A few years ago, I made the choice to leave AT&T after being a customer for over 15 years. It was a move that I thought was going to be hard to make since I was such a long-standing customer with a single company like theirs. Change doesn’t always come so easily. However, they made it so simple. They chased me away.
My being a customer dates back to Cingular, when the plans were affordable, they offered wonderful customer service, and they did everything to keep you as a customer. Then, one day AT&T rolled in and bought them out in 2004. AT&T had a history of failing their customers with their previous attempt at being a mobile provider, causing them to disappear as a company. This was their second and longest-living attempt at it since, and they have survived to this day.
Eventually, over time, they did what most large companies like to do. They cut back quality. The service started to decline, with slow speeds and constant throttling. That latter part was because I was grandfathered into their true “unlimited” plan dating way back. The price of the plan kept creeping higher and higher until I was paying more than $100 a month.
No matter who I spoke to trying to find out why my speeds were so slow, I never got a solid answer back. The only solution was to “upgrade” my plan to a non-unlimited plan, which didn’t make any sense. I was being throttled from the start, to around 1 to 2 mbps. I never had to hit a monthly cap or anything. I was simply “always” throttled. I found out they were doing this to try to get rid of the users grandfathered into the unlimited plans of the past, and onto limited plans where it would cost as much or more, with less being offered to the customer. In exchange, they would stop throttling them so hard all of the time.
I’d half-way understand if the old plans didn’t support the current network somehow, but that wasn’t the case. They supported 3G, and then 4G/LTE. They claimed the plan was no different from their normal limited 4G plans when it came to network/band support and would grow to support wherever the network went.
Their customer service was nowhere near the best. It took forever to reach anyone, and all they wanted to do was up-sale the account as a solution every time, claiming they couldn’t find any other way of making it better. Sometimes, they would come clean about the grandfathered accounts being throttled.
Then, they dropped the program (like everyone else) where they used to offer you free phone upgrades in exchange for extensions to the contract (typically two years). They replaced it with leasing options where you’d find yourself spending more than just buying the phone outright, and said there are no longer yearly contracts they can bargain with. So now, you are not only paying for the expensive monthly subscription, for an always-throttled account, but you are also paying hundreds of dollars at full retail pricing for the phones that used to be affordable or even free.
So poor customer service, incredibly poor quality of service (data), no more bonuses for hanging around, constantly increasing prices, and continued attempts to extort users off of their grandfathered unlimited plans.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile stood there waiving their hands, promising a brighter future. Not only did they offer a price with unlimited data that was far below what I was paying for AT&T, but their data speeds were far greater (since they won’t cap you unless you hit many GBs of data usage, which thankfully I haven’t accomplished yet), and they also offered to do all the heavy work to move everything over. They also offered bonuses (buy one get one free flagship phones) and tethering (AT&T refused to offer tethering for unlimited plans, and it cost extra as an additional plan feature for the plans they did support tethering for). On top of it all, their customer service was great. Even when calling in, it didn’t take much time at all to get ahold of a human being (in America).
So I consulted with random family members who had an idea and decided to try the family plan with them. My price fell from over $100 a month, to around $34 a month. The “everything better” account (™, me) seemed like a bargain. I figured that AT&T had done everything they could to chase me away. The longer I stayed, the longer I kept shooting myself in the foot. So I was going to jump ship one way or another, and this sounded like a pretty sound plan.
I have been with T-Mobile since with little to complain about. I even upgraded my plan to around to $54 so that my tethering would become incredibly faster (with a few other solid perks). I am mobile a lot, so the tethering is a lifesaver.
The only complaint was that for some reason, I had zero signal at my house. Drive a few cul-de-sacs away, and signal popped right into existence. There is incredibly poor GPS at my house as well, so there is a much larger mystery at play here–one that T-Mobile didn’t have the tools to solve (maybe one of my close neighbors built a Quantum Field Destabilizer in their garage and it’s making a mess of things in the area). So they did the next best thing and sent out a mini cell tower/repeater that piggybacks off of the internet. Then there was 100% signal here and the houses on both sides as well.
At first, their network wasn’t as spread out coverage-wise as AT&T’s much much slower network was. Since then, their network seems to have grown in speed and quality where I find very few occasions where I don’t have a signal. Usually traveling in between cities. Their customer service is still easy to get a hold of and friendly to work with. Those data speeds, some of the best I’ve seen personally (for tethering too, which is much appreciated).
In the end, I feel joyful being a T-Mobile customer. An incredible feeling compared to the terror I felt all the time with AT&T. Their network may not be as strong as Verizon’s (which was going to be the other option if this didn’t work out) is currently, but it is growing incredibly fast and will be one of the first to the 5G finish line.
So no regrets as long as T-Mobile sticks to the path they have been on. There are some changes coming, including their CEO (John Legere) who is stepping down next year. This can always spark a little concern, but if the new selected CEO (Mike Sievert) who will replace him is any wise, he will continue running with the same torch and turn T-Mobile into America’s most requested mobile provider. Proof that a company can bloom into a diamond without dragging their customers through the mud to achieve it. The customer does pay everyone’s paycheck after all.
This is just one man’s (myself) experience at least. I had promised back then that I would eventually put together an opinion piece about the experience I would wind up having. This is it.
i picked up a T-Mobile SIM about a year ago and kept it as an alternate device to see if they were a viable replacement for AT&T, who i’ve been with for over 20 years. Until recently, my only complaint was their customer service – the coverage and days speeds were impeccable. Now, the data speeds are erratic and T-Mobile just keeps getting better and i think the time to make the switch permanent is at hand.
I totally agree. AT&T was terrible when I had them. One of my phones is T-Mo and it seems to have done quite well so far.
I have read your article and I have done the same thing, I switched from AT&T after 15 years to Tmobile.
Regarding limited signal inside your house, I would highly recommend you to upgrade your phone to the latest one that has Wi-Fi calling. The reason for this is in your house you can make calls over your Wi-Fi and not need a repeater from T-Mobile or from any company that you wish. As soon as your phone detect that a cellular signal strength is very low it will automatically switch to your Wi-Fi at home and you will be making crystal clear calls over your wife I just as you do with cellular signal over TMobile.
You can do the same Wi-Fi calls in any area where you have good Wi-Fi signal and no cellular signal strength. However you do need one of the latest phones for this wifi to be available.
I also agree with you that T-Mobile is growing. TMobile has pressure to grow from the federal government because if they don’t keep their promises to provide signal access, they will pay a hefty fine that’s probably in billions to the FCC.
Same happened to me. I have to use on T-mobile with the option of Wi-Fi calling. BTW, no signal in my home no matter which cellular phone provider I use.
I lived in old brick house in the back woods of pennsylvania and didn’t get coverage it was due to the material the house was made of I’m sure because when I went outside I had full Access the only reason I paid for a landline don’t have a landline anymore that I moved