Editor’s Corner: Some people pay $1,000 for their monthly wireless bill

Man tossing money in a frying pan
The most dissatisfied customers fall in the mid-range in terms of monthly spending – $151 to $500 per month. (pathdoc/Shutterstock)
Linda Hardesty editor's corner

One thing stood out for me immediately in the new American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Wireless Service and Cellular Telephone report. Apparently, there are families in the United States who are spending $1,000 or more for their monthly mobile phone bill!

The ACSI report is based on survey interviews with 27,346 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between April 15, 2019, and March 20, 2020.

As part of the survey, respondents were asked how much they spend each month for their wireless telephone service. ACSI data indicates that wireless companies provide the greatest satisfaction to high-paying customers who spend more than $1,000 per month. Typically, these are customers with multiple lines for family, and they reward their wireless supplier with the strongest customer loyalty. ACSI said this group is the smallest of the samples of the spending sub-groups (Thank Goodness).

Another high-paying segment — customers who spend $501 to $1,000 per month — are also relatively satisfied and loyal. “This makes sense as companies across many industries are often most sensitive to the experiences of their high-margin customers who are indeed strong drivers of profitability,” states the ACSI report.

On the other hand, the most dissatisfied customers fall in the mid-range in terms of monthly spending. Collectively, those spending $151 to $500 per month are the least satisfied and least loyal customers.

ACSI chart 1

Personally, I feel kind of offended here for reasons unclear even to myself. My husband and I spend about $190 per month on our Verizon Wireless family plan, and we were thinking this was a lot of money for the phone bill. Geez - we also have to pay CenturyLink for our internet connection.

The ACSI report says the $151 to $500 group usually represents family plan consumers with multiple lines for mom, dad and the kids. “This customer segment deserves sharp attention from wireless companies as they represent an at-risk group most likely to churn and defect,” said the report. “True,” I say.

Customer satisfaction

The report notes that the T-Mobile purchase of Sprint brings together the top-satisfying mobile network operator T-Mobile and the least-satisfying network operator Sprint. “The move could spell customer satisfaction trouble for the new entity as it integrates networks and service plans over the next few years,” stated the report.

The mobile network operator category overall was stable with an ACSI score of 73. T-Mobile remains the undisputed network operator leader with an unchanged score of 76. According to customers, T-Mobile offers by far the best range of plans in the category.

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The carrier’s high-profile merger with Sprint was completed after the interview period for the ACSI report ended. The union pairs number-one T-Mobile with Sprint, which garnered a customer satisfaction score of 66. “The satisfaction gap between the two carriers is a daunting 10 points, which does not bode well for the new T-Mobile’s future satisfaction,” stated the report.

ACSI chart 2

T-Mobile anticipates taking three years to integrate the two networks, and Sprint customers will likely roll over onto T-Mobile plans. ACSI data shows that most mergers negatively impact customer satisfaction, at least in the short term.

The new T-Mobile has over 100 million customers, bringing it closer to AT&T (141 million) and Verizon Wireless (150 million).