Verizon: Best Nationwide Cell Service

Consumer Reports has released the results of their cell phone customer service survey. Sprint and Cingular were among the lower-rated performers, while Verizon came out near the top of all cities surveyed. Apparently in Cleveland, Pheonix and Tampa there is a company called Alltel that people are very fond of as well.

Even though Verizon won the battle, people still hate cell phone carriers. From the press release:

    Cell service remains one of the lowest rated services that Consumer Reports tracks. Readers gave cell service an overall satisfaction rate of 66 out of 100, which puts cell service among the ranks of cable TV and computer tech support.

    Call quality remains an aggravation for many cell phone users, Consumer Reports’ survey shows. In fact, 54 percent of respondents who switched carriers during the past three years attributed their decision to poor phone service.”

Speaking of poor phone service, only 1 in 25 cell phone users were able to successfully connect to 911.

Consumer Reports also has a guide to avoiding the 10 most insidious ways that cell phone carriers increase your bill. Having worked for a cell phone company during college, we can confirm that this particular bit of advice is excellent and will often lead to free phones for the persistent negotiator:

My provider is already nagging me to sign up for another two years.

Carriers will do almost anything to keep you in their contractual grip, whether that’s offering discounted or free phones with the latest technology or giving you additional airtime for the same price.

CR’s advice: Don’t be pressured. Usually you can just continue with your current plan on a month-to-month basis, which gives you the freedom to switch carriers or upgrade equipment whenever you decide to. If you do decide to renew, don’t hesitate to try negotiating for better terms. This might be the only point in the process when you, not the provider, hold the upper hand. Enjoy it.”—MEGHANN MARCO

Avoid these 10 rip-offs and gotchas [Consumer Reports]
Cingular and Sprint Poorer Performers in Consumer Reports Latest Cell Service Ratings; Photo Available

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  1. Triteon says:

    I’m on SprintPCS and have had the occasion to call 911 four times over the past 6 years– all four calls went through, though only twice have I been connected to the correct department. Once the dispatcher connected to the State Police when I was within city limits, and once I was sent to an operator in Illinois when I called from Missouri. Enhanced 911 my ass!

  2. Jesse McBesse says:

    I live in Tampa and can you from personal experience that Alltel SUCKS! Let me put it this way: I switched from Alltel to Cingular… and it’s 1000 times better!

  3. Jesse McBesse says:

    um… i can TELL you, rather.

  4. FLConsumer says:

    Hmm…that’s odd… I’m in Tampa and I had AT&T and Cingular phones for work…which ended up not working most of the time (3 years with that crap). I’ve had a personal GTE/Alltel cell for 9 years now. 0 dropped calls, honest customer service reps, and I’ve never been on hold for more than 10 minutes. Contrast this to AT&T/Cingular, where I’ve been on hold for over 90 minutes, with the average hold time being ~30 minutes.

  5. adamondi says:

    Until there is a way to avoid contracts altogether without having to pay humongous penalties in the form of expensive non-subsidized phones, cell phone carriers will continue to rape us all until we pretend to like it.

  6. holocron says:

    Well, you can try Pay-As-You-Go…

  7. juri squared says:

    Isn’t Verizon notorious for locking down phones, though? Or am I on crack?

  8. jacques says:

    Verizon likes to play a game called “Let’s make the phone as useless as possible so the consumer has to pay for our crappy services.”
    First they disabled bluetooth for everything other than headsets, so that you can’t transfer data into or out of their phone without paying for the PixPlace crap or the ringtone store, then they put their own awful web browser on the phones (which I actually pay for the unlimited web), where it takes on average 30-45 seconds before you can get to a screen to just input a URL, now they’ve taken over the UI and superimposed their horribly layed-out format over the much more elegant original UI.
    I was going to buy a Krzr from them, until I realised how much better it would be to just find a new carrier.

  9. CTSLICK says:

    I’ve been with Sprint for almost 4 years now. On the good side I have been pleased with their coverage and call quality. EVDO data is a big plus too. On the bad side, their CS has boogered up my account on every occasion where I have upgraded or made changes to my account. That’s 5 times and counting. The most grievous of those mistakes was blowing up my kick-ass grandfathered account to the point that nobody could figure out how to restore it. Only some serious retention efforts on their part kept my business but the whole affair seems a bit too convenient. The latest screw up was dropping my text messaging plan when I upgraded my phone. I live in fear of my next CS phone call but it must be done, per text message charges will kill me. Finally, don’t even get me started on Sprint’s Orwellian control of their handsets, I long for the freedom that is shown to unlocked GSM phones. At least Sprint’s phone line up is starting to improve a bit.

  10. Jacques is dead on about Verizon nerfing phones… In fact, Alltel firmware is really really popular, (or at least it was) because supposedly, it is far more consumer friendly than Verizon’s “pay for everything” system.

    And Triteon, 911 four times over the past 6 years? Wow…rough 6 years I guess… Out of curiosity, were you using one of the new phones with a GPS receiver in it? I’ve always wondered how accurately the 911 operator can determine your position with those things (as opposed to cell location).

  11. Sudonum says:

    I lived in the FLA panhandle for a short period of time. When I moved there I had a V60 with Verizon. Coverage sucked. My wife and I both had problems, don’t remember what carrier she had at the time. We checked with friends and neighbors. I went with Nextel, she went with Alltel. I loved it, doing contract work everyone I needed to talk to was on Nextel, DC rocked! Her coverage improved drastically with Alltel as well, but then she had billing issues out the wazoo. It seemed like every month it was something else. Her contract was about up when she lost her phone. Someone picked it up and started using it. She reported the phone missing to Alltel. They told her that she had just re-upped for another 2 years over the phone. Keep in mind she had just lost her phone, not had her identity stolen or anything. They refused to end the contract at her original termination date and kept trying to bill her for an early termination fee. She finally had her attorney write them a letter. Oh and as a parting shot they failed to port her old number over to Nextel and she lost it.

    Now don’t get me started on Nextel since Sprint has taken over!

  12. WHOKNOWS says:

    Yeah, I have to admit I am one of those Cingular customers who was unable to get through to 911. I needed to make an emergency call in my downtown area one night just after midnight. I attempted using my phone and a friend’s (Cingular) phone. Both phones gave the message ” This call cannot be completed as dialed”. How ludicrous is that?

    So, good thing I remembered I had the local police station number stored in my phone. I filed a complaint with Cingular and got an email response explaining how Cingular basically at no time promises service availability to 911 or any other call made, aka they are not responsible or liable.

    Well, I felt that wasn’t an appropriate response so I escalated it to the Office of the President and quickly got a call back on a Saturday and a technician said they made a change on the system and I needed to restart my phone and make a test call to 911 to see if the call worked. Well, of course it worked… it works when you don’t need it to.

  13. formergr says:

    Wow, that’s scary (one of my favorite stress nightmares is that I’m dialing 911 over and over because something bad is happening- unclear what- and it won’t connect). Good for you for escalating that WHOKNOWS.

  14. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    Verizon is about the only “reliable” carrier here in my part of Vermont, so changing carriers isn’t really an option. I can never, ever get a straight answer from a Verizon CSR on any issue. I’m due for a new phone on the “New Every Two” plan. So I went to get a new one and saw that Verizon offered up to 3 more of the same phone free with a purchase or upgrade. Since I have a Family plan with one other phone, I figured we’d all finally be on the same phones. Nope. The second (or third or…) phone on a Family plan isn’t eligible for New Every Two. Or a free phone. But it is. In six months. Or three months. Or now. It all depends on who you talk to. So a free phone isn’t a free phone. Or it is. Or….

    Oh–and even though I didn’t get the new phone or sign anything, I find they’ve changed my 500-minutes/month shared Family plan to a 700-minutes/month shared Family plan. But it isn’t a change in contract, according to Verizon, so I can’t cancel.

    It’s enough to make me take up semaphore…

  15. kris10 says:

    Sir Winston If you would have looked at the print it clearly states UP TO # PHONES FREE WITH NEW CONTRACT not upgrade there is a difference. I carry a Verizon wireless phone and I have to say I NEVER dropped a call and if you live in south Florida and have experienced a hurricane you know that Verizon is the only cell phone company that works, and works well. And another thing they are the only company that I’ve been with that actually gives you a better deal to resign than when you origialy do.