… But I think I’ll just switch carriers, which will send the loudest message of all….

recruit1

December 6th, 2010
3:39 pm

I can’t believe there is a company with worse coverage than T-Mobile!!

joe

December 6th, 2010
3:39 pm

Used to have ATT, but couldn’t get reception in my house (near buckhead), so had not choice but to switch. Went with T-Mobile…have been satisfied with everything about them so far…FWIW.

Randell Stevenson

December 6th, 2010
3:39 pm

AT&T subscribers please continue to send me your money…We don’t care about you or surveys only when you pay. Also, we will continue to cut jobs and send them over seas. Thanks again…Randell

the real Old Gold

December 6th, 2010
3:42 pm

I dropped AT&T (Cingular) 8 years ago, when I lost out on a 4wheeler I had won on the radio when my service dropped out before I could give my info. I was in the middle of town when it happened. I switched to Sprint, which was good at first, but after the Nextel merge predictably got terrible. Verizon is the best. Service everywhere and a great selection of phones.

John

December 6th, 2010
3:45 pm

I had Verizon for 5 years with no isses whatsoever, then switched to AT&T so that I could get the iphone. I will sell my iphone the day my contract runs out and RUN back to Verizon. I’ve had mroe dropped calls in 6 months than I did during my 5 years with Verizon. I’ll be at a football game and have full bars and my friends on Verizon can text and surf the net on their phones, but my fancy iphone stalls out and does nothing. One of the worst decisions I’ve made in recent memory.

No signal

December 6th, 2010
3:45 pm

Both AT&T and Verizon spend billions advertising how good their service is but I can’t get a decent signal at my house or my Mothers.

james1

December 6th, 2010
3:47 pm

at&t is great where I live just too high tried net10 no coverage anywhere close too my house

Not like soap

December 6th, 2010
3:48 pm

Cell service is hardly like soap…it doesn’t always work. For example, my roommate has an IPhone with AT&T we live in Metro Atlanta (not in the boondocks) he doesn’t get service downstairs unless he goes outside of the house. I have T-Mobile and I can talk all over the house without having to freeze my beehonkus off. LOL! I am not surprised at all that AT&T is the worst, I already knew it!

buckhead benny

December 6th, 2010
3:51 pm

Yeah, but for what Verizon charges is insane-

for the all you talk minutes is like 119.99 a month- but since I have a blackberry they charge a hidden fee of $45.00 a month on top of that. If you use 411 which i do they kill you on that as well. Also, theres like another 60-70 charges a month on top of that.

I have a friend that recommended Metro PCS and I pay 66.00 dollars flat for the same service with no taxes and no surcharges. I was paying around 230.250.00 a month with Verizon same service.

The only catch is I don’t travel as much as i used to but if you go out of the metro areas which i did last month you have to buy roaming minutes so it may not be applicable just year for everyone..

A savings of 150 a month is a lot for a cell phone for the same exact service. when i went out of town i bought a 40 dollar roaming which was fine, but any major city which is only place i travel is fine.

also, for 2.99 I get unlimited 411 calls- fyi

Love my iPhone

December 6th, 2010
3:52 pm

I’ve had iPhone since they came out. Never a dropped call, perfect service not only in ATL and GA, but many states as I travel.

Customer Service, seldom need any, but I’ve always been pleased with it. I have unlimited data; love that XM radio app. I do not want to contemplate life with out it.

DebtFree!

December 6th, 2010
3:59 pm

we have been Sprint customers for over 7 years and they keep getting better. Used to have trouble w/ reception in the home, but with better technology, the problem solved itself. We’ve had some issues with customer service charging us for false data time that WAS NOT USED BY US, but magically that stopped happening at the same time that Verizon was going to pay out money to it’s consumers for false data charges! Ulitmately they reduced our bill by 25%, So overall, we’re happy. Pay $140/ month for 4 phones, voice and text only.

Pedro

December 6th, 2010
4:00 pm

Have had iphone for over a year, no problem, can surf and talk at the same time and web retrieval is VERY fast. AT&T has been good to me!

JT

December 6th, 2010
4:00 pm

I have never had a problem with AT&T. The reception for me is way better than Verizon ever was. My friends with other services receive texts and messages considerably slower than I, and often have dropped calls. I have used customer service on the phone and with the chat and both have been fine…and also several times I have spoken to someone that was right here in Atlanta. My only complaint is that the phone prices and be a little higher, but I would rather be able to make a call when I need to.

Can't wait!

December 6th, 2010
4:02 pm

I can’t wait for all the people to jump ship on AT&T and go to Verizon. My cell service will get way better. I have the iPhone and haven’t had any issues with dropped calls (except for the iPhone 4 bumper issue, and that has cleared up with my bumper). Customer service hours are pathetic but whenever I do get someone, they have always helped me.

Dropped Call

December 6th, 2010
4:03 pm

AT&T service consistently drops my calls all over Atlanta. The Vinings area where I work is particularly bad. South of Atlanta near Griffin also has terrible AT&T service. Ironically, at a second home in NW Habersham County, AT&T is the only service available, and it works much better than anywhere around Atlanta.

I’ve read estimates that 25% of AT&T customers will switch once Verizon offers the iPhone. I guess we’ll learn then if Verizon can plan their capacity a little better than AT&T. I’ll switch when Verizon offers the iPhone and service in northwest Habersham County. I’m guessing that will happen sooner or later. I am completely confident that Verizon could not be any worse than AT&T.

Old devil

December 6th, 2010
4:04 pm

I have been bought out twice. Started with Powertel, then Voicestream, now T-mobile. NONE of these companies have good customer service! ALL of them have dropped calls. Every time I go to Florida, I have crap for service. Went through Tate’s Hell National Forest in the panhandle of Fla., if our car breaks down, oh well, don’t expect to be able to call help. Luckily, our Honda is dependable. I have no idea which company has the best reception, service, phones, etc. I’m still just amazed that they exist…

Brad

December 6th, 2010
4:04 pm

Lousy reception in many parts of Atlanta, including my home.

TrickleDownStupid

December 6th, 2010
4:05 pm

They are the worst as far as cell phone and all other services. The customer service reps are complete jerks and they constantly make mistakes; without offering anything for the problems they have caused.

Allison

December 6th, 2010
4:05 pm

I have had Verizon since 1999! Love them! It’s awesome to be able to call them and have someone who is actually American and speaks good English! I tried switching over to AT&T a couple of years back….the customer service was horrible and I couldn’t understand a word the person was saying! I will stay with Verizon forever! They are a really great company!

DB

December 6th, 2010
4:06 pm

Our contract with AT&T expired on October 29th. That morning, we were at the Sprint store — whoohoo! No more AT&T, or, as my husband referred to it, “More Dropped Calls In More Places.” Even when I called them a few days before the expiration to give them a chance to keep my business and told them I was moving to Sprint and why (family data plan), they had no interest in keeping my business. With four of us, adding meaningful data on AT&T would have been $120 a month on TOP of already $150+. At Sprint, we got cool Droid phones, unlimited data and text, and for less than $190 a month. Happy campers!

Tim

December 6th, 2010
4:08 pm

Thank goodness our contract expires in a few months. My AT&T LG phone is slightly better than a couple of cans and string. Multiple problems with the hardware, but AT&T does not seem to give a rip. Looking foward to Verizon or Sprint. Several of my relatives also have the LG junk phone I have and are planning to switch.

Manny

December 6th, 2010
4:10 pm

Sprint is the best, 69.99 for unlimited text, web, data and free calls to every cell phone in America!!!! 450 to landlines, I am never changing service…last time I dropped a call was 4 months ago and that was only because it was storming very bad outside. I travel often and my Sprint HTC EVO and even my Nextel i1 works great!

Jai

December 6th, 2010
4:10 pm

Before you all go running to Verizon there are a couple of things you should consider….1) You can not take your AT&T iPhone and use it on Verizon, there not compatible. 2) I’m not sure if you guys have umlimited everything from AT&T but since its public statements AT&T may not be upbeat about losing its iPhone exclusivity, you can bet that the company is running scared. AT&T will use early-termination fees to squeeze every penny it can out of customers who jump to Verizon before their contract is up. 3) Many people believe that the Verizon iPhone experience will be better, simply because it’s on Verizon. But only time will tell. There’s no question that Verizon has benefited from AT&T’s troubles however the real test of the Verizon iPhone experience will be if the carrier has the capacity to handle a huge increase of data-hungry users (some estimates say that Verizon could add up to 13 million new customers in two years). Even if you have a strong signal with great penetration, you need enough back haul, which transmits traffic from the cell tower to the wired network. Capacity has been largely to blame for AT&T’s troubles over the past three years
iPhones, however, use much more data than your average AT&T handset. And because there are so many of them, they put a greater strain on the network than a basic handset that makes calls. So even though AT&T may have strong signal penetration in an area, it may not have the capacity to support so many iPhone users at one time. The same will be true for Verizon. Just because you have a great experience right now on a Verizon phone, doesn’t mean you’ll be pleased with an iPhone with either carrier. Let’s face it at the end of the day, your experience will depend on a variety of factors, including location, urban density, geography, and how many users are on the network at one time. If you live in a location where you currently have great Verizon coverage, you may have a great experience. But then again, you may not, you just have to wait and see!

map

December 6th, 2010
4:11 pm

I traveled cross country with an AT&T prepaid cell, and from Iowa to Utah, there was no service. A regular AT&T cell phone had service through those areas.

cm

December 6th, 2010
4:13 pm

Not excited about paying the premium price, but patiently waiting on the Verizon/iPhone marriage. Been with T-Mobile for a year now. Nice people, cheap rates but coverage sucks.

Michelle

December 6th, 2010
4:15 pm

I LOVE AT&T! I have no problems with them at all. I’ve been a customer since they were CINGULAR. I’ll never switch to another cell company. I had ‘GHETTO METRO’ for six months and switched and have been with AT&T since. I’m very satisfied with AT&T :)

cager

December 6th, 2010
4:16 pm

be careful what you wish for people…you think the network experience with att was bad; just wait until vzn gets the iphone and all the data usage that comes with it. they do not have a GSM network that can absorb the usage. and if all these people on here hate att so much, why then do they have 92 million users??

dbr13

December 6th, 2010
4:16 pm

I luv my Sprint phone (EVO) and service….