Does Cingular Deduct Night & Weekend Minutes for Mobile to Mobile Calls?

Reader Joe writes in after spending his afternoon on the phone with Cingular. It seems that Joe was calling other Cingular mobile numbers at night, and noticed that Cingular was deducting his “Night & Weekend” minutes for the calls. Huh? Joe thought he had “Unlimited Mobile to Mobile Calling.” From Joe’s email:

    I made a second call with a bill in hand and was told by the CSR, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and that any calls made at night will be charged as nights and weekend minutes.

Joe made a third call, got a different CSR and was told the same thing. Finally after trying to transfer him to the “resolutions” department but failing because they weren’t picking up the phone, Joe was told that:

    a request would be sent to the billing department, and it would take 2 billing cycles to take an effect. I asked her if I would be able to find out the billing department’s decision and she said, “no,” which sounded remarkably like she was just trying to get me off the phone and have me call again in two months.

Is this happening to anyone else? Is Cingular charging you Night and Weekend minutes when you are supposed to have “Unlimited Mobile to Mobile Calling?” Check your bill and tell us about it at tips@consumerist.com. —MEGHANN MARCO

UPDATE: Reader Responses Inside

Joe writes:

    Dear Consumerist,

    I wanted to let you know of a situation that is slightly irking me right now because I have spent the last 2 hours either on hold or talking to Cingular customer service representatives. I am on the $39.99 / month plan which offers 5000 Nights/weekend minutes and unlimited Mobile to Mobile. Because I needed to spend a lot of minutes on the phone this month I decided to finally check my usage, and I realized that when I called a Cingular customer during the day, the minutes counted as M2M minutes; however, when I called the same number after 9 PM, it started to subtract from my limited N/W minutes.

    Originally, I was looking at my “current usage,” and noticed the abnormality, and the first CSR told me that unless I had a bill in front of me, he couldn’t do anything to help me.

    I made a second call with a bill in hand and was told by the CSR, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and that any calls made at night will be charged as nights and weekend minutes.

    Not quite believing what she said, I made a third call. Looking at my bill, she was similarly astonished by the accounting of minutes, and put me on hold to talk to her manager. After a rather long wait, she came back and reiterated that any calls made at night regardless of whether it’s to a cingular customer will be charged as a night time minute. This shocked me because in my long time on hold I was able to listen to all their advertisements, and one of their ads even specifically says, that you are able to make unlimited night time calls to other cingular customers. In addition, I was even able to browser to a page on their website that also specifically mentions the ability to make unlimited mobile to mobile calls:

    http://www.cingular.com/learn/why/mobile-to-mobile/

    And

    Link

    I pointed these out to her, and she replied that she was sorry that I was mislead, but that’s just how it is. I asked to speak to her manager, but she told me that he was already out of the office, even though she had supposedly talked to him just 5 minutes prior, and would transfer me to their “resolution” department. After 20 minutes on hold, I was told the “resolution” department wasn’t picking up the phone, and that after further consultation with her fellow employees she decided that I was being incorrectly charged N/W minutes, when I was making M2M calls. She told me that a request would be sent to the billing department, and it would take 2 billing cycles to take an effect. I asked her if I would be able to find out the billing department’s decision and she said, “no,” which sounded remarkably like she was just trying to get me off the phone and have me call again in two months.

    Anyways, I just wanted to let you know on the chance that any of your readers may run into similar issues.

UPDATE: Anne writes:

    My boyfriend, my dad, and a friend of mine all have Cingular — so do I. My plan gives me 1000 anytime minutes per month, so I don’t have to worry about nights/weekends. According to last month’s bill, I haven’t been charged any minutes for calls with other Cingular customers.

    I’m still not a fan, though, and I look forward to September, when I will be out of contract.