Quite some time ago we had some issues with AT&T Wireless where our coverage on the TDMA network was gradually degrading but they wouldn’t let us cancel our contract without an early termination fee or let us upgrade to the GSM network without having to pay.
Thankfully the folks at Get Gephardt took care of us and we were able to terminate the contract without having to pay the $175 fee, but apparently it didn’t just happen to us.
Cingular has been accused of deceiving their customers and a lawsuit is now underway. Here are a few relevant excerpts from the article.
The lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract and violations of consumer protection laws, seeks class-action status on behalf of the more than 20 million customers AT&T Wireless had at the time of the merger. Many paid $18 “transfer” fees to switch to Cingular plans and were required to buy new phones or pay other fees, said the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
“Everyone who signed an AT&T contract had their service degraded,” attorney Mike Withey said at a news conference Thursday.
One plaintiff, Amy Frerker, a 28-year-old Seattle architect, said that shortly after the merger she began noticing that she no longer had cell reception in areas she once did. Over the next year and a half, she said, Cingular told her she would have to sign a new contract; live with her current cell service, which was being phased out; or pay a $175 termination fee to get out of her contract.
Finally, last week, the company let her out of her contract without charge, Frerker said. She switched to T-Mobile.
Last month, a California state appeals court upheld a $12.1 million fine against Cingular for signing up customers faster than it could provide service and for imposing hefty cancellation fees without a trial period. The court also said Cingular must refund up to $10 million to people who were forced to pay as much as $550 to cancel their contracts.
The funny thing is, ever since the cancellation we’ve gotten a bill from Cingular for $0.00, due upon receipt. I finally called and asked them to stop sending us the bill, assuming it was a simple error on their part. It turned into an hour long phone call where I talked with no less than 5 people, and most of them had to talk with other people. No one could figure out how to stop the bill from being sent. The issue was finally escalated to an internal investigative customer service representative who spent about a day trying to figure out how to cancel it. I got a call back a day or two later from them saying they thought it had been resolved but that I might receive one more bill.
After displaying such wanton disregard for their customers, I wasn’t hoping for much, but somehow they managed to exceed my expectations of poor customer service by displaying even greater levels of ineptness and inability to provide service than I had thought possible.
I’m glad to be rid of them.