Cingular’s One-Way Contract

Beckie is a reader who started out with a cell phone from a small company that got bought by AT&T. As you well know, AT&T was bought by Cingular. A few months later, Beckie received a letter from Cingular asking her to voluntarily discontinue her service because more than 50% of her calls were using competing networks and she was no longer economically feasible for Cingular. In return, Cingular would allow her to keep her numbers. No refund. No apology. No free unlocked phones.

As you might imagine, Beckie wasn’t thrilled at the idea of buying three new phones just to help a corporation save some money, so she called the 1-800 number and said, “No.” They shut off her phones anyway.

Now, we’re no experts, but we’re pretty sure that the idea of the contract is that two people/businesses/whatever agree to something and then they are obligated to do it. Right? Beckie said “No.” Cingular should be obligated to provide her with service. Then, again…

If it wasn’t “economically feasible” for Beckie to continue to pay her bill, we’re certain Cingular would’ve happily let her out of her contract with no penalty. Right? That’s the policy, right?

Now Beckie is asking for your advice. Read her email after the jump:

I just read about this site in reader’s digest. I started out several years ago with wireless company named Sun com which was bought our sometime later by AT&T. I added another phone to my service under AT&T which was later bought out by Cingular. I added another phone for my pregnant daughter-in-law. She talked a good bit on hers on her comute to work approximately 50 miles, in her last month or two of pregnancy. The bill was little more than usual but it was paid on time, no late charges. It seems a lot of this time she was bouncing off of other wireless towers.
Cingular sent me a letter a month or two later saying that over 50% of my airtime was coming off of other peoples towers and it was no longer economically feasible for them to keep me as customer and asked if I would voluntarally let them cancel my contract, in return I could keep my old numbers.(Duh, they have to do that anyway!)
They told me my coverage would end 8/15/06. I called them at the 800 number they provided and complained several times.
I had about 5 months left on my daughter-in-laws phone and over a year on the other two phones.
I sent them a letter explaining, that no I would not voluntarally do this, If it had been the other way around, they would have made me buy out my contract or turn me over to the credit bureau.

Anyway, they cut off my phone service on 8/16/06.
Now I have three phones that are locked by cingular, I can’t use another company’s sim cards in them.
In order to have wireless service, I have to purchase three more phones. What if the next company does the same thing?
There are two cingular stores within 10 blocks of my work place and seven miles of where I live.
Does anybody have any suggestions, or has the sames thing happened to you?
Beckie Edwards
Hanceville, Alabama