cingular hit with class action lawsuit

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.


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  1. Ouch. I can’t help but be reminded of the story of AOL customer service hell that so many people identified with. You can find the story here.

    Comment by danithew on July 7, 2006 @ 10:15 am
  2. That’s amazing. I remember you telling me the story about the AT&T thing and finally resorting to “Get Gephart” to resolve the matter. Seeing large companies screw up gives me a fuzzy warm feeling of hope for our own company.

    Comment by jason on July 7, 2006 @ 10:26 am
  3. danithew: I hadn’t seen that story before. Recording the phone call was an act of pure genius!

    jason: I hear you. I used to think most companies had everything wrapped up in a neat little bow, but then I learned more about the inner workings and realized that most places have lots of room for improvement. Although in Cingular’s case, I believe it has a lot more room than others have.

    Comment by dan on July 7, 2006 @ 10:34 am
  4. We’re going through the same sort of problems here where I work at Lifetime Products.

    All the corporate cell phones were AT&T (although they’re GSM). We were forced to Cingular for all new sign-ups and forcefully switched to Cingular for all previously AT&T customers.

    Luckily the migaration hasn’t been terribly painful for the company. A co-worker and I are very happy to have had T-Mobile through the whole process (maybe lack of EDGE isn’t so bad after all).

    Comment by Joe Levi on July 7, 2006 @ 12:13 pm
  5. I had the same problem with Cingular Wireless. I was with AT&T until I was force to get Cingular phone. They would turn off my phone and said that I had to use my mintues each month before the payment of each month was do. Every month cingular would make up excuess for what was going on. I was under contact with cingular wireless a family plan. My bill went from 358.00 to $1,400. I told them that they were over charging me for the service in 2004. Another thing my son went to cingular downtown, dc and he just gave them my cell number and they put him on my account without my permission. I called cingular and told it was against the law for what they did and told me to pay $175 for termination of contact. I don’t give anybody permission to be on my account. It was just my daughter and me. They would charge $59.00 a month and $19.00 for my daughter that wasn’t true. They was charging both of us $59.00 each under that plan. And my son was still on my plan charging him $59.00 too. They have know family plan that is why my bill was outragous. Cingular had just made me angery so I contact FCC and file a complaint with them agaist Cingular in July 2005. They had investigated and the president of cingular had call and I explain to her what was going on with my account being over charge. She dropped everything except the download which I paid for. Cingular need to be suited becasue they are over charging people with there services when switching from AT&T to cingular. They should be out of business. I have proof of everything my paper work from FCC. And from cingular. I am glad someone is watching what is going on with cingular wireless they are just like sprint when they first came out over charging customers and they had a class action lawsuit filed against them to.

    Comment by Janet Dean on August 17, 2006 @ 10:56 am
  6. Cingular wireless really bill was suppose to be 80$ a month but its always been about 120.00 a month until latley…now that cingular is the new at&t it has jumped from 120.00 to 1,200!!Its crazy….they keep charging me to call my voicemail and they charge me for the m2m calling.

    Comment by felicia on July 9, 2007 @ 10:47 am
  7. Is this suit still active, we were a disgrunteled (highly irrated) customer and never received any notice

    Comment by Michael Moses on May 12, 2008 @ 10:25 am
  8. I don’t know. I’d suggest contacting them directly (or the law firm handling the case) to see if you’re eligible.

    Comment by Dan on May 12, 2008 @ 10:55 am

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