7 Confessions of a Cingular Sales Rep

The need for cell phone sales reps to cleanse themselves in the healing waters of the Consumerist is nearing an all-time high. Reps from all over the cell phone universe are flooding the tip line, a tidal wave of lost souls begging for redemption… Ok, not really, but a guy who works at Cingular just wrote us with some tips for the readers. Why should Verizon have all the damn fun?

Avoid contract extensions by changing your rate plan at a store. “If you want to change your rate plan, do it in a retail store instead of on-line or over the phone. Officially after 1/2 of your contract is over a rate plan change results in a contract extension, but I’ve never once seen that rule enforced in the store.”

Features are your friends. “You can just about get about get a rep to do anything you want if you offer to get a text package or a data package, and they can be cancelled on-line or over the phone the second you leave the store. The same goes for accessories. Offer to get accessories if it will get you a deal, they can be returned no questions asked within 30 days. (Let me put it this way, if a customer came in looking to get a treo w/the data package and accessories I would have sold a Treo 750 for $100 after rebate)”

Upgrade more often with a higher priced rate plan. “[Cingular's] upgrade policies are similar to Verizon’s, if someone’s rate plan has been 75 dollars or higher (including features, but excluding taxes) for the last three months, they can upgrade 1/2 way through their contract.”

Get the rebate in the store, and at home. “Try to get the rep to give you the rebate in the store, they’ll be likely to do this if you agree to get accessories. You can get go on-
line and print out the rebate form from http://www.cingular.com and send it in anyway.”

Make the store compete with the website. “Remember that the retail stores can match prices for the cingular website, so check those prices before you go into a store.”

Get credit for your mistakes. “If you go way over on your text messaging one month, go into a store and ask if they can credit you the difference if you sign up for a bigger text package. They should be able to do this, and you can always drop your text back down after you’ve gotten your credit.”

Use the internet for $20. “Also, regardless of what kind of phone you have a $20 mediaMAX data package will give you unlimted access to the web that will not use your minutes, whether you’re using a phone, a PDA, or even a laptop card.”

Thank you, Cingular Guy! You make Cingular look slightly less evil. Not an easy task. If you work at Sprint or T-Mobile and would like to offer some tips for our readers, write to us at tips [at] consumerist [dot] com.—MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: Maulleigh)

RELATED:
11 Confessions of a T-Mobile Sales Rep
7 Confessions of a Cingular Sales Rep
8 Confessions Of A Former Verizon Sales Rep

Comments

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  1. dohtem says:

    Now we need a T-Mobile snitc… err, insider.

    Great tips. The whole signing up for an additional feature to get sweeter deals and then cancelling seems to be universal.

  2. virgilstar says:

    One very important note about cancelling the data plan on a Treo or other smartphone… these devices are often configured to access the web automatically for e-mail and synchronization, so without a data plan you can end up being stuck with massive per/MB fees for data services that you didn’t initiate consciously . If you’re sure you don’t want data on a Treo, you need to be very careful about editing the settings to disable data access. Several people over on TreoCentral forums have been badly stung by this.

    Incidentally, you couldn’t PAY me $20 for Cingular’s data service. It is ridiculously slow compared to VZW/Sprint EV-DO.

  3. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    In the past I’ve always gone into the store to make changes to my plans. It’s much faster and more convenient than calling the 800 number and listening to hold muzak for 20 minutes. Make sure you go to a corporate owned store, and not an agent/reseller store.

    I haven’t tried the tip about asking for the rebate in-store. It might be worth trying. From what I’ve seen, all phones that have a rebate only apply to new customers/activations, with qualifying calling plans.

    Accessories.. Why bother? I’ve bought OEM Motorola car chargers for $10 on Amazon. Free shipping on orders over $25 and no sales tax. Cingular charges $30 plus tax for these things. And when you try to work accessories into the deal, they want to give your the cheap generic brands instead.

  4. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    @virgilstar:

    Cingular offers 3G service now on select phones, and it’s comparable to EVDO. But yeah, EDGE and GPRS is just dog slow.

  5. dvddesign says:

    It’s laughable to want to purchase cell phone accessories from them period.

    I found a hard case for my cell phone for $5 on Amazon, where Cingular only had a crap leather cover for $20.

    DC Charger at the Cingular store was $20, Amazon sold me one for $1.01 including shipping.

  6. wirelesslanai says:

    The best tip I ever got from a Cingular rep (in whispered tones) was to go to eBay, buy an unlocked phone that will work with their network (he wrote down the specs for me) replace the SIM card from my old dead phone into my new, and NEVER sign another Cingular-slave contract again!!!

  7. orielbean says:

    One more tip about the Treos. The way to keep your smartphone from calling and using data time/space – create a new network dialup profile with a fake number, and make it your default instead of the National Access or whatever the phone company uses. My treo 650 had the bad habit of doing an Activesync and costing me money as I don’t have the data plan. It is very useful if you have data, but expensive if you do not.

  8. formergr says:

    So now that I’ve learned about the existence of EVDO from the comments to this post, does anyone know whether T-Mobile offers it, what the quality is, and average pricing? I have AT&T/SBC/Yahoo DSL and they’ve never been able to fix it so that it isn’t 1) super flaky, and 2) super sloooow (I barely break 100 kbps. Would love to dump their ass and switch to mobile-only for my laptop.

  9. mike1731 says:

    Trivia question — in my area (Wichita KS) the Cingular stores I have gone to are actually operated by a third party sales organization. If I go into them asking for account type questions, they get baffled and then give me the 800 number to dial in on. Is there somewhere to find out where (if) there are company owned stores in the area?

  10. pkx says:

    You let the MediaMAX secret out of the box! :). One thing to note is that the MediaMAX plan gets you a private/NATd IP address while the PDA/laptop tethering plans get you a public/routable IP.

  11. danmcg says:

    The idea is that you would buy the accessories in the store to get a deal on the phone. Then return the accessories. Great. You can get them for cheaper online. That is the point. They can give me whatever crap they have in the store if they agree to knock $50 off the phone. I’ll pay $200 for the accessories as long as I can take them back a day or 2 later and save the $50 on the phone…

  12. mxyzptlk says:

    T-Mobile only offer GPRS nation-wide and EDGE in a few select locations. EVDO is unique to Verizon because they are a CDMA carrier, unlike Cingular/T-Mobile who are GSM carriers.

  13. jonnypage says:

    A bell Canada confessional is in order! I need to know the juicy details about how to hack them!

  14. uofmpike says:

    If I bring in an unlocked Blackberry can I get Cingular service without signing a contract?

  15. SteveXo says:

    Are you sure the mediaMAX option works for a laptop connection? I have the mediaMAX feature for my smartphone, but I can’t use it to get web access on my laptop. I tried to set it up that way, but Cingular wouldn’t give me the information I needed to set up the connection unless I paid $75 a month for the tethering package. If this is incorrect, can anyone point me in the right direction to get the details I need to set up a connection?

  16. sam-i-am says:

    There are a few corrections, or rather clarifications that you should keep in mind:

    You can often do an exception upgrade after 6 months. Also, if they won’t give you an exception upgrade, ask if you can get a VIP upgrade. Worked for me. All cellphone subsidies are designed to be paid of within 6 months, so it really doesn’t hurt them to let you upgrade (except they have to subsidize a new phone).

    The 6 month exception upgrade thing might have changed recently.

    Also, VERY IMPORTANT: The mediamax 200 will give you unlimited internet for $20, but you have to make sure you’re using wap.cingular for access, not isp.cingular. If you use isp.cingular on a $20 plan you will be charged per k/b (although they will probably reverse the charges).

    Every phone I’ve seen come pre-configured for wap.cingular, and even if they upsell you on a more expensive plan, they never switch it to isp.cingular, so you’re really paying more for nothing unless you happen to research thew difference online and reconfigure your phone.

  17. blindInTexas says:

    OMG!!! wtf… the last time I talked to an instore rep about our phones, this was back about the time that Singuhellar bought out At&t, I was told by an INSTORE REP that they would not honour the web price on 2 phones, well happy horseshite and cover me in butter, and that the store locations were atounomous from the webstores. We HAD to upgrade our phones because they were not on the new fancy GMS ,GMRS abcdefg or whatever network.

    I’m so pissed right now that I could go down to the store and cause such a fuss that I’ll be dragged out by my ankles..

    btw… IIRC Cingular offers a military discount according to the adds on Military.com. hmmmm might have to look into that too.

    P.S. RAAAAWRR!!!!

    P.P.S. As an after thought I am going to go over my bill. to see what other mad charges Cingular has added to my acount.

  18. sam-i-am says:

    @SteveXo: Of course they aren’t going to tell you how to do it – but a little online research goes a long way.

    Not every phone supports tethering on every platform, but I’ve been tethering happily for months on my $20 mediamax200 plan.

    You can often do it over bluetooth or USB to windows XP, and bluetooth support is spotty with OS X. Samsung phones seem to work the best, in addition to windows mobile 5 pocket pc phones.

  19. idano says:

    Here is another morsel that I just experienced with Cingular –

    My wife and I were having trouble with our LG C2000 so we had them exchanged twice within a week noting that the phones were worse then the original phone. The ended up sending us 2 brand new Samsung C417’s with car charges for free overnight.

    Now I have 2 brand new phones for the rest of my contract (which they did not renew – I only have 14 months left of my 2 year).

  20. virgilstar says:

    For tethering, there are several 3rd party software solutions (e.g PDAnet for windows-mobile devices). However, Verizon strictly forbids tethering on their regular data plan. You just have to be a bit careful, so you don’t go over their “unlimited really means 5GB/month” limit. If you intend to rely on tethering a laptop as your primary internet connection, and use it for streaming video etc., you might get in trouble with them.

  21. dohtem says:

    I don’t use Cingular and I haven’t verified this but I heard (perhaps on HoFo, I can’t recall where) that if you set your phone to let you manually chose which network you want to use, it’ll give you a list of available networks. Set it to use T-Mobile (or any other GSM provider) and it will roam on T-Mo’s network.

    Now this is good for getting out of your contract. If you have free roaming, you don’t get charged but Cingular still has to foot the roaming bill. So just go crazy with the roaming and in a few months, they’ll call you and suggest you find a different provider that better suits you.

    People claim they have gotten out of contracts this way without paying a penalty.

    Ben: Can you get your insider to confirm or deny?

    Thanks.

  22. cingulartech says:

    It’s idiots like this that make MY job that much harder. The media bundles will NOT work on PDAs (especially Blackberry and air cards). Those devices use different APNs that are assigned by the feature assigned to the account. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain to a customer that the rep has no clue as to what they’re doing and the feature/plan they need is much more than what the rep promised them.

    Do us all a favor and learn your bloody job and do it right.

  23. vphongsa says:

    This is just great! I just signed up with Cingular, I mean at&t, and I am wondering if I can walk in the store and threaten to cease my contract unless the rep rewrites my contract or gives a discount on the existing plan or optional features like the existing text or data plan.

  24. durham4556 says:

    another confession about cingular is if you even come close in useing most of your minutes in a roaming area they have the right to turn your roaming off so you can only make calls on cingular towers only. They don’t tell you this up front and trust me they make good on this line in the contract, i used only 20 minutes out of 100 in a roaming area and I got cut off.

    also another confession is everytime you call in to customer service they log it and note what you said, which is really creepy

  25. PBH says:

    The idea seems to be “we want your contract extended indefinitely”.

  26. amducious says:

    With the medianet plan you are only going to get wap.cingular (nated ip) where the pdaconnect and laptop connect plans give you access to the isp.cingluar apn (public ip) with wap.cingular you cannot access alot of web pages and will have trouble doing a VPN it also dose not give you access to the bytemobile acceleration server (isp.cingular only) witch if it works on you computer will speed up the way your internet feels by about 1 to 2 times (edge jumps up to about 200+kbs and UMTS(3G) iv seen as high as 1.8mbs. also if you have a blackberry, nokia with blackberry connect, treo with blackberry connect, or a windows mobile device with blackberry connect on it you need to get a blackberry data plan to get access to the blackberry.net apn

  27. paulhilfiger says:

    • Avoid contract extensions by changing your rate plan at a store.
    Actually, Cingular’s Terms and Conditions say that your contract is extended anytime, “you accept a benefit that extends or renews the term [of your contract].” The rep’s recommendation is misleading. Yes, Cingular can extend your contract for plan changes after 1/2 of your contract, but they can also extend it before 1/2 of your contract is over. And by the way, they can extend it at the store too.

    • Features are your friends.
    I’m sorry but this one defies any sense of consumer logic. Additional cell phone features are one of the most difficult and frustrating things to cancel in the cellular world. The non-profit consumer advocacy organization I work for has been involved in a number of court cases that provide evidence of this, one that specifically involves Cingular and non-communications charges (ringtones, text messages, etc.), and another involving Cingular and abusive marketing practices. Buying more accessories so a sales rep cuts you a deal might work occasionally, but I would advise consumers to be very sure about the return policy before trying it.

    • Upgrade more often with a higher priced rate plan.
    Upgrading is fine and dandy if you are looking for more features and are willing to pay. But remember, when you upgrade, you automatically extend your contract for 1-2 years. This isn’t bad in itself, but it is something to keep in mind because it will leave you with fewer options if you become unsatisfied with the service.

    • Get the rebate in the store, and at home.
    Not really sure about this recommendation. Rebates are notorious for containing hidden caveats, hard to meet deadlines, and stringent documentation requirements. Cingular sales reps are eager to throw around enticing rebates, but be careful, they are not always so eager to help you redeem the rebate for its full value.

    • Make the store compete with the website.
    Not bad advice. The more pricing information you have, the better.

    • Get credit for your mistakes.
    How about asking for credit without signing up for a bigger, more expensive text package? The organization I work for regularly receives complaints from consumers who have asked to have text and rate plans reduced to no avail. It’s a great idea, but it’s much more of a gamble than the Cingular sales rep leads us to believe.

    • Use the internet for $20.
    This is nothing more than a shameless plug for a Cingular product. First, the $20 mediaMAX package is only available on for certain phone models and phone plans. Consumers should be very careful of sales reps that offer these types of packages as if no strings are attached. If a customer with a plan that does not support mediaMAX subscribes to a mediaMAX package, their plan will be automatically upgraded to a level that does support mediaMAX, sometimes without notification. I’m not against good deals. If you use a ton of Internet on your cell phone, this is a pretty good deal. But I am against “good deals” that end up costing you money or that don’t make sense for your needs.

    Thank you, Cingular Guy! You make Cingular look slightly less evil. Not an easy task. If you work at Sprint or T-Mobile and would like to offer some tips for our readers, write to us at tips [at] consumerist [dot] com.-MEGHANN MARCO
    Thank you, Cingular Guy, for selling us more of your wonderful products! The Cingular rep’s claims aren’t totally bogus, they’re just tricky, and could end up costing the majority of people that attempt them a lot of money.

  28. lmartinez005 says:

    If you upgrade early (before your contract is up) and then come back to the store to cancel the upgrade you can get out of your contract early. More than often when they do a contract reversal it reverts to 0 months left rather than the amount that was on before.

  29. spyder1969 says:

    I just left Cingular after 7 years as an employee. Let me address some of these issues:
    1.Avoid contract extensions by changing your rate plan at a store- You can do this over the phone as well, you just need to ask that they not do it. If that doesn’t work, ask for the manager. I was also a cust svc manager for 6 years, I did it all the time. Cingular does not want to lose customers over a rate plan change.
    2.Features are your friends- Yes, you can cancel these at any time as they are not contractual. You can do this over the phone but accessories must be returned at a CORPORATE store. The corporate store will not accept accessories from the Reseller stores either and by the way, the accessories bought at Cingular are made by the manufacturers. They are not the cheap off brand crap you get on ebay and some other websites or Wal-Mart even. I have seen the cheap stuff ruin lots of cellphones and this is not covered by warranty.
    3. Upgrade more often with a higher priced rate plan- This is true, but for the most part, it only applies to the actual line that has the 75.00 or higher plan. If its a Family Talk line, the other subscribers that have the 9.99 will just have to wait.
    4.Get the rebate in the store, and at home- I worked at a Corporate store. I was allowed to do this sometimes for customers. Go ahead and ask your rep if he/she can do this for you, it never hurts to ask.
    5.Make the store compete with the website- One of my favorites. In June ’06 Cingular stopped matching the Cingular.com price for upgrades. They will still match it for new activations. But then again, go ahead and ask if they can do it for you. Some store managers want the sale anyway and might do it.
    6.Get credit for your mistakes- Cingular does do this for you and it’s easier to do if you change your text or data plan. I’m not going to sit here and tell people how to screw a company out of money though. Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, etc are “FOR PROFIT COMPANIES” and if they just gave away the farm to their customers THERE WOULD BE NO WIRELESS COMPANIES.
    7. Use the internet for $20- Someone else has already touched on this. The 20.00 unlimited internet will not give you the full HTML browsing experience that the PDA Connect plan for 39.99 will. But then again, if you have a non Data phone like a RAZR for example, you wouldn’t need the 39.99 plan anyway. If you have a PDA phone you should get the 39.99 plan, although the 20.00 Unlimited will work, it just doesn’t give you the full browasing experience. 8. Insurance is a rip off, it costs too much and has a 50.00 deductible– My car insurance and has a deductible. So does my health insurance. Insurance is a good thing to have. With Cingular it’s 4.99(yes, a little high) per month. If you have a 250.00 RAZR and you lose/break it you only have to pay the 50.00 deductible. The thing I don’t like is that you MAY get a refurbished phone as a replacement.

    It bothers me that this discussion has gone from “how to get a better deal” to “how to screw your carrier”. You can definitely negotiate with your store rep. I would recommend going to a corporate Cingular store. Although they don’t have the BEST prices they have access to all the systems that the Resellers don’t. If you just want the best price for a phone and you want to buy it in person, go to Wal-Mart. Be careful of their accessories though. Once you are done, call customer service and MAKE SURE THE REP SET EVERYTHING UP CORRECTLY. No matter where you go, ask lots of questions and make them explain everything you have bought. When you are done, ALWAYS double check with customer service to make sure you have it the way you want it. Unfortunately, there are reps who make mistakes and there are ones who intentionally add features that you don’t ask for.

  30. ksigtad says:

    the best tip i have for cingular is to not sign up with them in the first place

    they rate the lowest in coverage and near the bottom in customer service

    go with either verizon or t mobile

  31. Fox57 says:

    As a Cingular sales rep I can tell you that one thing you must be aware of, yes you can upgrade your phone halfway through your contract, and yes you can get a one year contract BUT there will be no free phones and no good deals on the price of a phone. look carefully when you are in the store at the deal price on a phone with a 2 yr contract vs a one year much more then just a 50$ difference, I tell folks who want a better phone to keep what they have buy an unlocked phone off of ebay if they have to have all the latest bells and whistles or wait till your contract is up, and change carriers.

  32. scoobygang says:

    I can’t quite figure out what the final word is on using the $20 unlimited data plan with a PDA or laptop. It looks like some people have succesfully done it. A Cingular rep said he’d seen it done and that Cingular had then billed for a great deal of money because the plan is just for smartphones. I guess that makes sense but I still checked further and found someone online who had posted the part of the Cingular contract that forbids tethering with this particular plan.
    I’m wondering if anyone here has gotten billed after using their data plan inappropriately?

  33. Fox57 says:

    Another point I need to make is only Cingular corprate stores, need to honor the web site prices and many Cingular/ATT branded stores are not corporate stores you have to do some asking around to find out which store is truly a corporate store..

  34. stephm418 says:


    This is the reason that this “Cingular Guy” no longer works for the company. I feel bad that he gave you all the most incorrect information ever! And also another reason this makes my job that much harder, because of the mis information of ignorant sales people!

    If he knew his job, he would know that the media packages will not work properly on the PDA and Blackberries. You will not be able to access all the web pages properly or even at all! He would know that in order to get the $100 rebates on the treos that you would have to keep it on there for aleast 6 months before cancelling it, in order to get the rebate, being that it takes 10-12 weeks to recieve it back..cingular does check to see if you have the umlimited packages..and if you dont guess what?!?! you dont get the rebate.

    also for the pure ignorance of this comment
    Get credit for your mistakes. “If you go way over on your text messaging one month, go into a store and ask if they can credit you the difference if you sign up for a bigger text package. They should be able to do this, and you can always drop your text back down after you’ve gotten your credit.”
    CINGULAR NOW DOESNT JUST HAND OUT CREDITS. IT HAS TO BE A LEGIT REASON AND OR A FAULT ON THEIR END!

    thanks again cingular guy for wrong information!

  35. stephm418 says:

    This is the reason that this “Cingular Guy” no longer works for the company. I feel bad that he gave you all the most incorrect information ever! And also another reason this makes my job that much harder, because of the mis information of ignorant sales people!

    If he knew his job, he would know that the media packages will not work properly on the PDA and Blackberries. You will not be able to access all the web pages properly or even at all! He would know that in order to get the $100 rebates on the treos that you would have to keep it on there for aleast 6 months before cancelling it, in order to get the rebate, being that it takes 10-12 weeks to recieve it back..cingular does check to see if you have the umlimited packages..and if you dont guess what?!?! you dont get the rebate.

    also for the pure ignorance of this comment
    Get credit for your mistakes. “If you go way over on your text messaging one month, go into a store and ask if they can credit you the difference if you sign up for a bigger text package. They should be able to do this, and you can always drop your text back down after you’ve gotten your credit.”
    CINGULAR NOW DOESNT JUST HAND OUT CREDITS. IT HAS TO BE A LEGIT REASON AND OR A FAULT ON THEIR END!

    thanks again cingular guy for wrong information!

  36. CellMasterMW says:

    Yo, paulhilfiger… I think you missed nearly ALL the points being made.

    1.) Contract Extension in Store: Our in store system, OPUS, does not automatically apply a new commitment with a rate plan change. For a sales rep to go back after changing your rate plan and manually add a new contract onto the account is both completely asinine and tedious. We really don’t care unless you’re a total jerk. If you smile and request a change, it’ll happen. If you call in they have to follow the official policy and do the renewal.

    2a.) Features: Features are bolt-on options sold by Cingular. Features like MEdia Net and Text Messaging “enable” customers to purchase ringtones or subscribe to tone clubs. We all know that M-Qube and others are a total pain and obnoxious, but they do also happen to sell a few legitimate products. We also know that Cingular was sued for features like Roadside Assistance and Voice Connect being added without customer consent. These are non-contractual features which can be added or removed at any time, and if you simply say “Hey, I never requested these” we typically honor our “customer rules” and give you a credit for them as well. AND most reps no longer stick the customer with crap like that… but you can also prove me wrong by finding one crappy rep.

    2b.) Features for Discounts: Features will get you the BEST discounts ever. Most Company Owned Stores have a HUGE amount of discretion to give you early upgrades or discounts off new phones and PDAs if you are interested in purchasing features like text, media, Data access, tethering abilities, etc. Once again, these services provided by Cingular are non-contractual and can be removed later very easily. You will billed for those services, but you can remove them a few days later and the billing is all prorated for that service, and the end result is saving big money in the store.

    3.) Renewals & Contracts Extension: Only total idiots don’t realize that a “Renewal & Upgrade” replaces an existing contract with a new one. Any of your so called “consumers” who complain about this policy and think they didn’t renew a contract when we handed them a subsidized phone need to be fired from cell phone service by all providers for being incompetent customers.

    4.) In Store Instant Rebates: These are an AWESOME idea, IF you can find a rep/manager combo willing to provide it. Personally, I have NEVER given one, and plan on NEVER giving one out. It’s not how I do business. Someone too cheap to wait on a rebate doesn’t need to do business with me. Also, Cingular.com now has DIFFERENT REBATES then the in store rebates in order to avoid this double dipping.

    5.) EStore Price Match – Easily accomplished and within any rep’s power. If they even hesitate or start to put up a fight, sign up for the $9.99 Media Basics also and it’ll be your’s instantly.

    6.) Credits are great and are gladly handed out if you increase your features(like upping a text or media package). Why? Because we get paid on that new Feature package, and you leave happy. Two things we want to make happen. BUT I’m a hard salesman to break, and I won’t credit anything if you don’t want to increase your feature plan. If you go over, then too bad, it’s your own fault. Learn to check you message totals online, or reset your phones inbox & outbox each month on the first day of your billing cycle.

    7.) “Use the Internet for $20″ – This is NOT a shameless plug. For customer’s interested in having unlimited Data access for legitimate use on a PDA or smartphone, this is a much cheaper option. “Technically” it is designed for regular phones, but it can and will attach to any account. So, instead of paying $39.99 for unlimited PDA Data, you get a 50% savings. We aren’t saying this is a good idea or legitimate(we aren’t supposed to provision this in store), but we are saying for real customers willing to subscribe to Data services, it is a much cheaper option.

    “Thank you, Cingular Guy, for selling us more of your wonderful products! The Cingular rep’s claims aren’t totally bogus, they’re just tricky, and could end up costing the majority of people that attempt them a lot of money.”
    — Are you serious? Does the “non-profit consumer advocacy organization” you work for not help you to actually learn and understand the types of things you’re supposed to be helping customers figure out? Please get your facts straight, you are the reason our industry has one of the worst rapports out there. We’re just trying to earn a living and make our customer’s happy.

  37. supaspazz says:

    I found out today that if you are on a cingular family shared plan, the main phone line can actually upgrade before the two year contract is up…I am eligible for an upgrade now, when my wife and daughter’s lines aren’t availible until september….

  38. tartanmojo says:

    What nightmares you guys are having!! If you are having all these problems with Cingular contracts, plans,etc….the solution is to get the Cingular GO Phone. There are NO CONTRACTS. I got one 15 months ago to have as a secondary emergency phone, & it works so well that I didn’t renew when my contract came up. You can either purchase minutes or, as I’ve done, set myself up on a GO phone PLAN with the automatic charge to my card every month. It’s a flat rate every month (for me $69.99 per month)…with absolutely no variations to the cost at all. It is slightly more expensive per minute than the contract, but there are no hidden charges, surcharges, taxes, etc. You get a low-end phone, but I changed the SIMS card into the phone (purchased on eBay) that I really wanted & have had NO PROBLEMS at all. If needed, you still have access to Customer Service, Store reps, and registration on the website. I have roll-over minutes, access to the web, free calls to other Cingular numbers, etc. The only thing that I’ve found that I can’t get is Roadside Assistance. I’ve come out WAY ahead financially by using the GO phone.

  39. thizbadgrrlizgoingtohell says:

    @mike1731:

    You can go on-line, look for the link that says something like “Find a store in my area”, then type in your adress. There should be a company owned store in your area, if not, switch.. but if you want to keep your number, DO NOT shut off your service until you go to a new company. After they port (Transfer) your number, the new company will tell your old company that you no longer want buisness with them and your phone will be deactivated without your having to deal with desperate sales reps..

  40. Ben Popken says:

    Dave writes:

    “I read your article based on the advice of a Cingular sales rep. Everything he states is true but there is more. You are very correct in assuming Cingular is an evil profit-mongering company. I’m a die hard capitalist but even I’m blown away by some of the tricks they try to pull. Here’s some more tips for your readers…

    1. Buy whatever phone has the highest mail-in rebate (usually a higher-end data phone). Cut the UPC sticker off the box and send in for the mail-in rebate. Return the phone within 30 days and get the phone you really want. Send the mail-in rebate for the second phone as well. Chances are you will get both mail-in rebates.

    2. In certain markets the more accessories you buy at once the bigger discount you get. Most accessories cost $30 a piece but if you buy up to four you get up to 50% off. If you only want one or two accessories buy four for $60. The rep will ring out each one at $15. Return the accessories you didn’t want. You just scored each accessory for $15. The best part is that the rep doesn’t get charged back on his commission for accessories so he won’t care. Albeit, you can go to ebay and get the same accessories for a fraction of the cost.

    3. In some markets, Cingular reps can match the price of phones offered by their national retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, Radio Shack, etc…Call your local store to find out if they offer this and which stores they price match.

    4. If you lose or damage a phone without insurance and are not eligible for upgrade you will be charged at least $190 for the cheapest phone in the store at full price. Instead, go to Walmart and buy a Cingular Go Phone off the shelf. They have them as low as $40. Just take the SIM card from your old phone and slip it into the Go Phone. Your account follows the SIM card, not the phone.

    5. Even though the price of a data phone such as a Treo or Blackjack state that you must get the unlimited data feature in order to get the mail-in rebate this is not true. You don’t even have to sign up for it and cancel. You will receive the mail-in rebate regardless.”

  41. DexterousCerebrum says:

    I’m not one to comment on these types of things but I did have a few things to say about Cingular. I’ve been with Cingular for five years and I’ve never had any problems that would make me try to jump through hoops to save money with Cingular. If they overcharge you, you talk to them about it, and you either realize you were wrong, or they realize they were wrong and credit your bill. They accidently charged me for a rate plan or overage maybe once or twice, but it only took a short phonecall to customer service to straighten it out. They’ve even credited my bill when they thought they overcharged me for minutes because my call activity went from hardly anything to tons of overage, when I knew good and well I suddenly starting using my phone a lot more that month. I’ve never wanted to get out of my contract with Cingular, but if I did, I’d rather just pay the $150 then try to come up with some elaborate scheme that might not work. The best thing to do with Cingular is stick it out. The longer you’ve been with company the more breaks they are willing to give. If I’m late on my bill they will just call me and ask if I need a little more time, and extend my due date in their computer so my phone doesn’t get shut off. Someone mentioned they record everything you talk about in their system at customer service, but I think it’s great because as long as you’re friendly with customer service, their system will show you’re a loyal customer, and they are willing to cut your more breaks. Also, if you do have an ongoing problem, when you talk to a new customer service representative they can see that the problem has been ongoing and will most likely remedy the problem sooner than if you had just called trying to explain you’ve been having problems for a while.
    One last thing I should mention since everyone here is hoping to save a little cash… the thing about buying a phone, sending in the rebate and returning it is true… it happened to me accidently… I bought a phone, and the sales rep was nice enough to do all the rebate paperwork for me and put it in an addressed envelope so I could just stick it in the mail… and so I mailed it that day, and then decided I didn’t want the phone or the new contract so I returned it, and 3-6 weeks later the $100 refund check came anyway. I think I was just luck but if you want to try it, be my guest. : )

  42. marycollins429 says:

    I think this is too much information at once to take in. All the wireless companies ARE money-hungry capitalist pigs, or they wouldn’t be in business! The bottom line is, take your time! Research all your options before going into contract with anyone! I learned the hard way that you never go through your regular phone company to get a wireless phone, becuause those reps know zip about wireless! We only got a $200 credit for our plan after it got to be OVER $1,200 after only a few months, becuase the phone we were given WASN’T the phone that was right for our plan, AND Cingular would not replace the phones, OR the plan, and we were just stuck with the phones and the plan, or paying the cancellation fee, and paying off the monstrous bill. ALSO! DO NOT EVER GET COMBINED BILLING.

  43. enj says:

    I called Cingular customer service today to try and get them to beat a deal I found online on a Blackjack. On the phone, I chose the option to talk to a rep if I wanted to cancel service – I figured that they would be more receptive to making a deal if they thought I would walk.

    It seemed to work, actually! I ended up with just a one-year contract extension, a brand new (non-refurbished) Blackjack for free, and 1000 messages, unlimited Internet, and XPress push email, for just $20 a month. I get to keep my old family plan and everything.

    That’s a MUCH better deal than what they offered me in store and online, which was $200 for the phone, a NEW plan for 2 years, and the MANDATORY $40 data plan (which doesn’t even include messaging or XPress email, as far as I know).

    Now I have a little bit of renewed faith in Cingular and am willing to stick around until I can get my hands on a second-gen iPhone…

  44. Beta103 says:

    I’m really looking forward to the new MAC iPhone, anyone have any hints, tips or advice?

  45. 160medic says:

    About the military discount……there really isnt much of one.If you look on the regular Cingular site and compare it with the premier site the base prices of the phones are different.Giving the illusion that there is a larger discount than there really is. The final price is usually the same but on premier there is no mail in rebate.

  46. lizhc says:

    I plan to do some negotiating to *try* to get the unlimited text plan for cheaper than $20 a month. The sad thing is that my contract was renewed when we took my dad’s name and phone off our plan (we thought it would be best to not have the bill going to someone who had died) so I’m stuck with AT&T for another year and something, even though my university can get me a 16% discount at Sprint. I’m using prices at Sprint and elsewhere to try to lower the price at Cingular as well as playing on the benefits for me in having any of the other networks. If all that doesn’t work, I plan to ask that they shut off all our texting capabilities before settling for the cheapest plan and ask why I wasn’t ever charged for the incoming texts before I went to China for a few weeks.

  47. sheeze456 says:

    I hope each and every one of you that “try to snake” companies like this, end up working in thier customer service department!! Have YOU ever been yelled at (sometimes have things thrown at you)all for the sake of a STUPID credit which 9 times out of 10 is YOUR FAULT anyway?? I have had customers like YOU IDIOTS come into my corporate store with just this thing in mind, and I got to let you know, I will go OUT OF MY WAY to prove you wrong every time!!! I will NOTE THE ACCOUNT TOO so every time you come into the store, or call customer care they will see how big of a jerk you are!!!!!I don’t mind giving people offers and suggesting things to them that I think will help them with their service and plans, but you need to know that you will get more by being kind to the sales reps, and they will look out for you when promotions come available.

  48. richtaur says:

    I pushed a lot for the in-store rebate but never got it — and I honestly believe it was just out of the rep’s hands. He helped me out in every other way, letting me demo his personal phone and being super friendly and accommodating.

    And my Blackberry Curve will end up being only $120 after rebate — pretty good price for a brand new unit. I wouldn’t mess with eBay…

  49. ampersand says:

    @sheeze456: You need to get out of customer service and fast. You clearly hate it and it is, I promise, NOT the only type of job out there.

  50. jashd says:

    Thanks for the tips! I just opened a colloction notice for a 7 year old bill that cingular claims was never paid. This bill they say happened when we added my phone to my husbands bill. Funny we have had the same address for 25 yrs but they have never been able to mail us that old bill.