Customers with smartphone installment plans less satisfied, says J.D. Power

Customers who lease their smartphones wait longer for support, have more issues and are less satisfied overall, says J.D. Power. T-Mobile benefits.

If you're on one of those smartphone installment plans at major U.S. wireless carriers you're likely to be shafted in the customer service queue and be less satisfied than folks on a contract, according to J.D. Power data.

J.D. Power reported that wireless customer service and satisfaction has taken a hit for customers who have shifted away from subsidy-based plans. AT&T and Verizon have launched equipment installment plans where you pay for a smartphone month-by-month without a two-year contract. These plans were largely launched to combat T-Mobile, which caters to customers without contracts via its "uncarrier" plans.

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Apparently, customers who lease a smartphone wait more for support.

To wit:

  • Overall satisfaction among customers leasing smartphones is 15 points lower than those with a service contract.
  • When customers with installment plans contact their carrier satisfaction is lower too regardless of channel.
  • Customers with installment plans are more likely to contact carriers with questions or issues. Thirty-nine percent of customers with installment plans contacted customers support over the last three months compared to 35 percent with contracts.
  • Installment plan customers are also more likely to be transferred and wait 1 minute longer for a problem to be resolved. Installment plan users wait 17.1 minutes vs. 15.9 minutes for contract customers.
  • With the shifting landscape in consumer plans, T-Mobile has surged in the customer satisfaction ratings.

Here's the scoreboard.