Should I ditch my cell phone provider?
March 16, 2004 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Should I ditch my cell phone provider? [more inside]

I bumped my cell phone a while ago. I can dial and receive calls, but the screen's fading into oblivion like Marty McFly's photo in Back to the Future. So here's what happened:
  1. Went on the customer service area of Cingular's web site. (Which is not connected to the account info; there doesn't seem to be a way to replace the phone from the account info area.)
  2. Couldn't find info on replacing a damaged phone (they have info on replacing one that got damaged when they send it to you, but not on after it's your phone).
  3. Called customer service, waded through the bewildering menus, and waited while being told many times that my call was very important.
  4. Explained my situation to a customer service rep, who told me to place a new order through the site (I wanted to use the site because there was a web-only deal on a Bluetooth phone).
  5. Placed the order.
  6. Waited two weeks.
  7. Checked the web site for an order status. No record of the order.
  8. Called a customer service rep to check on the order. No record of the order.
  9. Vividly expressed frustration with the user experience of the web site and phone menu system combined with a blantantly insincere assertion that I didn't blame the rep personally, and stated that I would cancel the account, but didn't actually cancel the account.
  10. Stewed indecisively, while being irritated but not suprised when I got an email asking if I was sure I wanted to place the order.
I feel like I should cancel because the customer experience sucked (each interaction with them took about an hour between the web site and phone menus). But can I really expect any better from another company? Is proving a point they won't notice worth paying the contract buy-out? If I switch, what's a good OS X-compatible Bluetooth phone?

Special San Francisco-area question: who's got good coverage?
posted by kirkaracha to Shopping (9 answers total)
You're in the Bay Area? The answer is a blinking bold yes. Cingular sucks, sucks, sucks and sucks hard in this market and is absolutely the rock bottom crappiest carrier around here. EVERY other carrier can do better in terms of both coverage and service; it's all down to finding out how much better each carrier is, which varies somewhat depending on what you're looking for. From what I can tell, if you're into doing mobile data, T-Mobile is the way to go. The spotty GPRS data service that Cingular charges $80.00/month for (on top of your contract) goes for twenty or thirty bucks with T-M. If it's all about voice, AT&T and Sprint both have pretty solid voice networks, but aren't lauded for customer service.

Coverage: I was once amazed by seeing someone standing on the Embarcadero BART platform, talking on a phone, over 50 feet underground. There's no way my Cingular coverage was going to do that. Turns out both AT&T (or whatever they're called now -- hardly matters since Cingular just bought them) and T-Mobile both have signals that strong downtown.
posted by majick at 3:17 PM on March 16, 2004

(Oh, and as for phone, I'm pretty happy with my T616, which I can't imagine would have any problems dealing with OSX. The camera is complete and utter crap, though; pretend it's a cameraless phone.)
posted by majick at 3:19 PM on March 16, 2004

If you are getting a new phone, be sure to get it from Amazon or a local reseller to get the best phone for free, cheap, or get paid to use it. is a good place to learn about the carriers and the cellphones.
posted by riffola at 3:28 PM on March 16, 2004

I have the T610 from T-mobile and it gets along very nicely with my Powerbook through Bluetooth -- i especially like using the phone as a remote for the mac.
posted by birdherder at 3:43 PM on March 16, 2004

Have cingualar and about to go through the same it sounds.
My Nokia phone's warranty states one year which may be the same for yours as their is an industry standard.
How long have you had the phone?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:15 PM on March 16, 2004

I use the much maligned N-Gage on T-Mobile's network. Theoretically these are carrier unlocked. Gamestop has them for $199 with 3 games (not that those matter). For feature purposes is the same as the Nokia 3650 sans camera. I use it via Bluetooth with OSX.
posted by shagoth at 5:16 PM on March 16, 2004

Thanks for the feedback. I just ordered the T610 from T-Mobile via Amazon (and they'll pay me $75 after rebates).
posted by kirkaracha at 5:16 PM on March 16, 2004

Today's Cingular horribleness. via Engadget.
posted by anathema at 7:36 PM on March 16, 2004

i've had t-mobile for about 2.5 years, since it was voicestream, and have been happily impressed with their customer service every time i've had to interact with them, which is about 5. (not all problems, i moved, changed numbers etc) short wait times, waiving some fees when something didn't work, always resolving the problem the first time... i sound like a shill, but really. my parents had verizon and i was shocked at how crappy it was in comparison.
posted by rhyax at 10:32 PM on March 16, 2004

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