Goodbye Cingullar, hello Verizon wireless
After many, many years of AT&T wireless and then the transfer to Cingullar, I’ve finally broken free from their poor service dungeon and I’m now part of the Verizon wireless family. Their service wasn’t god awful bad all the time, but there were a couple of incidents that really irked me and I vowed to remember them when my contract expired.
The first was around 2001 or so. At&T wireless was introducing their GSM service nationwide and it was advertised to have service in the Tampa, FL area. Well again and again once I started the service, I would get dinged for roaming calls even though I was smack dab in the middle of their supposed “calling area”. Also, there were a LOT of areas within the Gulf coast where they said they had service, but in reality, it was nowhere to be found. This all really aggravated me. Why advertise a service that you’re really not providing? There were also regular problems with bills incorrectly listing charges and/or not including the promised discounts. Their “customer service” department was atrocious and no matter when you called, 1am, 2pm, or 9pm it was always a 15-35 minute wait to speak to someone. Each time I always got that same message, “Due to unusually high call volume at this time, we are experiencing longer than normal wait times”. How can that be the same problem ALL THE TIME.
It took AT&T a LONG time to give customers the ability to see up-to-date minutes usage. There was no way to see it on their website, on the phone, and even if you called the customer service number, they had absolutely no idea how many minutes you had used until the billing cycle had ended. All the other carriers at the time provided this service but all At&T could say was they’re working on it. One C/S person actually told me to keep a pen and paper with me when I make calls so I could track the minutes myself. This lack of minute tracking went on for about 9 months or so before they finally provided it.
Then in late 2005, I was deployed to the Middle East and I was obviously not going to be using one of my phones for 4+ months. I called them and asked to have one of my phones suspended while I was gone so I could hopefully save a little money on a phone I wasn’t going to be using. Well they wouldn’t do that. Even though I was transferred due to military orders, I was “under contract” as she said and I had to pay for the service even though I would be unable to use it. This really aggravated me. This multi-million-dollar company can’t give an active duty military member a service break for just 4 months while I deployed in support of the war in Iraq. This really showed a lack of respect on their part and more concern for their bottom line than my bottom behind. It was then I vowed to leave them once my contract expired.
For a while when I was having service problems, I would use the company’s message board to try and resolve the problem myself and/or see if other customers had the similar problems. There were so many C/S complaints on the forum that I started posting replies listing the CEO’s name, picture, address, and phone number and I told customers to send their complaints to him if the normal avenues for resolution didn’t work. Well the message board gods at AT&T found out about this and they deleted my login. I guess they didn’t like issues getting elevated to the CEO without giving the customer the run around with the standard operators first.
If you’re a regular reader of Consumer Reports, you may have seen the annual January cell phone service guide they list in their magazine. Each year, AT&T/Cingullar is listed at the bottom in customer service/satisfaction.
In Jan 2006, a C/R reader survey of more than 50,000 cell users said: (Cingullar) middle to low levels of consumer satisfaction. Static is a widespread problem. Relatively low marks for helpfulness in handling customer questions and complaints.
In Jan 2007, the 42, 921 reader survey was much the same: (Cingullar) Middling to low levels of consumer satisfaction. Static and busy signals were widespread problems, as they have been in our previous surveys. Relatively low marks for helpfulness in handling customer questions and complaints.
Compare that sparkling recommendation to what the C/R readers had to say about Verizon.
Jan 2006: (Verizon) Consistently a top performer in this year’s survey and in our earlier ones. Also did better than other national carriers in responsiveness to customer questions and complaints.
Jan 2007: Consistently a top performer in this year’s survey and in our earlier ones. Also among the better national carriers in it’s responsiveness to customer questions and complaints.
Verizon had an almost identical positive review in 2007 as in 2006. Outside of the problems I mentioned earlier with Cingullar, the service has been ok in UT. I haven’t had any bill problems or cell coverage issues. I can’t wait to see my final Cingullar bill to see if they have tried to screw me one last time. I read recently that the former AT&T which changed to Cingullar is now changing back to AT&T again. Their slogan is “Cingullar is now the new AT&T”. Sorry guys, that’s not something you should be bragging about. After all, the new AT&T is no doubt just like the old AT&T which was and is god awful. I seriously doubt a name change will do any good since the problems with this company are more than can be fixed with a simple name change.
I was a little disappointed when I did the number port at the Verizon store. I had been looking forward to calling the Cingullar folks one last time to tell them I was leaving them as a result of their poor service for the last several years. Unfortunately, they can do all the transfers with the computer in the store. No final call to your last carrier is needed. My experience has been great with Verizon so far. I bought two new phones then exchanged one of them the next day for a different model. No problems whatsoever. No complaints from the store reps. and no questions about why I was switching to a different phone. It was easy as pie. The day after the switch, one of the C/S reps. at the store called to see if everything was ok and ask if I had any questions or problems. This was a small, simple gesture that I really appreciated. It told me they did VALUE my service and were glad I was now a part of the Verizon family. I’m glad too.