Cell Phone Service Complaints are Dropping, but it Pays to Shop Around

women on phone large  150x150 Cell Phone Service Complaints are Dropping, but it Pays to Shop AroundEveryone complains about their cell phone, right? Actually, not as many people as you might think. Cell phones and service is the #2 category of complaints received by the Better Business Bureau (second only to cable and satellite TV services), but the numbers are surprisingly low given the large number of consumers with cell phones/smart devices. BBB received fewer than 25,000 complaints last year against the eight major carriers…and when you consider that there are more than 327 million wireless subscriber connections (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, etc.) in use in the United States, that’s a pretty tiny fraction. And the number is down from 2009’s complaint total of just over 36,000.

The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that a “phone” is no longer just a device to place calls. Smart phones are also web browsers, music players, gaming devices, calendars, cameras, alarm clocks, address books, travel planners, and so much more. We flip on, click on and search on these devices dozens of times a day, and with new technologies constantly emerging, they’ve become critical appliances in our day-to-day lives. It’s easy to see why consumers sometimes reach out for help when there is a problem.

With the holidays approaching, many Americans are looking at cell phones and smart phones as gifts, and BBB suggests consumers shop around not only for the right phone, but also look carefully at service providers and service plans. Over the past three years, all eight of the top carriers had relatively low complaint ratios overall, but some companies fared better than others.

Customers (according to CTIA) Total Complaints (based on BBB three-year reporting Aug 08-July 11 Complaint Ratio

Customers (according to CTIA)

Total Complaints (based on BBB three-year reporting Aug 08-July 11

Complaint Ratio

Metro PCS

9,000,000

997

0.011%

AT&T Mobility

97,000,000

15,178

0.016%

U.S.Cellular

6,000,000

1,116

0.019%

Verizon Wireless

102,000,000

20,876

0.020%

TracFone

17,000,000

5,307

0.031%

Sprint

51,000,000

22,300

0.044%

Cricket

6,000,000

4,397

0.073%

T-Mobile

34,000,000

26,387

0.078%

 

Data from 2010 show that 95% of complaints filed with BBB concerning wireless issues were resolved. It is great that so many problems are finding solutions, but BBB will continue to work with consumers and businesses to find ways to eliminate complaints and improve overall satisfaction so that consumers can devote their time to using their cell phones and smart phones as intended and not to complain.

BBB offers consumer tips on a variety of topics related to cell phones and smart phones:

Avoid data charges when traveling: http://www.bbb.org/us/article/avoid-unexpected-cell-phone-data-charges-when-traveling-this-summer-28170

Avoid scams: http://www.bbb.org/us/article/shield-yourself-from-a-cell-phone-radiation-scam-28636

Protect your privacy: http://www.bbb.org/lexington/video/scams/dont-fall-for-it-cell-phone-numbers-not-being-released

Protect yourself from “cloning”: http://www.bbb.org/blog/2011/10/clone-wars-the-phone-wars-2/

For more information on making smart buying and giving decisions, check out more than 4 million businesses and charities at www.bbb.org.

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About Rob Jacobs