How fucking hard is it to get a cell phone? Well, from CINGULAR in my zip code, it appears to be damn near impossible. I decided to finally break down and join the dark side, despite my endless resistance to do so. I have hated cellular phones for years, and have rejoiced at the fact that I do not own one. However, with my current schedule and campus related workloads (coupled with a complete lack of public pay phones on the planet any longer as a result of cell phones)- it has become obvious that I really do need a phone to contact my girlfriend and family in relation to my whereabouts at given times. Anyway- so i broke down and decided to take the cell-saber from darth vader. Decided I'd get a group of "family plan" phones-- making it so i could call between my phone and family phones without worrying about per-minute charges. I quizzed all my friends on their plans and services, calling area and most importantly strength of coverage in my town. With some leg work, I narrowed it down to 2-3 providers. With visits to their websites, I found that cingular did the best job of offering what I was looking for. While not necessarily the cheapest, their site offered very clear information and answered my questions- while the others continually used cryptic buzzwords and their own unique language to convolute what exactly their plans offered. Cingular seemed to have exact what I was seeking, and outlined it very clearly. The other companies MIGHT have what I seek, but their sites sucked so bad I couldn't really determine. So, I checked the cingular website for locations in my area. A zip code search showed 2 locations- the first was in the town a few miles east (Wireless Express on main Street In Ravenna, OH), and the second in a town a few miles west (Quantum Pagers on Kent Road in Stow, Ohio). Unfortunately the first one, well I have a history with. When that store opened back in the mid/late 1990's, I actually applied for a job there. The owner gave me an interview (in the front seat of his car [!!]) and promptly hired me as the store manager [!!!], and then proceeded to schedule multiple meetings with me, none of which he showed up for. After standing around outside the building on 3 occasions waiting for meetings, I finally gave up and took another job elsewhere. Given the completely unreliable history I had with the owner of that location, I chose the other location, west of my home (Quantum Pagers in Stow). So, I went there. The salesman didn't even stand up to talk to me- sitting at a table in the lobby instead, and stared at me. I finally just went ahead and sat down with him and showed him the plan printout from the Cingular site and told him I wanted that plan, 3 phones, and even knew the model of phones I wanted. I was only able to sign a 1 year contract (since I'll be moving next Feb)-- but hoped maybe I could get a slightly better deal on the phones since I was buying 3. 1) The guy told me that the phones I wanted weren't that good, and told me that starting Monday the "nicer" models would be part of a promotion where you get the phone free with a 2 year contract ($79 phone for free, vs a $59 they currently offered w/ 2 year service contract). 2) I reminded him I couldn't sign a 2 year since I was moving. He told me I could just transfer the service to the new location. I told him 1 of the 3 people in the family plan was staying here- and that I was moving to Canada, where they don't offer service. He told me that since I was moving, I could just terminate the contract with no penalty [!!!!]. I asked, if I could just do that, what's the point of a contract in the first place? He called the Cingular reps and found out he was wrong. 3) He refused to give me a better deal on the phones- but I said fine- I'd take the 3 I wanted anyway, pay whatever they cost, and just sign up for the service. He did the credit check, which came back with no problems. He then mentioned that they had no phones in stock. Of the 15 models displayed on the wall, they had exactly ZERO of any one of them. So after wasting an hour of my time, I could not even get a phone-- and would have to wait until they called me to let me know they have phones in (he had no idea when they would come in). So my visit was in excess of 80 minutes when everything was said and done-- and I left with exactly nothing more than a headache (Did I mention that when the salesman called Cingular to check that contract issue, they left him on hold for about 20 minutes- and that was their sales support line, not general customer service). Today, after waiting 3 days for these people to call me to let me give them my fucking money- I figured I'd give in and check out that store East of me. I went to the website to double check the address, and this time, it showed a second location for cingular service in the town to my west (this wasn't listed before). In fact, this second provider was in an Officemax (Simplexity.Com / Office Max also on Kent Road in Stow)-- literally across the parking lot from the place that wasted almost and hour and a half of my time just days ago. I wish I would have known that at the time, i would have gone across the lot and got the phone from them instead. So, I took an hour off work today, drove back out there to Officemax (took the time to print out the Cingular plans again, and found the listing of phones offered by the company inside officemax- and printed that and took it along). I got over there only to find that they don't offer cingular service, and dropped it more than 6 months before. I don't know why cingular still shows them on their website (and it seems to have only been added in the last day, as I swear it wasn't there 2 days ago). So, to add 2 more steps of insanity to this story: 1) On the way home I remembered that there was actually a Cingular location in the actual town I live in. I backtracked out there, only to find that while the signs are up and working- there is nothing inside the store. I assume it's "coming soon"- but the signs on the building and in front are up and running. I was kinda surprised they weren't "open for business" anyway- and the first store I visited made it obvious that actually having products to sell was not really a prerequsite to being open. 2) While I was wasting another hour running to 2 locations looking for phones-- the fucks from the original location called to tell me they got in ONE of the 3 phones, and that i could feel free to come over and sign the paperwork and take that phone (which is, of course, pointless as 90% of the point was calling between the 3 phones). Of course, they have no idea when they will get the other 2 phones in, and so I'll be paying for a 3 phone plan starting today until they get around to getting phones in stock. I cannot believe how incredibly inept the entire world seems to be. I had no idea it was so hard to simply walk into a store that is 100% dedicated to cellular phones with a wad of cash and walk out with a phone. So far, it appears impossible. Ugh.