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Consumers say dealing with wireless providers is getting harder

A satisfaction survey suggests that staffing challenges may be the problem

Buying a phone concept
Photo (c) krisanapong detraphiphat - Getty Images
Wireless companies spend lots of money on ads that urge consumers to switch providers. But a new study suggests that consumers find the process of purchasing a new phone or wireless plan less pleasant than in the past.

J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Study found a number of reasons for this diminished satisfaction. Consumers who participated in the study and who purchased a wireless phone or switched to a new provider in the last six months said the transactions are taking longer to complete.

They also complain that they’re having to do much of the work themselves because of a decline in customer service. Ian Greenblatt, managing director at J.D. Power, says it might be a result of the upheaval in the job market caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Staff retention constraints, shorter representative tenure, and less training are leading to a longer time to complete the purchase, more perceived effort from the customer, and ultimately, a decrease in satisfaction,” Greenblatt said. “As consumers increase their device usage and reliance, the purchase experience becomes that much more important. The study finds that respondents believe they’re paying more and receiving less.”

Happy T-Mobile customer

Among the big three wireless operators, T-Mobile was rated as the easiest to deal with by consumers posting their feedback at ConsumerAffairs. Jacqueline, of Virginia Beach, Va., recently told us about a good experience.

“I had Toure from customer care assist me today in transferring my phone from the Sprint network to the T-Mobile account,” Jacqueline wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “She went above and beyond on customer service. She followed through the entire process and got me where I needed to be. She was amazing and T-Mobile should be so grateful to have her on their team!”

Sammy, of Bloomfield, Colo., told us about a frustrating experience with Verizon when he switched from AT&T and tried to transfer four lines on his plan.

“Only three lines were transferred and they forgot to transfer my fourth line,” Sammy told us. “And when I called to [activate] that fourth line they keep telling me that they cannot verify my information.”

Virtual mobile network operators did better in the J.D. Power survey than the legacy carriers. While T-Mobile had a satisfaction score of 797, Cricket led mobile virtual network operators with a score of 821. Metro by T-Mobile ranked second, and Spectrum Mobile ranked third, with both earning satisfaction scores above 800.

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