• Report: #106039
Complaint Review:

Cingular Wireless

  • Submitted: Sun, August 29, 2004
  • Updated: Fri, October 08, 2004

  • Reported By:St. Joseph Missouri
Cingular Wireless
www.cingular.com Internet U.S.A.

Cingular Wireless roaming charges ripoff We are mortified at the lack of customer service skills, the sneaky tactics in which you're lured into these contracts, and the ways in which we're made out to be the irresponsible and uniformed consumer. Saint Joseph Missouri

*Consumer Comment: Cingular has done the same to us.

*UPDATE Employee: Nationwide long distance does not mean you can use your phone for free everywhere

*Consumer Comment: My Experiences With Cingular

*Consumer Suggestion: Same thing happened

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My niece has been using a cingular wireless account for nearly two years. She recently visited Vicotria, Texas (an area in which Cingular has an extensive service area) and made several calls from Texas to Missouri. We received her Cingular bill and have been charge $952 and some odd cents in roaming charges. Her mother has talked extensively to Customer Service reps who state "no, we cannot remove any of those charges". We felt certain this was OUR mistake, and that we had certainly overlooked something in the contract.

After finding the contract (which clearly states FREE NATION-WIDE LONG DISTANCE) we went to the store in which the phone and contract had been purchased. There we were given the same run around. After reading multiple complaints on this site, as well as others, I realized that we were just another customer grossly taken advantage of. There were no payments options provided, the total amount due over $1000 must be paid or service will be terminated. No offer of $100 per month until paid, or any offer of deleting some of the roaming charges was given.

This is absolutely terrible what this company can get away with. Conveniently enough a "new" contract had just been signed prior to taking this trip and making these calls. We cannot get out of this contract for another 2 years without being responsible for early termination fees plus this scam of roaming charges that is due in full! We are mortified at the lack of customer service skills, the sneaky tactics in which you're lured into these contracts, and the ways in which we're made out to be the irresponsible and uniformed consumer.

St. Joseph, Missouri

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/29/2004 11:17 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/cingular-wireless/internet/cingular-wireless-roaming-charges-ripoff-we-are-mortified-at-the-lack-of-customer-service-106039. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Cingular has done the same to us.

AUTHOR: Mary - (U.S.A.)

We have a nation wide, no roaming plan and review our nation wide map every time we use our phone. We are truck drivers and use our phone extensively. It is part of our business. What I would like to say is that we were charged $300 plus dollars in roaming charges by Cingular and they dropped some of the charges when confronted on the charges. They found that we were charged roaming when we were in an area that was covered. They did not take off a lot of the bill which really upset me because as I said earlier we always check our map before picking up the phone. We were in Barstow, Ca which is covered and were charged roaming. I have my laptop's desktop my cingular map. All I can say is watch your bill and check your map. I have even gone as far as recording times and places in a notebook so when we review our bills we check it against what we have in our notebook. What a shame that we cannot trust these people!
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#2 UPDATE Employee

Nationwide long distance does not mean you can use your phone for free everywhere

AUTHOR: Tyler - (U.S.A.)

First of all, let me begin by saying that if people would read their service contracts, Cingular's webpage, or call customer service things like this would be prevented from happening.

This customer is obviously angry because she did not read her service contract and assumed that "Free nationwide long distance" means that she can use her phone anywhere in the country for free. A little bit of reading would have saved her $900+ in service charges.

Free nationwide long distance simply means that if you are in your HOME CALLING AREA you can call anywhere nationwide for the price of a local call, or simply put, it is included in your package minutes and rates.

NATIONWIDE ROAMING means anywhere your Cingular phone may "roam." It sounds like from reading this post that this person most likely had a "local service plan" to get a lower rate. What happens is the person says to Cingular "Look, I don't travel and I don't need to roam." Cingular responds by giving this customer more local anytime airtime minutes at a reduced rate - but in exchange you have a limited "home service area."

So what happens when you travel beyond your home service area? Well, just ask this person. Your phone then starts to roam into another service area, and yes, Cingular may even be providing that service. But you are going to pay because you agreed not to use service in that area. At this point you have no package minutes to use in this area and you will be charged roaming rates.

Another option is a Cingular Nationwide plan, which means that anywhere Cingular has towers or service agreements with other carriers, because you pay a higher monthly service fee, your phone is always "at home." In this case your phone never roams and every place you might possibly be able to get a signal is covered under your package minutes.

As far as "sneaky" contract tactics - that is just ridiculous. By law we have to inform a customer whenever they are entering into a contractual agreement with us to use our service. If you have just activated new service, you will receive a service contract with your new phone welcome package. This customer states that convieniently before this happened a "new" contract had been signed - the only person that can sign that contract is the customer. Chances are this customer went into the Cingular store and bought a new phone at the two-year contract price. We do not force these customers to take these phones, but once they are no longer under contract with us, we treat them like new customers when we offer them new phone equipment. We also offer a one year contract for a slightly higher price on the phone, and a customer can pay the full price for the phone and have no contract at all.

Also, when it comes to our billing practices, Cingular service is billed in arrears. What this means is that whatever airtime you are using this month, you are billed for next month. If you have roaming charges during this bill cycle, they will show up next bill cycle and the charges are due upon receipt. A due date is reflected on the bill, usually about 25 days from the bill cycle date. If a customer, by their own free will, runs up a bill in airtime usage or by roaming fees, we expect payment by the due date, or yes, we will interrupt service on that account. If a customer has difficulty paying their monthly invoice and they have a substantial payment history with Cingular, we may at times offer that customer some type of payment plan - usually half this month and half by the next bill due date. Of course this courtesy is only offered to customers that have an otherwise exceptional payment history.

A reason why Cingular CSRs may be slow to offer a service credit or fee adjustment is because of the amount of requests we get on a daily basis to reduce or remove justifiable charges from a customer's bill. How is it fair to those that pay their roaming charges with no hassles if we remove your roaming charges just because you failed to read the details of your service agreement? Another reason we are reluctant to remove a roaming charge is because if this service was provided by a carrier that we have a service agreement with, our company is responsible to that carrier for payment of that service. $952 in roaming charges averages out to be about 1,300 minutes of service if billed at our standard roaming rate.

What I suggest to everyone that uses cellular service, READ YOUR CONTRACT. If you know that you will be roaming, get a nationwide plan with your carrier. If your plan includes 500 minutes and you know that you're going to be using 1,300 minutes, get a higher plan. Don't wait until after the fact to complain that you didn't understand your contract or didn't realize how much the service was costing.
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#3 Consumer Comment

My Experiences With Cingular

AUTHOR: Clint - (U.S.A.)

I have been a Cingular customer for almost two years myself and have never had the problems described in this complaint. You have to be very careful in selecting the calling plans with any cellular company, as there are many different ones with different restrictions and minutes and long distance, etc. Long Distance and Roaming are two different things. You may have free long distance, but the plan you were in obviously did not have free roaming included. Hence the extremely large bill. Cellular contracts need to be read thoroughly before signing them to ensure you are getting what the sales representative told you you would be getting with that plan.

I have been all over the country with my Cingular phone and made calls when driving through the "backwoods of Louisiana", in San Francisco and many other places and have never been charged any roaming fees. This is because the plan I selected indicated free roaming.

Of course your phone will be turned off if you do not pay your bill. This is true for electric companies, land line phone companies and even the local newspaper if you don't pay your subscription.

I would suggest you contact a supervisor at Cingular Customer Service and ask if there is a way to pay the bill over time if you do not want to pay the amount all at once. If they tell you no, pay the bill and proceed with your life. Since you just signed a new two year contract, you are going to have to keep the service for that time and really watch where you are using the phone, or pay the early termination fee.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Same thing happened

AUTHOR: P - (U.S.A.)

I was charged for roaming several times by Cingular, even after I went to the store and demanded a NO roaming plan, which would have been the Nationwide plan. This is what Cingular will not tell you. If any call is picked up by a non-cingular tower, you will be charged roaming.

It doesn't matter if there is a Cingular tower on top of the other tower, if the other tower picks up the call, Cingualr considers it roaming.

Cingular used the tired excuse of "we don't guarantee service" with me, and finally I went above the CSR and had the roaming charges removed. I did that dance 4 times in 6 months, and after poor service and poor CSR response filed a complaint with the BBB. I was responded to within two weeks, and I spoke with Tony in the President's office who informed me that the CSR's are instructed NOT to offer refunds or credits. You have to go higher, and you have to keep calling.

If you haven't already, ask to speak to a supervisor or floor manager, or get the number to Cingular's corporate HQ, and ask to be connected to a member of the President's office staff.
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