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AT&T Once Again America’s Worst Cell Phone Company, Verizon Tumbles Too

Phillip Dampier November 29, 2012 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, Data Caps, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, Wireless Broadband 4 Comments

AT&T has once again received the dubious distinction of being America’s worst cell phone company, according to ratings (sub. required) from Consumer Reports.

AT&T’s bottom-of-the-barrel status has become something of an annual tradition in the consumer magazine’s ratings, as the company remains in last place year after year for dreadful performance, poor value, and downright lousy customer service. Its one bright spot: the company’s new 4G LTE service, which gets top marks for speed, although that rating comes before the majority of its customers are on the new network.

Verizon Wireless also took a tumble in the ratings published in the January 2013 issue. Verizon got downgraded for its new Share Everything plan, rated as only a fair value. Verizon’s vaunted customer service also declined significantly.

The highest ratings went to companies many never heard of:

  • Consumer Cellular: This company resells AT&T service. The disparity between this top-rated, no contract provider and AT&T demonstrates that a bad customer experience with AT&T’s high prices and poor customer service can topple your ratings across the board. Consumer Cellular will face the same growing pains AT&T’s customers do in congested cities, but their customers seem to tolerate them better;
  • U.S. Cellular: Top rated last year, this regional carrier provides service in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, parts of the East and New England. The carrier, like the southern U.S. provider C-Spire, would probably have been acquired by one of the top-four carriers if the Justice Department seemed willing to accept further market consolidation. Its customers benefit from the company’s independence.
  • Credo Mobile: Resells the Sprint network, but delivers superior customer service, which boosts its overall ratings. Formerly known as Working Assets, this progressive organization also enjoys loyalty because customers approve of the political and social causes with which it affiliates.

Overall, the magazine increasingly recommends consumers investigate no-contract or prepaid service plans before signing an expensive 2-year contract with the major four carriers. Pricing changes in 2012 have caused many subscribers to see bills rise, even as perks and benefits continue to erode. Device activation fees, upgrade fees, limits on early upgrades, restricted data plans, and all-or-nothing offerings that deliver (and charge) for features many consumers don’t use much have all reduced the value of contract service.

What keeps most customers coming back to another two-year contract is the chance to grab the hottest new smartphone at a discount. But consumers ultimately pay back whatever they have saved in higher fees over the life of the contract, which may make buying your own device at full price a better value with a no-contract plan.

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. Von Curtis says:

    I can’t believe that Consumer Cellular got a high rating from Consumer Reports! My mother died last year, she had one of their phones at the time. It took me 8 months and 9 different notifications to get them to shut down the service and stop billing a dead woman. There isn’t any contract, but the late payment charge is exactly the same as the monthly bill and they just keep stacking up while your trying to get them to shut it down. They have worse customer relations than Verizon. One of their people just hung up on me while I was trying to explain what the problem was. I wouldn’t recommend this company to anyone.

  2. John says:

    Who ever writes these articles need to do more research full of biasd and incorrect informaition. Verizon Wiresless as been #1 for the last 4 years get over it. Us Cellular was top rated in one small category not overall you tool.The top 3 you have are not even in the top overall any year. Consumer Cellular and credo are not carriers if there using another carrier sevice. lmao

    • txpatriot says:

      Speaking of research, do you have a link that shows VZ is #1 over the last four years?

      I don’t always agree with Phillip but he does his homework. He’s not making this stuff up — he quotes from a Consumer Reports article and even gives the link. You may not agree with CR’s results, but Phillip is simply reporting them. And since it’s his blog, he can cite to whatever research he wants. He doesn’t owe you (or me for that matter) any duty to present alternaive points of view.

      If you have a different opinion, then post it and BACK IT UP with some references.

    • The infographic attached to this article backs up our report.

      It is true that VZW is number one in national carriers that own and operate their own cellular networks.

      But U.S. Cellular does top VZW in Consumer Reports’ ratings, but is a regional carrier not operating across the country. That the other two bested Verizon in the ratings is almost certainly a testament to the customer service provided by those MVNO resellers.

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