updated 03:37 pm EST, Thu November 21, 2013
Sprint now lowest rated carrier for satisfaction
Sprint, the United States' third-largest wireless carrier, came in last among the major carriers in the newest Consumer Reports survey of customer satisfaction. The Consumer Reports National Research Center polled 58,399 subscribers, and their responses indicated a precipitous drop for Sprint from last year, when it placed second among the major carriers. The overall leader among the major carriers was Verizon, which saw high marks for both data service and some aspects of customer support.
After Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile took the second and third spots, with Sprint bringing up the rear. The survey found AT&T and T-Mobile receiving middling marks from respondents, but Sprint reportedly received "dismal" marks on value, voice, text, and 4G reliability. AT&T's 4G service, though, was the only one to receive good ratings out of the four.
Sprint has been struggling to retain customers as competition has increased from other large carriers. Most recently, the network did $7.3 billion in revenue for the quarter, but it saw a $398 million operating loss. Since then, Sprint has tried a number of other offerings to attract subscribers, including offering students a free year of service with the purchase of a new smartphone.
Notably, the top overall carriers were smaller networks. Consumer Cellular took the top overall spot, with great scores across the board. That carrier relies on AT&T's own network. The story was much the same with other smaller carriers, specifically pre-paid providers.
"[Smaller], no-frills, no-contract, and prepaid service providers continue to do a better job of satisfying customers," said Glenn Derene of Consumer Reports, "and provide an increasingly viable alternative to some of the expensive, long-term contracts that many consumers find themselves locked into."
The study also found that many consumers don't come near exceeding their data plan limits. Of those respondents with data plans, 38 percent used half, or less, of their monthly allotment.