Sprint, you've disappointed me - and a lot of your customers. The number three wireless provider based on subscribers came in dead last in a recent Consumer Reports survey of customer satisfaction that examined 12 U.S. carriers.
The wireless carriers were rated on quality of voice, data and 4G connectivity, as well as respondents' answers to questions about how well the companies’ support teams did when those customers had problems. Of the four major companies, Verizon finished first overall, but AT&T’s 4G service received the best rating in a survey that included more than 58,000 consumers. Overall, AT&T and T-Mobile were essentially tied for second place. (The survey is behind a pay wall or I would provide a link.)
I'm surprised by Sprint’s dismal showing. The carrier had severe problems a few years ago, but it invested in network improvements, including a move to 4G LTE and seemed to be turning things around. It’s possible that some of the negativity in the survey reflected bad experiences customers had in the past. Still, that’s quite a black eye, and since I just touted Sprint’s current free offer for students, I’m a bit chagrined.
"The findings in the Consumer Report's survey indicate we still have work to do and only serve to make us even more committed to providing outstanding wireless service to our customers. We've asked customers during the past year to 'pardon our dust' as we build out and upgrade our network," said Sprint spokeswoman Kristin Wallace in a prepared statement. The company has seen "indications of improved customer satisfaction" where the network work is largely completed, she said.
None of the three companies that scored the highest in the survey are leading carriers: Consumer Cellular was first, followed by U.S. Cellular and Credo Mobile. Even more interesting: Credo Mobile doesn't have its own network; it resells Sprint’s service under its own brand, and Consumer Cellular resells AT&T service.
Although that sounds odd, a closer look at the data shows that both Credo Mobile and Consumer Cellular earned top marks in customer support, and frankly, anyone who has wrestled with bozo support from the major carriers knows how important that can be.
Credo Mobile brands itself as the socially-responsible choice, so I bet its customers have a lot of loyalty and may be inclined to overlook some of the deficiencies it shares with Sprint.
If you’re looking for a prepaid carrier, TracFone, Straight Talk and Net10 scored the highest, but be warned: All three received terrible support scores.
Image: ABC News