What Cingular Tells Customers Canceling Over Text Message Rates

This is what Cingular will probably tell you if you call up trying to get out of your cellphone contract and service without paying an early termination fee based on their recent text message rate raise.

    Q. Since Cingular is raising its rates, are customers entitled to cancel service without paying an early termination fee?

    A. No, that doesn’t apply here. This is simply a pricing change for pay-per-use text and instant messaging, which is an optional service. It’s similar to buying a ringtone – that’s optional as well. It’s not part of your monthly rate plan.

    Customers who pay for text and instant messages on a per-use basis are generally those who use text messaging occasionally. Frequent users generally purchase packages or bundles, so they can send and receive messages for as little as a penny each.”

This was provided to us by a Cingular employee and directly copied from the Cingular Knowledge Management System.

It’s also a giant bologna train shoved up your ass.

Text-messaging is not an optional service. Cingular phones are set to receive text-messages by default. It’s only optional If a user has a text-message plan or blocks text-messages. Only then have they exercised a choice.

Cingular’s legal team is wrong, and Cingular is lying to its customers. A battle-royale in the courtroom over this would find in the customer’s favor.

If you’re trying to cancel, be adamant and demanding. They’ve locked down the organization, but you might get lucky and hit a weak rep. Or, keep escalating and escalating, and escalating, which costs Cingular a lot of money, and might get you some traction. — BEN POPKEN

RELATED:
We Interview Cingular About Cancelling Over Text Message Plans
Cingular Foils Reader’s Attempt To Break Contract
Break Your Cingular Contract Without Fee, Thanks 2 Txt Msg $ Raise

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    I dunno… it sounds as if they’ve got a leg to stand on here.

    If I had a contract where I had say 500 Text messages a month and it cost me an extra $20, and they were going to raise that to $25, then that would be a material change. As it is you don’t pay for incoming text messages and if you send them that’s a choice you make on your own, like downloading a ringtone or a new wallpaper.

    If you’re paying individually for text messages then they can charge you whatever they want, because it’s not built into your specific contract, it’s the same rate for everyone.

    It would be like the cable company changing the rates of PPV movies. You pay per movie, they’re not part of your contract with them, so they can raise rates on you whenever they want.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    But what if you sign a contract with the cable company, which specifies the price of PPV movies?

    You agreed to the contract on the basis that if you choose to use the options offered to you by way of the contract, they will cost a set ammoutn of money.

    You can have a contract that includes options that are not manditory, but contains specifics on the terms relating to using those options.

  3. non-meat-stick says:

    yup, if incomming messages are free, then I would say they have every right to raise the Per-Use Mobile Originated fee, that was not a term or condition of the contract signed upon starting service.

    If they charge to receive, as sprint does in most cases, then Ben’s statement about auto receive is true. But even in the Sprint situation, They don’t charge you until you look at them, also a personal choice made by the individual user.

    Regional carriers are where it’s at because you can actually go to a store and get in someone’s face, and not be ignored over the phone.

  4. The Reviewer says:

    incoming messages are not free on cingular.

  5. Bye says:

    Cingular charges for incoming messages AND they send us promotional announcments about 1x/week.

    No amount of calls to them have helped me get off whatever stupid list they put me on. I’m about done with them.

  6. YoshidaSauce says:

    Has anyone tried Helio or know anyone that has? I currently have Cingular but this rate increase is pissing me off (even though I have a messaging plan) and my contract ends in a week which means bye-bye to them and hello to competitor.

  7. MeOhMy says:

    As an armchair lawyer, I’d have to see an actual contract. If the text message price is explicitly written in the contract, then Cingy is screwed. If the price is not in the contract, it’s a much tougher sell to me.

    In “Cingular Foils Reader’s Attempt To Break Contract”, Corey posts these T&Cs but as far as I can see no price is listed, it simply says that there is a charge to send/receive texts. Perhaps the actual contract is different or they changed it soon after it was posted, but if not…

  8. Enduro says:

    Anyone know how I can get a Smartchip (or whatever they call their sims) without signing up for another year of service? I bought a phone on eBay and went to get a chip and they wanted 25 bucks and another year. Give me a break.

  9. bigroblee says:

    Just out of curiosity, why are you all so eager to break a contract you willingly went into? Like the feeling of getting over on a major corporation, or is this just the excuse you were looking for to jump ship? Oh, and Michael, WTF are you thinking, that you will find another carrier that won’t charge you for incoming text, or for that matter will keep prices static forever? If you hate contracts people, there’s a simple solution! Stop accepting the discounted phones, don’t be a cheap fucker, pay full purchase price, and get service with no contract! Simple, huh? Although, last I checked, Cingular, Verizon, and T-Mobile will only give you the unlimited mobile to mobile and nights and weekends minutes with a minimum of a one year contract. Good luck. Next time, again, DON’T ACCEPT THE DISCOUNTED PRICE ON THE PHONES, and then you can go no contract.

  10. Ben Popken says:

    Troy, here is the Cingular TOS.

  11. tendonut says:

    I willingly went into a Cingular contract when they first bought up Cellular One. There were the best carrier in my area until they merged with AT&T and started airing those “Fewest Dropped Calls” commercials. Now, I have to walk to the end of the street to get anything over 1 bar, when I used to be able to yap at a full signal in my basement. There are dead areas of the city which used to be very strong and when I leave the area, I am roaming when I used to be by one of their major towers. I feel like I have been screwed, since the changes went into effect about a month after I renewed for 2 years.

  12. Firefly5 says:

    Uh, people, HELLO? This is an increase in PAY-PER-USE fees. This is NOT an increase in subscription fees. Only by raising subscription rates would that make you eligible for termination of contract without ETF.

    Despite what some of you apparently think, texting is optional. Yes, it’s enabled be default, no opt in needed… but the same thing applies to, say, pay-per-view movies. Anyway, as I said, as they are not changing your subscription fee, and thusly not changing your contract, you can’t cancel without ETF. That simple.

  13. Quatre says:

    If you are looking at the Cigular TOS that Ben posted, the applicable line is on page 6.

  14. jedinjay says:

    Incoming messages aren’t free. From the Text Messaging notes on Cingular’s site. (http://www.cingular.com/learn/messaging-internet/messaging/faq-text-messaging.jsp)

    Q. What is the pricing for Text Messaging?

    A. All Cingular customers with Text Messaging-capable phones are pre-activated to send and receive messages at $0.10 per message with no monthly charge. Or, you can save money and sign up for aText Messaging package.


    Therefore, since you are not actually buying a special service (unlimited messages per month for $x.xx), changing the rate without sending you a notice with your bill, charge-free text to your phone from internal systems, etc, effectually liberates you from your contract as you have no choice but to accept any incoming messages on your phone out-of-the-box. And that’s key. If all their phones came locked down out-of-the-box, then this wouldn’t be an issue.

  15. doormat says:

    I’d come right back with “well i have to pay for incoming messages, and I have no control over that, so its not really optional!”

    I’m on a txtmsg plan though, so after the first 1000 msgs is only 5c each message.

    You want to know what BS cingular does though? If you send one txt message to 4 people, it bills you, and each of the four recipients. So one txt message generates 50c of revenue.

  16. jkfan87 says:

    Snce you can turn off the incoming VERY easily, you are wrong. Period. Seriously…you write a diary, and you do it online and think that people want to read it. That does not make you a contract lawyer.

  17. I, and pretty much everyone else unfortunate enough to live somewhere other than The Land Of The Free, find it amazing that it’s still so common for US mobile phone users to be on contracts that require them to pay to receive text messages.

    Especially since free SMS gateways still exist. It’s not as free and easy as it was in the early days (when lots of geeks set up here-today, gone-tomorrow gateways with a Linux box and a mobile phone). But it seems to me that you can still sign up with a dodgeit.com address, or something, then send the victim of your choice ten abusive messages that cost them money. That’s nuts.

  18. verizonLawyer says:

    IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR RATE PLAN BROCHURE, OR IF WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH YOUR AIRTIME RATE APPLIES (OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY DECREASE FOR REPAIRS OR MAINTENANCE), WE WILL DISCLOSE THE CHANGE AT LEAST ONE BILLING CYCLE IN ADVANCE (EITHER THROUGH A NOTICE WITH YOUR BILL, A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR EQUIPMENT, OR OTHERWISE) AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE. If you lose your eligibility for a particular rate plan, we may change your rate plan to one for which you qualify.

  19. Escalating costs Cingular a lot of money, but it costs you money, too. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but my time is valuable. I’d rather not spend weeks on the phone with Cingular reps.