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


 In-Store Support: B

Our first visit to a Verizon Wireless store took place at approximately 1:30 p.m. EST on a weekday. Upon entering the store, an associate asked if we needed help before ushering us to the back of the store, where we waited less than 3 minutes to speak with Linda. A friendly woman, Linda breezed through our Facebook question, providing step-by-step instructions for uploading photos from our Droid X to the social network.

When we asked about tethering, she correctly informed us that we would have to sign up for a tethering plan at a minimum of $20 a month for 2GB. She also made sure to mention that exceeding that limit would incur additional charges. For our battery life question, Linda told us to reduce our phone’s display brightness and turn off wireless radios when not using them. Her one misstep was advising us to install the Advanced Task Killer app.

Later that day we visited a second Verizon Wireless location, where we were immediately met by Lydia. After explaining how to upload photos to Facebook, she accurately informed us that we would need to sign up for a tethering plan. The one area where Lydia failed to impress was in improving our phone’s battery life. Instead of offering a solution, the clearly stumped rep told us there was no way to improve our battery’s performance.

Online Support: C

Unlike its rivals, Verizon Wireless doesn’t offer an online chat service for customer support. Instead, Big Red provides an email service that promises users a response within 24 hours. But when we sent our questions, we ended up waiting a full three days for a reply. Fortunately, our support specialist Terrance responded with an exhaustive list of tips for all our questions, including step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for a tethering plan, post our photos on Facebook and improve our battery life.

Verizon Wireless also offers community forums, although navigating them without using a keyword search can prove unbearably difficult for first-time users.

Phone Support: B

We made our first call to Verizon Wireless at 2 p.m. on a weekday. After slogging through an option tree, we were connected with Brian from New Mexico. He tackled our tethering question with ease, then provided us with step-by-step instructions for uploading photos from our Droid X to Facebook, waiting for us to complete each step before moving on. But when we asked Brian how to improve our phone’s battery life, he only suggested that we close our apps when we were finished using them.

We made our second call to Verizon Wireless the next day at 5 p.m. and were speaking with Kristy within 3 minutes. She correctly explained Verizon’s wireless tethering plan. The Verizon Wireless rep also provided an in-depth explanation for uploading our photos to Facebook and provided helpful tips for increasing our phone’s battery life, such as turning off our Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. She did not, however, mention anything about reducing our phone’s display brightness, which could save a good deal of power.

Overall Grade: B-

Verizon’s in-store and phone-support specialists were friendly and knowledgeable, easily answering our tethering and Facebook questions. However, we found the carrier’s Web-based support severely lacking.

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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