Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Why I HATE Cingular

Ya, harsh subject line. And for people who know me, I'm not one to start flaming people or companies. But I've had it. And I need to vent this somehow.

About a year and a half ago I switched from T-Mobile to Cingular because I wanted a phone that only Cingular offered. Dumbest mistake of my life. The very second my 2 year contract is up, I'm switching back. Now, granted, Cingular has been better than AT&T, but not by much. And just an FYI - my biggest annoyance with Cingular is that they claim to have the fewest number of dropped calls; I get a dropped call about once a day.

Anyway, I open up my cell phone bill today expecting it to be around the normal $75. Not this time. Today it was 498.54! Holy crap! So I scrambled to figure it what the heck happenned. Of course, disciphering the billing charges requires a PhD and a half, but I finally found the issue. The bill claimed that I had done a 39,578KB data transfer. I don't have a data plan. I haven't done any data transfers since the first month I had service after which I cancelled their $20/mo data plan.

I called customer care and the rep did a little research and found out the transfer occurred at 3:52pm on Tuesday 11/28/06. I was at work at that time and to my knowledge was not using my phone to transfer megabytes of data (I did a quick calculation and discovered it would take at least 2 hours to transfer that much data with my phone). So I told them that and they claimed there was nothing they could do. Ha! I asked to speak with a manager. After sitting on hold for 10 minutes, a manager came on and said the best they could do was credit my account $150. When I proceded to explain to them that I wasn't going to pay any of the erroneous data charge, the connection went dead. Cingular - network with the fewest dropped calls. That was the moment that I almost ate my cellphone while tearing the countertop off my kitchen cabinets.

There is a happy ending. I called back, sat on hold for a while, and finally spoke with a rep who was able to credit me half of the charge and fill out a form that would supposedly credit the rest back within 30 days. I pray that happens; God have mercy on the poor customer care person who answers my call if it doesn't.

There, I feel much better now. :)

UPDATE 9/4/07:

I'm happy to report that Cingular did manage to completely reverse the charges. It took a month, but at least it was taken care of. Why I had to go through so much pain is still irritating to think about. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks they sprinkle little fees like this all the time to customers and bank on the hopes that the customer won't go through the hassle to reverse them.

Anyway, in the end, I got even. The very day after my 2 year contract was up I switched to T-Mobile. And, like the comment of one of the readers, I haven't had to think about my wireless provider ever since.

One more funny thing. Just after I switched, T-Mobile put up some billboards in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area stating "Don't drop dad! T-Mobile, fewest drop calls in the Twin Cities". I knew it wasn't just me!


Barnabas said...

This presents a major conflict of interest. I am an Apple fanboy and I am salivating over the new iPhone. Then I hear that they will partner exclusively with Cingular. I seem to recall reading something recently about Cingular, but I can't place it. I finally made my way back to this post. I have used Sprint in Duluth and Verizon in Duluth and St Paul. They each seemed fine and never screwed me too badly. Other than the hundreds of dollars they tried to screw you out of and all the dropped calls... how is Cingular?

Anonymous said...

Well, all I can say is: be careful. Aquiring an exclusive phone was the main reason I switched to Cingular and I've pretty much regretted it ever since. The reality is new phones come out on a pretty regular basis, but when you sign up with a new cell phone company (and want to get their new phone discount), you're forced to sign a 2-year contract.

If I could do it all over again, I would have waited a few months to see if a comparable phone would have been offered by T-Mobile (my previous provider) and gone with that. The other option I could have done was buy an unlocked version of the phone I wanted. While, I would have paid a little more, it would have been worth it in the long run.

Overall, this experience has taught me that I am sucker for gadgets. Next time, I'll think twice.

John said...

I don't usually pay any attention to companies that provide me with utilities or services - but I hate Cingular so much that I Googled "hate Cingular" just to feel the affirmations of random folks on the web flaming this terrible terrible service provider. I got so mad once when driving on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway past the Cingular "fewest dropped calls" billboard that I almost veered into another lane to my firey death. Once I was conducting a phone interview for a job and the call dropped. I started to get a complex that everyone else seemed to be able to conduct conversations on their phones, but perhaps somehow it was me. No, Cingular/AT&T are THE WORST - and I even decided to just eat the penalty and break the contract. Since I've been on Verizon, I have again been able to resume my indifference to my cell phone provider that I prefer. Note this is no endorsement of Verizon - merely, I am stating that I do not have to THINK ABOUT my cell phone provider - and indeed, why would anyone want to? Sorry, my brother, I have been there. Now I must get back to work.

Cody White said...

Cingular/AT&T is the biggest group of scammers. I signed up for a GoPhone account that has no contract and I can cancel anytime (the whole point of a GoPhone). I put $150 into my account and each month they draw down on the balance until I add more money. I added a large amount as I wanted to be with Cingular for a long time and I didn't want to go back and update the account every month.

About two months later I wanted to cancel my account (as they started sending me unwanted texts and other minor issues that made it not worth it) and they would let me cancel my account but they would NOT REFUND MY MONEY.

You can cancel the account whenever you want but you can't have your money back, the biggest scam ever!

Anonymous said...

here's proof that phone companies are lame.