Night and Weekend Minutes
August 8, 2006 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Do they not kick in if your call starts before 9pm? I am a new Cingular subscriber (yeah, I know, the rollover minutes seduced me), and I was shocked to see a 58 minute call logged to my daytime minutes. The call had begun at 8:53 and I assumed that logically at 9:00 my nighttime minutes would kick in. Naturally, this is not the case and I ate up 1/7th of my total monthly anytime minutes on this one call. Do other wireless carriers keep you on daytime minutes for calls that begin before 9 and extend on past 9?

In a follow up note, I was able to get 40 "courtesy minutes" for my trouble, but I wasn't reimbursed for the full 51 minutes lost to their foolish system.

Has this happened to anyone else?

As a secondary question: what kind of penalties are generally involved in switching phone companies if I wanted to ditch Cingular?
posted by Hammerikaner to Technology (19 answers total)
I got lucky and got the opposite -- I started an hour-long call at 6:57am, and got the whole thing free because it was officially a nighttime call.

This was on T-Mobile. So yes, other companies do the same.
posted by occhiblu at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2006

Nope. You have to hang up and call the person again at 9 pm. All of the carriers do that... even TMobile, who I've been with for seven years now and generally think is the best cell carrier as far as customer service goes.

Check your contract for penalties. Generally it's $200 + half the remaining cash they'd extract from you over the life of your contract.
posted by SpecialK at 3:59 PM on August 8, 2006

Do other wireless carriers keep you on daytime minutes for calls that begin before 9 and extend on past 9?

AT&T did, when I used them. I have assumed that Sprint does as well, but I haven't chosen to test that assumption.
posted by dersins at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2006

I think it's pretty standard that if you start a call during daytime hours as assigned by your plan, the entire call counts towards your daytime minutes, even if the duration of your call goes over into nighttime hours. At least this has been the rule with both carriers I've had.

As for penalties, read your contract.
posted by scody at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2006

Seconding scody, that has been my experience with Sprint and Verizon.
posted by Pocahontas at 4:01 PM on August 8, 2006

They do at Verizon...or at least I've always assumed they do (we may have asked when we first got cell service 10 years ago).

Verizon's penalty is $175 per line, at least in our 2 year family plan.
posted by lhauser at 4:04 PM on August 8, 2006

I've seen some cell phone companies (well, at least one, Working Assets) offer to pay the penalty to your old company when you switch to them. So that might be something to look for.
posted by occhiblu at 4:07 PM on August 8, 2006

Is this normal? Yes. Personally, I wait the few minutes until I'm in the free calling times. But then, but evening minutes start at 6 pm, so maybe it's easier.

Penalties will be in your contract. It varies. Some will allow you to buy out the number of months remaining on the contract at a certain rate (like $20 per month remaining, for example).
posted by raedyn at 4:08 PM on August 8, 2006

I have Cingular, I pay a flat fee (family plan) per month (unless someone decides they need to play on the web), and they told me it would cost me that monthly x the number of months left in the contract for each phone. (The monthly fee is normally for both, not each)

Needless to say, despite the fact that they had really screwed me over, it just wasn't worth the money. I'm going back to Tmobile when I get out of this contract.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 4:11 PM on August 8, 2006

When I cancelled a previous contract I had to pay 50% of the plan rate for the remaining months.
I assume the billing works like this: call @ 8:53pm (daytime minutes), duration: 58minutes. They don't care about breaking it down. I also suspect if you started a morning call on free-time that the whole thing would be counted as free minutes. But I'll leave that up to you to try the experiment.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:13 PM on August 8, 2006

Meep! Eck! Somebody lied to you. The early termination fee for Cingular service is $175 per phone. It's in their contract (you guys read these things, right?).
posted by onalark at 4:20 PM on August 8, 2006

Another trick is to turn your phone down to an extremely cheap monthly rate for the remainder of your service. 6 months * $20/month is still better than a $175 termination fee.

That said, when you're on the phone and know the conditions for leaving AND are ready to pay them unless you get what you want, this puts you in a much better negotiating position.
posted by onalark at 4:23 PM on August 8, 2006

Another trick is to turn your phone down to an extremely cheap monthly rate for the remainder of your service. 6 months * $20/month is still better than a $175 termination fee.

Oftentimes whenever you make a rate plan change, you automatically extend your contract for an additional year. Call CS and ask for specific details before following the above mentioned plan.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2006

I would get contact information for their corporate offices. Write a letter or an email directly to regional and national executives explaining that you think this policy is ridiculous and why.

Figure out what you want them to do about it and ask for it.
posted by FlamingBore at 5:56 PM on August 8, 2006

It is not just cell phone rates that are figured this way, land line long distance is too when you have different rates for day and night. When I was LDRing I'd take advantage by calling at 6:55 then talking for a couple hours at the steeply discounted graveyard rate.
posted by Mitheral at 7:13 PM on August 8, 2006

I took a look at my Verizon bill and sure enough, they have a "Span-Rate" noted on calls that start prior to 9:01pm.

More info here.

So it might really be worth writing that letter.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:17 PM on August 8, 2006

The 9:01 thing caught me on Verizon and for the first time in 10 years of cell phone ownership I went over my monthly allotted minutes thanks to a 3 hour call that went out at straight up 9:00 and I thought was "free." Had I waited 30 seconds, it would've been fine. Dammit.

It does pay to read the 47 pages of 7 point font printed information that comes with your phone. You'll need new eyeglasses when you're done, but you'll be able to afford them when your bill stays flat each month because you don't go 2 hours over your plan minutes.
posted by Dreama at 2:43 AM on August 9, 2006

I've noticed this same thing at various points over the past ten years with both cellphone providers and landline providers. You get a single line-item on the bill for each call, and it's assigned to a single pricing bucket (day or night). I've never seen a phone bill of any sort do what you expected. I'm surprised you thought it would switch.
posted by Plutor at 6:11 AM on August 9, 2006

If you tell them you're moving out of the country (under duress, job?) they have to cancel your contract for free. Not that I'm recommending that, because I've found Cingular to be the best network in terms of phones, features, and coverage, but still...
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:21 AM on August 9, 2006

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