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AT&T Repeats As Lowest-Rated Wireless Carrier

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the defending-the-title dept.

Cellphones 201

redletterdave writes "Consumer Reports' latest ratings survey of cell phone carriers revealed that Verizon Wireless scored the highest satisfaction score out of the four major U.S. service providers, earning particularly high grades for texting and data service. Verizon was followed closely by Sprint and T-Mobile USA, but all three companies earned scores lower overall than their figures from last year. AT&T was at the very bottom of the list for the second year in a row. While AT&T's satisfaction score in 2011 wasn't as bad as its score from 2010, the Dallas-based cell phone provider, which recently discontinued its bid to acquire its better rival T-Mobile, still ranked at the bottom of the pack. Last year, AT&T was the only carrier for the Apple iPhone, but still managed to receive the lowest scores."

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201 comments

AT&T Customer Service is a big reason (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288244)

Just get an AT&T e-mail address (ala MyName@att.net), "serviced by Yahoo", if you want to find out why AT&T services are so hated.

That's AT&T! (4, Funny)

JoshWurzel (320371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288246)

No bars in more places...

Re:That's AT&T! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288726)

No bars in more places...

With all those bars, you get drunk enough to not notice the lack of bars.

Famous quote (5, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288250)

"We're the Phone Company. We don't care, we don't have to" - Lily Tomlin

Re:Famous quote (4, Insightful)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289392)

That is actually a very accurate interpretation of AT&T's slide. Their monopoly on the iPhone was a big part of their downfall. Relying upon a popular phone as a draw to customers decreased their incentive to provide good customer service.

Re:Famous quote (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290546)

Yup, I'm fairly certain the iPhone is the reason for AT&T's epic failure to handle Android properly, and AT&T's complacence thanks to the iPhone is why Verizon made such an incredible about-face when it came to device availability - it used to be Verizon was the LAST carrier you wanted to be on if you wanted a decent smartphone (for example, 9 month delays for the Treo 650 and the XV6800 for "carrier certification issues" - translation: we haven't finished crippling the software yet.), but that completely changed with them embracing Android in 2010.

AT&T (5, Informative)

BriggsBU (1138021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288252)

After working for AT&T, it is no surprise to me that they rate so lowly. Their employees often find their hands tied when they want to help a customer. They also have a 0-5 score that all accounts are given. This score is one of the first things an agent sees when the customer's account comes up. Customers whose accounts rate a 0 or 1 (either due to being on the cheapest plan or due to poor credit/payment history) find themselves treated like a red-headed step child. AT&T's policies actually state that any customer threatening to disconnect their service due to a dispute should be transferred to a senior representative UNLESS they are a 0 or a 1. 0's and 1's should instead be disconnected immediately and have their Early Termination Fee waived. Essentially, AT&T doesn't want them as customers and will drop them the instant they have an excuse.

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288270)

I think you just said that. I think you just said that.

Re:AT&T (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288272)

Wow that is pretty sad for a major company to treat its customers like that by giving them a number and treating based on how high it is.

Re:AT&T (5, Informative)

MBC1977 (978793) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288566)

Its called "firing a customer" and it makes perfect sense. If the customer is not profitable and cannot be made to become profitable, why keep them as a customer? Basic cost accounting there.

Re:AT&T (5, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288910)

Yeap. Some customers deserve the axe. The problem is when you give too many customers the axe: people interpret it as bad customer service either from direct experience or word of mouth. If enough people get that impression, it will be reflected in the company's ability to retain the good customers. So firing the customer doesn't really make sense unless it is a very exceptional case.

Re:AT&T (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38289502)

Because that customer has friends, family, ect... And will tell them all how shit at&t is.

Which is how they end up with the lowest scores year after year.

The world is no longer isolated little cities spread across the planet. It's one global city now with the internet here. And treating people like shit for any reason WILL bite you in the ass.

But of course companies are slow to change and rarely have touch with the real world. So it'll be another two decades before at&t gets it. And hopefully by then they'll be gone. And nobody will care.

Re:AT&T (5, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290448)

So a customer asks to have their service disconnected and AT&T not only does that but also waives the early termination fee? Yeah, what a "shit" move. I hope no other companies out there respond to customer complaints by doing what the customer asks and then some. I'd much rather spend half an hour while they transfer me to someone else to try to talk me out of what I specifically asked for.

Re:AT&T (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289830)

"Its called "firing a customer" and it makes perfect sense..."

And it sounds like you'd make a perfect candidate for a telecom CS dweeb.

In pretty much every business I've been involved with it is called "Taking the good with the bad". You treat EVERYONE with respect and EVERYONE respects you. OK, maybe not everyone...there is always going to be someone like you that just doesn't get it.

Re:AT&T (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290048)

Well you assume that firing the customer can't be done with respect. There is no excuse to treat a customer poorly, but there is every reason to honor their request and let them out of their commitment hands down if they ask when they aren't profitable for you. Sometimes the best way to serve a customer well is to allow them to cut off ties politely. Keep in mind that AT&T is taking a loss by waiving the termination fee as there is a good chance that they had paid out for a phone at the start of the contract.

Re:AT&T (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290268)

I don't think that AT&T is taking a loss by waiving the ETF, more like they are not capitalizing on an undeserved profit. Kind of like the bank taking a loss on a foreclosed property. The bank still owns the property, they just didn't collect all of the investment income, but overall they still have the property.

Re:AT&T (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290320)

The customer should always be treated with respect, even when he's not a customer any more. That doesn't mean it makes sense to serve every customer.

Re:AT&T (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290532)

Why? If the lowest level plans are sold at a loss then raise the price on them. If customers just aren't paying their bills then cancel their service and send them to collections. Either way I don't see 'firing' customers as being a good reason to have a scoring system.

On the other hand... at most of these companies those 'senior' representatives probably get better pay and commission for keeping a customer. The smaller profits made on a low tier customer might just not be worth sending them there. That only really makes sense if you expect the customer to keep calling back and doing it again. Otherwise even a small profit margin should make up for the 5-20 minutes they spend talking to the representative and any commission after a little while. Maybe a good scoring system should be how often they call, threaten to cancel and get a better deal.

Re:AT&T (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290036)

Honestly, I think the fact that AT&T eats the termination fee just to get them out the door is actually good customer service. If they really wanted to, they could stick it to the customer and try to recover their costs by charging the fee they are entitled to, but they don't since they simply want the business relationship ended. As MBC1977 mentioned below, you don't have a right to have a company do business with you if they don't make money. It is only good business to decide who is more of a drain on resources than it is worth and seek to end those relationships.

Re:AT&T (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288308)

Somehow that doesn't surprise me. AT&T is significantly worse than Sprint. With Sprint their customer service sucked, but I'd get a signal in more parts of the city than with any of the other carriers. AT&T by contrast can't even cover the city. It's embarrassing to be in a major city and have to worry about cell service in most parts of the city.

I don't even bother with 3G anymore because the service was so spotty. For whatever reason going between 3G and EDGE would cause timeouts, and my service was constantly going between the two unless I was sitting still. Ultimately I get much better speed by turning off the 3G completely.

Now, if Sprint or Verizon would see the light and allow phones with SIM cards on their networks like CDMA carriers do in other countries I'd almost certainly switch. Most likely T-Mobile will be getting my service next time I need domestic cell service.

Re:AT&T (2)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288326)

Now, if Sprint or Verizon would see the light and allow phones with SIM cards on their networks like CDMA carriers do in other countries I'd almost certainly switch. Most likely T-Mobile will be getting my service next time I need domestic cell service.

I came to the same conclusion now that Sprint's been screwing me multiple times. For four years, they were great. This year, not so much.

The only question is if T-mobile will be the same (or even extant) in July when my contract is up.

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38290260)

Now, if Sprint or Verizon would see the light and allow phones with SIM cards on their networks like CDMA carriers do in other countries I'd almost certainly switch. Most likely T-Mobile will be getting my service next time I need domestic cell service.

I don't know about Sprint, but buy a 4g Verizon phone. It will have a SIM Card. I have a Droid Charge, and it's got one...

Re:AT&T (4, Interesting)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288372)

And this is another reason I am happy to be Australian. We have very strong consumer protection laws that stop this kind of bullshit. Service providers are regularly audited, the TIO has the power to send cases to the regulator, and you still get the same service no matter if you're on the lowest plan or on the top plan.

By no means is our system perfect, but it's a damn sight better than the US.

Re: AT&T installed CarrierIQ spyware (0)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288382)

Snapped my HTTPS encrypted banking credentials before the device onscreen rendering even finished. How come they are still in business?

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288436)

Can you answer? Is att evil or just incompetent?

As a former customer, I always got the idea that overcharges were an essential part of att's / cingular's business plan.

I had a couple different numbers with them (both as att and cingular), and they would always charge for things that were included in the plan. Typically $50-$150 in bogus charges per month. They would always remove them when called, but calling every month was a pita, and a huge factor in me changing carriers, and swearing never to go back to att.

Re:AT&T (1)

BriggsBU (1138021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289716)

I worked for Verizon before I worked for AT&T (I'm out of the cell industry now, thank god) and there seemed to be less inaccuracies in billing with Verizon. Of course, both tend to pass on any government regulatory charges to the customer (and there are a LOT). Municipal, county, state, and federal fees add up. That's why your bill will never be the advertised pricing. And I'm not talking just taxes. I mean, it is not entirely the carrier's fault. They have to make up those regulatory fees somehow, I just dislike the way that they name them so that they look like required fees from the government.

Re:AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38289068)

and have their Early Termination Fee waived

that actually sounds like a good way out/something that can be gamed. so if I want to skip the ETF I can just become a bad customer? hrm...

Re:AT&T (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38289592)

Yes... if you're dealing with a terrible company, become a terrible customer. Once I was in a contract that renewed automatically, if not canceled within 60-days before the contract was up. So 50 days before, I called them to cancel. Long story short, they lied and dragged everything out as long as they could, trying to run out the clock. So after about 4 weeks of that crap, I started calling them 1-2 times a day to get an "update on my ticket", sending them certified letters repeating what I was told, etc, etc. Within a week, they closed the account.

Re:AT&T (1)

BriggsBU (1138021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289736)

Another secret to get your ETF waived is to change your address to a location where they don't have coverage. If you live in an area that shows as no coverage on their maps then they are supposed to automatically waive the ETF. When I worked there, they didn't even require proof.

Re:AT&T (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38290250)

Some of us are red-headed stepchildren who have overcome diversity challenges and achieved more than being a meat bag, you insensitive clod!

Re:AT&T (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290408)

That's awesome! I'm going to tell my friend who thinks he is stuck in an AT&T contract about this right now. Maybe he can reduce his plan to become a 0 or a 1 and then call to cancel! Is that all there is to it? Or would he need bad credit too?

#1! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288268)

They're #1! They're #1!

DOJ and FCC should approve the acquisition (1)

acjacinto (1170951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288292)

AT&T just want to be on 3rd place on ConsumerReports and have no interest on being a monopoly

Oblig. Canuck Comment (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288302)

Surely no worse than Rogers Bell Telus (choose yr poison)

Re:Oblig. Canuck Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288366)

I live in Saskatchewan, and have service throught Sasktel, the #1 ranked customer service in the country.

I have never really needed customer service before, but the cell/"4G" service has been okay. $80ish/month for 300 daytime, unlimited evenings, unlimited text, unlimited data. Its reasonable. Telus has some better pricing but I'm stuck in a 3yr contract.

Re:Oblig. Canuck Comment (1)

Vegan Cyclist (1650427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288708)

Yes, i wonder how this survey would look if done in Canada..

Re:Oblig. Canuck Comment (1)

chrish (4714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289982)

You'd have Rogers/Bell/Telus ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd in the Canadian market, and whoever "won" would crow about how awesome they are. And all three would take the study to the CRTC and demonstrate how Canada's cell providers are the top three, and Canadians aren't being totally boned for craptastic service from an oligopoly.

Same way Rogers/Bell/Telus look at the various international ISP rankings and declare that Canada's still a world-leader in home broadband.

Re:Oblig. Canuck Comment (1)

Nesa2 (1142511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289904)

Actually you'd be surprised. I was trying to switch US based customer over from AT&T to Verizon, and due to the craziness I ran into I started making a log. It is quite extensive and funny. Things such as having to make 15 consecutive phone calls in order to reach correct person to talk to as I was being disconnected, looped into menu, and put on hold by people for over 30 minutes while they "transfer me". This was just Verizon too... one of the better ones apparently. Verizon sales person took 3 months to do nothing after 20 emails sent to him, he was coming up with excuses every single time - so funny yet so sad. It's like they had ex-con working as corporate sales rep. It's like they did not want our business... AT&T was even worse if you can believe....

After this experience I started to admire service we get from Bell & Rogers... one phone call and sales team of either will take care of everything...

It's not the real AT&T (3, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288306)

the AT&T today is in name only. It has no relation to the great company started by Alexander Graham Bell in the 19th century.

AT&T ceased to exist after the Feds broke it up in the 1980's. Apparently some dog turd of a company called Cingular merged with another turd company (SBC), and bought the name from yet another company (PacBell), and they decided to call the resulting mega-turd AT&T.

Re:It's not the real AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288428)

AT&T is the name of the company that bought the name of the company known as AT&T. That actual company originally known as AT&T provided reliable (if slightly expensive) phone service, and invented (as the Bell Labs subsidiary) minor technological advancements such as the transistor and digital audio. Anyone used any of that digital audio stuff today?

Re:It's not the real AT&T (5, Informative)

erice (13380) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288460)

Yes it is.

AT&T was broken up into AT&T (The long distance carrier), Bell Labs (relabeled Lucent), and regional Bell Operating Companies.

AT&T of today is Southwestern Bell (SBC) + Pac Bell + Bell South + Ameritech

Verizon is NYNEX + Bell Atlantic + GTE

CenturyLink is USWest + CenturyTel (not a Bell company)

Cingular was a joint venture between SBC and Bell South and was renamed when those two entities merged and acquired AT&T.

The Modern day AT&T is a reformation of the bulk of the old AT&T, albeit with management lead by one of the more ethically challenged corners rather than from the original top.

Sorta like Terminator II (5, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288674)

The Modern day AT&T is a reformation of the bulk of the old AT&T, albeit with management lead by one of the more ethically challenged corners rather than from the original top.

Sorta like the T-1000 in Terminator II.

The courts smashed AT&T into a bunch of little pieces, which rolled around like big balls of mercury each doing their own thing. Once the antitrust restrictions timed out, the balls began to merge. When enough of them had merged the resulting blob reshaped itself into something resembling (but somewhat different from) the original structure.

Re:Sorta like Terminator II (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38289744)

You should change your name to GreatAnalogyGuy

Re:Sorta like Terminator II (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38289906)

He got that from Steven Colbert, actually.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsCp-1hgfxI

Re:It's not the real AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38290200)

There's a reason why we called them Southwestern Hell back in the old pre-breakup days.

Re:It's not the real AT&T (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288490)

The AT&T which was broken up by the Feds was a monopoly that wouldn't let you plug your own phone into the wall. What we have now isn't so great, but lets not imagine that AT&T from the days before was cream and lollipops.

Also if you really want service from AT&T, go into the store. That's been my experience.

Re:It's not the real AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38290090)

The AT&T which was broken up by the Feds was a monopoly that wouldn't let you plug your own phone into the wall.

Yet we take the same kind of abuse from Verizon and Sprint every day without batting an eye. Yes, things have SURE changed for the better.

Re:It's not the real AT&T (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290606)

Yeah - I've always had good customer service from AT&T, but I always go to my local corporate-owned store.

Now device availability and firmware maintenance - AT&T is an utterly epic fucking failure here. They're unable to do even simple things that take people mere hours to figure out on XDA.

For me the only game in town (4, Funny)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288332)

I know how bad they are. Cingular was great but when they changed their name to AT&T their service dropped accordingly. They claim they didn't turn down the towers but everyone's service got worse.

I still use them because no one else has service within 4 miles of where I live. It is funny seeing people with other carriers try to use their phones in my area. They always say they always have service.

Re:For me the only game in town (2)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288434)

Same where I live, it's AT&T or nothing. You can pick up Verizon if you walk down to the end of my driveway. In the house AT&T gets full bars.

Sucks.

Re:For me the only game in town (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290630)

Same here - Back in 2008, T-Mobile was completely nonfunctional for at least 10 miles, and I live along a fairly major road (New York SR 17, soon to be I-86) - even along a major road like that, T-Mo users received no service until they got to Exit 67 in Vestal.

Sprint isn't much better.

I hate AT&T for how they handle device releases, but at least they do have coverage.

Re:For me the only game in town (3, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289010)

Remember when they merged and renamed all the AT&T Wireless stores Cingular...Then turned around a few months later and ditched the Cingular name, switching all the stores (including the newly acquired Cingular stores) back to AT&T? How many hundreds of millions of dollars did they piss away tossing out all those signs and replacing them? It wasn't like they just changed the name on the bills. They redressed every single store across the nation.

Re:For me the only game in town (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289794)

That was because when Cingular bought AT&T Wireless they only bought AT&T Wireless (which if I recall correctly had already been split off from the rump of AT&T that still existed at that time) and did not have the naming rights to use AT&T on any of the stores that they did not acquire with AT&T Wireless. A few months later, Cingular's parent company bought the rest of AT&T's corpse and renamed themselves AT&T.
Modern AT&T is not the same company as the original AT&T. A significant part of its corporate culture is inherited from the companies that were never part of AT&T. That being said, it appears that modern AT&T inherited many of the negative parts of the original AT&T corporate culture and none of the positive aspects. It then combined those aspects with the negative parts of the corporate culture of its other progenitor companies to give us the modern AT&T.

There Might Be Giants, Again. (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290380)

So you're saying they're no longer run by Prof Moriarty, but by people who are much worse?

Mostly meaningless fluff (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288352)

The article is pretty much useless. While we know AT&T ranks lowest - we don't know what that means in absolute percentages. (I.E. they could be have a score of 99.98% percent customer satisfaction, and still be 'lowest'.)
 
But, that won't stop the cavalcade of anecdotal AT&T hate, after all Slashdot has to produce it's daily Two Minutes Hate [wikipedia.org] against somebody corporate.

Re:Mostly meaningless fluff (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288464)

But, that won't stop the cavalcade of anecdotal AT&T hate, after all Slashdot has to produce it's daily Two Minutes Hate [wikipedia.org] against somebody corporate.

Exactly. It is well known that customer service from all major telcos is horrible. And it is only to be expected; after all, they're all corporations.

Re:Mostly meaningless fluff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288518)

The evil empire is especially evil.

Re:Mostly meaningless fluff (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288484)

The article is pretty much useless.

Question is, "for who?" The article is useful for me because I now know which carrier to avoid when I get to the US of America later this month. How about that?

Even if they were ranked #1... (2)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288374)

They'd still be the #1 scumbag. Telcos are fucking evil.

Re:Even if they were ranked #1... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288418)

They're all evil for pushing a mandatory data plan on smartphones despite these phones generally having wi-fi already built in. For most people, I guess needing to be on the internet every moment is a requirement, but I certainly don't need it while I'm driving, I certainly don't need it while I'm sitting in a bar with my wife, and I certainly don't need to to check my favorite porn sites.

I'm just a deaf guy who wants an android phone to text my wife and family with, and to check my email while I'm at my wi-fi bloated work when I can't be at my workstation. I don't need to be on the internet 24/7. I even offered to buy out a phone outright, and I'm still told that AT&T will still require me to be on a data plan.

Since AT&T like to give out numbers and terminate people based on those numbers.. I'll give AT&T a 1.

Re:Even if they were ranked #1... (4, Informative)

schnell (163007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288616)

They're all evil for pushing a mandatory data plan on smartphones despite these phones generally having wi-fi already built in.

I know this spoils the Slashdot anti-corporate groupthink storyline, but the cellular carriers don't just do this stuff for the sake of being evil. The fact is that telcos pay a lot more for smartphones than they do for dumb phones, but customers generally still want "a phone" to cost anywhere between $0 and $200. So the telcos lose more money on every smartphone sale and in order to make that money back they make sure you are forced to have a data plan. The majority - although clearly not you - of cellular customers with smartphones want that anyway, so not a big deal. If they weren't charging you for a data plan they would be extending the length of the contract or something else... it's not being evil just for fun, it's making sure they get their money back on subsidizing your new shiny toy.

Here's a hint - if you want a smartphone and no data plan, buy a non-carrier-branded version unlocked at full price, then take it to one of the US GSM carriers and away you go. (With most GSM carriers, the smartphone plan automatic enforcement is based on serial numbers of subsidized phone models so if you buy some unlocked GSM smartphone that carrier doesn't sell, you should be fine.) Just don't expect the carrier to sell you a $700 phone for $100 and not charge you for a data plan and a two-year contract to make that money back for them plus interest.

Re:Even if they were ranked #1... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288648)

Not so with ATT. According to some forum, people who did that were getting notified that they were getting a 20 or 30 dollar data plan smacked onto their account. Regardless if the phone is unlocked or not.

Besides, as I said earlier, I've offered to buy the phone outright (full price) and I've been told by several salesmen as well as customer services online that the data plan is still required. See link -> http://mobile.engadget.com/2010/02/11/atandt-forcing-smartphones-even-unlocked-ones-onto-smartphone-da/

According to them, the phone just won't work "right" without a data plan.

Re:Even if they were ranked #1... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288850)

Well that's all well and good, but the companies could offer to sell the phone for actual cost, and then not require the data plan. (Or give a discount on it).

What they are doing also means that since you pay off the phone in 2 years, anyone who doesn't upgrade their phone every 2 years is overpaying and being ripped off. They should break out the cost of the phone as a loan, and list it separately. Then when the phone is paid off in two years, you have a choice:
a. New Phone, New Loan
or
b. Same phone, decreased charges.

(Again, disclaimer, this is how basically it works in Japan, except you also do get some discount on the loan if you maintain a service contract).

As for the smartphone plan enforcement, I am not sure that's how it works. When I was in the US, I bought a Blackberry pearl through T-Mobile, and then I got them to unlock it for me. When I left the US, I gave it to my girlfriend, who stuck her AT&T SIM Card in it - and they immediately put her on the Blackberry plan.

Here my carrier (Softbank) has three types of SIM cards that will only work in their respective phones:
1. Normal/Prepaid cards - These work in feature phones, including all prepaid phones.
2. iPhone SIMs - These only work in iPhones.
3. SmartPhone SIMS - These work in Android and other smartphones.

Notes: The iPad SIMs are different yet again, and I don't know about the Data card SIMs. The SmartPhone SIMS start at like $3 a month, so it's not bad. The iPhone SIMs start at like $12 or something per month, but they come bundled with an iPhone email address.

Obviously, if you have an unlocked phone compatible with their network, and of the SIMs will work with it, at least for calls. I have tested this with an eMobile Android Phone.

They have a slightly legitimate reason for separating the smartphone and normal phone SIMs, which is that the data rate for normal phones is much much higher than for SmartPhones. (i.e. if you put a normal SIM into an Android phone and it did all kinds of synching in the background, you would get an enormous phone bills) - though they could certainly solve it in other ways. On the other hand, they have less of a legitimate reason to lock the phones at all, since the consumer has to actually pay off the loan for the phone. I won't buy any more phones from Softbank, even if I plan to use them on their network, because it means I can't ever give my phones as hand-me-downs or use them as back-ups unless they are both on Softbank and also of the same SIM type. Interestingly, the other carriers don't generally lock their phones.

Re:Even if they were ranked #1... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288816)

My smartphone has a data&voice plan which starts at $3 per month, and goes up with usage. Since I only use it as basically an iPod touch (with WiFi), i only ever pay $3 per month for it. Not EVERY carrier charges a lot for mandatory data plans.*

Anyway I am sure you could find a way to buy a smartphone not from AT&T and use a regular SIM in it without them knowing. (They do know, f.e. when you use a blackberry, but I am not sure how they know... there is certainly a way around it).

Disclaimer: I live in Japan.

Re:Even if they were ranked #1... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289868)

why didn't you just buy the phone from expansys?
at&t doesn't "sell" phones. they rent them, the dataplan is the rent. imagine what kind of data service they could provide if the data-service fee went actually paying the data service and not just paying for some percentage of the phone.

Why didn't ya say so? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288392)

Consumer Reports? Bunch of morons there anyway.

still the cheapest (4, Interesting)

Pausanias (681077) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288478)

Service quality is not so bad where I live. I can talk and surf at the same time. And there is no way, I repeat no way to have two iPhones under one plan for less than $100/month in the USA other than AT&T. Would I prefer to have Verizon? Sure, but not $50 extra per month sure.

Re:still the cheapest (-1, Troll)

markass530 (870112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288922)

Who the fuck wants 2 iphones? Who with half a brain wants 1?

Re:still the cheapest (-1)

BVis (267028) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289780)

Some people have spouses.

And there are two kinds of phones: iPhones, and phones that WANT to be iPhones. Why fuck around? Sure, the tech specs might be a few years behind the curve, but the app support is #1 and things "just work".

Re:still the cheapest (1)

csumpi (2258986) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289718)

$50 a month extra (which actually worked out for less than that in my case) is little price to pay for phone/data service that actually works.

We had iPhones on at&t, and the service was terrible. If I could finish a phone conversation without dropping out, I felt lucky. Then we switched to at&t blackberries, which was a major improvement, but there were still some dropped calls. Then at&t took unlimited data away.

At that point I had enough, paid the early termination fees and got two droids with unlimited data on verizon. The call quality is great and haven't had a dropped call in over a year of being with them.

I never found a need for surf and talk. As long as navigation works while I'm on the phone (which it somehow does), I'm happy.

AT&T's Response: (5, Funny)

swonkdog (70409) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288626)

We find the conclusions reached by Consumer Reports to be not only ridiculous but completely baseless as well. Our company would like to believe that it's service would be given a fair and unbalanced evaluation in the market but that is apparently too much to ask. Below we have chosen to refute a few of the more egregious claims leveled by so-called Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports asserts that AT&T's customer service is below average. This is completely untrue. Not a single member of our executive board had trouble reaching a service representative. All of our executive board member's questions were answered politely and completely. They were even told to have a nice day as they disconnected.

As to the statements that our system coverage is sub-par; they have obviously failed to take note of our previously stated plans to at some undefined point in the future to potentially undertake some form of consideration on the concept of improving coverage and building out our meaninglessly named 4G network. We are truly serious about thinking about these things and we believe that we should be given extra credit for taking the time out of our very busy day to contemplate things of this ilk.

We support our troops, orphans, nuns and puppies.

To the assertion that our customer satisfaction ranks at the bottom of the list. Completely untrue! Our internally generated satisfaction matrices inform us that customer satisfaction has never been higher. Our P.R. Department confirms that they believe our internal numbers to be accurate and will sign sworn statements to this effect. In short, we believe our customers love us.

In conclusion, we feel that this is yet another attempt by our enemies in the FCC, the Obama administration, Sprint and the Society for Creative Anachronism to slander our company's good name and prevent our monopoly from succeeding as planned.

Sincerely,
Your AT&T Overlords

alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288638)

I just discovered that I've gone over ATT's obnoxious data cap, on my HOME connection. Can anyone recommend a good cable or DSL provider in the Los Angeles area? Thanks in advance!

AT&T is a Rats Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288722)

AT&T has ALWAYS been the worst TeleCom on planet Earth.

Back in the frontier days of the 1980's the joke was, "The USA has the most advanced telecommunications system of the 19th century!".

Looking into the corporate shenanigans of Bell Telephone and the later day saints of AT&T in the 1960's leaves little doubt that idiots were then and are now even more intrenched and waging war on the rank-n-file and the citizens of the USA so to cement their kingdom.

Lets Nuke AT&T.

Better yet, lets post the CEO, CFO, COB and other's homes on Google Maps!

Then in a few days there will be tours of the rich and wicked ... bus loads of rubbernecks outside the home of the rich and infamous.

Splendid!

The bastards wont get a nights or days sleep.

Re:AT&T is a Rats Ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38288830)

Sorry, this has to be one of the worst ideas ever.

ATT Uverse / DSL vs Charter cable (2)

Vskye (9079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38288798)

I've had all 3 services, and I'll just break them down service wise: Uverse: Speedy all around, latency not that special.
DSL: Really great and cheaper than Uverse.
Charter: Wow.. oversubscribed crap, less than a 56k modem.

Regardless, AT&T has won hands down in service and support. When I called up Charter on my slow ass Internet speeds I was taking to some script reading dude from India and well ya. I took the cable box and modem back to them and they seemed surprised that I canceled my service.

These are my only choices btw, and it sucks.

They're all the same (5, Interesting)

jbov (2202938) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289116)

Verizon is no better. When the Motorola Razor was a big deal, it had a bug which would keep the data connection open upon receiving a picture message. Countless customers had data usage charges tacked onto their monthly bill because of this. I did. I called Verizon several times, at 40 minutes plus per call. They customer service representative told me I must have been surfing the web. I told him I was at work (at an ISP), in front of a computer, and was not surfing the web during those hours. Each time coincided with when I received a picture message. They had hundreds of dollars tacked onto my bill. I told one rep to do a simple Google search for the bug in the Razor. He said they would credit my account. He didn't. He left bad notes in whatever call logging system they had. Finally, about 1 month later, I got someone with brains. This rep said they were aware of the problem and applied a credit immediately.

Long hold times. Poor customer services. Lies. Getting hung up on. I've had the same issues with Verizon, ATT, and the latest venture Simple Mobile.

I swore I'd never go back to Verizon, but they are the only one with any service near my house.

Customer service sucks with all cell phone carriers. I've tried them all and have stories for each.

Re:They're all the same (1)

Igarden2 (916096) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289342)

"Customer service sucks with all cell phone carriers. I've tried them all and have stories for each." My experience differs sharply. I have had Verizon wireless service for years and every time I have had a need to contact their customer service I spoke to a real human that I could understand. I got my issues solved. AT&T on the other hand, jerked me around squarely. I detest them. YMMV

Re:They're all the same (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290560)

Speaking of the Razr, the new Droid Razrs (as well as other smartphones) have been having problems across the East coast on Verizon since yesterday [droid-life.com], including mine. Basically, they're not able to connect to 4G, and often lose data entirely. If they don't get it fixed today I'm going to fight for a credit... which doesn't look good on them seeing as how I've only had the phone for about two weeks.

I just don't see it (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289244)

I signed up for Cingular way back in the day, and when AT&T bought them, my service got better, not worse. In all the years since that takeover, I've never had to call customer service for anything. Not once.

Some Beauty Contest... (2)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289414)

Would you rather get brain melting prion disease or rabies?

Re:Some Beauty Contest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38290210)

Couldn't agree more. The thought that somebody could be worse than Verizon will give me nightmares.

Thank you FCC (1)

barlevg (2111272) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289576)

Even though it might be delaying the inevitable, I'm glad that, for a few more months at least, I'm still on Magenta and not AT&T.

AT&T bad due to GSM limitations? (2)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289602)

In my humble opinion, I think much of the complaints about AT&T wireless service comes from the fact the method of cellphone tower installations in the USA (smaller number of high-powered towers) work poorly with GSM, because most of the world, cellphone tower installations are based on a large number of lower-powered cellphone towers, which is far better-suited for GSM. The US-style of cellphone tower installation works WAY better with CDMA, which was designed with this in mind; this is why iPhone 4/4S users on the Verizon network report a lot less dropouts on cellphone calls.

Re:AT&T bad due to GSM limitations? (2)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289884)

That's an infrastructure problem for the GSM provider, not my problem. I hear a lot about how "hard" it is to set up towers. That didn't stop thousands of the things from being installed, serviced and decorated like christmas trees in some cases over the last 20 years.

Re:AT&T bad due to GSM limitations? (1)

clonehappy (655530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290204)

That's an infrastructure problem for the GSM provider, not my problem. I hear a lot about how "hard" it is to set up towers.

Exactly. It's not that CDMA is better suited for the United States, it's that CDMA is better suited to the United States' mentality of maximize profits at all costs because it has no hard range limit. But if the OP is referring to the fact that some providers decided to take sites spaced out for an 850 MHz cellular band network and replace them with PCS 1900 MHz GSM radios, then wonder why they have a million little dead zones now, well that's just bad engineering.

Re:AT&T bad due to GSM limitations? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38289940)

gsm limitations?
the "usa style" cell-tower placing is a _choice_ from at&t. there's enough money per square km for them to make profit while keeping a decent coverage with their 850mhz band.

also, who cares about gsm? umts is where it's at. our country dropped 900mhz gsm ages ago, 900mhz umts is where it's at if you're at a summer cottage..

Re:AT&T bad due to GSM limitations? (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290498)

I can believe that and also now know why those in big cities wish for a replaceable battery on the iPhone. AT&T combined with my updated 4S in a recent trip to NYC was not very encouraging. While I usually had at least one bar above ground, data was near non-existent anywhere in the city and with the limitation (carrier implemented?) of not allowing you to turn off 3G and go down to Edge like the 4 can do, my battery wouldn't last the day, even turning it on airplane mode when going subway.This made numerous stops to coffee shops to recharge a must.

I blame some of this battery loss on lack of signal and the phone pumping out more power to try and get it. But the lack of any real data use except for a google map now and then was killer. I wonder if the other providers fair any better in that great city.

Verizon Scored High? (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290468)

Has anyone actually attempted to use the Verizon network, I test on it and it's a pile. I have never seen service and support worse then Verizon. The other carriers listed at least have some decent wireless service, Verizon barely has phone that's even work with there service.

This is not news (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38290540)

The real news is why so many people/companies keep bending over and taking the reaming that AT&T gives them, year after year. So why is that? Anyone? Anyone?
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