As I was busy doing my work today, sipping my tea as I attempted to focus on my excel file over the rings and buzzes of my manager’s new Verizon Droid Pro and my new T-Mobile My Touch 4g. I have to say, that our corporate phones are quite nice and we did have the option of all 4 major networks – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

I also have the Samsung Captivate, a Galaxy S phone, based on the AT&T network. In fact, I have been with AT&T for around 8 years now and if it wasn’t for having to deal with waiting for contracts to end and the hassle of switching to a new network, I probably would have switched already. I mean, AT&T isn’t really the best when you think about the overall user experience. On paper, however, all 4 service providers seem very similar. I created this table below so you can see how similar they actually are.

CarriersAT&TVerizonSprintT-Mobile
National CoverageYesYesYesYes
GSMYesNoNoYes
CDMANoYesYesNo
3GYesYesYesYes
4GNot Yet*YesYesYes
Number of Phones Available72624245
Early Termination Fee$175$175$200$200
Activation Fee$36$35$36$35
Voice Plans
450 minutes39.9939.9939.9939.99 - 500 minutes
900 minutes59.9959.9959.9949.99 - 1000 minutes
Unlimited69.9969.99N/A59.99
Talk & Text
450 mins + Text59.9959.9949.9949.99 - 500 minutes
900 mins + Text79.9979.9969.9959.99 - 1000 minutes
Unlimited + Text89.9989.9999.99
(Includes Unlimited Data)
69.99
Data Plans
Limited Plans$15 - 200 MB$15 - 150 MBN/AN/A
Unlimited Plans$29.99$29.99N/AN/A

Do note that the ones with smaller market shares (T-Mobile & Sprint) have lowered prices and such to compensate for their size. Well, when you compare all four major networks and all of them seem so similar, then what makes AT&T suck so bad? For one, look at their text messaging plans. I was fortunate enough to be grandfathered into their 750 text message plan but their 200 message plan for $5 is somewhat useless, considering that the next step up isn’t 1000 messages but 1500.

But again, thats not the biggest of their problems, although I’ve always renewed my contract, paid my bills on time and been an all-round great customer, they just don’t seem to care. Several times while on the phone with a customer service representative, I have been told that if I like the other providers so much, why not try them? Are they just trying to come off as being too pompous? I mean, think about the 4G service in the table above – AT&T is the last to get on the bandwagon and their 3G service on my Captivate is really not that great either. Being in Houston, you would think that I would be in 3G most of the time, but around 40% of the time, I do not have 3G coverage and when I do, its mediocre.

Another problem is that their customer service representatives just don’t seem to care. I had a friend that had purchased a Blackberry Curve on Verizon in May 2010 and the phone suddenly stopped working in January 2011 (Approx 7 months later). They took it back to the Verizon store and even though they did not have insurance or anything of that sort, Verizon replaced the phone right away and they walked out the store with their replacement phone in their hand. Flashback to my debacle with my Samsung Epix, similar situation where the phone had stopped charging completely and the employees at the AT&T store recommended places for me to take my phone so that I can get it repaired. They looked it up, said it wasn’t under warranty (even though it was under a year old) and sent me on my way.

The problem with AT&T is that service is bad, coverage is mediocre and the customer service sucks. There is a reason why they had one of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings out there. I’d be surprised to see anyone from AT&T even respond to this blog post seeing I’ve been ignored as a customer for years. I just want someone to come out and make me feel as if they are honored to have me as a customer, rather than seeing me as one more number. I have a feeling that after all these years of loyal support for AT&T that sooner or later, I too will become a convert and when the iPhone will be available at Verizon on Feb 3rd, I am sure that a lot of other AT&T iPhone users will make the move as well. Help save your customers! Common’ AT&T!