Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Reports’

AT&T Rated Worst in Nation – Anyone Surprised?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

via Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has published ratings for the top cellular carriers in the US. At the top, US Cellular. Dead last is AT&T. While I’m sure US Cellular came as a surprise, many of AT&T’s customers will not be surprised at this news.

There was a time when Cingular was the best carrier not only in terms of call quality, but also customer service. Then the ill-fated merger with AT&T happened. AT&T customers suddenly had good service. Cingular customers suddenly had bad service. Then everybody took a hit as AT&T stopped caring about the customers. Things have been steadily deteriorating since then.

The carriers were rated in a Consumer Reports survey. The categories included voice, text, email, data quality, and customer service, among other criteria. AT&T was the worst in every category but one. It tied for mostly bad with T-Mobile on voice service. AT&T’s response was pretty weak, as you can see in the below quote.

“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.”

Rather than owning up to its mistakes, AT&T pointed out that their customer base increased in the third quarter. I’m sure the iPhone 4, iPad, Samsung Fascinate, and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 had everything to do with that increase. The Xperia is the only reason I remain an AT&T customer, as has been every other Sony Ericsson phone I’ve purchased since the Cingular/AT&T merger. AT&T’s customers are not loyal to AT&T, but to their phones.

AT&T has made some good moves recently, especially in avoiding the 4G fiasco. Sprint and T-Mobile are misleading customers about 4G. Verizon jumped the gun, and AT&T is playing the tortoise to Verizon’s hare. “Slow and steady, steady and slow.” AT&T is working on beefing up its lower-end service in order to supplement the faster LTE speeds when the upgrade comes next year. Verizon didn’t bother. This is the single laudable achievement of the year by AT&T though.

AT&T in general loves playing the ostrich with its head in the sand. This Consumer Reports survey will ideally shake the sleeping giant out of its narcissistic haze. If this doesn’t do it, the iPhone moving to Verizon should do the trick. When AT&T decides to care about its customers it will notice a huge upswing in customer satisfaction. Let’s hope it figures this out soon.

AT&T logo

Consumer Reports Withholds iPhone 4 Recommendation

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Since its launch, the iPhone 4 has been plagued by a number of bugs. Apple has bungled the PR on this in a major way. Consumer Reports, the well-known consumer protection group has chimed in a couple of times on the iPhone 4 reception issues. As of June 25, they couldn’t replicate the problem, but they hadn’t done their thorough testing. Today, however, they officially withheld their recommendation. Pending a product recall to fix the antenna problem, Consumer Reports is not endorsing the iPhone 4.

Check out their video below:

AT&T has caught a lot of bad press about bad service and dropped calls over the years. While some of it is deserved, a lot of it may indeed be Apple’s fault. Apple has admitted that they have calculated signal bars incorrectly from the beginning. This already clears some of AT&T’s name a bit. When Consumer Reports tested other AT&T phones against the iPhone 4, the problems weren’t there. This means that AT&T actually provides some level of consistency while the iPhone 4 has the problem. Their quick fix? Duct tape, or some other non-conductive tape. This is clearly a bit of jest, since the real recommendation is a recall.

While there have been many voices of dissent during this iPhone antenna crisis, Consumer Reports withholding a recommendation is notable. Perhaps Steve Jobs will start listening now rather than continue to deny the existence of a problem.