T-Mobile, AT&T drop in consumer satisfaction as Sprint and Verizon rise to the top

According to the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index survey, Sprint and Verizon have tied for first in consumer satisfaction, topping rivals AT&T and T-Mobile.

Sprint Nextel may not be the biggest or most successful of the four major carriers, but it certainly pleases the most customers.

That's according to the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index survey, which found after polling 8000 participants that Sprint beat out rivals AT&T and T-Mobile. The company did however tie with Verizon, which may dilute the excitement a bit.

This is a major shift. Three years ago Sprint had a satisfaction rating of 56, last in consumer satisfaction among the big four. Now the company is tied with Verizon, perennial title holder for the most satisfying of the major carriers.

At that same time, AT&T and T-Mobile both dropped three points, a move no doubt emerging out the possibility of the two companies merging next year. AT&T dropped from 69 to 66, while T-Mobile took a similar dip from 73 to 70. It should be noted here that those three point drops are still within the poll's margin for error, so their declines are still a bit tentative.

It's also hard to ignore another important fact: While Sprint can now flaunt its first place status, its satisfaction score of 72 is out of 100, which still leaves a lot of room for improvement. Likewise, its notable how similar the companies' satisfaction scores are. Curiously, the poll found that most satisfied customers weren't served by the Big Four at all. Smaller carriers, for example, netted satisfaction ratings of  77, topping even Sprint and Verizon.

This leads to the inevitable question: With the satisfaction ratings of AT&T and T-Mobile dropping ahead of the merger, what are customers going to think if the deal actually goes through?

[Via Associated Press]