After All That Fuss, AT&T No Longer Claiming It Has The Fewest Dropped Calls (Perhaps Because It Doesn't)

from the why-let-facts-get-in-the-way dept

We’ve joked about ever mobile operator claiming it has the “best” network in some way or another, with each using slightly different descriptions to explain how their’s is the best. Sprint and Cingular apparently got into a legal spat about the whole thing, with Cingular wanting the courts to say that claiming it had “the fewest dropped calls” is accurate. Eventually, the Better Business Bureau had to weigh in on which silly marketing claims Cingular could use. The latest, however, is that following all of this legal positioning, AT&T (the rebranded Cingular) is dropping the ad campaign that claims “the fewest dropped calls” perhaps because it’s not a claim that can be substantiated well. A variety of studies have shown AT&T’s wireless service ranking pretty low on the reliability scale. That said, the whole “dropped call” thing is becoming less and less of an issue. All of the various mobile operators have greatly improved their networks over the last few years, and dropped calls seem to be increasingly rare on any carrier. Sure, they still happen, but with much lower frequency — so perhaps AT&T is phasing out the campaign because it’s just not a big deal to most people any more.

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Companies: at&t, cingular, sprint

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Comments on “After All That Fuss, AT&T No Longer Claiming It Has The Fewest Dropped Calls (Perhaps Because It Doesn't)”

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jj says:

Re: Pseky Facts

>Pesky facts, getting in the way of good advertising

huh? Some of the worst advertising, ever, really. What a terrible angle for them to take. No wonder cell service in the US is so reviled. THEY ALL BLOW.

‘fewest dropped calls’ – such a negative! “We don’t suck as much as our competitors” – the ad agency should be drawn and quartered.

AT&T – “Our shit doesn’t stink as much as the next guy (but it STILL stinks – a lot!)”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

A recent girlfriend of mine had a prepaid cell phone from Cingular, and from day one she was getting dozens of texts per day from some service she didn’t sign up for. Cingular kept right on charging her $.10 (or something) for each one received, and she couldn’t figure out how to get them to stop, I couldn’t get them to stop, Cingular refused to block the sender or help her get them to stop. Eventually she was able to get the money refunded to her account, and after getting the refund a few times they did just give her free texting for a while (which was really annoying for me because I then got a text from her every hour or so)

dorpus says:

Abbadabba networks

And I’ve spent all morning testing a database of funeral homes, using test cases like “abbadabba”.

There are no funeral homes that advertise the “fewest dropped caskets of any funeral home in the industry”, though insiders tell me it is a rather common occurrence. It takes a good bit of skill to lower those 500-pound loaded caskets into the ground. When are cellular networks going to see themselves buried and tumbling out of caskets anyway?

toni1020 says:

Re: no dropped calls?

You may not want to blame AT&T for this one. I’m an AT&T Customer – I also used to use the Blackberry. Like you, I frequently experienced dropped calls. However, I switched to a Nokia 4 months ago and I can’t remember the last time a call dropped. The sound quality is about 1000 times better, too. Blackberry is a great data device, but it is garbage for a phone. It’s not just the network – junky phones will affect your experience as well.

Devious says:

Drop this...

Dropped Calls, I don’t have them, my biggest problem with At&t is the fact that I can hardly ever make a call. More Bars, I am sitting under their tower, and I have 1 bar at the most….
Everytime I go to dial, I get a fast busy, or Connection Error. I even had to drive to a Pay phone, those are hard to find, to Call 911 becuase my Cell phone wouldn’t, and I had 5 bars of single, I kept gettin Connection Error.
Plus, I get voice mails three days later from when they were left, and I have checked my messages many times in between….. And Text Messages, I had to have them Block all Text messages inbound and outbound becuase of the new charges for just receiving them, thats rediculous.
I figured with the amount that I complain, when I can make a call, they would just drop me like so many others that have complained.

JB says:

Thay all drop calls frequently..

All except for Verizon and Cricket in the Austin San antionio area. Supposedly Cricket buys spectrum from Verizon, that would explain the reliability. Sprint, AT&T, Nextel all suck about the same and drop calls all over the Austin and SA area, Cricket is only $42.00/month for unlimited calls, text and coverage in all areas with no contract, it’s been quite a good deal for me. How does it work in other markets?

Larry says:


Disclaimer: I dumped AT&T wireless when I found out that Cingular had bought them (SBC: BAH!). I went over to Verizon and while I’m not a giant fan, at least they ask me to drop the soap instead of just knocking it out of my hands.

That said, I don’t have many dropped calls and didn’t way back with the “original” AT&T either (the joy of not living in the sticks I guess).

Add all that up, and I think that if the “best” thing about your company (the thing the corporation is going to spend advertising dollars on) is “fewest dropped calls” then you have significate problems.

P.S. My post is obviously the best on Tech Dirt as it has the fewest dropped capitals.

Casper says:

Re: Pitiful

Disclaimer: I dumped AT&T wireless when I found out that Cingular had bought them (SBC: BAH!). I went over to Verizon and while I’m not a giant fan, at least they ask me to drop the soap instead of just knocking it out of my hands.

No kidding. Maybe rather then trying to trick people into signing up, they could work on not pissing off the customers they already have.

I’m to the point where I know I hate AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile… so now I’m giving Helio a try. The most sad thing about my experiment so far, Helio seems to have better customer service and nicer people (most of whom seem to speak English).

Larry says:

Re: Re: Pitiful

Good luck with Helio. I travel just enough to be fearful that I’ll be on a dead phone right when I need it.

I always get good phone support at Verizon tho. That is ONE area where they really excel (from my experience anyway). Always pretty easy to get a human and while they seem to be from a part of America where english has been spoken badly for ages, I always get someone from the States on the line.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pitiful

“That said, I don’t have many dropped calls and didn’t way back with the “original” AT&T either (the joy of not living in the sticks I guess).”

I guess 15 minutes (10mi) NORTH of downtown Los Angeles is what you call living in the sticks?

FYI, most dropped calls come from METRO areas… you know, the areas where everything is made out of concrete and it’s close to impossible to find a spot to park the car (ahem, I mean SUV)

Gomorrah says:

RE: They all drop calls frequently.....

JB, you are a lucky one then. My friend has had both Cricket and Pocket here in the San Antonio Area and not only does he drop calls all the time with both services, they always lost signal, driving down the middle of a major road there are about 5 dead spots for his Cricket phone between 410 and 1604. Here I have had Sprint and it works the best, I have had 2 dropped calls total, in 2 years of service. Sometimes my text messages come in late, but oh well, it is text messaging, it is not that big of a deal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: RE: They all drop calls frequently.....

If i’m not mistaken, a dropped call is when you lose a call, but still have service. The problem you’re referring to is just not having great coverage. If the call is lost because you go into a dead zone, I don’t believe thats what they’re referring to with ‘dropped calls.’

Chuck says:

It all depends

Each market is very different, and typically varies within the market. In Houston, Sprint and Verizon both tend to do very well, but I have been in other cities where neither was worth having. It all boils down to topology and towers, do they have the towers placed well and with enough density for what the signal has to pass through. Trees, buildings, and hills/mountains can all kill a signal, and different bands respond differently to the same obsticles.

Krum says:

Dropped spam...

Although their ads w/ the call dropping are funny, I for one am glad to see this change as the claim was total BS. But, if dropped calls are fewer and far between, I think that will make them a bigger deal when they do happen cause then people are gonna be livid that one occurred.

To stop someone from texting you, most providers have a spam filter you can use online. It helps to find out what provider the number is from by the Area code and the Exchange (npa/nxx) numbers and the block their number @ whatever carrier. “, and others” That stops spam from my end although I know not all carriers offer online spam filters but they should. If it’s a company like Jamster, reply with the word STOP and see if that helps.

txjump says:


I’ve had T-Mobile (previously called VoiceStream) for 6 years and for the most part I have had pretty good service and customer service.

The worst I can complain about is that there are two dead spots when I’m driving home. And about every 6 months or so something goes a little loopy and I have trouble for one night at my house.

They called me up one day and said because I’m a “valued customer” they were giving me an extra 100 minutes every month (whatever, but I still get the extra 100 four years later). And whenever I’ve had a problem with my phone, they’ve fixed it at no cost to me.

Sure, I get the occasional dropped call but I’m guessing it’s no more or less than anyone else AND I have no way of knowing whether it’s my service or the other person’s service.

MEoip says:


I can’t stand ATT every since Cingular became the new ATT the quality has gone down hill. I would be at the store tomorrow morning to get rid of the except my wife’s folks have ATT and she talks to them all the time so I need to stay on the same network. Though I am considering T-Mobil for the fav 5. My folks have Verizon which I like better than Cingular but Verizon’s phones are horrid.

I constantly experience dropped calls or dead time. I watch my bars dance from a red line to 5 green without moving my phone.

CWR says:

Not many drops but...

I don’t often have calls drop out altogether, but frequently many of them take prolonged minutes, due to one of us having to repeat much of what we just said. Love it when all of a sudden the other person’s voice turns into a mishmosh of glitchy digital garble, and both parties are shouting ‘What?” to each other.”Static” on analog was much more tolerable.

Amy (user link) says:

I know how Cingular/AT&T could claim

It’s easy to have the fewest dropped calls if you never connect your customers to the network in the first place. At least, that’s what I’d say to my mom and her boyfriend when they were complaining about Cingular/AT&T’s games.

Most of my family uses Cingular because AT&T (the old one, not the current joke that just took the name for better brand recognition) was the only carrier that gave acceptable coverage up around where my grandfather lived until he died in ’01. When Cingular bought them up, I started making a fuss, and after some drama with my father being a moron and extending *my* contract instead of his (hooray for my moronic parent having control of my cell phone bill because I didn’t have established credit yet), I eventually bailed and went to T-mobile. I’ve been happy since, gotten nothing but good service, and most everywhere I have reception problems, people on other carriers do too.

Anonymous Coward says:

You know, here’s another example of how Alltel is better than the rest (even though they ruined some of the Midwest Wireless plans in the recent merger). If their network drops a call, they credit you one minute of call time. Granted, it’s not much, but it is at least a sign that they care at least a little bit. Plus they’ve got some of the most extensive coverage nationwide on their National Freedom plans. And of course there’s the fact that your two year contract does not lock in a specific usage plan. You can change your plan every month if you want, depending on what your usage needs are. Now if they’d just get rollover minutes, they’d be completely unbeatable.

Oh, and btw, in my neck of the woods, we have Alltel, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile (no local Verizon). Oh, and Unicel, which is a conglomerate made up of oldies like Cellular One and Cellular 2000, among others (their coverage stinks and so do their plans). I know for a fact that AT&T hardly works in the main building where I work, especially in the basement. All the corporate cell phones are on Sprint, which is running local advertisements CLAIMING to have the strongest coverage in town, but even Sprint barely works in the basement areas, and I only get one bar, maybe two at best at my apartment, which is also in town.

My Alltel phone, on the other hand, rarely drops below three bars of signal, even in basements and elevators, at least around here. Oh, and rural coverage is very strong too, which is one of the biggest selling points of Alltel. Most of the other big guys stink at rural coverage.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: The Fewest Dropped Calls ?

Simple. Those ads are cheaper than putting up more cell towers. You would think that making sure there are no holes in their coverage area (which would equal happier customers) would be top priority. But no. Due to the fact that they think they make more money by getting new customer to sign up then by keeping existing customers happy.

They think that getting 10 million new customers a year (but they won’t mention that they lost 7 million angry customers) is better than only getting 6 million new customers (and only losing 1 million). It’s all about “growth”.

Angela H. says:

Cingular vs AT&T

I am one of the few that never had a problem with Cingular. Ever since AT&T took over (and particularly when the Cingular logo changed on the phone this last two months)there are whole swaths of “no bars” all over my city (Memphis, TN). A service associate says that At&T is in the process of “converting” the Cingular towers.

Shelly Freemen says:

At&t Number One

At&t Number one service, I have excellent coverage everywhere, sometimes I have dropped calls but nothing is perfect. But if there was such a thing AT&T would be. I always experience excellent customer service. I love having rollover, for example March, April and may I hardly used my minutes over that three month period I accumalated 900 Rollover minutes, the next month my mother passed away and I was using my phone alot more than normal, I am on a 900 minute plan and used 1698 minutes in the month of June, think if rollover minutes did not exist I would have paid 0.40 cents each addtional minute coming to a total of 319.20 in overage,WOW! And you tell me Rollover minutes are not useful. Great Job AT&T

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