AT&T Sucks, and So Does Your Carrier

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Among the dull roar of criticisms about iPhone I have to endure, one in particular stands out as the most irritating and unfounded - the attack against AT&T. I hear these slanderous indictments all the time..."Why did Apple choose AT&T?", "AT&T sucks! They should have gone with Verizon or Sprint", "AT&T is evil". Blah blah blah.

Here's a bit of schooling for you numbskulls - What you don't understand is that the quality and reliability of wireless service in the U.S. is subjective and varies from one location to another. For example, in my specific locale, Sprint offers the worst reliability and coverage of any major carrier. T-Mobile is practically non-existent. Verizon offers great service, but their selection of handsets is abysmal. So, for all practical purposes, AT&T is the "best" wireless carrier for me. Your experience will vary. A friend of mine who lives in Redmond Washington (no, it isn't Bill Gates) says that T-Mobile offers the best coverage and voice quality in his area, while Sprint is teh suck. So which one of us is right? We both are.

Unlike other parts of the world like Asia and Europe, wireless infrastructure in North America is less ubiquitous and unevenly distributed. This is the reason why we suffer through so many dropped calls, poor voice quality, and latency.

So yes, AT&T does suck. And so does Verizon. So does Sprint. So does T-Mobile. And so on. There is no "best" wireless carrier, only best in your location. Live it, learn it, be it.

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AT&T Sucks, and So Does Your Carrier

30 Comments

Right On! Finally someone who gets it. I've been on AT&T in Detroit for years. It's been very good for me.
Now if someone would challenge the "It's so expensive" myth. They talk about the iPhone as the cost of phone + service. (It's &1500.00!!). Why don't they talk about other phones this way.
Lame.

I'm one of those switchers. ATT sucks, Verizon sucked. They all suck. As you say it just depends on where you happen to be standing.
In my personal usage so fare the ATT service has been comparable to VZ. Some dropped call, but I also dropped calls on VZ.
To those still bitching about ATT I say get over it. Apple had to pick someone. And to those on VZ they offered it to you them and VZ turned it down.

I'm glad they didn't go with Verizon. I'd quit using cellular if they were the only choice left. The only thing worse than their coverage is their customer service. I switched to Cingular last year and it's been great. I'm not happy about them being bought back by AT&T again and changing the name. If I hadn't already signed up with Cingular, I don't think I would have switched to AT&T but since I'm already here, it's been fine. I'd pick T-Mobile if they had better coverage because they have good plans and notoriously good customer service.
But you're right...they all pretty much suck.

Me, I likey T-Mobile, so I'm going to hold out and see what happens with them and the iPhone. I've heard conflicting info on the Apple-ATT iPhone service contract, everything from a 5-year exclusive to only thru Dec. 2007.
Anyhoo, T-Mo does have awesone CS (at least in my experience), and their service plans are, as a whole, the best and cheapest. Sure, their network coverage could be better, but for the most part my reception has been 99% glitch-free. Will be interesting to see where the iPhone lands next.

I love my iPhone, but...
I traveled to India recently to teach a course in Banglaore. When I landed in Bombay, I turned on my phone and it promptly connected to an EDGE network and downloaded 2MB of Yahoo! and other e-mail that I didn't want. The resulting charge was about $70 for that sync.
There is currently no way to disable EDGE when roaming outside of the U.S.. I managed to trick it into not kicking in by keeping my Wifi turned on to a site that I didn't have access to. However, this was a poor hack...
Apple and AT&T need to provide the ability to disable EDGE Roaming. I would like to be able to enable it when needed, but most of the time, I can wait to download my latest batch of junk e-mail to a time when I am in a WIFI zone.
I would guess that most folks who can aford an iPhone also travel extensively. Many of those people even have a passport and dare to venture outside of the U.S.. I hope that AT&T and Apple can understand that their current approach to mobille data is untenable outside the U.S.. They need to come up with an International Roaming plan for data and SMS that makes sense. Until then, I taking my old RAZR along and leaving my iPhone shut off...

Good point about how wireless quality varies throughout the US. But AT&T "service" does suck.
They took weeks to troubleshoot my landline/broadband install--checking on my building's wiring. They then "billed" me for said installation and one month non-existent "service" even though I never even went online with them. AT&T's online service must suck so much that my MacAfee spam guard was blocking the AT&T software from being installed.
The kicker? I just found out they put me into collection for a bill I never received for service that was never used. Their call center sucks too: they work when you're at work and have limited hours on Sat--it's the reason why I stayed home last night and why I got up at 8 am today! I just hope the good folks at Cingular don't go the way of their AT&T parent.
The right thing for AT&T to do is to refund people (something that other vendors practice) within the first month's experience--but oh wait, that would be fair treatment of the customer, leading to AT&T not wrongfully charging people. I can see why this would be distasteful to AT&T.

Well then, pretty much everyone here is right. AT&T sucks, Verizon sucks, Sprint sucks, Alltel imo really sucks, and T-mobile sucks.
I work as a tech for Sprint/Nextel. What people don't seem to understand is that CELLULAR IS NOT A PERFECT TECHNOLOGY. Considering the fact that 10 years ago NONE of us carried a mini computer in our pocket, that was able to make phone calls, and take pictures, and surf the web, oh and play music. I find it a small wonder that any of this crap works at all. Cellular companies are no different then the old Ma Bell system of yesterday with the exception of the fact that they are using nearly unproven equipment and technology. I am not saying that people shouldn't feel the need to complain when the services they are spending their hard earned money on isnt working. Im just siding with those that understand things are not perfect. Customer service reps work sad shitty jobs where people yell at them all day long. Really whens the last time you called your cell provider when your phone was working right. In store techs (like me) and sales staff deal with some of the most charming people on the planet who yell at us because they refused insurance when they bought the phone and they ran it over with their car. Honestly if you have a legit complaint then you should be heard and handled with respect. Thats what I do anyway. But in all reality all big companies kinda suck. My Comcast internet blows, but what are you going to do thats life. We could after all still be running around like cave men.

Odd that this apologist for AT&T ends up on a page with two advertisements for AT&T. Live it, learn it, be it. Gimme a break. AT&T's customer service stinks. Anybody who has dealt with them knows that. The problem starts with the stupid telephone interface you must traverse to get to a customer representative. Punch in your number. Pick your option. You may have to give your number again. What the last four digits of your Social Security number. Whoops, you'll have to call back and go through the entire process again. It's amazing and infuriating. AT&T has designed the perfect system for enraging customers. A government psychologist really needs to look at it, figure out the principles and apply them to the war on terror. Who needs torture when you have AT&T?
Come on guys, you can do better than this.

Uh...those are Google Adsense ads, not advertisements by AT&T. I have as much control over that as I do the weather.

So, while accepting what you say is correct, then in the regions where at&t does suck, people must opt out of the iPhone? NOT!
Your logic "AT&T is the “best” wireless carrier for me" (in your region) has more justified the reason for iPhone to be unlocked to all the unfortunate people not so lucky as to live in your "best" at&t region.

I am very disappointed to see the 3G coverage be limited and impact my ability to make calls. I have to turn off the 3G in most locations on my IPhone 16G system when not surfing or performing data related tasks. This is ridiculous. We pay top dollar to drive a Porsche and all AT&T delivers is UGO (car) performance.

I moved to a new address last month and asked ATT to transfer my phone number to
my new address. After moving, ATT claimed they had to give me a temporary number
and proceeded to charge me for it and then charge me for CHANGING the temporary
number to my old existing number. I'm not paying for something I didn't ask for. I did
NOT ask for the temporary number nor did I ask for a number change. I simply asked
them to TRANSFER my existing number to a new address.
That's the first problem. The second problem is with the quad package I ordered. I
ordered landline service, wireless cellphone service, dishnetwork tv, and DSL for about
$180 a month. So far, ATT has billed me separately for the landline service and a
whopping $343 for cellphone service that doesn't even work half the time!!
The third problem is that ATT is preventing my ISP from giving me the SAME EXACT DSL
service I had before I ordered the quad package. After telling me I would have to pay a
$100 deposit to get DSL, ATT cancelled the DSL part of the quad package and reduced
it to a triad package so that I could continue with my ISP's DSL service. But my isp says
that ATT refuses to let them give me the DSL service I had before I moved. (My isp
orders DSL through ATT.) ATT told my ISP that DSL wasn't in my area even though I
moved just two blocks away. I called ATT to ask why, and they said DSL IS indeed
available in my area, that I don't have to pay a $100 deposit anymore, and that they
put in an order for me. I believe this violates FCC Rules since they are preventing my
ISP from giving me service that i had and want to continue to use.
I am not paying this outrageous bill. They're charging me a month in advance for things
I DON’T have, CAN’T use, and apparently CAN'T have.
Whoever heard of a $343 cellphone bill?? I only had it since July 12th or something??

Good article. Very true what he points out. Here's my situation: I have only ever dealt with Verizon and Att wireless. I had Verizon when I lived in the southeastern US and it generally worked fine. When I moved to CA I switched to Cingular (before it was ATT) and got the new amazing RAZR (which sucks). I now live in WA state and have since upgraded to an iPhone (1st Gen). What I have noticed is ATT service seems to be fine for me all up and down the west coast but the coverage can be a bit shoddy at times in the South eastern united states whenver I go back to visit. My mom used to have Verizon in Sacramento where we lived and said the service was horrible. Right now I am thinking about breaking my contract with ATT and switching to T-mobile because they have a pre-pay or pay as you go service with their sidekick. I'd be paying about 30 bucks a month as opposed to the 70-75 bucks (w/tax) I'm paying right now with my iPhone. To a broke college kid thats a huge difference! Now I also realize that the iPhone beats the sidekick anyday which is why I'll probably hang on to it and just use it as an iPod Touch. Anyways hopefully all goes well. Cheers.

AT&T realy sucks. The phone service is ok. The coustomer service sucks big time. I purchaced an iphone that froze up when i tryed to use it. I brought it back to the store 16 hours later and they told me I could not exchange it. After arguing with them they told me they could exchange it, but they would charge me a 10% restocking fee. I called Apple they wanted to charge 39.00 to exchange the phone. I spent 3 hours with Apple tech suport just for them to tell me there was a hardware problem. The Apple rep called At&t and asked them to give me a credit for the restocking fee. They did. The AT&T rep told me to go back to the store and exchange the phone. When I returned to the store it was the same bull. They told me they would not exchange the phone. I told them to call there coustomer service line. I left the store about 2 hours later with another phone. It took about seven hours of my time. I miss cingulare. AT&T sucks.

The phone service is lousy. I can't use the phone in my own house (a highly populated suburb). None of my friends can get service in their homes - we all need to go outside. And I can't get service in my office as well as two of our branch offices. And Apple is supposed to be leading edge? I'll take Verizon service any day. Why would anyone buy the new phone???!!

I agree. They all suck depending on where you are. I live on Long Island, NY. I cannot get a signal in my house. My carrier is Verizon.

I had tmobile service I got what I paid for. Now I have Att SERVICE [with my new IPhone, yes, the software is updated and yes, I have all the really cool stuff disabled so my battery will work and yes, I now have had to dumb it down to Edge so I can talk on the phone] and I am paying for 3G which doesn't work at all. I took my phone into an apple store to talk intelligently about the issues. They looked at my phone and I had 24 % dropped calls. This I believe is systematic and not the exception. So, why doesn't Att just admit that the 3G is not ready for prime time yet and give me a plan where I get what I pay for? Then all of us might stop calling and they could get on with things.
So I continue my quest to identify the fact that ATT should not be charging for a call plan specific to the Iphone that does not work.
-Tom

There is a minor storm over NJ and my iPhone isn't receiving a signal. No bars at all for at least an hour. My Verizon phone (which I pay for as a back up) is working just fine.

agree with the author. AT&T is has been totally awesome for me, and their customer service is really the best i've EVER encountered. i applaud AT&T for a job well done out here in Arizona

All I can say is in the NYC tri-state area AT&T is beyond awful! I can't wait for the day to arrive when their exclusive deal with Apple finally runs out! The day that happens, I will be waiting at a Verizon Wireless store at 8am to finally get reliable service back.

at&T SUCKS!!!! I was an employee there, they refused to pay me!!!! I wrote to the president, and he ignored my email! I worked for their corporate division, they sold bulk cell phones to corporations!! the service SUCKS!! the Bulk rates are a rip off!! and they refuse to pay their employees! that's why you all receive shitty service..they dont' even provide clean drinking water for thier employees

An AT&T salseman came to our door. We said no thanks. He called a supervisor, I said no I didn't want AT&T. Then AT&T shutoff my current service provider saying I had agreed. AT&T sent installers to my home which I refused. I protested and AT&T cancelled the order I never made. Now my provider says I have to pay for instalation and I will lose the number I've had for years. What can I do?

I guess every person whose having difficultieswith their manhood should read this great post. Will spread your post to my blog readers too. thanks

It's all about location, location, location. That is why Apple's (previous) exclusivity deal with AT&T was bad for ALL consumers of cell phones and cell phone infrastructures. The simple fact is that AT&T sucked enough in enough areas to raise enough issues that people complained, but mostly switched networks (mainly non-iPhone users), due to horrible call quality and connection issues. If that was not a fact then why was there a court decision for breach of contract?
AT&T is so desperate at this point that they have reduced average cell phone bills (look at new rates and tiers of text messaging, anytime minute plans) by 25% to keep customers aboard (ESPECIALLY those whose contract are up (as I am one, they will do anything for me such as give me 2,000 anytime roll-over minutes)). In their desperation they have also over paid for the acquisition of T-Mobile to help their failing infrastructure. The merger will NOT be seamless. Time to switch away from AT&T and T-Mobile (unless you don't have many iPhone users in your coverage area) as their technologies are not compatible nor will they be for the next 1-1.5 years. I respect you die-hard fans that are willing to wait that long just to get a "cooler" phone.
Njoy! :)

Well At&t has been amazing to me for almost 6 years now and out of no where they suck...so explain that? Did the coverage change? I get dropped calls constantly something I never ever experienced before and only heard of from friends.

I'm with ATT and recently downloaded the app. 'ASK ZIGGY' I had it for over a week and it worked fine. Tried to use it today and it said I was no longer authorized to use it and contact my service. Did ATT take this app.off their list of apps. I can utilize?