Wow! Talk about fun.
Got a new phone last month from Cingular-- a Nokia 3595 with a nice screen, internet access, cool keys. In order to get it, I had to pay off a past due balance of $45 and I had a current balance of over $250. I wanted to negotiate that amount before I got the new phone so I called the 611 number and talked to some guy who said that he couldn't do anything for me and that his supervisor was out. I was in a hurry (I was trying to get back to my new house), realized that I had made a bunch of roaming calls (I was up in Maine for my Mom's 70th birthday) and even call Sweden to find out about getting a special present and so I just paid the balance and thought that it was a learning experience.
At any rate, knew that I had wracked up the bill and when my girlfriend told me that she had been using too many minutes on her phone (from her office) so when I heard a radio ad about the new $9.99 Family Plan add-on phone with free service on all calls to Cingular customers, I thought that it sounded great. I thought that now we can blab to our heart's content.
When I went into the Cingular store, I used the occasion to complain about some of the cell holes in our area. (There's one on Route 95 about a mile from my house. My calls drop every time I am driving through that area.) My salesman told me that everybody's servce was similarly bad (with holes) and that he was still using a Sprint phone (personally) because of a contract he couldn't get out of and that he had the same problem.
So while I was having the new phone set up, I knew that I had been using the new phone for internet services, etc. and I wanted to see how many minutes I had used, so that I could decide if I needed to up my minutes. Howqever, they couldn't tell me my balance at the Cingular Store or pay my bill at the office(talk about Customer Service!- the couple behind me, who had been waiting for ten minutes, just turned around and left (because they wanted to pay their bill). At any rate, I had just paid my $299.99 bill so I thought that I was still okay (with my minutes), but they asked me to call their business office (611).
After getting the phone, I started driving to meet my girlfriend for dinner and called the Business Office. After waiting for a while. I found out that my balance was $561.26! Stunning, isn't it?
One of the bad things about having a new girlfriend living across a state border is that you are subject to roaming charges any time you visit. Also, anytime you take her to new places like Baltimore or Maine. Also any time your mother just happens to have her 70th birthday.
So I talked with the customer service rep (Monique) and she was very nice, but only offered me $100 off my bill. I asked to speak to a supervisor. One of the supervisors called me back after about a half an hour and started asking me if I thought that I could use a service and not pay for it. I told him that I thought that they should have told me about these minutes when I was getting the new phone of August 7th and that having been a good customer for 6 years and having never done this before, I would like him to knock at least half off the bill. (Actually, I was hoping to knock it down to less than $100 because I had just paid them $299.99 only two weeks earlier.)
He told me that everyone knows that they don't have the technology to tell us what our bills are until the end of the month and that the Cingular rep had no obligation to tell me that I had already gone over my minutes for the month (by a lot) on August 7th. I told him that it was like the banking business and that we couldn't just go and up someone's rate from 5% to 25% when they were upping their usage, regardless of what it says in their contract. A number of banks had tried that in the past and the consumer protection laws and Attorney Generals had stepped in to protect consumers on multiple occasions.
Have to go back to work-- will continue later. I'm still hoping for a happy ending. I talked with a much more reasonable person today.