Our 2012 Best Value In Wireless Survey is now complete, but the emails keep coming in. Most of the emails are full of questions, but there have been a few with issues about how we scored the carriers or even more so, how we rated the customer service levels of the carriers and their MVNO’s. Before everyone gets into an uproar, let’s clarify a few things.
First, the numbers in question are based off our own experiences, not something that someone else says or does. There were a few exceptions to this as we read through support forums (this favors carriers that have no such area) and found issues with billing, refills, coverage or anything else under the sun. In their forums, the carriers all had major complaints against them, ranging from outrageous hold times to the inability to fix major account issues. They had users that had zero coverage that couldn’t get released from a contract and on three of our test carriers forums, there were people that had to provide a death certificate before the carrier would cancel their add-on line.
Next up, our phone hold times and online hold times varied greatly, but for the most part were good across the board. When we say good, we mean that issues were resolved within the call period. While some took longer to answer the phone than others, the resolution was the most important aspect. For example, our hold time for our winner, Red Pocket Mobile, averaged nearly 25 minutes for phone calls and issues were fixed within 10 minutes of the operator coming on. For Sprint, our hold time averaged 20 minutes, but issues weren’t resolved for an additional 25 minutes. This 25 minutes was spent bouncing from department to department, tech support to billing, billing to device support… All to get a new phone activated or just fix a basic billing question. Sure, we spent 35 minutes on the phone with RPM, but we spent 45 minutes on the phone with Sprint for the same issues.
Other carriers didn’t fair much better. Verizon Wireless is usually touted as the best service around, but their inability to bend on new policies made them impossible to work with. For example, after a 4 minute hold time, we reached billing support. Then we had our issue fixed within a few minutes. For device support, we had to go through 3 different levels of support before reaching someone that would authorize a new LTE SIM card for us. This process took over 45 minutes to complete. With SIMple Mobile, we were able to reach support in 15 minutes and they apologized for the issue and sent a new SIM card immediately, at no charge to us. They also gave us the option of swapping at a local retailer as well.
The point of this editorial is to help everyone understand that service levels are subject to individual perceptions. Our time spent with T-Mobile support, Sprint support, AT&T support and Verizon Wireless support was far more painful than the lesser support of the winners of our survey. Overall, service levels across the industry were pretty good, but they were far from amazing. Therefore, we took the best level and made that the level for a perfect 10.
Nobody in our top 5 received a perfect 10 in service because they weren’t perfect. All of them have issues, and all of them had customers that ranted and raved in reviews, online and comment sections. What we can tell you is that despite longer hold times and weak online portals, many of the lower cost carriers still provide as good of service levels as the big 4. Actually, in most cases, the service levels are actually better.
Hopefully, this will help clarify our “service” rankings and stop the tirade of emails and comments about this carrier took 4 days to port my number or this carrier cut my data off because I was streaming movies or I got my bill and it was $200 more than they said it would be. Face it, even great customer service will fail for someone out there, we just tried to find the ones that were a bit more consistent.