Carrier Support Showdown: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Tested


In-Store Support: A-

We visited our first AT&T store at 7 p.m. EST on a weekend and waited 20 minutes before Wayne approached us. Despite the small crowd, our customer service rep took the time to demonstrate how to upload a photo to Facebook, making sure we could repeat the steps on our own. He then correctly explained that in order to tether our phone we would have to sign up for a 4GB tethering plan at $45 a month.

When it came to our battery-life question, the AT&T associate told us to reduce our display brightness, before telling us to look into purchasing a secondary battery or battery charger, skimpy but certainly useful advice.

We walked into our second AT&T store at roughly 8 p.m. on a weekend and were immediately greeted by Kim. After showing us how to upload photos to Facebook, she informed us that tethering our phone would require signing up for AT&T’s tethering plan. On our battery question, Kim correctly suggested we turn off our phone’s radios when not using them and reduce our screen brightness.

Online Support: B+

AT&T’s website was easy to navigate and find answers. After entering our account information, we were promptly connected with Cameron via live chat. He told us how to set up a tethering plan and provided us with a user manual for uploading our photos to Facebook. He also helpfully mentioned that apps that update in the background will drain battery and told us to update them less often. The AT&T rep went on to rightly point out that using our phone’s 4G connection would put a strain on our battery’s performance, but he failed to tell us that using Wi-Fi would be a better choice.

Phone Support: B

When we made our first call to AT&T, we were put on hold for roughly 2 minutes before being connected with Jacob. While friendly, he was clearly in a rush. He accurately explained how to tether our phone. When it came to our battery life question, he correctly told us to turn off our Atrix 4G’s Bluetooth, wireless and GPS, and to reduce our display brightness.

To upload our photos to Facebook, Jacob told us to simply follow the app’s instructions, something he said he does all the time. This advice isn’t wrong, but he neglected to mention the option to upload pics directly from our phone’s Gallery app.

During our second call, we waited on hold for less than a minute before Jesus in Nevada picked up. While he was personable, Jesus’ thick accent made understanding his advice difficult. It didn’t help matters when he gave us a circuitous explanation for uploading our photos to Facebook, which involved opening the camera app instead of the photo gallery. And while the rep accurately answered our tethering question, he couldn’t provide any tips for improving our device’s battery life besides checking the phone’s notification bar for running apps.

Overall Grade: B+

AT&T’s in-store and Web associates were fairly well informed, offering accurate and friendly advice. The carrier’s phone-based support wasn’t as helpful, but overall AT&T offered the best service.

Best and Worst Carrier Customer Service

Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Daniel P. Howley on
Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. TheFugitive Says:

    How much did ATT pay for this?

  2. John V Says:

    I’m an AT&T employee. It is an entertaining article and nice that we “won” but with so few data points the results are NOT the least bit valid.

  3. Eag Says:

    I have been an AT&T customer for nearly 10 years now, and theyve been godawful for every single one of them. People in store and on the phone are generally very kind and courteous, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve been succesful in fixing any problems that I have had. Further, I still can’t make a call on their network after 10 years that is longer than 45 minutes without having service cut out on me at least once – and that is if and only if I’m in a static position (and I do mean standing completely still).
    Why not switch? My friends on other networks fare no better. It’s a piss poor oligopoly with poor customer choice and a lose-lose for passable service.

  4. Kate Says:

    When I have questions or problems, I need to know that the carrier can actually help! And that means, a similar experience no matter how I contact them. Great article – just a peek into the wireless world. I like it!

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options