Best & Worst Wireless Carriers: Grading the Support

Most of us compare wireless carriers based on the breadth of their coverage, the speed of their networks, and their selection of phones. But the relationship with your provider hardly ends after your purchase that device. Since you’ll likely be together for two years, you’ll want to know how you’ll be treated when you need help. Will you get the friendly and knowledgeable service you deserve, or will you regret signing on that dotted line?

The four major U.S. carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless—generally provide three different avenues for customer support: Visiting a carrier’s store in person, calling a customer support representative on the phone, and going to the carrier’s website to e-mail or live chat with an associate.

We conducted our own tests to see if AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless could deliver friendly, helpful, and accurate customer service. Read on to find out how your carrier fared.

How We Tested

To test each carrier, we visited two stores for in-person assistance, made two phone calls to customer service, and initiated a live chat or sent an e-mail to a customer representative. We used real customer accounts and devices. An iPhone 3GS helped us test AT&T, and we used a BlackBerry Tour for Sprint. The Motorola Cliq was our partner for T-Mobile, and a Motorola Droid was our guinea pig for Verizon Wireless.

With the exception of Sprint, we approached each carrier with the same three questions: “Can I tether my phone to my laptop and how much does it cost?”, “How do I get photos from my phone to my computer?”, and “How can I get better battery life on my phone?” For Sprint, we substituted the battery life question with “How can I get apps on my phone?” because Black-Berrys generally have better battery life than iPhone and Android devices.

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  1. DJ Smith Says:

    I tethered my Droid using the PDANet app but ended up leaving Verizon for T-Mobile and a G2 which I like much better.

  2. cm Says:

    One correction, tethering IS support on the BB Tour with Sprint. I have 200 devices using it.

  3. K De Says:

    I think you are biased in your grading of T-Mobile phone support experience. This carrier shoud have received a C or a C- grade for Phone support instead of the generous B. You said the phone tree was laborious, you got transferred to another rep for the answer to one of your three questions, one of them incorrectly told you the Cliq can be used as a modem, one of them told you to power cycle the phone regularly to conserve battery (wow!), one call took 25 minutes and the other took 16 minutes (and you said T-Mo reps were fast?), and one of them even told you to root the phone in order to tether, which would void your warranty. Are you being objective about this?

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