Another Example of Cingular Non-Customer Service

Ran across this interesting article while web surfing this morning:

http://consumerist.com/consumer/cingular/cingulars… 

Makes me glad, once again, that I left Cingular for Verizon several years ago. I had been perfectly happy with Cingular’s (technical) services, it was their attitude toward their customers that caused the parting of the ways.

In my case, my mother had passed away with two cell phones on her account, her own and my son’s. Unfortunately, her phone had gotten lost somewhere in all the chaos of hospitals and sleep deprivation that went with her last days. When she died, there were about nine months left on her two year contract.

I intended to keep paying the bill after her death, although I was under no legal obligation to do so. I went to the Cingular store, thinking it would be a simple matter to buy a new phone for her number, which could be used by my husband, who didn’t have a separate cell phone of his own at that time. Not so simple, it turned out. They told me they couldn’t sell me a new phone on that account; the account owner would have to come in and buy it. I explained that wasn’t possible, since the account owner was deceased. So I asked if I could have the account transferred to my name. They told me to call the corporate office.

I did so, and made my request. I asked that they let me take over the remaining nine months of the contract. I would buy a new phone and assume responsibility for the bill. Sorry, no can do. They told me I’d have to take out a whole new two-year contract in my name. Of course, I was welcome to continue paying the bill, but I’d be paying for service for two phones and only have the use of one, since they wouldn’t sell me a new one. I don’t think so.

Now, my solution would have been a win-win situation. They’d have made money off the new phone I wanted to buy (and in fact, I was wanting to buy a high end phone that cost over $200), they’d have gotten the contract paid out, and I probably would have signed a two year contract when it was up. But I didn’t feel like being intimidated into making an extended commitment. So instead, they lost the money I’d have paid them for a phone and they lost the monthly income for the remaining nine months of the contract.

When I stopped paying, they started sending past due statements to my mom, threatening her with the loss of her good credit. I returned the first couple with a letter informing them that she was deceased, but they continued to bill her, wasting postage and some employee’s time. Finally they wrote to say they were turning it over to a collection agency. I’m not sure what part of "deceased" they didn’t understand.

But what I was sure of was that any chance Cingular had of getting my business in the future was dead. I went to Verizon, and haven’t regretted it. I’ve had one or two gripes with them, but they’ve always worked hard to work it out and keep me happy, and I appreciate that.

So, Cingular: can you hear me now? It’s not the quality of your network that’s losing you customers; it’s the way you treat those customers.

About debshinder

Technology analyst and author, specializing in enterprise security. Author of or contributor to over 25 books, including "Scene of the Cybercrime." Fourteen-year Microsoft MVP, married to Microsoft FTE Tom Shinder, and proud mom of two wonderful grown-up human children and three amazing Japanese Chin pups. In my spare time, I love to travel - especially on cruise ships - and write about my grand adventures.
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