Welcome to Cingular. Your money is very important to us. Please hold.

A few months ago, I bought my girlfriend Jamie a phone for her birthday. I had been using Sprint for years, but decided to try Cingular and their Razr phone. I received a corporate discount on the service, the phone, and they waived the activation charges. I kept it for less than a week, and I’m still regretting walking into that store at all.

When I bought the phone, the guy said I would not have to pay activation charges, and put that into the account info. He also said I’d have to return this within two weeks in order to get all charges dropped. As I was leaving a few days later for a trip back home to see my girlfriend, and wanted to try the reception there, I felt this was reasonable.

I took the phone home and waited a few hours, as I had to wait until the thing was activated. After several hours, I still couldn’t place a phone call. I’d be redirected to their automated line. The quality of that call alone was so bad I could barely hear what they were saying.

I decided to concentrate on the Razr itself. It’s a very nice looking phone, but the software was so horrible that I couldn’t stand using it. Motorola seems to be quite bad in this regard, and I’m choosing to stay away from Motorola phones for the foreseeable future. Anyhow, I decided that this whole thing needed to go back, but I didn’t have time to deal with it that day.

I left for a couple of days and then came back and returned the phone and cancelled the service. I had to talk to a person on the phone at Cingular, who was trying to get me to stay with them, offered me things, etc., but I said no. I then confirmed from both her and the employee at the store that I wouldn’t be billed a single thing. They both said that all charges are dropped and not to worry.

A month and a half passes. I get a call from a collections agency. Cingular wanted my wallet.

I called up Cingular and dealt with them for a bit. They were persistent, but not as persistent as I was. They claimed that I only had 3 days to return everything in order to not be billed for activation charges, rather than 2 weeks as the sales person told me. Furthermore, due to my corporate discount, I didn’t have to pay activation charges. Finally, the lady on the phone looked this up and found that, yes, there was a note saying I didn’t have to pay activation charges. They were just going to try anyway and hope that I wouldn’t notice/remember. Thanks guys, you really made me want to go back to you someday.

That phone conversation was in early November. I thought I was done, honestly. I received a letter with a “Sorry” and a “Due: $0” written on it. And a check for something like $17, which I’m sure is a trap. So that was it, right? Nope, of course not! This morning, I received a phone call. Cingular apparently hasn’t informed the collections agency that I no longer owe them anything, and the collections agency wants to know where the money is. I told them the story and they’re checking up on it, but I imagine this battle is going to begin again.

Another company on my personal blacklist.

11 thoughts on “Welcome to Cingular. Your money is very important to us. Please hold.

  1. My wife and I recently had a very similar experience with T-mobile here. We kept our phones for 5 days before returning them, but then had to spend three months dealing with bills for charges we didn’t owe, improper activation fees, and other nonsense. In fact, when we called to complain about the wrong charges on the account (cancelled account, mind you), we got the same response you did from Cingular regarding why we were charged: “Oh, you’re right, you don’t owe that. I guess we’ll take it off”. I’m convinced that these carriers have a policy of charge now, check later, as every representative we talked to either told us explicitly or strongly implied that the charge was on the bill with the hopes that we’d pay it without calling to complain that it was wrong.

  2. I entered into a 2 year contract with Cingular. After about 2 weeks with the phone I realized that something was wrong, most of my conversations would drop before reaching a min. I called their 1-800 number and sat on hold for over an hour. Someone eventually told me that I needed to take the phone to where I bought it and have somebody take a look at it. I took it there and they told me that they weren’t authorized to repair phones and that I needed to call the 1-800 number and they would handle it. I called the 1-800 and they told me to take the phone to different store and they gave me an address. I took the phone there and the guy got mad at me, “why would I fix your phone, you didn’t buy it from me”. I called the 1-800 number again and chewed them out by this point. I just wanted to get my stupid phone fixed. The 1-800 person bumped me up to 2nd level support. Keep in mind that by this point I’ve had the phone for 4 months. He makes some suggestions about what might be wrong. He looks over my call lengths and acknowledges that 90% of my conversations don’t last more then a min. The phone still doesn’t work. I call back up and tell them, fix my phone, I’m not paying for last months bill, I continue to get bad service and 0 help, why should I pay for this. She tells me to contact the manufacturer of the phone because it sounds like a defective phone. I tell her, forget it, I want out. She tells me that I am in a contract and I have to pay $150 to get out of it plus the bill for the month that I didn’t pay. I told her that if they wanted to keep me as a customer they needed to fix my phone and cover the missed payments because why should I pay when I don’t get service. She said she couldn’t do that. I went to verizon.
    I knew that eventually they would mess with my credit trying to get the money so I had my lawyer send a letter requesting that they not send me to a collection agency and that make no bad marks on my credit. The lawyer mapped out a nice time line of events that he included in the letter. I got sent to a collection agency anyways. They called every day at 10AM and hung up, until 1 day they got a hold of me. The guy at the collection agency, trying to insite me to say stupid things I’m sure, started accusing me of being a free loader. He had no idea about the letter. The people at the collection agency have no idea whats going on. At this company, as I’m sure is the case with many other companies, the right hand doesn’t know what the left one is doing. I had a copy of the letter mailed to the collection agency and the calls stopped and my credit was repaired. I have a feeling that the company Cingular pays for collections has a clue about the ineptness going on at Cingular.

  3. Had the same problem. I tried out Crapular and didn’t like it. The signal quality in Northern NJ was just aweful. Anyway I returned the phone within 5 days and thought all was well.(I had 14 days to try it out) I fought for the next 6 months with Collections and Cingular disputing them trying to charge me. The best part was when then said the phone was “never” returned and how they accused me of using the cell to make hundreds of calls to known drug areas in NJ. The funny thing is I had a signed statement from the manager stating that that I returned the phone on such and such a date. Some employee took my phone and never closed my account. Nice huh?

    F**k you Cingular. I’ll never use them ever again and I warn everyone I know to avoid them like the plague.

  4. I’ve been with several cell providers. They all suck! They all would rather get a new customer than keep long term reliable customers. They all have poor customer support.

  5. You might want to check your credit report once you get situation sorted out with the collections agency. It would be a shame to get all the garbage with Cingular worked out and still have to deal with a bad mark on your credit.

  6. I’ve got Cingular, and while I haven’t been screwed by their billing practices, I definitely have the rather annoying experience of getting voicemail and SMS messages a day or three late. That happened to me with T-Mobile as well, but at least I was paying less for the abuse.

  7. I use a SonyEricsson W800 phone, which has an excellent user interface. It’s the MacOS of mobile phones: easy to navigate and simple menus, nice animated transitions etc. It also doubles up as an MP3 player.

    As to providers, well we don’t have Cingular here in the UK but I’ve heard horror stories before. And when I did try and deal with them on holiday recently, I was amazed by the fact that whenever I misdialled a number they read me an incident ID at the end of the message. Why the hell do I care what internal code you assigned this error incident? It’s of no use to me! They had “clueless” written all over them, and I interacted with the company for all of 20 seconds 😉

    -mike

  8. Stay away from any SBC/AT&T run service. SBC is absolutely the worst telco ever. Their customer service is atrocious.
    I had a nightmare getting my Earthlink DSL up and running with them.
    In conclusion, don’t use SBC.

  9. I am originally with AT&T (and now with Cingular because of the merger). I absolutely hate their customer service. I was locked into a 2 years contract. The first phone I got for free was horrendous. While on the phone with a good friend I had 20 drop calls straight. I sent the phone back and got another one. The problem improve a bit. I eventually got a new phone (T-Mobile) unlocked phone with my own SIM card. Still the same problem. 3 phone with the same problem? I called the customer support relentlessly but they weren’t willing to help. Not one customer rep help the situation. They kept pushing to have me sign a new contract so i can get a new phone. Kept transfering me to a customer care, who in turn kept pushing for a new phone down my throat. I was with Sprint for a long time before giving AT&T/Cingular a try. What a mistake. My contract ends in Jan 26th, 2006. I can’t wait!

  10. All North American cell phone service companies seem to suck horribly. If the startup costs of running such a company weren’t so high, I’d start my own one that had good service and put them all out of business (or force them to stop sucking but that’s unlikely). I hope Google, Apple or some other company that understands the value of the consumer experience decides to enter the market…

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