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Which Wireless Providers Offer Best Purchase Experience?

The wireless purchase experience through carrier channels hit a record high in the latest J.D. Power survey, with AT&T taking the top spot among the four national postpaid carriers and TracFone taking the top spot among prepaid providers.

The company’s semiannual study, now in its 13th year, evaluates the wireless purchase experience of consumers who purchase through a carrier store, carrier website, carrier  telemarketing staff, and retail stores, including national retailers. The company uses six factors to measure satisfaction. In order of importance, they are store sales representative, website, offerings and promotions, phone-sales representative, store facility, and cost of service. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Overall satisfaction among the four national carriers hit 803, up six points from the previous semiannual survey to hit the highest level since the first study in 2004. Improvements were posted in all six factors, with the largest gains coming in cost of service (up 16 points), phone-sales representatives (plus 15), and store sales representative (up 12).

The satisfaction gains came despite a “notable increase in out-of-pocket costs for the customer” caused by the introduction of no-subsidy phones, said Kirk Parsons, senior director of J.D. Power. “While this may seem counterintuitive, wireless service providers have been aggressively offering more data-plan minutes, with some even tethered to unlimited-usage plans, to offset the high cost of ownership. These promotions help increase a customer’s perception of added value considerably, while enhancing their satisfaction with the purchase experience.”

AT&T ranked the highest among the big four carriers with an overall score of 813. “AT&T performs particularly well in five of the six purchase experience factors, excelling in the offerings and promotions and phone sales representative factors,” J.D. Power said.

Among the big four, T-Mobile placed a close second behind AT&T with a score of 812, followed by Verizon with 797 and Sprint with 784.

Among the prepaid carrier brands, TracFone ranked the highest with a score of 802. TracFone performed particularly well in four of the six experience factors, especially in website and cost of service, J.D. Power said.

TracFone’s score of 802 was followed by Sprint’s Virgin Mobile brand with 796, AT&T’s Cricket brand at 795, Sprint’s Boost Mobile brand with 792, MetroPCS at 787, Straight Talk at 775, and Net10 at 764.