AT&T Puts Cingular Out Of Its Misery

AT&T is torching their Cingular brand like a gang of boychiks igniting a hobo on their way home from the milk bar. From the ashes, phoenix-like, a new brand is to emerge: AT&T Wireless. Try to repress those epileptic seizures of excitement breaking every bone in your hyperventilating frame.

As you might remember, the Cingular brand came about when everyone was just jumping to name their new company some arbitrary nonsense term that evoked absolutely no internal mnemonic connections whatsoever unless you were already informed what product they were selling. Telecommunications companies especially loved this strategy: for example, Orange, or O2, or Verizon. Still, the Cingular brand is well established now. So why is AT&T changing the name?

Bundling appears to be the answer. AT&T wants its pipes to be sole umbilical cord to communication with the outside world. — telephones, broadband, cell phones — and, of course, slap it all on one handy monthly bill.

But we’d like to suggest an alternate theory on why AT&T might be changing the Cingular brand name. As we said, the Cingular brand is well established. Everyone knows what Cingular sells: crappy customer service. Regularly changing your company’s name might not be too shabby a way to thwart bad word of mouth.

AT&T Plans to Kill Cingular Name [Consumer Affairs]


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  1. Gari N. Corp says:

    Not a bad theory, excpt for the fact that the AT&T Wireless of old was well known for…. epically bad customer service. Believe me, after AT&TW merged with Cingular, most AT&T customers found the Cingular goons sweet relief.

  2. Yes, Cingular sells “Crappy Customer Service”. However, it’s worth pointing out that Cingular’s customer-service woes — and there are many — are but a fleaspeck compared to the customer service NIGHTMARE that did business under the name of “AT&T Wireless” a short time ago.

    If the goal is to “avoid memories of crappy customer service” by switching to AT&T Wireless, then they may have really made a huge blunder.

  3. Ben says:

    Oh, joy. Thank goodness my contract with Cingular is almost up.

    But here’s the question: is there a good wireless telco? Or, to put it another way, which one is least crappy?

  4. Gari N. Corp says:

    Derek, great minds think alike. Dunno, I’ve been with three of them. T-mobile was kind of pricey (I was pay as you go back then), and Sprint was so bad I’m glad they bulldozed the customer service centre on 42nd street in NYC. Just terrible. I looked at Verizon, but the technology doesn’t work in Europe (the charming salesman over the road from the Sprint Theatre of Pain thought this was a selling point – in fairness my English accent has slipped).

    My Cingular contract is up in a couple of weeks also. At the moment I’ll probably stay with them, although their range of cheap candybar bluetooth phones is rubbish.

    There’s a Forbes article I read on the plane (now it’s behind the pay wall) where the AT&T CEO said it was one of those branding exercises. Daft

  5. any such name says:

    my first cell phone was attws, and the service was crap (save the free unlimited text messaging there in the beginning). so i switched to verizon. then their phones sucked, so i switched to cingular. and i just re-signed a 2-year contract with them… i cannot tell you how much i do NOT want to receive a bill in the mail from attws… do they think we won’t remember how bad attws was??

  6. Das Ubergeek says:

    What AT&T has is brand loyalty — from corporations. Piddling individuals such as you and I don’t make any difference to AT&T — but corporations do, and AT&T’s customer service to its business clients was legendary.

    That said, if you hate it, go check out and the forums there. (Full disclosure: I moderate there.)

  7. Ben says:


    My town (not rural but not a big city) has a choice right now of Verizon, Cingular, Sprint or T-Mobile.

    I’ve had sprint, currently have Cingular, and am stuck with Verizon for home service. So I’ll just watch and see who offers a decent deal this summer (Sprint was Shocked when I called to cancel after they refused to repair or replace my phone which died after I had been a customer for three years. Cingular gave me a couple phones and decent family plan. Nothing wrong with Cingular right now, but I don’t want to sign another 2 year deal if AT&T is gonna downgrade anything)