An impossible quest for something I don't even want: Cell Phone

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Vince Maskeeper, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    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.
     
  2. Rain

    Rain Producer

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  3. Jeff Pryor

    Jeff Pryor Supporting Actor

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    Damn, Vince, I feel for ya, man. And you're right, Rain, it DOES seem like too many things are a big hassle these days. Why do things that should be so frickin simple turn out to be so complicated, and for no reason? Sometimes this modern world just bites it.
     
  4. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    It's possibly your location. The malls here are jam-packed full of providers. Right in the middle of the mall, as your walking store to store, they hit you up with "Hey, buddy you need a phone?" I usually pull mine out, with kind of a I've got it covered look. They still persist! Kind of the antithesis of what you went through, but I did read your rant, if that helps.
    If you do ever get your phone, you won't be sorry. It's great peace of mind, knowing your loved ones are always a phone call away to the police, AAA, ambulance and yourself. I am of the pro cell phone movement. The benefits outweigh the annoyances IMO.
     
  5. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    Vince,

    I USED to have Cingular (when I lived in Biloxi, MS)...and I hated them. Customer Service was always awful (in my experiences anyway) and nobody could ever figure out what to do with my account when I called customer service in the first place.

    I too had the "Family Plan" and my bill was always considerable HIGHER than what I thought it should be (due to roaming fees, etc.).

    They still owe me $44.41 dated back from November of 2001 - when I cancelled the service (before my contract was over) due to the fact that I was moving overseas. I have made at least 4 phone calls over the past year to try and get this $44.41 credit sent my way via check. Each time - it should be another 4-6 weeks...and each time, 4-6 weeks later...nothing!

    I have the bill sitting right here - maybe I will try to call them again this weekend to see if 14 months has been enough time for them to figure out what is going on.

    I now have T-Mobile (previously Voice Stream) and have had absolutely no problems/troubles/billing issues whatsoever in the 10 months I have been using them as my provider. My bill is always where it should be (no crazy charges like I had with Cingular) also.

    Also: Don't sign a 2 year contract if you want a 1 year contract. Sometimes this (going w/ a 2 year plan) will make your phones less expensive - but if you ever need to cancel it will be even more expensive (most likely anyway).

    Not sure if you were wanting any advice/experiences...but I thought, heck, why not....

    Good luck Vince! Oh yeah, and I hate paying my cell phone bill...if it wasn't for the wife I probably wouldn't have one....I barely make 5 calls a month on it (if that!).

    The only plus to a cell phone to me is for emergency situations.

    I thought I could replace my home phone with a cell phone but with TiVo and an ADT Home Security plan - that is not an option either.
     
  6. Mike Lenthol

    Mike Lenthol Second Unit

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    I'm taking bets that I'll never own a cell phone in my lifetime, or a GPS in my ass which should be the trend by 2027. [​IMG]
     
  7. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Vince,

    Cingular does not have a monopoly of stupid customer service departments in the cellular industry. I've personally had a couple of very dumb conversations with Sprint PCS, and I have a good friend that was recently banging his head against a brick wall trying to work with Verizon on an issue.

    I think the word "service" needs to removed from the wireless service provider nomenclature. My best advice is to first find a carrier that provides the best coverage in the areas you frequent, and then sign for the minimum contract term. Personally, one of the reasons I originally went with Sprint is because they had no minimum contract committment (but I do not think they offer such plans anymore).
     
  8. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    is it any wonder that Cingular has lost net customers in both of the last two quarters? can't stay in business long doing that.
     
  9. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    This actually was my approach initially. I had a small set of "wants" going into this:

    1) 3 phones, one pool of minutes, less than $80 ($27 per person).
    2) Unlimited calling between the phones in the family plan.
    3) A decent pool of minutes for regular calling (nothing insane- couple hundred normal minutes, either free weekends/eve or atleast 3000 weekend/eve minutes).
    4) Decent coverage in my area, specifically quality of service strength.
    5) Roll over of minutes from month-to-month, if available.
    6) Phone number that is local call from Kent and the surrounding towns.

    It seemed Cingular, AT&T and Verizon had the strongest signal/coverage around here from polling friends. Of the 3, only the cingular really clearly outlined the above 5 issues on their site (and seems to be the only ones doing roll over minutes). As strange as it seems, despite being the main draw of the "family plan" none of the other providers made it very clear how phone to phone calls inside the plan work, in terms of billing.
     
  10. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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  11. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    You think finding info for postpaid cell phones is bad, try getting info for the prepaid ones... I don't think the cell providers want to sell prepaid cell phones because they are always hidden in some deep crevasse on their websites and the plans really suck for those who actually use them alot.

    I have one from ATT (whose website sucks) but it is only an emergency phone or vacation phone. In fact, the last time I had minutes in it was August 2002 when I was in Alaska but it has sat at home ever since until probably my next vacation.

    Jay
     
  12. Jassen M. West

    Jassen M. West Supporting Actor

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  13. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    That's what you get when you live in BFE! [​IMG]

    My friends swear by T-Mobile.

    --
    Holadem
     
  14. Dennis Reno

    Dennis Reno Supporting Actor

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  15. Shane Bos

    Shane Bos Second Unit

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    I work for a Roger's AT&T dealer here and I have to say that I am impressed by the customer service. I have never waited on hold longer than 2 minutes.

     
  16. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

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  17. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    I'd go prepaid if they didn't expire so soon. I'm not getting a phone until I can get one that I don't have to sink money into even when I don't use it. A plan that has no expiration, or a long expiration like a year or something. Then I could dump 100 bucks worth of minutes on it and then not worry about it for a year (unless I use the phone and use up the minutes, of course). Until someone offers such a plan, with decent coverage and rates, I'll continue to be one of the few who hasn't turned over to the "dark side".

    I hate monthly bills.
     
  18. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    MOTHERFUCKERS!

    Oh my god, i'm nearly in tears with frustration. After the kid called yesterday, I made arrangements to go by the store this morning to pick up my one phone. Since he guaranteed me the other 2 would be in Monday, I figured I could use the weekend to get used to my phone, and add all my numbers to the little directory.

    I drove back out there (did I mention this is 15 minutes from my home)- arrived at 5 minutes after ten, when they open. I go in, the only employee is some hoochie bimbo type who is sitting with some other guy. After standing around for 5 minutes, she asked me what I need.

    I explained to her that I had dealt with Ryan, he told me to come in today and pick up the phone and sign the papers. She told me Ryan wasn't in until the afternoon. I said I didn't really care, and could just handle my business with whomever. She said she would "be a while" with this customer, and asked me to come back in 2-3 hours!

    I was speechless. I hurried to get out the door before I screamed in her face.

    I'm not sure what to do at this point. I'm tempted to tell these people to go fuck themselves-- but I know I'll probably just cool off in a week and be at some other store further away trying to buy the same shit.

    I can't believe how amazingly hard they're making it for me to hand them $600!

    -Vince
     
  19. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Kevin P, I hear ya, it really should not expire. What was worse is that when I bought the phone (ATT) the phone card would expire in 90 days, cheapest phone card you could get was $25. Then about a month or two, they cut the expiration date to 45 days, thereby basically doubling the price!! :angry: But now they have a $10 phone card and it's still 45 days now. However, I still don't use it except for vacations. I'll throw it in my bike panniers when I commute just so I can call 911 or so but other than that, I don't use it.

    Vince, I got my phone online in some packaged box. Sorry to hear about your troubles!

    Jay
     
  20. CapnSharpe

    CapnSharpe Stunt Coordinator

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    Vince,

    Have you investigated whether your university has a special deal with one or more cell phone providers in your area? If they do, you may be able to contact a sales representative who works directly for the company and you might get a nice discount too.

    I've had a cell phone for years and have been burned by Verizon, Cingular, T-Mobile, and Sprint. In my experience, the worst thing you can do is try to reason with the people in these stores. In all likelihood, they don't work for the company directly, have no idea what they are talking about, are paid by commission, and will lie to get you to sign a contract.

    I was tricked into signing contracts with Verizon (they were called something else at the time) and Cingular (SBC at the time). In both situation the companies let me out of the contracts, without a penalty, when they realized their commissioned agents (not employees) had lied to me about the service their companies provided. In Verizon's case I was also charged for "free" phone, contrary to the signed contract I had with them.

    I was in the market last Novembe/December for a new provider after getting screwed by Sprint (being a good customer for 4 years is meaningless and my nightmare with them is still unresolved). T-Mobile tried to screw me over, but I had learned enough over the years to know when to walk away. Now I have AT&T. If AT&T tries to screw me over I'll probably have to resort to a satellite phone. [​IMG]
     

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