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Consumer Reports Gives AT&T Lowest US Carrier Rank

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.

Communications 187

tekgoblin writes "Consumer Reports has just released results for consumer satisfaction across all US cell phone carriers. The survey covered around 58,000 Consumer Reports subscribers. Over half of the respondents who used AT&T used the iPhone when taking the survey. According to Consumer Reports, iPhone users were less satisfied with AT&T than other users with different phones. An AT&T spokesman responded by citing independent speed tests, as well as higher subscriber numbers and a dropped call rate within 0.1% of the industry leader." Update: 12/07 01:49 GMT by S : Corrected last sentence to indicate the 0.1% dropped call rate statistic is the difference between AT&T and another carrier, not 0.1% overall.

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187 comments

They'd complain about anything probably. (-1, Troll)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467856)

iPhone users are also a fickle bunch. Maybe Verizon should be grateful that they didn't have to support them.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34467944)

Yeah, right, a "fickle bunch" consisting of tens of millions of users. What a ridiculous comment.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468054)

Tens of millions. Big deal. There are 4.6 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide as of 2009 according to Wikipedia. Actually, that's pretty sad.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468740)

Why cant tens of millions be fickle ?
  read history ! Of course they can
I think he;s right - the problem isnt AT&T - its the iPhone and the type of person that buys it. Odds on that demographic IS statistically significant in such a survey !

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467964)

Even as somebody that owns an iPhone, this was actually my first thought too. I don't have any major problems with AT&T in my area, so whatever.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

Matheus (586080) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468148)

Although there are a couple holes I deal with frequently (service around my cabin and in the city of Winona is pathetic) in general I have better service quality than any of my friends on competing networks everywhere I go (and that's no small amount of travelling both domestically and internationally)

I would have preferred to see a Consumer Reports article that actually did its own investigation than just a survey. As mentioned the iPhone users are a fickle bunch and I don't care how they interpret their service... I want to know how it actually is! Personally I also think other phones are better "phones" despite what the iPhone may or may not do better which could lead to the show of results.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468136)

Being fickle is a part of the machinery that keeps capitalism viable. How else do you ensure there's competition between the telecom providers? And why else would someone try to make a better phone year after year?

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

BenihanaX (1405543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468394)

Maybe if AT&T got it right, they wouldn't have anything to complain about. It boggles my mind that you can still use Consumer Report's metrics when choosing your car, because after 100 years of auto industry, some car companies still can't produce a car with full marks across the board. The same applies to cell phone carriers.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

a1337sh33p (1466739) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469224)

What? It's not easy or economically viable to make a perfect car at every price range? But they've been around for 100 years! Seriously, even if what you demand wasn't ridiculous, Consumer reports would still be needed because the conception of the perfect car is continuously changing, not to mention that the idea of a perfect car -- or one with "full marks across the board" -- is different to different geographical areas, age groups and genders, so Car reviews would be necessary to if nothing else compare the feature set of each perfect car, so as to inform consumers who should by what.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468428)

In the NYC & North NJ area AT&T's coverage and service is abysmal. AT&T probably would have gotten a worse rating from many of us iPhone users but the survey calls never made it through.

Re:They'd complain about anything probably. (1)

standbypowerguy (698339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468924)

I second that. I've traveled to the NYC metro area on business trips for many years, and my company has switched providers three times in the past decade. AT&T was the worst, followed by my current carrier, VZW, although they are a quantum leap ahead of AT&T. I had the best coverage, reception and fewest dropped calls with Sprint, but my experience was only a little better than VZW. Put another way, of the carriers I've used in the NYC area, I found Sprint to provide the best service, VZW a close second, and AT&T a dismally distant third.

Goats hafe suecks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34467880)

Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34467886)

Look AT&T, if you're going to lie you should at least make it a plausible lie. Nobody who uses AT&T (or has to call people on AT&T) is going to believe your ridiculously low 0.1%.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467918)

I use AT&T and have only had a dropped call when I went into this weird underground bar. The bar was fun, but it was the only time I got low enough bars to where I could not make a call. As for dropped calls, I have never had a dropped call unless it was from the other person.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468012)

(shakes head)

You got negative bars on your signal strength meter?

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (0)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468160)

Where in Stregano's post is there anything about negative bars on the phone,s signal strength meter?

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

Internal Modem (1281796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468690)

underground bar

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

silverglade00 (1751552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468712)

underground bar = subterranean tavern

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468948)

Whoosh!

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468292)

How do you know the dropped call was from the other person? I'm on Verizon, I've had lots of dropped calls over time and I have never been able to tell whether it was from my phone, my carrier, the other carrier, or the other phone. (I think one of my older phones on AT&T would report "signal faded" but my current phone - Droid 1 - doesn't really report that). I remember a test done not too long ago in SF by Gizmodo where they went around the city and had scheduled calls. They used one of the Android phones and an iPhone. I think the iPhone actually rang 11 times out of the 15 times it was called. The Android was marginally better (not enough better in this small test to say it was actually better) - something like 12 out of 15 times it actually rang. For both of these, they probably aren't counting "didn't ring" as a dropped call because they "never connected a call". Surprisingly, both phones "had bars" everywhere and seemed to be in range. (I did look for the original article but after 5 minutes of searching I gave up). Anyway, it is stuff like this that makes people laugh at the 0.1% dropped calls. People get dropped calls. People like me (yes, I am on Verizon but my wife and daughter are on AT&T) don't even make 1,000 calls a year - but we get more than 1 dropped call per year. Experience tells us those numbers are completely bogus - and as a user we consider a call where our phone never even rang a "dropped call" even if the carriers don't.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34467970)

ridiculously low 0.1%.

...what's your basis of calling it ridiculously low? Do you know the dropped call rate of other companies?

Perhaps 0.1% is very high compared to other companies? Heck, assuming 10 million calls a day, that's 10,000 dropped calls daily!

Anyway, I'm just trying to say the number has no context. If I said my penis was 5,000 flagoogles long, it might *sound* impressive, but maybe a hundred flagoogles is only half of a nord?

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468042)

If I said my penis was 5,000 flagoogles long, it might *sound* impressive, but maybe a hundred flagoogles is only half of a nord?

Isn't a flagoogle a unit of time and not distance?

If your penis was a car, would it be an 18 wheeler or a hatchback? Please phrase your answer in a way that would make Alex Trebek's ears flutter in glee.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468246)

Maybe his penis is a time machine. You get it up to 88 strokes per minute and bam, you find yourself masturbating in a whole other era.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468230)

...what's your basis of calling it ridiculously low? Do you know the dropped call rate of other companies?

There are periods when I have no dropped calls. There are also periods where I drop a call two or three times in a single hour. This is in an area that typically has 3-5 bars of signal. A number as low as 0.1% can't possibly be correct unless their methodology is flawed. Most likely, their methodology is the same as the methodology used for determining whether to credit the customer: if the customer calls the same number back within a minute, it's a dropped call. That only works, however, if you're able to get a call out within a minute. Most of the time, when I see dropped calls, it takes longer than that before I'm able to get a call out because the tower is too overloaded. I suspect that their dropped call rate is low by at least an order of magnitude as a result of their methodology, and possibly two orders in some parts of the country.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468574)

Ah. Actually, that .1% was a delta, not a total dropped call percent. Makes more sense that way.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468842)

It does, in fact, make quite a bit more sense.

And thus nearly the entire set of replies in this thread is moot.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469084)

Pfft the bars don't mean anything. If they want to present a meaningful comparison, they could show decibels of microvolts emf, microwatts received power, SNR.. Even the bar representation could have been meaningful, if they'd only declare a meaning for it.

More "bars" in more places?! what the hell is that even supposed to mean?

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468028)

"Dropped call rate" doesn't mean anything; a 60 minute call is more likely to drop than a 30 second call. And any call is more likely to drop if I'm driving through a tunnel while on the phone.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

standbypowerguy (698339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468934)

...any call is more likely to drop if I'm driving through a tunnel while on the phone.

That's odd. One of the few places my current phone seems to work best is in tunnels. It wasn't always this way, but I believe a lot of the carriers have installed antennae in many of them.

Minor Nit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468980)

"Antennas." Antennae are what insects have.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (4, Informative)

Matheus (586080) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468112)

Bad Summary / RTFA. They say "our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent - the equivalent of just one call in a thousand - of the industry leader." NOT that they have fewer than 0.1% dropped calls.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469234)

Bad Summary / RTFA. They say "our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent - the equivalent of just one call in a thousand - of the industry leader." NOT that they have fewer than 0.1% dropped calls.

Yeah, but even that way is mighty sketchy wording. AT&T knew what they were doing when they worded it that way.
-Taylor

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468382)

no shit .. it's closer to 60% for me. Goddamn awful! Thank you Apple for giving these guys a leg to stand on.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468978)

That's because you're holding your iPhone wrong. Buy a cheap-o phone that can actually make phone calls (never mind that it can't do anything else) instead of a fashion gadget and your calls won't get dropped.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468472)

From TFA,

"The GWS drive tests also revealed that 98.59 percent of voice calls connected over the AT&T network nationwide are completed without interruption. That's a difference of about one-tenth of one percentage point, or one call in 1,000, from the only higher score in the industry."

So no, they do not drop only 1 out of 1000 calls, they drop more like 15 out of 1000 calls.

Not that my anecdotal evidence has any weight, but I personally experience more like a 5 to 10% dropped call rate with AT&T (one time I was dropped 4 times in a half hour).

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (1)

blargster (239820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468582)

Look AT&T, if you're going to lie you should at least make it a plausible lie. Nobody who uses AT&T (or has to call people on AT&T) is going to believe your ridiculously low 0.1%.

AT&T was misquoted. They never claimed that they had a dropped call rate of 0.1% - they said that "our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent – the equivalent of just one call in a thousand – of the industry leader.”

The article that Slashdot linked to does not state what Slashdot says in their summary above - try to actually read your sources first Slashdot!

Sounds like excellent stats to me.

Personally, I've never had a single dropped call with AT&T.

Makes you wonder if most folks that take these surveys actually have had dropped calls with AT&T (or have even ever used AT&T!) or are merely repeating what they've heard from others.

Re:Dropped call rate of 0.1%?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468752)

Look AT&T, if you're going to lie you should at least make it a plausible lie. Nobody who uses AT&T (or has to call people on AT&T) is going to believe your ridiculously low 0.1%.

My phone must be an anomaly... the longest call I can make is about 10-15 minutes. Usually they drop about 5-10 min in.

iPhone users are whiners! (0, Troll)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467896)

Statistics are easily skewed when the demographics aren't considered. Verizon is equally as bad, but the whiny cry baby iPhone types just are not there to bitch. I'll bet that if you asked Starbucks and included cell phone type as a criteria, the iPhone users would be the ones ordering the "extra skinny, double foo foo, with non fat something" and will send back 2 or 3 making everyone else wait just because.

It's what iPhone users are like!

iPhone 4 users are even worse!

Re:iPhone users are whiners! (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467954)

Now there is no reason to give me horrible flashbacks of a woman on her iPhone in front of me in line at Subway and can't decide if she wants lettuce on her sandwich while she is yapping on her phone. I want my meatball sub woman. Move your ass!

Re:iPhone users are whiners! (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468108)

Know how to get those type out of your way? Mention that the place is out of meatball subs, but you've got a special one just for her.

Also a good way to get arrested, so weigh your options carefully.

Re:iPhone users are whiners! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468962)

(Shrug) Either way, you get your meatball sub.

Re:iPhone users are whiners! (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468086)

What the fuck is this comment? I expected at least THREE separate blatant stereotypes, a racial slur and some kind of reference to Apple users being gay. Go back and try again.

-iPhone 4 owner

Re:iPhone users are whiners! (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468620)

There is no need for stereotypes, racial, or gay related slurs about Apple users, and iPhone consumers in particular on Slashdot. The type of people that are here already know.

Re:iPhone users are whiners! (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468444)

iPhones in the US are sold locked to AT&T. It means that iPhone/AT&T users in the US have generally chosen the phone, not a network. Thus, you will have on that network, iPhone users who personally like AT&T and also iPhone users who do not, but are forced to use that network or change phones, which is always going to be worse than a customer base made up wholly of those who have chosen that service. The argument "if you don't like it then leave" is not as valid with an expensive handset in the picture, so a greater number of people will suffer and complain, leaving distorted figures.

Anyway, US iPhone users cannot complain too loudly, thanks to AT&T, it is roughly half the cost of the same model bought unlocked elsewhere, mine was bought in Hong Kong, cheapest outside North America and it cost me like US$620. Given you can just buy one of your cheap locked phones and hack it anyway, that's the best of both worlds really.

Now, I know that correlation != causation, but... (3, Interesting)

rekenner (849871) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467898)

"Over half of the respondents who used AT&T used the iPhone when taking the survey."

Re:Now, I know that correlation != causation, but. (4, Interesting)

dumbnose (190140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468844)

I had two different iPhones over two years. I experienced dropped calls all the time. It was awful. I hated AT&T. During this time, I even moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and still had the same poor experience. I was ready to leave AT&T. I had friends on AT&T that didn't have iPhones and they said they had a good experience with AT&T. So, I decided to get a new phone. I got a Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7. Now, my experience is really good. The network seems fast and reliable. No more dropped call issues. I can't speak for everybody. But, this is my experience. I wish I had changed phones sooner. It would've saved me tons of aggravation.

Re:Now, I know that correlation != causation, but. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469124)

To be fair, AT&T service here is sufficiently bad, that were we the only people with iPhones the problem would never have been discovered.

There's something about Seattle which leads us to get crappy service from telecoms. AT&T, Qwest and Comcast all in the same market. And I'm not sure that the others are any better. Receptionwise, Sprint was actually pretty good in my experience, but that was just for voice, no idea how they are for data.

at&t isn't that bad (4, Insightful)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467948)

And when the hoard of iPhone users flood another carrier (Verizon?) when at&t loses its exclusive contract with Apple, maybe two things will happen. 1. The speeds on at&t's network will increase 2. The call quality/service will increase. at&t will have to try harder, to keep customers because you won't have to go there if you want an iPhone. I have been with them for 8 years, never had a problem. It will just be nice to walk into an at&t store and not have to look to see if you accidentally didn't wonder into an Apple store LOL.

Re:at&t isn't that bad (0)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469104)

It really does depend on the region, and whether you use data frequently. I get dead zones with Verizon sometimes, but other than that the 3G can be a lot better than my crummy WiFi (as in, it actually works).

But I've never, ever had a dropped call or poor reception on my Verizon phones, and yet there are people in my region with iPhones who curse AT&T on a regular basis because they can't seem to get a stable connection. *shrug*

Not Just Iphone Users (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467952)

My room mate just had to drop AT&T as her carrier because conversations were garbled and she could not understand about one word in four. She tried three different phones while trying to resolve the problem, and borrowed my HTC from Sprint a couple of times. She just switched over to Sprint, problem solved.

A lady I know over at my favorite coffee shop also complains of problems with AT&T data service and dropped calls both at home and at the coffee shop, and she doesn't use an iPhone either.

Re:Not Just Iphone Users (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468032)

I use an N-Gage QD, that's right, that old. I don't have any problems with AT&T. Now the kicker: I moved from Nebraska to Vegas and kept my Nebraska number and just use Google Voice. Yeah, my phone still works perfect. Granted, I was smart enough to get a plan that is nationwide so I am not hit for roaming charges, but this is first hand experience from somebody who uses a phone that is completely hated on. My phone is supposed to be really, really bad, but yet, it works just fine. No dropped calls. I have no clue what any of you are talking about. Find a way to send me a private message and I will personally call you. It will go from my Nebraska number in Vegas to Google Voice, then to you, or I can directly call you.

So people are either dropping their phones in the toilets and wondering why they don't work anymore, they are getting the cheapest possible phones on the planet, or they are bitching to bitch. I say this because my phone is so old and crappy to where Nokia themselves to not even support the N-Gage QD anymore. I have no problems with my phone or playing somebody online in a game on my phone or data or texts or anything.

Re:Not Just Iphone Users (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468116)

I thought it might just be a phone quality issue too -- my HTC Evo is a good bit more expensive than the mid-range smart phones she was trying. Three phones, she tried with AT&T. First phone with sprint resolved the issue.

There are a lot of variables involved, and it's hardly a scientific study, but it only ever seems like AT&T users I hear complaining about the service, and the complaints are not uncommon.

Re:Not Just Iphone Users (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468714)

Same here. I use an htc EVO on Sprint, and I have absolutely no problems with AT&T. :)

Re:Not Just Iphone Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468166)

Gee. I happen to get adequate reception in two places I have lived. You guys must be complete idiots if you get poor reception in completely different geographical locations than I have ever visited using phones that I have never handled.

Re:Not Just Iphone Users (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468348)

My room mate just had to drop AT&T as her carrier because conversations were garbled and she could not understand about one word in four. She tried three different phones while trying to resolve the problem, and borrowed my HTC from Sprint a couple of times. She just switched over to Sprint, problem solved.

I'd be curious if your roommate's cell tower is forcing all her calls into half rate encoding. Could be the case if the tower is highly congested or if the phone's battery is low. Moving to a different area would probably solve the problem, though it isn't a great solution. Calling the phone company and complaining about the sound quality might even help, particularly if you can tell the techs which tower is giving you trouble (by tower and cell ID). It might simply be that they haven't upgraded that specific tower to support newer codecs like AMR or EFR, and they might just need a swift kick in the pants to get them to upgrade the tower.

Studies mean nothing (5, Insightful)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467974)

If your service sucks and your customers hate you, citing studies and statistics won't make them hate you less...

Re:Studies mean nothing (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468960)

If your service sucks and your customers hate you, citing studies and statistics won't make them hate you less...

If your service sucks and it costs billions to make it better, citing studies and statistics is the only direction that is open to you.

There are only about three cell phone companies in the USA (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint; some say T-Mobile is also a cell company :-) The whole market is divided among them, and all these companies are bad. The customer only has an option to move from one bad company to another bad company. Networks lure customers by offering deals and hopes of better service, and repulse customers by poorly servicing them. In the end, it's one big circulation of customers. Marketing is a huge part of that. Nobody can just go out and upgrade a million towers on a whim, in the middle of an upgrade cycle. Even sending a tech to "look at the problem" is expensive, so as long as the tower is technically functioning nobody is going to mess with it.

Re:Studies mean nothing (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469080)

It's called "poisoning the well", and corporations like AT&T use it on a regular basis to fight bad PR.

Duno (3, Interesting)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34467978)

Most of the iPhone users i've talked to say its been just fine on AT&T. I've got an iPhone 4 and it's working great, 3G speeds are plenty fast, and calls haven't dropped at all. Voice sounds bad, and AT&T might be worse in that respect than other carriers, but poor call quality seems to be part of a trend that followed the switch to digital phones, they just sound worse than the older analog ones and definitely worse than landlines.

Most of the AT&T hate seems to be coming from users in large cities like SF and NY. I expect that the signaling issues that TechCrunch and others have reported on that are specific to AT&Ts network are hitting hardest there.

Re:Duno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468434)

In my experience, AT&T is fine... until you have a problem. My parents have AT&T home phone and DSL service. There was a problem with the line that prevented phone calls or internet use. It took two weeks to get a tech out to the home. A couple months later the connection went down again... took three weeks to get a tech out that time. Both times they were told a tech would be out in a day or two and that someone had to stay home to wait for the tech to show up. At the end of the day when no tech shows, being told that the call was rescheduled because of rescheduling and that they would have to be home the next day to wait for the tech... for two and then three weeks. The second time, my parents received at least 4 phone calls and had two people show up and knock on our door from AT&T trying to upsell them to U-Verse in the period they were waiting for the repairman.

And of course when they called about getting phone calls forwarded to a cell phone, that would have been a charge on the order of $20-30. Not that there was a problem with the individual techs. Once they got on site they diagnosed and repaired the problems quickly and efficiently both times. It's just that AT&T is laying off repairmen while simultaneously increasing their advertising arm, and I found out later that new customers ALWAYS receive priority over existing ones. So if you know that you will never have a problem with AT&T, you may be just fine. If something goes wrong, expect to be treated as worthless. As a company, AT&T really does not give one shit about you once they have you in a contract.

Re:Duno (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468696)

This is true of every carrier I've ever had. Everything is peachy until you have a problem. That's when you find out that EVERYONE has the worst customer service in the world.

Moral of the story: figure it out yourself or throw the company away and start fresh.

Re:Duno (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469156)

I suspect that's probably coincidental. There's also been a trend towards deregulation covering most of that period of time. Service even for voice seems to be getting significantly worse.

I just found out that Qwest charges only $6 a month more for their 40mbps fiber service than they do for my 5mbps DSL, only catch is that they don't provide any speeds faster than what I've got here, and they talked the city out of setting up municipal fiber on the premise that they don't want to have to put up with government regulation. Perhaps if they stopped sucking and started actually caring about the customer the urge to regulate might subside.

Cell service seems a bit like that, it's amazing how little they differ in terms of cost or what they provide.

Reminds me of Kitchen Nightmares (5, Insightful)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468040)

The response by AT&T reminds me of almost every episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Gordon goes in, finds out the food is shit, and the owners always respond "but the customers all tell us the food is great!" (to which Gordon usually responds "What customers?").

Re:Reminds me of Kitchen Nightmares (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468386)

"but the customers all tell us the food is great!" (to which Gordon usually responds "What customers?").

Yeah because AT&T has no customers and none of them think the service is acceptable--nope, not one. Please. I have an iPhone and while I wish I had a phone with a physical keyboard and true multitasking, the iPhone is a killer device and certainly still the best available for the touchscreen only market.

I rarely have dropped calls, I have 3G most everywhere I happen to be, and the service is acceptable to me. While I certainly wouldn't hesitate to jump ship to another network which was faster, cheaper, and offered a better phone, that doesn't mean I don't hate all mobile phone network operators equally.

Re:Reminds me of Kitchen Nightmares (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469200)

Well, the example isn't the greatest because there are other restaurants out there that are presumably better. AT&T is worse than the competition, but not bad enough to make much of a difference in terms of switching.

3G coverage for them in Seattle is complete crap. Largely because they've got their antennae set up north of the city and south of the city with everybody in the middle with little to no consideration for topography. Before Sprint pissed me off with their customer service, I had much, much less trouble with reception.

I think it's telling that AT&T has had to stoop to the level of using the femtocells even in urban areas to deal with the problems. They shouldn't be needing to push those devices in any major city.

their internet / home phone is worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468098)

Try getting internet or phone services with them, it's not only a painful experience getting them, but it's a terrible experience just trying to pay them without direct withdrawl. I fought against them for months when I finally won and got the money that they owed me and left them permanently. I haven't ever met anyone who liked their services. Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS have had pretty decent if not excellent (see verizon) customer service for me and my friends. Though you get what you pay for but interestingly enough the pay as you go service (MetroPCS) while insanely cheap, their customer service is pretty good.

QWEST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468102)

It's like Qwest. When you have assholes as your customer representatives you garner no new business(aka the people you talk to when you call Qwest). I will never use qwest again, EVER, I don't care if it's free or almost free... If anyone buys them... I won't use them either. Only shitheads buy shit. A new slogan for Qwest and ATT, shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.... It's like binary but only zeros.

Response (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468120)

Consumer Reports responded in kind that AT&T could shove it's speed tests, considering they were measuring customer satisfaction, and apparently customers could give a good goddamn about how AT&T performed on its own, unverifiable tests when their customer service is horrifying.

Re:Response (1)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468376)

I don't know where AT&T gets their numbers. I don't have any hard statistics, but as a regular iPhone user, I've experienced a 5-10% dropped call rate, times when even texts wouldn't be sent, and depending on where I am in this large metropolitan area I call home, download speeds of 0.03 Mbps (though right now I'm getting 2.12 Mbps down and 0.180 Mbps up). I'm certainly not impressed with AT&T's network. On the other hand, Verizon's customer service was what prompted me to switch in the first place.

Re:Response (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469220)

That's similar to how I ended up on AT&T. Sprint's terrible service prompted me to switch and AT&T ended up being cheaper for reasons related to a family plant.

But the reception is far worse than it was on Sprint and I'm regularly in parts of the city where I can't get 3G.

Not surprising at all (2)

dwhitaker (1500855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468142)

My girlfriend and I have been in a long-distance relationship for a while now and communicated almost exclusively via phone at night. Some nights there would be 5-10 dropped calls in a 30 minute period. It didn't matter which side dropped the calls because we both used AT&T. Moreover, even when the dropped call rate was tolerable, the call-quality was very poor. We both finally decided to switch to T-Mobile when our contracts ran out and have never looked back.

Re:Not surprising at all (2)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469136)

You're in a long distance relationship and you get a lot of dropped calls?

Have you considered the possibility that you are not, in fact, in a long distance relationship..?

Speaking as an iPhone Owner and New Yorker (2)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468184)

I can tell you I am completely satisfied with ATT, but ONLY when I'm in Brooklyn. In fact, 3G service has better latency than my cable connection through Cablevision.

As soon as I go to Manhattan, ATT provides the most horrible experience I've ever had with a phone.

I'm not totally sure if this is ATTs fault though, for two reasons: 1.) Buildings interfere with cell signal, and 2.) Tons of people there have an iPhone/smartphone.

I find that the latency in Manhattan (especially lower down in Hell's Kitchen, the Village, or near the WTC) can sometimes be atrocious, especially when just coming out of the subway. When you're looking up directions or reviews, you don't want to have to wait a minute for results to come back... That minute can feel like much longer especially if it's freezing cold out.

Does android on verizon or sprint have similar issues, or is it just ATT? Anyone?

Re:Speaking as an iPhone Owner and New Yorker (1)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469012)

I talk to a friend almost every day who lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan, and I'd (mostly) agree. Manhattan + iPhone/AT&T = awful. We'll have 10 dropped calls in a half-hour period, depending on where she's walking. It's pretty brutal. Brooklyn's a bit better, but I still notice way more problems (drops or corrupt sound) than other carriers.

I'm using Virgin, which piggybacks on Sprint's network (I believe), and haven't had any problems at all. Only issue is getting reception in certain buildings, but I'd blame that on the cheapo phone more than anything.

Another Data Point (2)

jIyajbe (662197) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468312)

Seattle area, iPhone, AT&T, fully satisfied. No problems.

(Plus, the SB baristas all know my drink, so I don't take up time ordering it. :-) )

Re:Another Data Point (1)

Chakra5 (1417951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468510)

Seattle area, iPhone, AT&T, fully satisfied. No problems.

Same here...

and I don't even drink coffee .:shrug:. :-)

Re:Another Data Point (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34469236)

Really? You must not spend much time traveling around actually in the city, because the service is pretty much shit. But, OTOH, if you're up north closer to shoreline or down south the service ought to be much better given the location of the antennae.

Dropped calls of 0.1%? (1)

bsquizzato (413710) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468330)

Dropped calls of 0.1%? What is that statistic for, where AT&T service is available? The problem is how "gappy" AT&T's coverage is. Within the same town I often find myself going in and out of 3G, or in and out of roaming. That's where my calls of course drop ;)

They didn't ask me (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468334)

I'm sure dissatisfaction has a lot to do with the iPhone antenna issue. I'll tell you - I switched from Sprint when I bought an iPhone and I've never been happier. U.S. based call centers. You don't have to wait 30 minutes to talk to a person. And the service just works. You couldn't pay me any amount of money to go back to Sprint.

With Sprint, they double-billed me, tried to blackmail me from leaving by stating that I agreed to a new contract when I did not, and they made me spend countless hours on the phone when I ever had a problem.

I have been happy with my Verizon broadband, but I'd be hard pressed to move away from AT&T based on the fact that I always get an american on the phone and it always happens quickly.

Re:They didn't ask me (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468560)

I'm sure dissatisfaction has a lot to do with the iPhone antenna issue.

Doubtful. Customer satisfaction with AT&T was in bad shape long before iPhone 4 came out. It is, however, regional.

For a great way to check your coverage in many major cities, go to CNet's cell coverage map [cnet.com] . As soon as you look at the San Francisco Bay area, you'll understand why the reviews are so negative. Verizon's data service map looks awful, but their voice service map looks good. AT&T is the reverse. Guess who is optimizing for what?

Re:They didn't ask me (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468694)

Bay area being what it is (I don't go there much), I do travel extensively. The only area AT&T ever gave me problems was in a small area near the New Hampshire border in Massachusetts.

I'm not much of a bandwidth user - just email and google maps. Google maps isn't what I'd hope often enough, but meh - it's a phone.

Still - my coverage would have to take a major drop from what I currently experience to put myself through the horror of offshore call centers and subpar customer service.

I guess if I didn't have such a bad experience with Sprint for a decade I wouldn't be so impressed with the change AT&T provided me with.

Re:They didn't ask me (1)

quickgold192 (1014925) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468738)

When did you switch from Sprint? I've been using them for about a year and a half now, and I must say that I have been impressed with the customer service:
They called me up a couple months into my plan saying "You know how we gave you free Sprint to Sprint calls? Now you have free mobile to mobile."
At about the one-year mark they told me that even though I signed a two-year contract, I could resign and get a reduced phone rate.
They've called me up to see how my weekend was going. (Really)
And I can get capless internet, more than enough voice (with free mobile/mobile and 7pm nights I use ~20 anytime minutes/month) and phone insurance for $72 after taxes.

I really feel like they're trying to hold on to me as a customer, but maybe it has to do with the fact I live in largish cities and *knew* I would need the insurance (Palm Pre Classic) and got it, avoiding a lot of the hassle that comes with interfacing with a phone company.

I also heard that they used to be just awful and changed their ways about 2 years ago.

Re:They didn't ask me (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468958)

It's been years, and I'm still upset about the way they treated me as a long-term customer.

AT&T has done things for me above and beyond what sprint ever would have done.

1) You chose a plan below your activity. We'll go ahead and backdate a plan upgrade for you because that'll be cheaper. If your calling habits change, you can downgrade at any time.

2) My phone was stolen, they activated GPS tracking on it immediately and gave me the location for law enforcement.

3) Provided me with a discount on a new phone prior to my contract expiring.

4) Never lied to me.

5) Never made me wait for hours on end on customer service calls to resolve a billing problem.

6) Never actually had a billing problem.

7) Always answered the phone with a US based service representative who actually had the power and desire to resolve my problems.

Price, frankly, doesn't mean much to me. Customer service does. I'm glad you're having a good experience with Sprint - more power to you. They've done enough damage that I will never consider them as a carrier again.

Speaking as a consumer (1)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468356)

AT&T is a great carrier... TO PEE ON!

Article contradicts "dropped call rate of 0.1%". (1)

TimFreeman (466789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468372)

The article said AT&T's "dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent – the equivalent of just one call in a thousand – of the industry leader". So if the industry leader drops 5% of the calls, AT&T drops 5.1%.

Re:Article contradicts "dropped call rate of 0.1%" (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468908)

So if the industry leader drops 5% of the calls, AT&T drops 5.1%.

And then T-Mobile in reality drops 51%. But really, what's an order of magnitude between friends?

Interpretation: Wireless data plans suck (3, Insightful)

dirkdodgers (1642627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468392)

If Verizon had the iPhone too, albeit the results would be similar. 2GB is a ridiculous monthly cap. $10 for every additional GB? What is this, 1995? OK, throttle bandwidth as needed to deliver QoS, but don't put an artificial per-month cap on my usage.

The main advantage of having the iPhone on Verizon will be that it will drive down data plan prices and drive up caps.

And $20/month extra for tethering? Really AT&T? Go shove it up your ass.

0.1%? (1)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468408)

What? They must be counting all the minutes you're NOT using your phone as them NOT dropping your call.

AT&T might suck? (1)

WSOGMM (1460481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468478)

I don't need 58,000 consumer report subscribers to tell you that.

Their Network is Too Fast (3, Funny)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468522)

It is so fast, the bits just fly by before anyone realizes it. Calls are not dropped, they merely end before the subscriber does. The problem is 2G subscribers on a 3G network. Subscribers need to upgrade themselves to 3G. Truth is, no one is nearly fast enough for AT&T. Send them all your money, and they will forgive you.

No, I am not a shill; I just play one on the Internet.

Monopolistic advantage. (1)

RackinFrackin (152232) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468524)

Different carriers are better in different areas of the country. Anecdotally, in my experience AT&T is great in the southeast and Sprint sucks. In Northern VA it's the opposite.

Since the iPhone is only available with AT&T, some people who would go with a superior carrier in their area will opt to go with less-desirable AT&T because they want the iPhone. Those who want a different phone or don't care about their phone's brand are going to tend to go with the better carrier, and the data will reflect all of this.

My Experience with ATT and Sprint in NYC Area (1)

grokgov (972024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468548)

ATT in Manhattan (iPhone 3g):
~40% dropped calls in first 5 minutes. That's right -- 40%
Acceptable data rates: Pandora on high-bw with no buffering stutters.
Customer service: lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.

Conclusion: ATT is UNUSABLE in NYC Metro Area, and I hate, hate, hate them for wasting my time.

Sprint in Manhattan (HTC Hero and HTC Evo)
0% dropped calls. Some loss of signal resulting in dropped calls in some backwoods areas of rural/suburban areas.
Acceptable data rates on 3g: Pandora on high-bw with no buffering stutters.
4g: Available in Brooklyn in the Park Slope area. Insane up and down rates, but 4g connection often flakes, requiring restart of networking services (switch on-off airplane mode).
Customer service: Downright classy. At least right now, intelligent people who don't seem burned out.

Comment on HW: HTC Hero is frustratingly slow.

Conclusion: Sprint on the Evo is the best Phone/Carrier Combination I've ever had. I finally have a device I am truly happy about!

Apple got all the infrastructure upgrade money. (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468562)

They paid Jobs massive $$$ for exclusive iPhone rights, got a lot of customers, and now their network is overloaded. There's no money left for infrastructure upgrades because Apple has it all!

All these companies suck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468642)

I guess sucking less is a service differentiator.
The top ranked carrier doesn't offer plans in my metro area (9th largest in the country) for some reason. Guess I'm stuck with the majority-suck carriers.

My cable company sucks too - but only due to the price and fact that my VCR is worthless now thanks to the QAM digital change (not the mandated FCC OTA digital change. As an ISP, they offer a great service for a reasonable price. TV service sucks and they charge 100% too much.

I've been on a pay-as-you-go cell plan for personal use for 5 years. If I take all the money for that plan and the phone, then average it out monthly - it is just $2.88/month for the last 5 yrs. I doubt they are making that much off me.

T-mobile (4, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468688)

I have T-mobile prepaid. Fewer dropped calls because more often you can't place the call because there's no service at all. On the good side, it's cheap.

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What I like and dislike about AT&T (2)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468770)

What I like about AT&T:

* They use SIM cards
* They offer the iPhone

What I dislike about AT&T:

* Everything else

I've been with them since they were Cellular One and I had a big old bulky NEC phone - They were great back then. Now, not so much. I'd love to be able to use the iPhone on T Mobile (I know, I can unlock it blah blah blah)

AT&T admits to being sub par anyway. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34468852)

I got hired with Convergys, a company that handles AT&T customer service. During the course of the training, we were told that, yes, AT&T is the most expensive carrier. We learned how AT&T grades their customers, on a scale of 1 to 0 to 5, with 0 being the type of customer they want to lose, the one who always calls with complaints and requesting adjustments. Meanwhile the 5's they will bend over backwards to keep.

The most astounding thing I learned, however, was during a discussion about international roaming charges. The question was posed to the class, "If I take my iPhone to Mexico, and hook up to my brother's wi-fi, will I be charged international roaming?" Of course, I answered no, seeing as how being connected to a private access point means that AT&T is not providing any network service at all, but it turns out I was wrong. We were told that the customer can avoid the charges by not having their SIM card inserted. But if the card is in there, apparently AT&T can charge you for a service they are not providing.

Three iPhones in 1 room, only one has signal (1)

ShannaraFan (533326) | more than 3 years ago | (#34468968)

My phone, wife's phone, son's phone, in the same room in our house, literally within 10 feet of each others. My phone shows four bars, the other two nothing. Happens all the time, just in a different combination. First contract expires in April, at which point we're "phasing out" AT&T.

survey transmitted via AT&T (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34469232)

"Over half of the respondents who used AT&T used the iPhone when taking the survey"

  Hmm, and just think about how many of those surveys were never received due to AT&T packet loss.

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