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


In-Store Support: A

We visited our first T-Mobile store at 1 p.m. EST on a weekday and waited 10 minutes before Tim offered his assistance. When we posed our tethering question, he accurately explained that we would need to sign up for a $14.99-per-month tethering plan and showed us how to enable our phone’s hotspot.

The T-Mobile associate then helped us upload a photo to Facebook, making sure we understood each step. For our battery life question, Tim helpfully said we should turn off our T-Mobile G2x’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios and set our display to automatic brightness. He was also the only support specialist to suggest that we disable our 4G connection in the wireless settings menu as a means to conserve battery life.

An hour later, we stopped in at our second T-Mobile location, which was empty save for one other customer. Crystal, a new employee, provided us with assistance with backup from her co-worker James. Crystal correctly explained that we would need to add a tethering plan to our account if we wanted to use our G2x as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and showed us how to upload our photos to Facebook. She stumbled a bit while explaining how we could save battery life, but James jumped right in, saying we needed to turn off wireless radios we weren’t using and reduce our display’s brightness.

Online Support: B

We signed onto T-Mobile’s support chat at about 4:30 p.m. and waited less than 3 minutes before Liubov joined us. The rep rightly informed us about a T-Mobile tethering plan. For our battery question, Liubov simply told us to turn off our phone’s radios.

The T-Mobile associate answered our Facebook question by sending us a link to a copy of our phone’s user manual and told us which pages had instructions for uploading photos to Facebook. Our main problem with T-Mobile’s Web support was how long it took to get all our queries answered. We ended up talking with Liubov for roughly 30 minutes, far longer than our Web chats with the other carriers.

Phone Support: C

We made our first call to T-Mobile’s customer support line at 1 p.m., and after working our way through a lengthy automated answering system and waiting on hold for 5 minutes, Afe picked up the phone. She answered our tethering question by explaining how to activate tethering on our phone and how to connect a Windows PC and Mac to it. She then noted we were not signed up for a tethering plan and asked if we would like to register for one. Afe also accurately answered our Facebook question, despite admittedly not having an Android phone handy. For our battery life question, she told us to turn off our G2x’s Wi-Fi and reduce our display brightness.

Our second call to T-Mobile was a nightmare. After we sat on hold for 5 minutes, our representative Alvin answered. Unfortunately, it was too difficult to understand her, and she was unable to answer many of our questions properly. Although she correctly advised us to sign up for a qualifying plan to tether our phone, she was unable to explain how to upload our photos to Facebook. She also gave poor advice for our battery-life question, explaining that using the phone while the battery was charging would damage it. Neither rep would tell us their geographical location.

Overall Grade: B

T-Mobile’s in-store associates were friendly and able to answer each of our questions well. And although our Web experience was decent, it took a while to get answers. T-Mobile fell down on the job with its phone support.

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.
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  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!

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