Friday, July 22, 2005

Cingular Phone Scam

a.k.a. Phone Scam Part Deux

Yesterday my friend ("Esme" pronounced "ES-may") and her family were out boating. Because she's in sales, she has to have her phone on her 24/7. Although they were island hopping, she brought it along (she had the phone bagged in plastic.)

She hadn't intended to take it with her into the water, but forgetting that it was in her bag along with her picnic things, she dragged it through the salt water. That's when she realized something was wrong. The phone started vibrating spasmodically and when she opened it up, the screen was black.

When they got back onshore, Esme set out to replace it. Because it was an AT&T phone, she took it back to the place she bought it from originally. It is now a Cingular store (they bought out AT&T cellular, I guess). She went running in, and breathlessly asked the sales guy if they had another phone like hers. He said no; since they became Cingular they got rid of all the AT&T phones and there are no compatible phones (her phone was about a year old at the most). He also told her that if she got a Cingular phone, her boss would have to sign a new contract with Cingular (the company has over 30 phones through AT&T).

Esme stared at him desperately. "What am I supposed to DO?" she wailed. "My boss won't want to sign another contract. He'll KILL me!" Strike One Against Cingular. She wasn't happy.

Taking sympathy on her, he whispered that although he wasn't supposed to tell her (Strike Two Against Cingular) she could try at the kiosks in the mall where they sold cellular phones. "They MIGHT have the phone there," he said, "though you'll pay a premium for it. By the way, you'd better remove the battery from your phone. After being dropped in saltwater, if it's attached to your phone, it could short circuit and EXPLODE." Esme looked at him horrified, and scurried out the door with the phone in one hand and the battery in the other.

She drove frantically to the mall, and ran inside. She found a kiosk that sold all types of phones, and asked the salesman if he had her model. He looked at her in amazement and said "Well, WE don't, but *I* do. It's used, but I'd be happy to sell it to you." "DONE," she gasped. "How much?" "Oh... say, $50?" he suggested. She couldn't believe he went that low but happily agreed. The new phone was in even better shape than her old one. But, Esme was VERY lucky. She won't get that opportunity again. The salesmen all told her that these phones are now extremely hard to get.

As he gave her back her old phone, she said "Oh, can you remove that battery please?" He stared at her. "Why?" he asked, puzzled. "The guy at the Cingular store told me that if I leave the battery in it can explode..." Esme said hesitantly. He looked at her for a moment as if she had just told him that she believed her phone had sprouted legs. Then he shook his head and told her it would be fine. Strike Three Against Cingular.


Jamie Dawn said...

Good grief what a tale!
Exploding phones! Well, I'm glad she got another phone in the end and that her fears of exploding phones were calmed by the guy at the Kiosk.

Senor Caiman said...

I always carry a water-proof fanny pack. They come in designer colors now.

mal said...

With Cingular the story gets worse. I had AT&T for years and was satisified with the program and billing. The monthly billing was always one month ahead. Some time after Cingular acquired AT&T the billing became for the previous month. Called Cingular on this and they lied thru their teeth. I am now with Verizon and I sent a copy of an AT&T bill in with the last Cingular bill and payment for overages. After 2 dunning notices I have heard nothing from them. I suspect I am not the only one to "call" them on it (pun intended)

As I said yesterday "we are with the phone company and are here to help"...puhleeeze

Fred said...

I had the exact same problem. When I tried to add a fifth line onto my account, Cincular kept telling me AT&T accounts could not do that. I would have to convert to Cingular and buy new phones. Oh, and I’d have to pay $18 per line to convert. I politely asked why I was making checks out in the name of Cingular - didn't that make me a Cingular customer?

It’s crazy - they basically chased me away. We instead got a "pay-as-you-go" phone until our contract with Cingular runs out, then we'll get an account with Verizon. Do they really think I would pay them another dime?

How crazy is that?

Bill R said...

Hey, Cingular! If I spit while I talk, will my phone explode?

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

The joy of mobile phones!

Saur♥Kraut said...

Jamie Dawn, yeah, she says she has it (battery and all) in the side door of her car and it hasn't exploded yet.

Mr. Gator, I need to get one of those myself! I didn't realize they made them!

Mallory & Fred, So it seems the corporate culture at Cingular isn't a healthy one... not a good company to do business with.

Bill, *LOL*

Daniel, what are the cell phone companies like in the UK? Are they the same?

actonbell said...

Wow! I don't have a cell phone, and the more I hear about them, the more confused I am. thanks for the eye-popping story!

Tabasamu said...

Well now, THAT is bad news, because *I* have an AT&T phone and didn't realize what they were up to. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say! Thanks, Saur.

AP3 said...

Wow, exploding cellphones! Sounds dangerous, in the wrong hands. I guess we won't be able to fly with cellphones now. ;-P

SmileDragon said...

I have had Verizon for 5 years now and they are the best cell company I have experienced. Just watch out for the new every two thing! You NEED to get it in writing the date that you will get your new phone. Otherwise, if you change your calling plan (and have to start your two years all over again) they will deny you the new phone at your two year point because they will go off when the contract ends. Unless, you are like me, hounding and harassing every Verizon store in town until they just give you one. I hit 3 stores and was on the line with customer service the whole time until someone saw in my notes that I was going to harass until I got the phone that was rightfully mine.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

There are 6 main providers of a mobile phone servie and apart from being a little bit expensive they are a competent lot.