March 16, 2007

Just When I Thought Cingular Couldn't Get More Evil...

So, last month, after my Cingular bill was three days late (3 days!) they sent out a notice to me to pay up or get cut off. Since I've been a customer for years, and the bill was only for my flat rate service (no additional phone charges), I thought this was kind of draconian when I received the notice, 8 days after the bill was due. But I immediately hopped onto my online billpay service, paid the full bill plus $20 and left it at that. This was on a Wednesday. The following Monday, with no messages from Cingular on my phone, my service was cut off. I called them to ask why (of course, the phone was not able to call them.. they forced me to use a landline. Thanks guys, it's not like you're the phone company or anything.)

Anyway, while I was onhold, I looked at the previous month's bank statement, which showed I'd done online billpay on the 3rd, and then the Cingular bill which showed they'd receved the payment on the 5th of the month. When the person came online, I asked her about my phone being disconnnected, and the fact that the bill was only a few days overdue. She said they hadn't received my payment and they could do that. I said, "How is that? I just sent online bill pay money the day I received your notice. There is no time under this schedule to even get it into you? But last month you got it in two days. And my bank just told me online at their side, that you received the current payment." She turned the phone back on, but not before saying that online billpay typically takes a week or more. But I pointed out that between me and Cingular, it's taking two days and what sort of games are they playing anyway?

They don't even give you enough time to act after receiving the notice. My notice was dated the 5th, I got it in the mail on the 8th and my bank says they had the money on the 10th. I think this is all about generating $36 restoration fees for those who are forgetful as I am, working and traveling so much right now. And it's not like I have some giant balance. I did pay late.. but it's the same amount every month and I always pay and before I've been a very regular on-time payer.

So.. I still don't have my latest bill, to see how long the last online bill pay took compared to when I sent it, the 8th of last month. But.. get this. I received another notice this month, dated the day after the bill was due. I've already paid it. But geez. What a bunch of jerks. I mean, charge a late fee or something. Wait two months before you act like you hate your customers.

The other thing was that on my most recent bill, there were $30 in charges for some ridiculous spam text messages. I didn't ask for these messages, and so I called Cingular to have them removed. And I asked that before anyone can "charge me without asking" that Cingular force them to have to ask me first, before texting me twice, for $30. Cingular said they couldn't do that. I said they do it for collect calls, so why not "collect text messages?" They said they could only remove text messaging as a feature, which I need and use all the time. So my choices are, either be open to getting slammed by evil text messaging companies for very high fees, or don't have text messaging. Yikes. Way to protect your customers, Cingular.

Oh.. but wait. Maybe Cingular gets a part of the $30 fee, and therefore doesn't want to shut down this bad behavior?

Then, on Dave Farber's IP list, I found out that Cingular, Qwest, AT&T and Sprint are blocking calls to GigaOm also did some investigation that's interesting. That's because they don't want us to use our cellphones to call a long distance number, to get free conference calling.

OMG. I mean really. I pay Cingular approximately $.10 a minute during the "anytime" calling hours, and that's when I use Free Conference. Who are they to block me from dialing, not an 800 number, but a regular charge call? That they make money from?

What jerks.

Cingular == evil. I would do anything to get off the stupid telco rollercoster that seems to be routed perpetually downward and just use VOIP with an internet connection on my cell phone.

Posted by Mary Hodder at March 16, 2007 05:16 PM | TrackBack

I agree - Cingular IS evil. And they're even more evil now that they're merged with the horrible AT&T, the company I left to go to Cingular to get away from their usury roaming charges 5 years ago.

In my opinion, cellular providers as a group are a group screaming out for a smackdown. They tout mediocre service as state of the art, fool users into thinking the emperor has clothes, and use their hardware to build a pyramid scheme to trap users into long obligations and contracts.

I have yet to own a phone that lasts for the duration of the 2-year contract extension. I've finally wised up and and am trading off the 'cheap phone' option to buy phones on eBay, finish my current contract and then decide which of all the evils is the least.

Good luck with them. If ever there were a need for Doc Searl's VRM, Cingular is the poster child.

Posted by: Karoli at March 16, 2007 10:27 PM

Hi Karoli,
Actually, I noticed that too, when ATT merged with Cingular.

I left ATT to get away a few years ago and now I'm trapped again with them.


Looking forward to the smackdown!


Posted by: mary hodder at March 16, 2007 10:49 PM

Thanks for your support! We need your help! Please take a look at the letter below and go to to read more about the situation (in FAQ's) and get a cut and paste response to use for the FCC and Attorney General.

Don�t Let AT&T/Cingular, Sprint and Qwest Take Away Your Right to Use the Conference Service of Your Choice!

As of Friday, March 9th , it's come to our attention that Cingular Wireless has begun blocking all conference calls made from Cingular handsets to selected conference numbers. If you call our service, you receive a recording that says, "This call is not allowed from this number. Please dial 611 for customer service."
Earlier this week, Sprint and Qwest joined into this action, blocking cellular and land line calls to these same numbers. This appears to be a coordinated effort to force you to use the paid services they provide, eliminating competition and blocking your right to use the conferencing services that work best for you.

We Need Your Help! Please Take the Actions Below:
Whether you are one of their customers, or an organizer who is being impacted by these anti-consumer and anti-competitive actions, please file a complaint with the FCC or send an email to your State Attorney General to complain about this monopolistic practice to limit the choices of consumers.

You can also let these companies know how you feel about their attempt to block competitive services:

�Sprint Customers can click here or dial *2 from their Sprint Phone
�Cingular Customers can click here or call 1-888-333-6651
�Qwest Customers can click here or call 1-800-860-2255

FreeConference remains steadfastly committed to bringing you simple, convenient and reliable conferencing services at the lowest cost possible. We appreciate your support in this endeavor.

Posted by: FreeConference at March 17, 2007 01:52 PM

In response to the outpouring of support from bloggers like you, industry thought leaders, consumer interest groups and the media, Free Conferencing Corp (creators of has set up a special web site -- -- to set the record straight on the call blocking and law suits being leveraged by the major carriers including Cingular/AT&T Wireless and Sprint/Nextel. This site includes links to current blog postings, blocking FAQs, forum for visitors to blog, and, most importantly, a "Know your Rights" section directing people to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) web site so customers fully understand how their rights are being violated. The Know your Rights section includes links to learning about current FCC regulations, filing a complaint with the FCC, contacting your state attorney general and reading about historic cases that refute the claims of the telecommunications carrier "Goliaths." is also encouraging site visitors to subscribe to a list to join the fight in a class action suit.

Posted by: Len at March 28, 2007 10:31 AM

Yeah, they really suck. I got a new sync phone with those clowns. The lcd display on it cracked internally, by closing the phone. The jerks at Cingular told me that this voided the warranty.

Posted by: roy at March 28, 2007 03:21 PM