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Do not trust AT&T (or now Cingular Wireless) - worst company ethics

 

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Why America should NOT trust AT&T

As I'm writing this, I'm on hold with AT&T customer service - supposedly being connected to someone's manager. This computer voice keeps singing to me "AT&T - the wireless service America trusts". And how great their web site is etc etc. I've been on the phone with AT&T for 70 minutes now; I'm probably going to hear this voice tonight in my nightmares.

Here is how everything began. After being switched over from Cellular One to AT&T (AT&T bought that provider) I experienced a few minor problems in the transition (one month a $190 bill) but eventually things worked out. I was on a $29.95, 400 minutes plan.

I had one of those tri-band cell phones. Cingular currently buys AT&T and they have recently heavily pushed their new GSM network.

On 3/17/2004 I wanted to add a second line and AT&T's attractive offers were for GSM network only. So I upgraded to a GSM phone. I bought a cheap Siemens phone for $20 and a LG for $50. I got a mail-in rebate form for the Siemens, so it was effectively free besides sales tax.
In the store, I mentioned that there is no need for m-mode (this is AT&T's name for internet access from a cell phone). The customer service rep said that I won't be charged for it unless I start using it. I chose a local plan for $39.95 with 1000 anytime minutes and unlimited minutes on nights, weekends and unlimited anytime between other AT&T GSM cell phones ("mobile-to-mobile", but it has to be an AT&T GSM mobile).

A few bad surprises came then.

  1. I got set up for m-mode and voice dial
    When I got my first bill, I noticed that m-mode and voice dial was billed on there but also waived in the first month.
    So I had to call in and said "Hi, why is that? I never signed up for these features!"
    The customer service rep says that they will take this feature off my account but I will be billed in this current cycle for it since it is my second cycle and that in the 3rd cycle they would make an account adjustment. I possibly might have to call in for this adjustment.
    We're just talking about a few dollars here, but I feel this is bad business practice.

  2. The free minutes are gone?
    Around 4/15/2004 - in the second billing cycle - I went online at www.attwireless.com and registered my account there. I was surprised to see something like "120 out of 200 minutes are used" for phone #1 and "200 out of 400 minutes are used" for phone #2.
    Where are the 1000 minutes that I paid $40 for?
    Another call to customer service was due. (This is a good one.)
    Some guy with an accent tells me that I have only 600 minutes, not 1000.
    • Me: "I don't have 1000 minutes air time? The sign in the shop clearly said 1000"
    • Guy: "No. The computer clearly shows 600 anytime minutes"
    • Me: "And what about the free anytime minutes to my other line? I do get those free minutes to other AT&T GSM phones, or?"
    • Guy: "Sir, there is no such thing as free anytime minutes."
    • Me: "But that's the one feature why I switched to GSM! I could've bought a second TDMA phone then. Are you sure I don't have unlimited minutes within your network?"
    • Guy: "You have free minutes on weekends and after 9pm only. I am sorry that you have been mislead. It is beyond our control what happens in those stores." [now I get out some paper works and read something to him]
    • Guy: "Oh, mobile-to-mobile minutes. Well, you didn't ask me about mobile-to-mobile minutes. Yes, you do have free mobile-to-mobile."
    We found then out that I had been put by accident on the 600 minute national plan while I actually wanted the 1000 minute local plan. Since I mostly stay in California and Las Vegas, which are both in the local area, this is the right choice for me.
    I thanked the customer service guy for switching me to the local plan.

    I think it is pretty funny that they decline to call it "free minutes to other AT&T GSM phones" but instead "free mobile-to-mobile". Clearly my wording describes the truth while their official lingo is misleading - there are no free minutes if you call someone with an AT&T TDMA phone or even a Verizon customer. But let's not get into AT&Ts ethics. Or maybe it is an example why having call centers offshore is not always a good idea?

  3. Unwanted spam
    As probably many others, I have received some advertising text message from AT&T - they try to lure you into signing up for mMode. When I received that message (it was not the regular text message of which I've received several), there were 2 options: "Load" and "Cancel" or maybe "Back". I thought that "Load" was a strange word but I just wanted to keep the message so I clicked on it and.. without a warning, it started an mMode connection, which I cancelled.
    Again I had to call customer service, had that feature disabled. Yes, I will be billed for it. I was promised an account adjustment in the following period but I possibly would have to call in for that again. At this time I also noticed I was billed for text messages on one of the two lines (I don't understand why, neither did the customer service rep), so we took that off from the other line as well. Receiving test messages still works and is free.

  4. A random $16.41 service fee
    Yes, I know it's just $16.41 and why would someone get angry about that? Because I can
    Yesterday I received a $16.41 bill - automatically billed to my credit card - for my TDMA phone (it does have the same number as my new phone, but I can tell because my TDMA bills are billed automatically to my credit card. I didn't feel comfortable enough yet to allow automatic billing of the 2 GSM lines as well, and the way it looks, I never will.
    So I won another call to AT&T customer service.
    • Me: "Why is there a $16.41 charge? And no phone calls listed, no explanation?"
    • Lady: "Your old phone had to complete one more billing cycle."
    • Me: "I stopped using the old phone on 3/17/. The bill is for 04/14 - 05/13. How can that be?"
    • Lady: "You switched on the 17th but your billing cycle is on the 14th. We cannot switch the billing date because you switched on a different date.
    • Me: "It has been 2 months and 5 days now! I got my final bill prorated a month ago and it was $2.41!"
    • Lady: [pause] That is a $15 sale fee for your new phone plus $1.41 tax. (I think: That would be a 9.41% sales tax?)
    • Me: "I bought two phones. Why not a $30 fee then?"
    • Lady: "Maybe you got a mail-in rebate"

    She was starting to make up stories now how I didn't have to pay shipping and handling for my new phone because I got it in the store and how I got the mail-in rebate. By the way, I still haven't received that rebate check; I guess it is really really due now. 6-8 weeks - ha ha ha. I demanded to speak to her supervisor to find out what this $15 service fee is.

    As I'm writing this, I actually talked to "Scott". He called this a $15 "equipment-processing fee". Gee, this term is strange, even Microsoft Word doesn't know it! No, the suggested corrections do not include "rip-off".
    I pointed out that there was no mention of an equipment-processing fee in the store (which is beyond AT&T's control as he was quick to say) and that I never signed a paper accepting such a fee.
    No, he could not revert this fee.
    At this point I wished him a nice Saturday and we ended our conversation.

    [6 weeks later]
    My credit card Discover thinks that AT&T deserves the money - solely based on an invoice. There is no contract between AT&T and me that would indicate that I agreed to this fee.

Written in June 2004, while on the phone with AT&T customer service.
Minor corrections performed and posted on 7/11/2004.
Responsible: Peter Tiemann ('ptiemann')


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Comments:

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2006-01-14, 00:30:22
anonymous from United States  
rating
It is not just AT&T it is all cellphone companies. I recently cancelled my cellphone contract with SprintPCS and i cancelled before my billing period ended. they told me that The next bill will be for just the cancellation fee which was $150. Can you believe this.. they add on other fees to the cancellation fee. They add not only tax but other fees.
2006-02-10, 06:20:15
anonymous from United States  
I'm a five-year Cingular customer who actually reads contracts before I sign them. I know, it's old-fashioned!

My Cingular Wireless contract specifies how many minutes are included in my rate plan, so I would recommend reviewing your copy and seeing what it was that you agreed to in writing. If you signed a contract specifying 600 minutes, this is your error-- not Cingular's. If your contract reflects 1000 minutes, they have to honor it. Period.

Along the same lines, Cingular and AT&T Wireless both charge a fee when you upgrade your equipment. This is pretty clearly noted in large letters on the front page of their contract forms.

It's not surprising that you signed a new contract and got the plan described in that new contract. It sounds like the store representative didn't explain things very well-- and AT&T Wireless / Cingular should step up to the plate and make some accomodation if this is the case-- but next time pay more attention to the fine print before you sign!
2006-06-01, 23:09:33
anonymous from United States  
a mere $16 charge on your bill for a couple days over to the next billing is a deal and a half. most cellular phone services will charge the full one month billing if you cancel after the exact end of billing date. if you are going to cancel your cellular account, make sure that you do so EXACTLY on the last day of your monthly billing cycle so that you do not get charged the early cancelation fee or the extra full month bill.
2006-06-03, 16:46:50
anonymous from United States  
I HATE CINGULAR AND ATT! HORRIBLE COMPANY WITH HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SUPPORT! THEY WILL CHARGE YOU EXTRA FEES FOR NOTHING AND THE SERVICE IT SELF IS THE WORST. DO NOT. I REPEAT DO NOT JOIN ATT/CINGULAR! YOU WILL REGRET IT
2006-10-11, 09:38:12
anonymous from United States  
AT&T has, hands down, the worst customer service. they farm out the phone calls to India. the reps are friendly and courteous but they are unable to assist you in any meaningful way. they just keep transferring you to other dept.'s, I was transferred 6 times and placed on hold for a total of 55 minutes yesterday.

I cancelled my DSL service because the filter disrupted my phone line, 2 weeks out of ever month I was unable to use my phones. I switched to cablevision they agreed to cover the contract termination fee for my dsl line. i only needed an invoice indicating i broke my contract. AT&T refuses to itemize my phone bill indicating the $200 i paid was for early contract termination and now cablevision refuses to reimburse me. how hard can it be to generate a piece of paper. meanwhile, I paid my last AT&T bill but complained about the poor service, they sent my bill to a collection agency. NICE! I will never do business with AT&T again!
2006-11-27, 10:11:13
anonymous from United States  
i have been setting up an account with cingular for my company the past two months. our original problem started when AT&T and cingular merged, splitting our company lines (in two different states) into cingular and suncom (even worse than cingular) without our permission, and without any way to get out of the contract. we were basically forced into two companies and two contracts that we didn't want. so our suncom contract was expiring and we wanted to get our phones all attached to one line again, with cingular because we already had 4 phones under a cingular account. my average time on the phone any time i called was an hour. often, i was passed around/put on hold at least 6 times, and have been hung up on about 7 times. i was told several different things by several different reps, all that they could not move our suncom numbers into cingular. then i was told we could, so we did. i put the order in, we had to buy new phones, and we waited. over a week went by and no phones- we could not switch companies yet, but we wanted to get out of suncom ASAP, so i called. these idiots set up the lines and everything, but did not order any phones (even though i specified 2 phones and gave them a cc #) for the new lines to occupy. i called, ordered the phones (AGAIN!), told them to overnight them. i am currently on hold with cingular, the call time says over 40 minutes, not including the last one that hung up on me, and they do not have a record of the order ONCE AGAIN!!!! i would never give these retards money- EVER! their customer service is run by mentally-challenged assholes, their sales reps are liars, and their plans are more expensive than t-mobile. if you're smart, you will never even think about calling these idiots.
2006-11-27, 13:17:40
anonymous from United States  
rating
i left att a few years ago. i had 5 lines of service with them and they nickeled and dimed me every chance they got. i've been with tmobile ever since and i'm very happy with them
2007-01-26, 10:51:33   (updated: 2007-01-26, 11:00:15)
anonymous from United States  
I have big concern with those company called AT & T & cingular. Is there a place who can take action aginst those companies? Cingular never stops cheating on his customers minues & billing charges, I really do not understand why cingular is allowed stealing from his costomer in this great country. Where are all so called watch dogs? are they also get benfit out of it?
I am very disappointed with cingular the way they steal my minutes and send me big bill for no reason. For how long they continue to do this?
2007-03-14, 16:23:14
anonymous from United States  
Best thing that ever happened to me is when AT&T changed to Cingular. AT&T was bad, but Cingular was horrid. I was on a pay as you go plan so dumping them was no problem. I switched to T-Mobile and what a difference. I thought all cellular service was about the same.Was I ever wrong. I can now actually use my phone in an emergency which is the only reason I have it. I use a wheelchair van and if it breaks down I just can't walk to the nearest phone for help. So long Cingular.
2007-05-25, 13:29:56   (updated: 2007-05-25, 13:32:09)
anonymous from United States  
It's not just AT&T wireless.

Also regular AT&T long distance.

I have worked for two different cable companies (Charter, Mediacom)
where we offer our own telephone service.

When people switch from their LEC (local exchange carrier) to a cable provider
and keep their same telephone number, AT&T (if they have them for
their long distance) should cancel their service when the LEC cancels the
local service.

I get customers all the time calling in saying they continue to get bills
from AT&T and AT&T refuses to cancel the account and they want
us to call them. We have nothing to do with AT&T as we provide our
own long distance. We can only refer them back to the LEC which
says AT&T should have been notified and the customer goes round and round
and round.

If a customer asks ANY company to stop service, that's what should happen.

But, AT&T can't make any money by cancelling the acct so of course they
won't do it.

Sad sad sad.
2007-06-08, 22:41:12
anonymous from United States  
I recently joined the cingular plan and boy are there phones loaded with programs that you really don't need. Programs like tv crap, music crap, ringtone crap. The only usefulness I would like to think is that if one were to buy their extra service plan for wireless broadband and stuff or otherwise be charged an arm and a leg.

It's like the goddamn phone is rigged with booby traps, one wrong press of a button and then you are charged for things you don't want. 5/9 icons of my new razor is for xingular's ish. This company likes to give not one but 2 emailing progams on one phone; one for their service and one so that you can go online and then they charge you. Tsk tsk tsk, I like T-Mobil better.
2007-08-07, 18:22:41
anonymous from United States  
I added my son to our existing cingular (that changed to att). He needed a new phone. We were told if we get something extra and keep it for a week then we are entitled to a $100 VISA gift card rebate. The customer service rep even showd us how to complete the form and cut the imei barcode and stapled it to the documents. Immediately I mailed it in and in ten days stopped the extra service (whatever it was).
Today I get a notice the barcode is missing. IMPOSSIBLE it was stapled on the documents. I called the 866 number three past 8 pm and they quit at 8 pm and directed me to the website. The website has absolutely NOTHING on it regarding rebate.
I knew AT7t sucked but the customer service rep was so helpful and seemed to know exactly hot wo get the money that I trusted her. I am so upset. Here I go, writing this and now I have to wait another day to contact, what, someone in INDIA who doesn give a damn and can't help me even if he/she wanted to? I will be surprised if I get the $100.
don't fall for this scam.
2007-08-07, 18:23:49
anonymous from United States  
I added my son to our existing cingular (that changed to att). He needed a new phone. We were told if we get something extra and keep it for a week then we are entitled to a $100 VISA gift card rebate. The customer service rep even showd us how to complete the form and cut the imei barcode and stapled it to the documents. Immediately I mailed it in and in ten days stopped the extra service (whatever it was).
Today I get a notice the barcode is missing. IMPOSSIBLE it was stapled on the documents. I called the 866 number three past 8 pm and they quit at 8 pm and directed me to the website. The website has absolutely NOTHING on it regarding rebate.
I knew att sucked but the customer service rep was so helpful and seemed to know exactly hot wo get the money that I trusted her. I am so upset. Here I go, writing this and now I have to wait another day to contact, what, someone in INDIA who doesn give a damn and can't help me even if he/she wanted to? I will be surprised if I get the $100.
don't fall for this scam.
2007-08-21, 18:59:44
anonymous from United States  
Fuck AT&T
!!!!!!!!!! !
2007-08-26, 23:33:06
anonymous from United States  
YEAH I DUMPED ATT ALSO THEY SUK BIG DICK!!!! AND CUSTOMER SVS SUCKS WORSE...SOMEONE WHO DONT SPEAK ENGLISE THAN YELLS AT ME FOR ASKING HIM TO PUT ON AN ENGLISH SPEAKING PERSON...ID LIKE TO FLY THERE AND SPEAK FACE TO FACE WITH HIM....WELL ANY THEY ALL SUCK DICK....NEED TO GO BACK TO TIN CANS AND A STRING....
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