T-Mobile leapfrogs Sprint, closes gap on Verizon/AT&T in J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey

2013 was a great year for T-Mobile. Its Uncarrier party shook the wireless industry, and it soon became one of the most talked about companies. It gained more customers than any carrier (bar Verizon) and its CEO is hot property, with publications everywhere trying to get an interview with the unconventional figure that is John Legere. It also kicked off its LTE network and is in the process of expanding it to reach more people. But all of that counts for nothing if the carrier isn’t taking care of its customers.

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Good news here too. In the most recent results published by J.D. Power, T-Mobile’s customer satisfaction is improving. In its survey, Tmo scored 778 out of a possible 1000. It’s not bad going. In the previous survey it scored 760, which placed it in 4th place behind Sprint, Verizon and AT&T. This time out, it’s overtaken Sprint and closed the gap on the big two. I’m sure Legere&Co. won’t be best pleased seeing AT&T top the pile with an impressive 793.

It’s clear, then, that Tmo still has some way to improve if it wants to match the top two in getting 4/5 “Power circles”.  Still, it’s an encouraging sign that the company – although growing fast – is still looking out for those that matter most.

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As well as T-Mobile improving, it was good news for prepaid carrier, MetroPCS which finished top of the “non-contract” carriers, ahead of Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, Cricket and TracFone.

Via: ZDNet
Source: J.D. Power

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  • Deadeye37

    Keep up the good work T-mobile! I would love to see Magenta at the top of the pile!

    • kalel33

      They were for almost 7 years and then they dropped to the bottom of the barrel for the last 3 years. Nice to see they’ve crawled out from the basement for the first time since 2010.

  • David Tiloo

    I have never had issues with tmo customer service. Been a customer for 6 months now with 6 lines and have only called once when they added jump insurance to all my devices. They apologized and credited back the amount I was charged.

    Happy customer here. Keep up the great work TMOBILE.

  • Roger Sales

    MetroPCS has a higher score than Sprint, I think that’s hilarious.

  • Anthony Flexas

    I don’t know about you guys but I feel like the merger will be approved.. I would rename the company as Tmoble and take advantage of the momentum and build a first class company and really give the big 2 companies a run for there money.

    • Justin747

      No real benefit for us T-Mobile customers if this happens other than the fact that we can now say T-Mobile is the king of the hill. Maybe better signal in certain places eventually.

      Just let the big 2 fight and let T-Mobile own the 3rd spot.

      • Anthony Flexas

        Im perfectly happy with Tmobile there great in the great miami area! I have seen a jump in speeds and biggest benefit is my bill is about 60% smaller sounds like a winner to me.

  • Anthony Flexas

    May be me but it looks like Sprint is getting put through the mud

  • Dakota

    Interesting to see AT&T #1 with all the hate it gets here. The companies who outsource to India & Phillipines, like Straight Talk, are never going to get to the top. I know when I was on Tmobile pre-paid to save money, I never could get someone on the phone who spoke English

    • Spanky

      I honestly don’t understand the AT&T hate.

      • randomnerd_number38

        Probably residual hate from when ATT was trying to buy Tmo. It was a very dark time for customer service, employee morale, etc, and most blame ATT.

        • bkin94

          very good point.

        • Spanky

          Although you’re probably right, shouldn’t the haters be blaming Deutsche Telecom? When the AT&T buyout was originally proposed, T-Mobile’s forums had a “T-Mobile is in the process of being purchased by AT&T” banner right below the page header. Sounds like misdirected hate.

      • Chris

        Why should anyone like ATT honestly?

        • Spanky

          I’ll answer your question with another question – why not?

        • 21stNow

          Why shouldn’t I like AT&T? Out of the three carriers that I deal with, AT&T comes out on top for me if I look at my overall experience.

  • Justin747

    Sprint is like Glass Joe from Mike Tyson Punch-out.

  • KingCobra

    I never had a problem with AT&T customer service or the quality of their network when I was with them. My main issue was the pricing of their plans and the poor offerings they had for data plans. So I can understand why they’re at the top.

    Nice to see TMO finally not in last place on one of these things. Sprint is truly pathetic these days. Not only are they in last but they are 21 points behind the nearest competitor. Maybe T-Mobile should be buying them instead of the other way around. Things will only get better from here if TMO continues to do what they’re doing.

  • HeLLkAt31

    Sprint needs to fire that CEO they have…

    • donnybee

      Agreed. He’s not been a good leader at all.

  • Jay J. Blanco

    Sprint is slowly but surely crashing and burning.

  • CJ Jacobs

    Until they have more customers than Sprint, best case scenario puts that 2 years away, customer satisfaction #’s mean next to nothing.

  • Daniel

    I can see that there’s a lot of hate around here for Sprint and a lot of suspicion about Sprint/Softbank’s intentions to buy T-Mobile, but let’s face it: In a price war, the smaller player will ALWAYS be the loser, because with greater economies of scale, the bigger players can EASILY afford to match the smaller competitors’ prices and then some if they want to, AND they can afford to duke it out longer! That’s why sooner or later, one way or another, a merger of these two is INEVITABLE. Even if T-Mobile’s uncarrier ways were to be maintained, the gains they are making will be short lived unless they can get more scale to help them procure devices more cheaply, raise capital for network expansion, and amortize their fixed costs. There is NO WAY they will be able to compete with Verizon and AT&T in the longer term otherwise, and the executives at both T-Mobile AND Sprint have indicated in no uncertain terms that they know this. At this point, the ONLY way they can ever hope to achieve this desperately needed scale is through a merger.

    • bkin94

      “the executives at both T-Mobile AND Sprint have indicated in no uncertain terms that they know this.” I don’t know who you’re talking about. John Legere did say that a merger could work, but I took it as a “don’t worry if that does happen” not a “we need that to happen”. Legere has said things like “there is no reason we can’t be #3, #2 or even #1 in the future. not this year not next year, but in the long term”(that’s a paraphrase) The CTO said in all of his 14 years in the industry, he has never had weapons in his arsenal for the future like they have now. I have only heard positive things from the TMO side, which is to be expected since they obviously want to make their company look good. I don’t know where you are getting the impression that they need Sprint.

      • Daniel

        FACT: As far back as September 2013, T-Mobile’s CFO, Braxton Carter, said in no uncertain terms about a possible Sprint-T-Mobile merger, “It’s the logical ultimate combination. . . . We think it’s not a question of if but when that there’s further consolidation in our industry.” You can read the Reuters article about it here if you need further proof: http://mobile{dot}reuters{dot}com/article/idUSBRE98O0PV20130925?irpc=932

    • Jay J. Blanco

      A merger is not needed the only thing that will help out Sprint and tmobile is the FCC put a amount of 600mhz ATT and Verizon can buy. They have enough low band spectrum. Once tmobile get some more spectrum they will be on par to compete and beat the comepition

      • Daniel

        No, they won’t be. Even if the FCC defied the laws of the free market and rigged the auction so that T-Mobile and Sprint got the lion’s share of 600 MHz, there’s still the issue of building out the towers and seeding the market with 600 MHz-capable devices, which would be made all the more difficult by their smaller scale. Then there’s the issue of all the areas where T-Mobile and Sprint still need to catch up to AT&T and Verizon–simply having 600 MHz licenses will not fix the problem. That takes building out their network, expanding backhaul and building more towers, and that takes BILLIONS of dollars over and above just spectrum licenses! There’s no getting around the fact that as it stands, we do not have 4 viable competitors for the long term, but 2 competitors and two dwarves. If T/S combined, we’d have 3 serious competitors instead of 2 serious competitors and two dwarves.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          3 carriers = 3 year contracts just ask Canada they desperately needs a 4rth competitor. Sprint and tmobile merger would be horrible. And disaster. They shouldn’t waste there time. And this free market is working right with two competitors controlling too much market share

        • squiddy20

          Your logic is flawed.
          1. Just because it happened in Canada, does not mean it will happen here in the US.
          2. There is no direct connection between 3 carriers, and 3 year contracts, unless you think 3 is a mystical, magical number.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          3 carriers is bad for America period. SprinT Att Verizon would control a large portion of the market. What would poor U.S. Cellular do? Go out of business. Competition is Good for America. As a former shareholder of Metro Pcs I just don’t think merging with Sprint will solve anything.

        • squiddy20

          Again, your logic is flawed.
          1. You state 3 carriers is bad for America, and only cite Canada as proof. You don’t know the future. You can’t know this. What is going on in Canada is not proof that it will happen here in the US because laws, regulations, and circumstances invariably are/will be different. Period. What you’re doing is no different than someone saying “well, I took a piss in the woods when I was 10 on a camping trip to Canada and got stung by a bee, so I’ll never take a piss in any woods in the US”.
          2. Even as it is right now, there are countless smaller, regional carriers, and even more MVNOs. This more than likely won’t really change.
          3. US Cellular would probably keep on chugging along. If this merger/buyout were to go through, it wouldn’t really affect US. Cellular. There’d still be the same amount of customers on the carrier (unless there’s a mass exodus). There’d still be the same network technology with the same wireless footprint. Heck, the plans and prices would probably even remain the same, if not become better for the consumers.
          4. You forget that US Cellular sold spectrum and 420,000 customers to Sprint in 2012, long before Sprint was acquired by Softbank (though it had been announced about a month before the deal with USC went through), and long before any talks/rumors of a T-Mobile/Sprint buyout.
          5. I agree that competition is good for America, but even if this merger went through, it’s not as if competition would just magically disappear. There’d be 3 large entities competing. There’d still be countless smaller, regional entities also in existence and competing. The only thing that would change is the number of large entities competing, down from 4 to 3.
          Honestly, it just seems like you’re coming up with reasons as to why this can’t/won’t work, or are parroting what everyone else is saying without really thinking about it (no offense). Having said that, I am neither for, nor against the merger/buyout. I’m just waiting to see what happens.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          1.) You dont know the future neither in fact many analyst, DOJ, FCC and more are skeptical a combination of Sprint and T-Mobile will even be accepted. T-mobile is doing great things now and taking TM out of the market would leave a giant void. You can read the article itself under TMUS in yahoo financial.

          2.) MVNOs don’t even count has carriers because they use the big 4 Networks. not including METRO PCS until 2015-16.

          3/4.) I know all about US Cellular selling markets and customers to Sprint. Thats old news.

          4.) Verizon and ATT control over 60% adding in a combination of SprinT Mobile you get over 80% that doesn’t look good. U.S. Cellular and other regionals will be a minority. 3 carriers could hick up prices and extend contracts because they control too much market share. Verizon will never lower prices because 1 they are in tremendous debt and they have the power to do so. Same for AT&T. They have a-lot of power in the market and can charge whatever they want.

          In Europe you have way better plans. You can get 10GB of data unlimited talk and text for 45 dollars in UK. Thats great !!! wont see that here anytime soon. Free Market sucks in America when it comes to the Cellular Industry. But T-Mobile is changing that. What is Sprint doing nothing, they are losing customers.

          As you see things unfold this merger isn’t going to happen at all. Were still waiting on a bid….

        • squiddy20

          Many “analysts” just make educated guesses. Most of what they say is not/does not come true. Also, who’s to say, if the merger were to happen, Sprint wouldn’t adopt T-Mobile’s Uncarrier approach? It seems everyone is just expecting Sprint to just become a bigger badder (worse for consumers) Sprint, but that’s not always what happens when 2 companies merge.

          It may be “old news”, but it is no less pertinent. All of that happened in the midst and aftermath of the T-Mobile/AT&T merger screwup. Who’s to say it would all just suddenly stop if this deal went through? That’s right, nobody.

          Your numbers on who controls what (if indeed they are correct), mean next to nothing. According to your numbers, before the merger (right now), Verizon and AT&T control 60% (of the wireless networks, I assume?). After the merger, this will remain the same since all this is strictly between T-Mobile and Sprint. As it is now, again according to your numbers, Sprint and T-Mobile each control another 10% of the market. If they were to combine, that brings it to your supposed 20%. Either way, you still have the same percentage used by the big 4 (or 3) carriers. US Cellular and other carriers are in the minority now, and still would be if the merger were to go through. I honestly don’t know what you were trying to prove. Again, it just seems like you’re trying to come up with frivolous reasons as to why this can’t/won’t work.

          On the other hand, T-Mobile’s Uncarrier approach has already changed (at least somewhat) what the other 3 carriers are doing with their plans and pricing. If the merger went through, and Sprint adopted the same sort of plans as T-Mobile, their combined power would be even more influential.

        • Mike N

          ANY time you lose a carrier, it’s bad news, whether your go from five to four or four to three.

        • KingCobra

          It doesn’t necessarily cost them more than what they can afford. You assume that “building out” 600 mhz equates to building out a network like Verizon has built. LTE “everywhere” like Verizon has isn’t required in order to compete. T-Mo and Sprint can build out LTE on 600mhz along interstates between cities and it would satisfy the coverage needs of the vast majority of people. Also limiting the 600mhz auctions doesn’t mean VZW/AT&T won’t get any. It just means that TMO/Sprint will have the opportunity to get a good percentage of it as well so all 4 carriers will likely be using different slices of it. Procuring handsets will not be a big issue.

          “3 serious competitors” isn’t a good thing. Look at Canada. It’s an oligopoly.

        • vrm

          smaller scale, devices- same tired obfuscation and FUD. How are they going to ‘seed’ the market with devices capable of sprint’s 1/2 dozen bands and tmobile’s as well ?

          Tmobile has had no problem getting devices to support their bands, inspite of their ‘smaller’ scale, so your entire premise is a lie. The market is moving toward cheap devices that support multiple carriers and that will become even more so in the future.

          The iphone supports 3 carriers and so does nexus5 and several motorola models. BTW, after lenovo acquires motorola, expect a flood of cheap smartphones supporting multiple carriers. All these devices can be bought unlocked and both tmobile and at&t are pushing toward unlocked devices. It seems that the bigger and smaller ‘scale’ carriers are working together on this- sprint is the odd man out, trying to force everyone to see things their way.

      • Richard Yarrell

        Sprint is hoping and seriously praying for Tmobile but trust this IT WON’T HAPPEN. Sprint better move on and get their house order. Plain and simple nothing beats Tmobile period.

    • philyew

      If every cell site had equal value and having an identical network footprint was essential, your argument would be more compelling.

      Verizon’s marketing campaign is currently making a virtue of the LTE network range for their 119 million customers, but the reality is that AT&T has 109 million customers with many gaps across the nation in comparison.

      TM has taken the approach of targeting those markets with the highest revenue potential, based on their greater population per cell site. It makes a lot of sense, when you recognize that those markets cover 73% of the population and offer potential growth of over 180 million customers, which is more than twice the potential of the rest of the country put together. They are succeeding because not everyone buys into the idea that it is essential to have a provider with service in places they don’t visit.

      Your analysis also assumes the 40-50% margins that AT&T and Verizon maintain is the level necessary for success, but it is possible to succeed at a much lower level – and most other industries do that routinely. From a consumer perspective, in a saturated market, it is highly desirable that the market is sufficiently competitive to contain carriers that are willing to settle for less.

      Here, and in some of your other comments, you seem to be saying the only logic which matters is that of the free market, but it is precisely a recognition that such is not the case, which has provided the consumer with the protection of antitrust legislation for the last hundred years and more.

      TM have done an excellent job over the last year of changing some of the received logic that has until now driven much of the traditional pricing structure. Devices now play a different role in the value proposition. Contracts and the way they have been historically abused no longer support rigid pricing. Excessive margins on niche services are being exposed and eradicated.

      If they can establish a model which sustains their more modest target margins, and those targets can satisfy investors, as they appear to be doing now, there is no reason to think that further consolidation is essential.

      • KingCobra

        Very well said

    • vrm

      The big two can do to a merged sprint whatever they are doing to it now and continue ‘duking’ it out. Smaller cos can be more nimble and do things that the big two’s business model does not easily accomodate ( such as offering more data cheaper).

      Raising funds from wall street has nothing to do with “scale” or whatever. It has more to do with being a ‘public’ co (which tmobile is now), clout with those goons and willingness and desperation to do it ( look at Son). In any case, DT is a huge co with a lot of clout with W.S. and if they really wanted to, I am sure they can raise $30b sooner than Son.

      You are living in the past, the way you talk about devices- that has drastically changed and even at&t has accepted it. The days of Apple holding tmobile hostage to its stupid trinkets have gone and tables have turned- now its at&t and tmobile that decide apple’s future, and sprint was too stupid to even see this- they signed contracts to do apple’s dirty work for them and commit billions of dollars for this !

      Sprint’s apologetics are pathetic and Son’s desperation is showing.

  • stevejobbed

    This article is why I miss the old guy that ran this site. He told it like it was. He liked Tmobile but wasn’t a blind cheerleader for them. These results are just bad. But these new cats try their best to spin in as a positive no matter what. When Tmobile was 4th after so many years of being on top it was told like the bad news it was. Barely squeaking by Sprint is pretty much just as bad. But these people running the site now seem to think its their job to pump Tmobile up no matter what. Just like magenta themselves, oh how the mighty have fallen….

    • Matt

      T-mobile was the only carrier of the big four that made any gain. AT&T and Verizon made none. So tell me again why this shouldn’t be a good spin?

    • philyew

      “Bad news”? They’re 15 points behind leaders AT&T on a 1,000 point scale. That’s a 1.5% difference – probably within the margin of error of the survey.

      Given that the range of results is always close to, if not within the margin of error, it makes little sense to get either excited or disappointed about this survey.

  • vinnyjr

    Any time there is an improvement in Carrier Customer Care it should be applauded. Looks to me T-Mobile is allot closer to AT&T than Sprint is to T-Mobile. Not only is T-Mobile knocking on AT&T’s door but also Verizon as well. Great job, never had any issues with T-Mobile Customer Care, you just need to know who to ask for just like on all the Carriers. T-Mobile is always improving, never as much and as fast as in Mr Legere running the show. Thank You John Legere and T-Mobile.

  • thatguy

    **Based on a 1,000 point scale**
    If you really think about it, the difference between number 1 and 4 is 3%….thats minuscule.

  • http://about.me/daylondeon Deacon

    now why on Earth would they even consider a Sprint/Softbank deal. smh

  • DirkDigg1er

    I’m taking bets. Sprint will not finish network vision lte goal by 2q 2014.

    • KingCobra

      Of course they won’t. Maybe in 2015 they’ll finally get it right haha.

  • morts

    What do they ask people when doing this survey? Do they just ask “arey you happy with your carrier? Yes or no.” Is there information on why people rated a carrier the way they did?

  • Spanky

    One word: COVERAGE.

  • Omarc Boyer

    I agree w spanky coverage as much as i love tmobile coverage dnt cut it here in LA . At&t rude customer service,crappy plans but better coverage and signal deep in buildings were as tmobile goes to no service at&t has at least 2 bars and works in the same buildings T-Mobile has no service.

  • cubana323

    like everyone on here told u coverage at&t has it better even in major cities like NY ,LA ,SAN fransisco were ,att has a bad reputation since 2008 with dropped calls slow data etc.. They now fixed it .I stay with t-mobile because they give me a better deal and have unlimited data and i berly got my new xperia z1s . But yes theres those times tmobile gets on my nerves no service at the mall, kmart,casinos at vegas , hospital etc.. were my man on at&T has at least 2 bars on all those places i always had to borrow his att galaxy 4 to make calls because my tmobile phone was worthless, but like i said i still stay with them because unlimited data. Also i think its kinda lame that even in a city like los angeles i can be in dwtwn and my phone drops down to EDGE or visiting my family in west palm beach florida and have edge while att has lte . The only thing i liked about tmobile was that it worked in cuba even tho everyone at the tmobile store told me it wouldnt. Once i arrived in el malecon my t-mobile s4 was roaming on “cubacel” att was no service.

  • 21stNow

    AT&T doesn’t rape their customers. No carrier does.

  • Justin747

    You might wanna check your phone. My job is basically to drive around LA and there are VERY few edge placed within city limits. Even downtown. I don’t ever remember going down to EDGE on T-Mobile since I moved to LA. I do drop down to H+ or H, but I haven’t seen EDGE on my any of my Nexus phones.

    In LA I would rank the carriers:

    1. AT&T
    2. T-Mobile
    3. Verizon (MAJOR coverage gaps in Marina Del Rey and all around LAX)
    .
    .
    .
    .
    97. Can & String
    98. Smoke Signals
    99. Sprint (Barely usable in LA last time I used their network)