AT&T ranked last in customer satisfaction, but people love their iPhones

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At least it’s now quantifiable: AT&T provides the worst cellphone service in the country, according to a recent customer satisfaction poll.

Consumer Reports hit the streets and asked 50,000 readers across 26 cities to rank cell phone service according to voice service, messaging, internet access and customer support. Verizon came out on top, achieving the top two ranks in customer satisfaction in every category. Then came T-Mobile and Sprint.

AT&T? Dead last. Their highest average rating in any service category was total ambivalence, with most categories rated as poor or terrible.

On its part, AT&T doesn’t feel like it has anything to learn from the survey, weasely brushing aside the complaints of their customers with this statement: “We appreciate and value all customer feedback. We learn from it and it helps us serve our customers better. Without question the surest indication of customer satisfaction is churn, or turnover. For the last quarter, our postpaid churn was just 1.17 percent.”

That churn, of course, is because people want iPhones. As Consumer Reports themselves note: “Despite the network problems, a staggering 98 percent of iPhone users in our cell-phone-buying survey were satisfied enough to say they would definitely or probably buy the phone again. Only 79 percent of respondents who bought other cell phones said the same.”

Right now, the only place to get an iPhone in the United States is through AT&T, so it’s perhaps understandable that AT&T is dismissive of these service complaints… but that’s extremely short-sighted. The iPhone is only going to keep people at AT&T as long as it is exclusive to AT&T, and with Apple’s exclusivity deal with AT&T set to expire next year, AT&T is going to need to attract new and keep existing iPhone customers with better service than their competitors.

Meanwhile, numbers like this have got to be raising eyebrows at Cupertino. AT&T’s service is making the iPhone look bad. Considering how the lapse of iPhone exclusivity deals in the UK and France have led to massive gains in marketshare for Apple, they are probably already disinclined to renew their deal with AT&T. Universally bad grades in all categories of service isn’t exactly going to be changing any minds about to ending AT&T exclusivity as soon as possible… especially within a company as focused on the end user experience as Apple.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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