Thomas Hawk Chased Away from Cingular’s 3G Service

Thomas Hawk, he of a PriceRitePhoto scandal fame and G.I. Joe name (lucky bastard), details his attempt to sign up with Cingular Wireless’s 3G Laptop Connect service. He’s already an AT&T Wireless customer—now part of Cingular—but the Cingular rep insisted that he ‘switch’ to Cingular so he could use the 3G service. Thomas seems a little baffled by this, but having put in our times in the phone trenches, we can almost certainly say that the rep would have gotten a ‘sale’ on her account had she convinced Mr. Hawk to switch his service.

How would that have benefited Thomas Hawk? Probably not at all, but that was hardly Cingular’s concern. Instead, after jiggering with their offers multiple times, they lost the opportunity to add services to an existing customer. Thomas notes:

I’m constantly amazed at how wrong Cingular’s reps get things all the time. Ask three different people the same question and you get three different answers.

Here’s a little anecdote to tell you how common this is. When writing our monthly column for a print mag, we often call the customer service line in a search for correct answers to readers’ questions. Amazingly, the answers really do vary nearly every time, forcing us to contact the PR outlets of the phone companies to get correct answers.

Hey, that just gave us an idea…

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  1. Jay says:

    Cingular is particular bad when it comes to dealing with former AT&T customers. The problem boils down to the fact that even though they claim to have “integrated” the two services, they’re in reality entirely separate. Separate networks, separate billing, separate customer service. I’m also a (former) AT&T customer, and when my phone was lost last year, I was basically told that I was out of luck: Cingular no longer sells phones that are directly compatible with AT&T SIM cards (and none are available anywhere else, according to them), and switching to a Cingular plan in order to get a new phone would result in a $150 “early termination fee”, even though I was supposedly already a Cingular customer! Furthermore, nobody seemed to have any idea how to deal with former AT&T customers; one rep even expressed surprise that anyone was still on an AT&T plan (I’m pretty sure there are quite a few of us). Thankfully, I first found out that Cingular was dead wrong about the hardware compatibility and availability issues… and then I found my phone after I bought a new one. This “merger” has turned out to be an absolute nightmare.

  2. CMPalmer says:

    We went through the same thing. My daughter wanted a Razr phone for her birthday, but to add it to our “AT&T” account, we had to “switch” to Cingular. We had automatic bill payment set up already with Cingular (this was after the switch, so all of our bills said Cingular but we had originally signed with AT&T). We asked the rep if our automatic bill payment would switch and he fiddled with his computer and said that it would.

    It did. Two months later, my daughter and my wife’s phones stopped working. I checked my account and it was paid up. I called Cingular and they said it was paid up. I asked why my phones weren’t working and she said, “Oh, you have a previous balance of $90 from your AT&T account, plus $40 (or so) in late fees.” Yep, he switched my bill payment to the new account and we never received e-mail or paper bills for the old account which went delinquent. I paid the $90, but there was no way in hell I was going to pay the $40, but it took three more phone calls and an hour or more of my time to clear it up.

  3. jmac32here says:

    Now if you migrate over, the ETF and the upgrade fees have been completely waived. Migration is much easier than having to switch carriers.

    Here’s how I’ll put it, if your ATT phone works where you use it, your Cingular phone will work better. You don’t have to guess and check to see if other carriers will work there. This is because Cingular continues to migrate to dying ATT towers (Mainly the fault of ATT during their flawed technology switch.) into the Cingular Orange Network.

    Yes this does mean that eventually ATT Phones and SIM’s will not work where they used to, but migrating over gets you into new..usually better plans with Rollover, Unlimited N&W ect. along with a much larger coverage area. It also eliminates that extra $5 monthly fee.