AT&T Ranks Dead Last in Customer Satisfaction in Consumer Reports Survey

at&t_no_award

It is safe to say that it will be a while before AT&T wins any awards for their customer satisfaction. AT&T has come in last place in a Consumer Reports mobile survey of customer service of all four major U.S. cell carriers.

This particular survey involved 50,000 readers in 26 U.S. cities. Questions that were included asked about the four carriers in different categories related to service and customer support. AT&T ranked dead last in 19 of the 26 cities surveyed and overall ranked last in every single city. Sadly the pain does not end there as voice service also ranked last while messaging and data were only average. On the customer service side of things, both the phone and internet service along with overall staff knowledge ranked poorly. Ouch...

And if you are curious as to where the other carriers ranked, Verizon came in 1st while T-Mobile and Sprint respectively took 2nd and 3rd place.

Footnote: 

Jeremy

Community editor. Tech enthusiast. All-around geek.

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There are 71 comments. Add yours.

Xultar says:

Serves them right. Maybe they will wake up. Locking out slingplayer, late with MMS, treating their employees like crap, and being general jerks results in this outcome. Great job AT&T seems like your plan worked. Well it does seem like they wanted this outcome.

Davie199 says:

Lets see if Luke Wilson can dig them out of this one.. Hahahah...

yestheysuck says:

I hate AT&T, they've been horrible since their inception. I hope they go out of business.

Crakka says:

That survey is bullsh*t !!! I've been with Cingular/ AT&T for over 5 yrs now. And everytime I called they helped me out tremendously. The people surveyed must have been with verizon and I'm sure they never even talked to anyone working for AT&T!

TonyPatron says:

Over the 5 years I've been with AT&T I've always had great wireless service (I'm in San Antonio, TX). I left Verizon before that because of poor service (wireless and customer) and even paid the hefty early term fee just to get away. Verizon may very well have improved in my area in the 5 years I've been gone, but I've never had a reason to go back.

firesign3000 says:

i've had cingular/at&t here in cincinnati since the moto razr first came out. i've also had a v3xx razr and a samsung blackjack 2 with them, and now have an iphone 3g. i have no complaints about the voice service, the 3g data or anything else. customer service? not sure, since i've never actually had to call them , ever. around here, it's t-mo that sucks for coverage, i had them before at&t. i hate hate hate verizon, and would give up using a cellphone before i ever gave them my business.

Moe NYC says:

Yup, at&t blows! Good for them. I'm a big fan of the iPhone and hate, really hate the service I get (or don't get) with at@t. I love the iPhone too much to drop them though. Yes, I have issues.

Patrick says:

This survey is complete and total BS...I've had AT&T/Cingular the entire time I've owned a cell phone and I've never had a problem with it at all. Im often the only one in my group of friends to have service all the time when no one else has any bars. Try and sking the Sprint and T-Mobile crowd how good their service is, they're always bitching about how much it sucks. Surveys are crap, I wasn't asked about this at all.

I didn't say it. says:

Want to relieve bad customer service and poor reception? There's an app for that. =) In all seriousness, I really wish AT&T had better service. About 80% of the people I call have AT&T so the free mobile to mobile helps out with the bill. It's one of the main reasons I stick with AT&T even though my iPhone loses reception a number of times a day. There will always be customers who love AT&T and an equal (or possibly greater) amount who hate them. That's just the way it is. Stop paying Luke Wilson and fix the towers.

AT.T says:

I work for the company and they have definitely pushed customer service during training and the holiday season. It's sad though because I have customers driving an hour or so to come see me because they do not like the service all other stores give them. It not so much the company Itself but that a lot of employees just don't give two cents about the customer.

zeagus says:

I've had T-Mobile, Sprint, VZW and Cingular/ATT and I've been with ATT for the past 8 years or so and am not really tempted to leave. Had great service and customer service living and/or working in a dozen different states during that time. Everyone's mileage may vary, but the people who've been the worst a-holes to me were VZW (support, most of the sales folks are nice enough).

Natty Noir says:

This AT&T customer is convinced that the survey is skewed. After all, Sprint has been in the customer service toilet for years (does the mass exodus several years ago ring a bell?) so no way have they suddenly risen to the top.

T says:

I also work for AT&T corporate. My employee/corporation experience hasn't been the greatest; however, I do enjoy working for them and selling all of you iPhones. Do we need improvement, yes, but honestly if consumers want an iPhone than they are going to deal with the problems of AT&T.
Something I will say is that most of the complaints I get are about AT&T resellers, not corporate stores and I rarely get complaints about how customer service has treated them.
AT&T got the iPhone and has the iPhone, steve jobs wouldn't just do business with a company that he doesn't believe in at all.

DESinKC says:

AT&T's network is horrible. Constant dropped calls. Unbelievably bad. Poor coverage, too! The only redeeming feature is the iPhone, and the good news is my service contract comes up at the same time as the AT&T iPhone exclusivity.

Billy says:

I've been with AT&T since about 1997 and have never had issues with customer service, data, voice, or text messaging. I'm in the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Baltimore/DC area. When 3G lit up here, my service gained about 2 bars and 3G is pretty fast. Not without a hiccup or two like dropping calls as I change towers over the mountain ridges but my Verizon friends have that issue as well.

HungWell says:

Like I've always said, if any other U.S. carrier gets the iPhone, you can stick AT&T with a fork, because they're done.

DLprac says:

So many dumbos. "OMG they didn't ask me, survey must be BS!" It's a survey, meant to get an average of responses, which is why they ask so many people. Coverage issues are well known. Verizon is best, seen them have bars in middle of VA woods. ATT is second in overall nationwide coverage, but in certain major cities (NY, SF) they are behind T-Mo for some reason. Customer service blows, big time, at least in my area (NJ) stores and phone support. It was so bad that I had to have my GF switch to be on my family plan (T-Mo). Whoever said Sprint was suddenly top (wtf?) if you consider 3rd out of 4 top, then.... Just shows how bad ATT service really is that its BEHIND Sprint.

capt says:

I can see this, i was with att back in the tdma days and they were bad then, now, not much different. By far they are better then vzw though, they just plain suck. As for sprint and t-mo, sprint had it's issues and i have heard they are better, t-mo always seemed helpful and insightful, but to be honest, i expect about as much customer service from cell providers as I do from credit card companies, not much that is to say. Who did vzw pay for this survey I wonder?

pcdsim says:

Dammit Apple, get another (local) carrier already. AT&T is ruining you!

Kath says:

Wow Apple, you really know how to pick 'em! Now can you please switch to Verizon, a.k.a the REAL carrier?

VZW says:

Want a real carrier like Verizon? There's an app for that!

Yoda3984 says:

Honestly, the survey is a bit skewed. Is 26 cities really an accurate picture of the whole country? No. I get great AT&T service where I live, but everyone else has terrible coverage. This survey is accurate for the 26 cities surveyed, but it's not really an accurate sampling of the country as a whole.

Wayne says:

I can admit that AT&T's network isn't the best, but I have no problems with it 98-99% of the time. I've only ever been in major metropolitan areas though (LA and now Portland, OR).
For customer service, in my experience it's only ever been exceptional in the 3 years I've been with them. I'm talking about over-the-phone CS though, as I rarely ever have a reason to visit a brick-n-mortar store.
Case in point about the great CS I've experienced: I went to the Bahamas in July for business, forgot to activate international calling rates before I left, and came back with a $500 phone bill. You can imagine the look on my face when I opened my bill.
So I called customer service right away. I explained that it was my fault for not activating the international plan and simply asked if I could get the charges reverted to the lower rates. Not only did the representative lower the charges but he gave me a $100 credit towards my bill just to say thanks for being a loyal customer. No questions asked, nothing.
How cool is that?

C.J. says:

Consumer Reports doesn't know their a$$ from a hole in the ground when it comes to tech. I've seen plenty of products rated "CR Best Buy" that I know for a fact aren't as good as they claim.
AT&T may blow for some and not for others but Consumer Reports is hardly qualified to weigh the issue. Stay away from Consumer Reports unless you are looking for a good can of peas....

vltjr says:

I have had my cell phone number for more years than most of you have been able to hold a cell phone, mobile 1 cingular and now att. never had a customer service issue and no complaints with coverage. cell phone service is the opposite of sex the worst you ever got was the last you had.

Jeff says:

AT&T is garbage and the survey reflects it, I have been debating just getting a verizon mobile hotspot and ditching AT&T because I like the iPhone

Josel says:

I don't care, I have called customer service only once. I don't call customer service everyday. My coverage is terrific as well as the speed. Coverage is ATT's downside as it focuses 3G more on metro areas.

Brian says:

Research including a small sampling of the greater population.
There will always be groups of people that the research results do not reflect.
Satisfaction surveys are entirely subjective and are vulnerable to bias (was the survey administered to a person RIGHT AFTER a bad experience with a service rep? Did the person just get a GREAT deal on a 3GS?)
Satisfaction surveys are also vulnerable to a person's individual threshold to determine what exactly is "quality service" and what is um... crap. I started with Verizon. Had to switch to Sprint for work and then finally got AT&T for a personal phone (iPhone!). I had a great experience with customer service with VZW. Horrid experience with Sprint. Now crappy experiences with AT&T are tolerable because Sprint was so bad.
The basic point is...if a person feels their service was bad...then it's BAD. No arguing. It's BAD. Each customer should be given a best effort by a company's customer service team.
Satisfied customers tell a friend. Dissatisfied customers tell 10 friends. Or...they post on the iphoneblog. :)
Hugs,
A healthcare/consumer satisfaction research analyst.

Wes says:

Maybe AT&T does really suck everywhere else but in memphis it's not bad. Voice is spot on
data has hiccups occasionally but works far more often than not. And that's downtown, midtown, orangemound, east, and the suburbs. Only Germantown AT&T customers seem to drop calls ( from my experience ) . Now if I ever move, I'll check the reviews on carriers there.
Oh and customer support is ok. Never really had to deal with them though, and when I did they (at a AT&T store) were helpful and considerate. Now my bill is a different story.

Joe says:

AT&T Service is top here in Staten Island, which is a borough of NYC (smh at all the complaints the internet says NYC has with them). Verizon is pretty good here but AT&T is better. I had all four major carriers and honestly T-Mobile is the WORST. With Tmo I couldn't get any sort of signal almost every other block. And like another person commenting said, once I switched to AT&T I have never had any reason to switch back to Verizon. VZW padded my bill up so much anyway when at the time I had data and texting blocked. VZW was ridiculous, love AT&T

Hikerinmaine says:

Shocker. Truly (wink wink).

Pete says:

Is it the iphone or ATT????? It seems many iphone users hate ATT and many like it. It also seems, from ready many posts on many sites, that the people that like ATT have used other phones and then switched to the iphone. Those that hate ATT, in general, switched to ATT when they purchased the iphone. I've been with ATT/Cingular for many years with several phones. I believe ATT is great as I travel all over the country, both big cities and remote areas. I've had great coverage. I like the iphone, but it has the WORST reception of any phone I've had. For those that have only experienced ATT with an iphone.. it's the phone, not the network. Be careful, as you may someday get your wish to get on VZW with you iphone and then you will finally realize that Apple needs to make the phone part of the iphone work properly.

Omari James says:

I've had ATT for about 5 years and the only problem I've had with them is still not having unlimited text after all the major networks had it. Also, after getting unlimited text, they charge people twice as much anyone else would pay on any other network like t-mo for example.
Also, their customer service was not that great either. It got better but still not great.
Now, it wasn't until I got the iPhone that I learned more about 3G and how certain conditions could affect the signal. I learned that even though the phone might say full bars 3G ( kick ass YEA ! ) and still get 110kbps in a building.
So even though the iPhone made me realize some stuff about ATT i wouldn't on a razr, att was already a " not so good " company. So it's not the iPhone , it's the network. I'm happy Apple choose ATT cause I already had att but I think they would of had a lot less scrutiny on Verizon out of all honesty. V isn't perfect either but is a lot better in terms of quality.

Kevin says:

I really don't think ATT cares....at least while they are the only iphone show in town.

John says:

When people are complaining about dropped calls, have you actually ever thought it might be your phone that sucks? Major part of cell handover is done in the phone side and if you have your crappy iPhone or whatsoever, it might be the cause for the dropped call.

Todd says:

Wish they would have called me, my At&t service has been great, network and service. I left Verizon due to poor coverage and service. AT&T could work on more 3g coverage outside the bigger cities thought.

sting7k says:

Why no mention of their statistic that despite this 98% of iPhone users are satisfied and would recommend it to friends/family. The next closest is in the 70's.

Alex says:

Honestly I'm in the group that's never had any problems and I've gotten great customer service from them as well including follow up calls from the same person to make sure I had figured out a problem I'd had when I first got my iPhone.

Greg Braddock says:

Im not so sure about this survey. I think customers are still pissed off about the whole MMS ordeal and not being able to upgrade to iPhones for rock bottom prices. I've been with AT&T since the first go, then Cingular and again AT&T, I have very little if any service issues. Whenever I call into AT&T I've always gotten good service, no better or worse than any other companies. There's something wrong with U.S citizens seriously, everything is me, me, me and now, now, now. Get a grip people.

Dreadnutz says:

I bet the Verizon advertising dept is cracking open the bubbly.
Give it a month and this info is going to be in a new tv commercial, if not maybe even before xmas.

YourMobileGuru says:

Yup they suck! $300 deposit to add a third line to a family share plan is ridiculous! No 3g here is also ridiculous.

Bamaman says:

I made the switch to AT&T 2 years ago and haven't been happier with customer service. They have handled any issue I have had. After I canceled my contract with VZW I sold both the phones I had on the plan and reciever a call from both ppl who bought them saying when they tried to activate them they couldn't because the phones had been put on the lost or stolen list! That was very embarassing on my part. And when I called to resolve the problem they were total douchbags about it.

nstark89 says:

AT&T is last? What a coincidence...
An app for this, an app for that. That's all good. Now, how about if we want to MAKE A PHONE CALL? Is there an app for THAT?

Shane says:

My family and I have been with AT&T sine 1997 and we've never had any problems with customer service, outside of a bill error or two that was corrected immediately!! As far as service, living in this part of MS had it's rough spot there for a while, but I believe it was mostly the phones... Not many ppl around here use VZW ot T-Mo... The only one that rivals AT&T is Cellular South. They do tend to have slightly better coverage, however, their products and pricing can't compete, such as AT&T's family plan... In fact, I'm sittin in my living room floor responding to this survery on my BlackBerry Bold 9700... I agree with some of the other ppl tho in thatthey could up their 3G coverage!!

Yobad says:

I made the switch from AT&T to verizon about 2 years ago and I couldn't have made a better choice! AT&T has the best service in Indiana in my opinion and the customer service ppl are extremely helpful and kind (although I am aware this depends on where you live). And I know alot of people who have verizon and hate them and they are all jumping to AT&T as soon as their contract is up. Sadly although this survey is inacurate it's going to do some major dammage to AT&T in the next verizon add :( in my opinion AT&T is no. 2 nationwide followed by tmo then sprint. AT&T might be the best where I live and travel but when it comes to rural areas verizon wins.

iDavey says:

When will people stop thinking their one experience speaks for everyone. You people sound like some grade A idiots.
In this survey, AT&T was stated as having the worst. Suck it up and get over it. If this is not representative of your experience, thank Jobs and God that it hasn't happened to you.

Yobad says:

I was just thinking about this... I wish I was one of the lucky bastards that verizon paid to take this! Lol. I will admit that verizon is the best US carrier but AT&T is by no means the worst! In my opinion they are no.2 but I love my iPhone and customer service way to much to leave them.
I doubt I would change even if verizon did get the iPhone just because simultanious voice and data is something I use on an almost daily basis.

2PhoneUser says:

Surveys are just that the opinion of the people that are asked. I love the iphone but am disappointed with AT&T at least where I live Long Island - NYC, if I use edge hardly any dropped calls. But I use 3G and dropped calls and very bad data connections. I use a Verizon BB Storm for work and I don't have the dropped calls issue. But the Storm is another story, it must have a daily reboot. The Rim OS is very similar to the old Palm OS as far a memory leaks go. Love Apple, AT&T yawn........

TK says:

I second what iDavey said. A friend of mine and his girlfriend had canceled their AT&T service because of the customer service and the company ripping them off by double charging both his and her bank accounts and refusing to refund it.
I've also been harassed by AT&T reps in the mall and they have even insulted me for having Verizon. Oh yeah, insult me for preferring Verizon, that's gonna make me want to switch. I'm not surprised that they have the worst customer service.

zeagus says:

Let's do also note that worst is a score of 66 overall, 3rd is 67, 2nd is 70 and 1st is 75, meaning the best ain't so grand and there's not a heck of a lot of difference overall. It is interesting the variance in reported experience of folks who've had other phones on ATT prior o the iPhone va those who haven't. Make no mistake, this device is rough on networks and doesn't have reception as good as Manu other phone I've hadnon ATT (Nokia e71, Samsung Blackjack, 8525 to name a few). An network that saw a 5000% increase on data traffic is going to experience hiccups. VZW gets to experience it more slowly by having fewer ata hungry devices that anyone actually wants. They are startig to understand though with the DROID and Eris.

TrinDawg37 says:

I have been with at&t since the cingular wireless days, and I can honestly say that before at&t bought out cingular, I USED to get dropped calls ALL the time with cingular, and it seemed like they happened in the same place all the time! now with at&t I very RARELY get dropped calls at all! I always have GREAT signal strength and am overall pleased with the data network. Is it a little pricey? Sure, but if I wasnt get good service then I would complain even more!

TY says:

WOW...I am reading this stuff and alot of these comments begin as such " I have been with AT&T for ___ years and I think there service is great!" Coincidence? I dont know too much about AT&T's coverage or CS to cast judgement...I have AT&T prepaid..never deal with the CSR's though...I also have T-Mobile...they are OK as well. Now VZW and Sprint have to be the two worst in CS!! I have had both and the sick big b@lls--so did Alltel---Cell phone companies suck in general..Boost was always good though---It just depends on where you are I guess, and that determines your stance on the issue

cardfan says:

Depends on location. Here in my neck of the woods, Verizon would rank dead last. Why? Because they offer no service.
AT&T & Sprint are basically my 3G options.

nyc_rock says:

This survey only confirms my experience. In NYC, standing in front of Penn Station, I had full bars with 3G and no data. Dropped one out of every three calls. Pathetic. Apple really needs to get out of the ATT exclusive.

USAFRetired says:

@TonyPatron: "Over the 5 years I’ve been with AT&T I’ve always had great wireless service (I’m in San Antonio, TX)." I hate to bust your bubble but isn't ATT headquarters in San Antonio? Yes it is--that's why your service is probably good. I move every three yrs and have to deal with the possibility of not having access to the Edge network. Fortunately, I don't rely on the internet as much as a lot of users do--but when you pay the kind of money people do for data plans--they should be given the best service. It doesn't matter on what network you're on. My wife has Verizon and I have ATT. I can communicate with friends and family overseas (SMS, MMS) much better with ATT than Verizon. Many of my SMS/MMS traffic has never made it to Europe. Never had that problem with ATT. Verizon will be the first to tell you that if you don't send traffic to their partners--it won't get there. What kind of crap is that?

cyberbob says:

Tim Says:
December 1st, 2009 at 10:13 pm
Yup they suck! $300 deposit to add a third line to a family share plan is ridiculous! No 3g here is also ridiculous.
Try cleaning up your credit. I have put three lines on my account with NO deposit. The only time they ask for big deposits is when you have shoddy credit. VZW would have charged you the same or more to add a line. TMO and Sprint are about the only ones who don't care too much about your credit rating when opening service.

Bill McNutt says:

I've been with AT&T for 10 years & I think they suck too. 3G hasn't even made it to Tupelo, MS, a major regional shopping hub & home to a Toyota plant! My data connection barely works! Most of the time my battery runs down while my iPhone tries to load internet based apps, still have drop calls, & AT&T could care less if I've been a loyal customer! If Verizon gets the iPhone, I'm gone with along a million other customers! Bastards!

AdamAnt says:

I've had AT&T from day one !! Never a problem with coverage here on Strong Island NY ! 3G coverage form Montauk to the Greatest city on the world . I have had great customer service !! Problem with billing BOOM handled !! Problem with phone upgrade BOOM handled with a credit to my account.My wifes able to use her blackberry with out the mandatory Internet charge so no complaints here. You go AT&T BOYYYY

Dan says:

I'm surprised they did that well.

Dan says:

I have had AT&T for the last seven years and I am pretty happy with it. I stay with at&t because there is at&t cell site one block from my house. Also, the rollover minutes helps a lot with my bill too. Customer service is okay with me. However, it can use improvments on coverage especially in California and the rest of the west where Verizon is considered the best.

I agree 120% says:

My AT&T Yahoo Internet has been down for 26 hours since yesterday morning. After hours calls to AT&T customer support, they admitted there was an outage with one of their POPs in my area, and asked me to call back by COB.
I called again in the evening. Again, after hours on the phone with customer service, they said the outage was fixed, and everything worked fine at their end. So it was my modem, it was Netgear, not AT&T supported modem. Again, after hours calling AT&T, my Internet was “dead in the water”, unless (it appears) I change my modem….
So this morning I went out to the AT&T store and bought a brand new AT&T modem… well, same thing happened, my Internet still doesn't work, except THEIR modem said there was NO ATM Circuit!!! So I called AT&T again…. and again after hours on the phone, they seemed run out of Excuses, said they would have their “Advanced” programmer to take a look, and call me back....
If Google’s 5 minutes outage cost Google to credit all of their customers’ one FULL month fee, WHAT the HELL do you think AT&T ought to credit me for my 26 hours frustration, phone bills, plus two days valuable time????????

EMO says:

I can't tell you how frustrated I am with ATT right now. I haven't had DSL or phone service for several days now and all I get is automated phone menu when I call! No way to get a live human unless you want to cancel the service and then you get "Gloria" from India who is no help whatsover! I wish there was no monopoly locally! Comcast, here I come!

ELC says:

I hate ATT, they billed me for things I didn't use and when I called them about the problem they were so rude to me. I had two different people yell at me to pay my bill. I have had my home phone with them for six years and I have never been late, I can't believe they treated me that way. They even hung-up on me twice. I am so frustrated and done with ATT. I need new service with a company who treats me like a valued customer because ATT does NOT.

jlh says:

I purchased an AT&T pay as you go phone for emergencies. I prepaid for a year of service and 100 minutes. The renew date is 1/22/2010 and service was terminated 12/30/2009. I'm not the best at math, but I think I should still have a couple of weeks of time left. AT&T has lost me for good as a costumer. I'm switching to Tracfone.

JWB says:

At&t sucks.Verison is better bc it has more phones than At&t and Verison has more 3G Coverage!

harvardcircle says:

ATT sucks since I had to pay for service that was never provided and they turned my account into debt collectors while I never received any bills. I plan to take them to small court for customer service that sucks and NO WONDER THEY RANKED AT THE DEAD BOTTOM in the Consumer Survey. I THINK THEY SHOULD BE IN THE SINK HOLE INSTEAD OF DEAD BOTTOM.

Still on Hold says:

I am currently on hold with AT&T as I am reading this, I have been on hold for over 215 minutes (3.583 Hours)and speaking with the sixth person who told me that they could not help me and they need to send me to the next person. I am sitting here without taking a shower and need to get on with my life. The customer service SUCKS period! They tell you how sorry they are, yet even they do not know who to send you to take care of any issues. I hope AT&T and its executives all develop chancre sore and boils in uncomfortable places and then rot in hell. Yes I hate them if you were wondering, hell that guy has not even come on while writing this.

Alice says:

AT&T is absolutely the WORST in customer service and coverage area! They treat prepaid cell users like they are the scum of the earth. They will never get another penny from me and I'll do my best to ensure everyone I come in contact with knows how much they SUCK!

Bruce says:

Not feeling it for ATT. 4 day without internet. Automated message says we have an outage in your area and it should be done by X time and that reps do not have any additional information. That time comes and goes message now message states there is not a resolution time. Day 2 same. Day 3 same. Day 4 you guessed it. On day four I finally was able to get a human and finally had the problem resolved. Now for customer service to try and get credit for the days without internet. It took three calls; once forwarded to a non-existent number, second time was hung up on and the third referred to another number and who knows what will happen then.

Lauren says:

I just spent half an hour on the phone trying to pay my AT&T bill. I gave my credit card number twice and keyed it in once, and each time the automated message machine could not understand me. I was transferred to a live person, who promptly took my information and informed me that she was charging me an extra $5 for convenience.