Worst Company In America Round One: AT&T Vs. Verizon

Two telecom titans will step into the Worst Company gladiator pit this afternoon. One will walk out victorious while the other will end up stuck with a huge early termination fee.

AT&T has had a year for the record books, in terms of Worst Company qualifications. Shortly after escaping last year’s tournament unscathed, it managed to convince the Supreme Court that a tiny, complicated mandatory binding arbitration clause inserted into a contract is enough to effectively nullify customers’ efforts to file a class-action lawsuit — leading a host of other businesses to insert such clauses into their terms of service.

But not to worry. AT&T says this is all in your best interest.

Then AT&T spent months attempting to justify its purchase of T-Mobile, only to have that deal fall apart under scrutiny from both the FCC and Justice Dept. The failure of the merger, which should have been foreseeable to begin with, meant that AT&T now owes billions to T-Mobile and that T-Mobile wasted most of a year not developing a next-generation data network.

In the summer, AT&T announced it would begin throttling customers who use the most wireless data, in spite of the fact that they have “unlimited” plans. This led to massive public backlash and at least one very high-profile small claims court lawsuit.

But it’s not just the wireless world that AT&T is spoiling. In August it started tacking on “minimum use” fees for landline customers who weren’t making enough long-distance calls each month. And apparently no one at the DSL cancellation phone number is doing their job.

But don’t think Verizon is going to let itself be outdone in the consumer-unfriendly department.

It has also begun throttling “unlimited” data plan holders who gobble up too much data over the Verizon 3G network. However, it hasn’t yet started throttling people on its 4G LTE network.

And it’s offering temporary speed boosts to your data — for a per-usage fee, of course.

Verizon does all this while monitoring your browsing habits — both for online and wireless customers — all in the name of serving you more ads.

And like AT&T, Verizon manages to screw up services other than wireless. There’s the PA woman who was told she needed a subpoena to get an itemized bill for her landline. And the California customer whose dead mother was being charged for internet service she never received in the first place because, to quote Verizon, “no one is perfect.”

Now it’s time vote, though we’re pretty sure we know which company the owners of this Manhattan restaurant will choose.

(Voting for this poll will close at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday March 20.)

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.