Ask The Consumerists: Help! Cingular’s Auto Bill Pay Sucks!

    “Dear Consumerist,

    Every month, I am harassed by Cingular wireless regarding my bill. I signed up for automatic payment, to pay my bill in full every month. Like clockwork, I am hit with late fees and annoying computer-generated phone calls every month. I dutifully call and pay my bill immediately, and remind the customer service agent that yes, I am signed up for automatic bill-pay, and yet again, it did not work. Every time, they assure me that I AM in fact signed up for automatic bill pay.

    This time, I called them up, and they didn’t even have my current credit card—they were trying to charge a card that I changed in October. I grow weary of this gross ineptitude. Any ideas for recourse?



Our reply, inside…


If you’re convinced that you want to use Cingular’s service, call Cingular’s customer service number when your payment is not late, ask for a supervisor and explain the problem. Say that you’ve been hit with late charges and you want to confirm your credit card with them for the upcoming billing cycle. One of two things will happen. 1) They still have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. 2) They’ll confirm your billing info.

No matter what they say, ask them to “note the account.” Tell the CSR that you’d like a note placed on your account saying you’ve repeatedly signed up for automatic bill pay. Tell them to do this. Make them do this. Then, when the automatic bill pay doesn’t work, and you call in, there will be a note on the account and the CSR will take you seriously. Also, ask if there is a way to confirm that you are signed up for automatic bill pay via Cingular’s website. If so, that’s one more way to make sure the service is working.

We suggest rather than using Cingular’s bill pay service, which is obviously crap, try setting up an automatic payment with your bank. There are two reasons this is a good idea: 1) You can stop the payments any time without dealing with Cingular. 2) Banks are better than cell phone companies at transferring money, being that they are banks.