I was issued an iPhone 4 by my company over a year ago. The corporate service provider is AT&T.
My home is in the center of Berkeley, CA (population ~100,000). If you don't know, Berkeley is across the bay from San Francisco. There is a BART (light-rail train) station about eight blocks from my home.
In my home, I typically have no signal. I gave up on using the iPhone to make calls, and installed the Skype app so that I could make calls over my home wi-fi. I frequently miss incoming calls because of the poor-to-non-existant signal.
Walking from my house to the BART station takes about 10 minutes. I can make calls for about half of that walk, but the data connection is so poor that I can barely perform a single Google search in that time. Just outside the station itself, I can sometimes not make a call because the signal drops to one bar.
Riding the train in to San Francisco affords only about five minutes of usable data service time for a 30-40 minute ride. This connectivity has actually been decreasing noticeably over the past few months. It used to be that any time I was out of the underground sections of the rail, I had data connectivity. Lately, the signal is non-exisstant execpt for two very small windows of coverage just before going back underground.
Now, for some reason I was able to put up with this, mostly because my company was paying for the service, not me. But when I wanted to get an iPhone for my wife, I wound up getting it for her through AT&T. Silly me.
Last week, my wife returned from a business trip overseas, where she lost the phone (iPhone 3G that I got refurbished for $19 plus a two-year contract). I wanted to get her a new phone as quickly as possible. It turned out that the most cost-effective way to get her the new phone would be to add a second line, and order a new iPhone 4 at the same time, paying only $99 for the phone.
I called AT&T and talked to someone in customer service for about 10-15 minutes to verify that I could do this, but then it turned out that they couldn't complete the order. They had to transfer me to someone in sales. The person in sales talked...a lot. She she asked me personal questions about my family, and then talked about her own family. She told me personal things about her family there were simply not relevant to my call.
She told me that they would be able to give me a new line, and set the new phone up to the existing line. She then proceeded to hard sell me on accessories and other add-ons. She wanted me to buy the insurance for the phone. I had a hard time following her explaination. It sounded like she was saying that I would pay $7/month, but if I lost the phone there was a $199 deductible. That doesn't sound like a deal to me, so I just told her that I didn't want the insurance, accessories, anything...I just wanted to get the phone delivered as quickly as possible, as my wife currently has no phone.
When I turned down the insurance, the saleswoman's voice changed. She told me that I could, of course, refuse the insurance, but they may then need to review my eligibilty to recieve the new iPhone 4 at the special rate of $99. Basically I felt that she was blackmailing me into accepting the insurance, or she was going to find some reason that I would have to pay full price for the new phone. Since getting the new phone quickly was my primary goal. I agreed to the insurance.
She then explained that I would have to wait for the terms and conditions to arrive via e-mail. I would have to agree to these terms and conditions before the new phone would be shipped. I again expressed my concern that I needed to phone as soon as possible. She said that if the terms and conditions e-mail had not arrived within 24 hours, that I should call back.
Finally the called ended, with me listening to minutes of pre-recorded legal notices. I took a picture of my office phone, with the elapsed time for the call at one hour and twelve minutes. (I was calling from work and had to miss one meeting and push another back in order to complete this call. Nobody seemed to have any concern about the value of my time.)
The next morning, 24 hours later, there was no e-mail. I called customer service and was told that the terms and conditions can take up to 72 hours to be sent. I was so frustrated...The agent told me that if getting the phone right away was an issue, I could go to one of the AT&T stores. But then she explained that none of the work I'd already done for this account would transfer, so I'd have to start over from scratch. I'd already invested over an hour in this...I wasn't going to start over in some store.
Today, 74 hours after the call, still no terms and conditions e-mail.
I called customer service and was told that the "system" had been upgraded over the weekend, so there may be an additional day's wait for the e-mail. So now I was supposed to wait another day, knowing that if the e-mail did arrive, it would only indicate the start of a 7-9 business-day wait for the shipment of the phone that I need right away.
That was the last straw.
I went to Verizon, signed up for a new account. Ordered the iPhone 4 for $99. Set up a similar plan to the one I had with AT&T, and the phone is being shipped overnight...free of additional charge.
I know that people out there experience much worse, but I'm still amazed by the poor quality of customer service I have recieved. It makes the ridiculously scripted assurances that I am "a valued customer" ring laughably hollow. Good riddance to AT&T.
I recieved a package on the day that I wrote the above message. It was the protective case for the iPhone from AT&T. Amazingly, they sent me the accessory package that I didn't want (the most expensive one, too). They sent it even though the terms of service message that I had to reply to before the the phone would be shipped was never sent (to this day I have not received the terms of service e-mail).
I had to ship this accessory package back to AT&T at my own expense. So I wound up paying $50 + tax and shipping, and then return shipping, and I have a feeling that I'm only going to be credited for the $50.
The next day my phone arrived from Verizon. The number had already been ported over from my AT&T account, so it was ready to go right out of the box.
I'm paying $175 to AT&T to break my contract, but it is more than worth it. The Verizon phone has full bars in my house, where the AT&T phone could barely maintain a signal. That alone is worth the money and hassle.