Worst Company In America Round 1: AT&T Vs. Verizon

It’s the final day of Round One play in the Worst Company In America Thunderdome, so why not start it off with a showdown between the two largest — and most-hated — telecom titans around!

AT&T may have failed in its bid to swallow T-Mobile and leapfrog over Verizon Wireless to become the nation’s largest mobile provider, but that hasn’t stopped the folks at the Death Star from trying their best to be the worst wireless carrier in the country.

After deciding that unlimited data doesn’t actually mean unlimited, CEO Randall Stephenson said last year that he regrets ever letting us pesky consumers think we could have such plans in the first place. Then it followed Verizon’s lead into shunting customers over to new shared data plans. And if iPhone 5 users didn’t want to switch to one of these data plans, then they weren’t allowed to use the device’s Facetime Over Wireless video chat app.

Of course, AT&T does more than just wireless. It also has its U-Verse cable/Internet service, which opens accounts for dead people, and it offers DSL service, though it recently gave some customers a 45-day deadline to upgrade to U-Verse. And its landline service is busy suing small-business owners for hundreds of thousands of dollars in obviously fake calls, and raising rates in areas where they argued that deregulation would cause competition.

Let’s not forget, even though it’s a couple years old now, that AT&T is responsible for convincing the Supreme Court that a teensy, weensy mandatory binding arbitration clause in a customer’s user agreement negates any and all possibility for class-action lawsuits against the company. So you can blame AT&T for all the companies that have jumped on this bandwagon over the last year.

Then there is Verizon, where the billing department in all its services — from wireless to fiber to landlines — seems to be permanently out to lunch. Of course, Verizon only made things worse by laying off 1,700 of these folks.

Maybe that’s why Big V couldn’t decide whether or not one customer had FiOS or DSL, then continued billing him after he’d canceled. And what about the customer who was sent to collections for a $17.50 fee he should never have been assessed to begin with? And then there’s the poor Verizon subscriber who learned that the reason she couldn’t activate her new phone was because the company had decided she was dead.

Meanwhile, Verizon is making deals with cable providers to sell cable/wireless bundles that take away any incentive for the company to expand its FiOS network; looking to kill off those remaining grandfathered unlimited data plans; and taking part in questionable monitoring of consumers’ behavior.

Can you put the phone down for a second and vote?


This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2013 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2013 bracket HERE.

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