Consumer Reports: AT&T Has the Most Unhappy Customers

AT&T has placed last in Consumer Reports' annual customer satisfaction rating for carriers. This is the second year in a row that the carrier has come dead last in the survey, which this year included data from some 66,000 subscribers. Interestingly, the smaller carriers were rated extremely well. DailyTech reports that Consumer Cellular, U.S. Cellular, Credo, as well as prepaid brands such as TracFone and Straight Talk, received higher scores than any of the Big Four.

"Our survey indicates that subscribers to prepaid and smaller standard-service providers are happiest overall with their cell-phone service," Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports, said in a posting to the Consumer Reports website. "However, these carriers aren’t for everyone. Some are only regional, and prepaid carriers tend to offer few or no smart phones. The major carriers are still leading options for many consumers, and we found they ranged widely in how well they satisfied their customers."

So, how did 'The Big Four' do? Well, we know AT&T came last, so that's one out of the way. As far as the others are concerned, Consumer Reports subscribers rated Verizon their number one, with Sprint coming in second. T-Mobile filled the gap between Sprint and AT&T, but CR notes that while it placed below Sprint it "continued to rate significantly better than the higher-priced AT&T."

For its part, AT&T says it's working hard to improve its network. According to Wired, the carrier said that this year it has improved 3G dropped call performance by 25 percent and invested billions of dollars in infrastructure. The carrier also used the opportunity to push its proposed merger of T-Mobile as a solution to its problem.

"As customer demand continues to skyrocket, our proposed T-Mobile merger will enable AT&T to improve our customers’ experience even more," the company said.

Are you satisfied with your carrier? Let us know in the comments below!

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.

  • dark_lord69
    But they take it cause they want certain phones.
  • xx_pemdas_xx
    I hate At&t they lie about their internet speeds.
  • egilbe
    ATT is so full of crap. I have ATT and I know my cell phone bill will go up if they buy out T-mobile. I hardly ever use my phone as a phone, and have 6000+ rollover minutes but I can't get a cheaper cell phone plan. It's no wonder they are ranked so low. I really need to dump them
  • SirGCal
    This is not surprising at all. I was on AT&T for over two decades... I called once and got my account specific information, they asked why, I said cause I was looking over the possibilities and considering switching carriers... They didn't do ANYTHING to try to keep me. They just gave me the information and hung up the phone... Not even a "We're sorry to see a long-time subscriber leave" or nothing. If anything, they had the "You'll be back" attitude... And they didn't even ask why until like a month later after I had a locked in new contract with Sprint... Then the CSR call came... I simply just said "few days too late to waste your time... I won't break contracts.".

    I don't miss AT&T at all. And at least in my area, Sprint has actually a much better signal all the way around. Not to mention the only network with true unlimited data... For now...
  • ThisIsMe
    What's interesting here is that Consumer Cellular uses at&t's network and Credo uses Sprint's network. This tells me that alot of this report's "data" is probably mostly based on hype or because of pricing of services/contracts.
  • kawininjazx
    I had AT&T for 8 years and the only time it worked ok was when I got an iPhone. The data was slow, but the calls were decent. Everyone else on my plan had major call issues. They finally upgraded their 3G area, but I moved on to Verizon and have double the speed everywhere and great call reliability.

    LOL @ AT&T's 4G commercials, their 3G still sucks.
  • fenix1186
    I like Sprint. Best cost to what you are getting ratio of the big 4. Good phone selection as well. They need a larger network with a bit better signal. And def a move to LTE networks. Not saying the signal is terrible. T-mo has always been worse, but verizon has the best signal... Sprint is a good middle. Verizon is so INCREDIBLY overpriced for what you are getting. I hold Sprint in high regard for still carrying the unlimited data on their smart phones.
  • tsnorquist
    This just in, the sky is blue.
  • hoof_hearted
    If the USA would get out of the dark ages and separate the device from the service and do away with contracts, consumer satisfaction would go way up, IMHO.
    It used to be that those contracts would subsidize the price of the device. I think most people feel "ripped off". Now, people have become accustomed to paying these high prices and these carriers have the service "locked down". So even without a contract you have to pay the same high monthly fee, so you might as well get the subsidized "upgrade" phone when you contract is up, otherwise you are paying their high fees for nothing. These carriers have us by the balls and our government is failing us in fixing it.

    I don't understand how Verizon and Sprint lead the pack though, they still use CDMA. I guess because people care more about speed rather than lock-in. At least with AT&T, if you have an unlocked device, you can jump on T-Mobile if needed. Wish their were some other prepaid GSM carriers in my area.

    I never want to see the T-Mobile AT&T merger succeed. That is the last bastion of separate GSM providers.
  • nottheking
    Once again, we see the reason for the AT&T "Death Star" logo. And while AT&T, desperate to rebuild their pre-80s monopoly, may like the merger idea, they forgot that their claims that "It'd be an improvement for customers" would only apply to their OWN, not T-Mobile's.
    ThisIsMeThis tells me that alot of this report's "data" is probably mostly based on hype or because of pricing of services/contracts....Because we all know that there's nothing more to a carrier than the network of towers they use? Yeah, yeah right.

    I think that there's also a lot more at work here, including the system managing load on the towers, which can be different for different carriers, as well as the pricing and customer service. Given AT&T's penchant for being highly restrictive and expensive, it's not hard to see that they'd get dinged there, even if, say, they had the best towers.