It's like family, only weirder…

Cingular Pushing Antitrust Buttons

Truth be told, they've all pissed me off at one time or another. The offense this time centers around my contract renewal.

I’m on the verge of switching my cell phone service over to T-Mobile because Cingular pisses me off. Truth be told, they’ve all pissed me off at one time or another. The offense this time centers around my contract renewal. Amazon.com is running a deal for new or renewing Cingular customers where you can get a free BlackBerry Pearl after a small rebate and sign-up for 2 years of service. This is pretty standard operating practice through phone companies and retailers alike, though Amazon.com is able to sweeten the deal with a free Pearl. My contract was up back in November, though I didn’t really notice it until this year. I have attempted multiple times to make my purchase through Amazon.com to no avail. I have also spoken with both ends of customer service – Cingular’s was, by far, more frustrating. Neither were willing to pony up fault for my not being able to make the order, but Amazon’s message seemed the clearest – “it says Cingular has rejected your order.” I finally got in touch with a gentleman at Amazon that was able to confirm for me that Cingular will not allow its own customers to go through the site unless they have 60-days inactivity from Cingular service. That is, out of your contract, out of month-to-month…out of service. Only then can you buy service through Amazon. Which means, really, that Cingular doesn’t allow Amazon to upgrade customers. This is clearly an antitrust issue – one that Amazon.com should have fought for, but didn’t. And since they didn’t, they should also be the ones to disable the “renew” option for Cingular customers. It’s this latest offense that gives me the notion that I should switch providers. Not because I *have* to have a Pearl phone and I’m not willing to pay for it…well maybe that’s the reason, but moreso simply because Cingular pissed me off and I don’t feel I should show them loyalty when they essentially take advantage of their customers and have the audacity to think that their service is so good customers won’t switch. So I’m going to work with the T-Mobile reps to see what kind of deal I can arrange to use their service. I hate service contracts. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that yet this year.


Reader Comments

  1. Oalf,

    I have had a cell phone with t-mobile for 10 years now. For a while I had 2 phones, 1 with them and 1 with either AT&T wireless, Verizon or Cingular (back when it was BellSouth Mobility/Cellular). T-Mobile’s network is not as good as Cingular. Period. But for any really populated areas like where we work, it works great. When the T-Mobile offers you a deal, dont take it. Haggle with them, tell them that the office has a deal with Cingular and the Cingular deal is better than what they are offering so you have to think about it. Normally they will sweeten the deal. Or at least they have the last two times I renewed my contract. Also tell them up front that you refuse to sign a contract more than 1 year. Anything longer than that is totally unexceptable. After a little haggling, and a few calls (called the same rep back each time), I got a really good deal with them and a decent price on the Pearl. Not free but decent. And with T-mobile, once the contract expires, you get the same rates/benies until you renew a new contract when you get a new phone. Mine expires goes through 18 Sept and I will keep the same contract rates.

    If you want help with haggling/negiotating with T-Mobile, let me know…

    scott

  2. I had a similar issue when trying to buy a phone through Sam’s club last year. I could only get the uber-cheap rate if I were a new, not a renewing, customer (I’m with T-Mobile). I finally went to the T-Mobile store, got on the phone with customer service while at the store and said, no, I want what I want and I’m only going to pay X for it or I’m leaving- after about a half an hour, they finally gave in. They don’t want to lose your buisness in the long run, but you have to seriously threaten them with walking. So sorry Ole!

  3. Just so you know, this kind of crap is SOP with pretty much any carrier. The reasoning is that for every customer who signs up for Cingular through Amazon, Cingular has to give Amazon a cut. If you’re already a customer (contract or not), Cingular doesn’t want to share revenue with Amazon. It is short-sighted on Cingular’s part because without a contract, you could go to another carrier. Still, the carriers have long seemed to prefer new customers over old ones for reasons that still mystify me. I agree with Spazzmanda … go to a corporate Cingular store (not just the “authorized dealer” kind) and haggle with them. I’ll bet you can get your way.

    On the other hand, you could just sign up for service in your wife or son’s name instead and totally beat the system if you can stand to lose your current number.

  4. I hate cell phone contracts, period. They are all there for the express purpose of screwing you. You should have seen enough hissy-fits while growing up that you can throw a fabulous one with out even thinking hard about it. They have to give you your way if you can act spoiled. They are perpetuating the entitled generation.
    Love,
    Mom

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