Consumer Reports ranks AT&T last among US carriers, Verizon first


Some things never change, and for AT&T that’s not a good thing. For what seems like the hundredth year in a rowConsumer Reports has placed the carrier at the bottom of the pack when it comes to overall customer satisfaction. Verizon, a company that typically places at or near the top of the magazine’s yearly rankings, bested the competition.

Interestingly, however, AT&T’s 4G LTE offering was ranked higher than Verizon’s, despite the former’s smaller network footprint. But it wasn’t enough to pull AT&T up from the bottom, as taking all voice and data offerings into account consumers just haven’t been all that satisfied with what the carrier is providing.

An emerging trend is consumer interest in smaller carriers such as Straight Talk and Virgin Mobile, which provide pre-paid options that can save consumers a good chunk of change each month. Devices available with these networks are starting to match the appeal of those available from the major four US service providers. Paul Reynolds of Consumer Reports points out that customers can often save even more money by pairing an out-of-contract device from a major carrier to a more affordable pre-paid plan.

The shift in attitudes about smartphone plans comes at a time when major carriers continue to lag behind consumer demand. The stronghold of carriers like Verizon and AT&T on the US mobile market will loosen as consumers search for better deals on monthly service.

It’s been said a million times, but the big carriers need to adapt to what customers demand now rather than attempt to mandate the way the market will run. There’s your free advice, AT&T. Mix that up with a bit of quality customer service and maybe we won’t have to see you at the bottom of Consumer Report’s list next year.

[via AllThingsD]

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  1. Straight Talk is great. ONLY wish they were more firm about that 2 GB thing, but w/e. Not a huge deal.

    1. No LTE with them either.

      1. I’m already OVER the LTE hype. HSPA+ is were it is at. LTE is not a good user-experience. Battery SUCKS except for huge phones or the iPhone 5. HSPA+ > LTE imo.

        1. That must be why sprint and at&t are rolling out LTE on their network and t-mobile is supposed to roll out LTE-advance next year….Yeah I would say LTE sucks….give me a break…I don’t agree with their prices but vzw LTE is very fast….oh by the way I’m locked into a unlimited data plan….

          1. in the future LTE will be better, but today HSPA+ is the winner for me

          2. I gave up my Unlimited LTE for Unlimited HSPA+. 2 Months later? Still the same feeling.

        2. Agreed, aftering using Verizon LTE and Tmobile HSPA+ I’ll take HSPA any day.

  2. I have Verizon for mobile but at&t for u-verse Internet. I have been VERY unsatisfied with at&t. They sent me a free modem upgrade but then charged me for it AND added dsl service to my fax line that I never ordered so I had two dsl charges for several months. The first three times I called, I got foreign customer service that refused to remove the charges and gave me the run around. They won’t get off the phone until u say they’ve answered ur questions and I seriously had this lady repeat the question about 20 times because I kept saying no but she refused to transfer me to anyone although I kept saying I’m not satisfied and I want to speak to her boss. About my 5th call I finally got an American that fixed everything and credited me for the overcharges. That is insane! Horrible horrible service at at&t.

    1. I think it depends on where you are and all of you should say where you are when you comment about your service. On Long Island in Eastern Nassau Cty there is no LTE for AT&T but the 4G HSPA (6 sec to bring up on Iphone 5) blows away my VZW Blackberry Storm2 (3 mimutes w/o Wifi and 20 seconds with Wifi). I am moving to Southeast FL, west of the FL Tpke, and the ATT coverage map shows great LTE coverage in West Boynton but the VZW shows none. If you have to fall back onto HSPA for whatever reason, ATT blows away VZW and I am, until I switch w/ my new Note 2, a VZW customer.

      I never trust Consumer Reports and surveys take time to develop and in the last 6 months ATT grew their LTE Network substantially. So, you knows how relevant this survey is. Yes, there are more VZW LTE cities but in my area, although there is LTE in Long Island, the drop down service is pathetic. When hurricane Sandy hit, using my cell phone which isn’t LTE was dreadful and would have been lots better with ATT. Now with the huge ATT presence in Southeast FL, chosing it is a no brainer.

      1. Not necessarily, my AT&T work phone went down for a few days, no signal at all. During sandy any cellular phone access was an accomplishment.

  3. No surprise here att Sucks

  4. If better voice quality and faster data speeds lands them in last place, then good for me. I’m glad I got rid of Verizon for AT&T.

    1. What do you get on. AT&T. I’ve maxed out at 40 Mbps down and 25 up on Verizon.

      1. I’ve only been with them for a month. Highest I’ve gotten on Verizon in the past 6 months is 10.87/6.30. On Black Friday with AT&T, in the middle of the crowds in Macy’s, I got 28.21/13.74… and the lowest I’ve gotten was 17.80/6.08.

  5. Never had a single issue with AT&T since they merged with Cingular. Good price, great service, great phone selection. What else could one ask for?

    1. I never have either… I don’t see what people’s problem is. It’ll be even better when my N4 gets here in 4-5 weeks.

      1. or 4-5 months… just kidding… but maybe not with how that’s been going. ;-)

      2. I think it depends on where you live. Here in Austin ATT service is rock solid, but I have traveled to other parts of the country and I wanted to pull my hair out.

  6. After moving to AT&T’s LTE I have been in love. Had to go back to their HSPA+ for two weeks and I remember how god awful their network can be.

    1. I used their LTE network for 6 or so months and it worked just fine, and now I’m on their hspa+ with the Nexus 4 and it works just as well. Only difference is download speeds, though hspa+ is plenty fast enough for me to stream netflix and google music.

  7. People can hate all they want, but I’ll be enjoying my Nexus 4 with AT&T.
    Remember, Verizon screwed you all on Nexus products.

      1. The updates are released to the verizon gnex much (if at all) later than the normal gnex.

        1. Yep. Still waiting on the damn image file for 4.2 to even make it on the Android Site for my VZ Galaxy Nexus. Every GSM phone got it the day 4.2 was released. Utter bullshit.

      2. By wanting to control them and slowing down updates.

      3. they practically faught with google on every single aspect of the nexus from release date, to updates times, to google wallet. Google got fed up and is not offering a CDMA nexus this year. Verizon messed it up for us sprint users as well.

        1. CDMA devices just don’t work well for Nexus devices. They slow down the update process (Sprint was late too, just not as late as Verizon). Once Verizon is pure LTE (Sprint uses embedded SIM’s for LTE, so you’re still screwed), there may again be hope for a Verizon Nexus, but I’m not holding my breath.

          1. Yea cdma has slower updates. But slower is still better than everything else. Plenty of people would pay extra for an LTE version. Google just didn’t feel like dealing with it.

    1. Have fun getting your walls(and wallet)banged out by AT&T. I live in CT on tmoble and I average 20 mbps when I’m out doors not even in a city. I pay $60 bucks a month for unlimited everything plus great service NO CAPS, here let me repeat that NO CAPS! Iam already past 9 gigs this month on my data plan from just streaming music and videos. How much extra money will that cost your measly 2 gig data capped plan? Have fun and I advise you give AT&T some KY jelly the next time you bend over to pay. LoL!!

      1. $60 a month for unlimited everything? if its possible to get such a price i’d switch today from metroPCS. is this one of their BYOD plans?

        1. BYOD on Straight Talk, can pick either tmobile or AT&T service. $50 a month unlimited everything, HSPA+ data only but I get 11mbits down in Madison, Wi via T-mobile.

      2. Amen

  8. My friend is on at &t, his HTC one x stopped working after having the phone for 2 1/2 weeks. He took the phone in for a replacement, they were out of stock of the one x. My friend said well can I upgrade to the one x plus since you do have that phone. They said no. So he called the corporate office and they told him he could do that. He goes back to the store, corporate store mind you, they told him that they needed a manager password to even do it and they could not do it……. Glad I am on Verizon, at least they try to help most of the time….
    Keep in mind he was going to pay another $100.00 bucks for the upgrade too.

  9. makes perfect sense. I hated ATT before, during and after Cingular. Horrible.

  10. What blows me away is that Sprint is only 1 point behind Verizon.

    1. Although I’ve never had Sprint I was impressed with their customer service at store. Although I did tell them I was thinking about leaving VZW for them, they were helpful and seemed to care, unlike AT&T, who got the same story. If I wasn’t worried about Sprint’s coverage in my girl’s hometown, I’d be with them.

    2. I’ve had some excellent CS from Sprint. Recently my Airave quit working after a year and I contacted the CS people for that product. Talked to a nice lady in Dallas who had me do some cable switching and power cycles and when it was determined I needed a replacement, it was there in 3 days and I was back in business.

    3. You have to understand that customer satisfaction is based on their expectations. A Sprint or T-Mobile customer understands they’re paying less and may not get the coverage of a Verizon or AT&T, but are still satisfied with their total package. A good or bad customer service experience can be the only thing that tips people one way or another. Another factor is history. A bad customer experience, such as when AT&T had its growing pains with the iPhone, can remain in people’s memories long after the problem is solved.

      Verizon’s coming out on top is quite impressive since it’s reasonable their customers have very high expectations

    4. Right? Sprint is TERRIBLE. At least here. I switched to Verizon after 8 years of Sprint. I never want to go back.

  11. I was dating between them and Verizon for my next carrier, but the decision was made clear when AT&T raised their share plans to match Verizon. Not sure how they justified that considering Verizon has WAY better coverage. AT&T doesn’t seem to care for much else except money (like all businesses) only they are to transparent about it.

  12. Go Virgin from da Ing – er – land !

    So are pre paid tarrifs a new thing in the US of A ?

    (we call it pay as you go or paygo)

    1. Virgin uses Sprint’s network here, which doesn’t cover everywhere, including my county of Mendocino here in Northwestern California. Sprint always comes in last in data speeds among the big 4 too, so I wouldn’t want them if I could get them.

      1. pretty much the same over here – Virgin piggy back on Vodafone I think.

    2. Paygo has been around for as long as water over here. It is just that with the national carriers getting pricey, prepaid or pay monthly is looking saucy. You can

  13. both verizon and AT&T are garbage. wow, they have ridiculously fast data speeds. too bad you can barely use data with the strict data limits without either getting throttled or paying through the nose in overages. i pay less money to have unlimited everything than it would cost to have a phone with long distance calling service on these two carriers. no dropped calls, no lost texts, and data speeds that while not the fastest in the world still allow me to stream whatever media i want without a hitch.

    people need to start looking around. there are too many great options out there for people to continue to prostitute themselves to these big companies.

    1. You mean get raped and robbed.

      1. raped and robbed is right. the wheels are turning though. soon verizon and ATT are gonna have to come down in price if they want to maintain their current position.


    3. Its the same here also, people just go with the biggest & longest established Networks even though the best is the cheaper, faster network.

    4. I pay for 5 gigs and get 10. most users barely use 2 gigs a month. Verizon is only $10 a GB over. I don’t think they’re too bad. lol

      1. you’re right that people are only using 2gigs a month. what do you think they’re doing? streaming media, web surfing? you dont need 20mbps to stream media or look at web pages. people on verizon and ATT are paying triple and quadruple what those on prepaids are paying just so they can brag about their scores haha. yet i can stream the same media you stream, load the same webpages you load, and check my email just like you. sure, you’lll be able to do those things a handful of seconds faster than me. great! hope that extra several seconds of real world speed is worth paying 3 to 4 times what im paying for the same service.

        but hey, do you.

    5. One word: coverage. It’s the only reason I’m still on Verizon and the only reason I’m reluctant to go to T-Mobile or Simple Mobile. Quite simply, in the areas I’m most frequently in T-Mobile’s coverage is nonexistent while Verizon gives me full signal LTE. You’re only getting a better deal if you can actually use what you’re paying for.

      1. bummer for you. verizon has you over a barrel as you have no choice but to use their service because no one else covers your area. you have the worst deal in town but unfortunately for you its the only deal available

        yes verizon has arguably the best coverage of any carrier…and you’re gonna pay up the nose and around the corner for it and if you’re in an area that only verizon covers or you’re a frequent traveler you’re screwed.

        im glad i have choices..

  14. And yet ATT, and it’s 88+ million customers don’t seem to care about it’s consumer reports ranking. Cause ATT –ALWAYS– ranks last! There’s no mass defections going on at ATT, so their customers certainly seem happy, cause their staying put!

    1. Sheep tend to stay in their stables.

  15. Not surprised here. When I moved to Verizon for my Droid X, half the reason was to get away from Apple, and half the reason was to get away from AT&T. And the only time I have bed call quality anymore is when I’m talking to my mom on her AT&T phone. Landline, no problem. Dads Verizon phone, no problem. Random stores to ask questions, no problem. Mom on her mobile, constant bad signal and drops, just like when I was on AT&T. Hate their service.

  16. Never had any personal experience with AT&T service but have friends that say its horrible. That said, last year when I looked at leaving VZW due to cost, I was shocked AT&T cost more for the same options I have with VZW.

  17. @Jordan. You’re wrong. LTE is actually an upgraded form of HSPA in a relative way. LTE is the future of mobile technologies as a Standard merging CDMA and GSM carriers

    1. not even close to accurate. LTE is LTE is LTE. It’s a totally new all-IP technology based on FDMA mostly and TDMA slightly. HSPA is an upgraded W-CDMA data access protocol. And GSM died at EDGE… but was based on TDMA. Nothing is merging… the group that developed GSM, the GSM Association, out of TDMA merely named it the standard air interface technology for 4th generation… just as it named W-CDMA the air interface for 3G… and was kind enough to develop a way to hand off between the two incompatible technologies for a seamless end user experience.

  18. I had Cingular before and now have AT&T. I’ve never had a problem with their customer support and have enjoyed my time on the network, and I don’t plan on switching anytime soon. My nexus 4 works just fine on the network up here in Philly.

  19. Im looking forward to trying out T-Mobile prepaid with my Nexus4 after my 2 year AT&T contract is up.

    1. That’s what I’m strongly considering after my Verizon contract runs out. I’m getting a GSM Nexus 7 specifically to try out T-Mobile’s data network.

  20. Carrier service is dependent upon where you live, for me I’ve tried Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. AT&T has the best coverage and customer support in my area and Verizon has been the worst experience for me. I will agree though that prices are ridiculous and quite frankly should be about half of what they currently are. Also, I learned a long time ago to take what consumer reports says with a grain of salt; they have heavy biases over there.

  21. I never had an issue with either one. Verizon was good to me AT&T is good to me. Its all about personal experience. Show me 10 people mad at AT&T I can find 10 that hate Verizon and vice versa. So chill out on the territorial pissings. Its pathetic

    1. Everyone who disagrees with me is pathetic!

  22. even sprint beats them? surprised but everyone has unlimited talk text and web anymore and free hotspot i guess so yeah at&t will be last, im with sprint personally and i go over 7gbs a months so i can see why ppl drop at&t because i would have to pay over $50 more for hotspot and like $40 more just for unlimited data package.

  23. Damn I’m on big blue

  24. Go figure

    Google please buy Sprint or Tmobile and do a joint venture with Dish. I’m up for an all data plan with good coverage. Carriers are ridiculously ripping people off on data services, and their new sharing plans. There will be a time where they are forced to have fair competitive rates. Google can make that happen.

  25. I’ve had all the carriers, and I’m happiest on AT&T. I get enterprise customer support due to my corp. discount and the coverage is excellent in my area. Also have them for DSL and it’s fast and reliable.

    1. Internet is different from mobile internet. Wii have them as internet and I have to say it’s quite lovely. Wii have Uverse in our area so wii get 10-15Mbps (1.2MB – 1.8MB) download speeds.

      But then you also mentioned you’re getting a corporate discount. Of course that would look good in your favor. DeVry uses Sprint for their employees, so students and workers can get a discount on their Sprint bill. I don’t like Sprint, but I sure do love a 20% discount on my bill. LoL!!

      But yea, if the coverage is good in your area, then I’m sure it’ll be more than good. Sprint is alright in the Houston area. But I’m stuck on a WiMax phone. Haven’t tried their LTE yet.

  26. AT&T has the highest density of iPhone users and they tend to just be snobby. This is likely the reason for their lower ranking. I gladly left Verizon for AT&T and would never go back.

  27. I have had only good experiences with AT&T. I can’t imagine why people put Verizon on such a pedestal. They charge the most, they only offer Mobile Share now, and they force you off of your unlimited data if you upgrade.

  28. Whine and moan about AT&T all you want. AT&T has something no other carrier offers.

    AT&T’s coverage map includes all circles of hell. Just try getting Verizon cell phone coverage from hell, then we’ll see who’s laughing. For AT&T customer service, just dial either 666 or 611.

  29. The ONLY thing that will get me to leave Verizon is when Tmobile gets their LTE network up and if its even available in my area. Its Verizon or AT&T here and AT&T doesn’t appeal to me at all.

    I hope their cell network isn’t as shitty as their home internet. lol

  30. I love AT&T.

    No problems here.

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