AT&T dead last in Consumer Reports wireless survey

Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 4:34pm

Respondents in the annual survey hammered AT&T in just about every category, from voice service to the frequency of dropped calls. The big winner: AT&T's nemesis, Verizon Wireless.

Covering about 50,000 wireless chatters in 26 major cities, the Consumer Reports survey had little in the way of good news for AT&T, which has been taking a shellacking in recent weeks from Verizon and its devilishly effective "There's a map for that" ad campaign.

According to AllThingsDigital, the exclusive iPhone carrier ranked lowest in overall consumer satisfaction in 19 of the 26 surveyed cities, ranging from New York and San Francisco to (as FierceWireless points out) Atlanta, Cleveland, and Houston. Verizon, meanwhile, ranked first in all 26 cities in the Consumer Reports survey. Ouch.

The overall satisfaction scores over all 26 cities puts Verizon on top with a score of 75, according to AppleInsider. T-Mobile comes in next with 70 (buoyed by its "superior" customer service), with Sprint trailing with 67 (due to "poor customer support") and AT&T pulling up the rear with 66.

This isn't the first time this year that AT&T has had a poor showing in a wireless survey. Back in May, the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index gave AT&T a 67 out of 100, good for third place among the four biggest U.S. carriers (Verizon was first, Sprint came in last) but also representing the steepest drop in the group.

As you might expect, AT&T's worst marks in the Consumer Reports came in such categories as "service availability," "circuit capacity," "dropped-call frequency," and "voice service," according to AllThingsDigital. That sounds an awful lot like the earlier ACSI survey, which dinged AT&T for "complaints about slow and spotty performance."

So, how does AT&T respond to the survey? A rep told AllThingsDigital that the carrier "appreciate[s] and value[s] all customer feedback," and argues that the "surest indication of customer satisfaction is churn" (or subscriber turnover), which for "postpaid" customers was "just 1.17 percent."

Huh ... so now I'm supposed to think about AT&T's churn rate the next time my iPhone drops a call? I think I liked those Luke Wilson ads better.