Consumer Reports: AT&T Wireless Customers Got Short End Of Stick

The magazine is reporting in its upcoming issue that connection problems and extremely poor customer service plague former AT&T Wireless subscribers who kept their old phones after the acquisition by Cingular.

Subscribers remain dissatisfied with their cell phone service and former customers of AT&T Wireless have fared particularly poorly since that company was acquired by Cingular, Consumer Reports said this week.

The publication reported that, in a survey of more than 50,000 cell phone users, overall satisfaction with cell phone service remains low, with only 47 percent of all respondents saying they were either very satisfied or completely satisfied. That is one of the lowest levels of satisfaction for any type of service in the U.S., the magazine said. The results are being published in the January, 2006 issue of the publication.

Former AT&T Wireless subscribers were particularly dissatisfied with the service they now receive from Cingular. More than half of the Cingular subscribers in the survey were former AT&T Wireless subscribers, Consumer Reports said.

Former AT&T Wireless subscribers who kept their old phones after the acquisition reported significantly more connection problems than any other group of users, including those who bought new phones directly from Cingular, according to Consumer Reports.

The publication said that many former AT&T Wireless customers complained they were forced to make a difficult choice. They could tolerate bad service, pay extra and lock into a long-term contract by switching to a Cingular phone or pay early-termination fees to leave the carrier.

The publication noted that the outlook for Nextel customers given that company's acquisition by Sprint may be even worse since the two cellular operators use different and incompatible cellular technologies. However, the publication stressed that the survey, conducted in September, occurred too soon after the acquisition to definitively come to that conclusion.

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