By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2005-03-06 Print this article Print

"There is little or no appreciation or knowledge of the real reason people buy a Treo in the first place: to save time. After turning on the Treo 650, I encountered the customer service monster on day one," Harmon-Klein said. "I finally stopped into my local Cingular store, ready to throw the 650 in their garbage can. The store offered no help, but gave me their data number to call. After calling the data group, they offered little or no help until I demanded help and was escalated to a Tier 2 support manager they were hiding." Harmon-Kleins saga didnt end there. "Between all the finger-pointing between the customer service clones at Cingular, Road Runner, [and] PalmOne for my no-call-back, Tier 2 support at their outsourced, scripted English help desk in the Philippines, I have exhausted eight-plus hours on the phone to set up and retrieve my corporate e-mail. My corporate help desk was a breeze after I got the details straight."
Richard Dym, the chief marketing officer for AXS-One in Rutherford, N.J., also doesnt buy the idea that the Cingular customer support issues are isolated.
Staples is another company discovering that e-commerce sites are heavily relied upon and need to be taken seriously. To read more, click here. "Im a longtime AT&T Treo 600 user and just bit the bullet and transferred over to Cingular in order to upgrade my phone to a Treo 650. An amazing experience," he said. "Cingulars Web site is no help when trying to pick a data plan. Giving up on Cingular, I tried going through Palm, both on their Web site and via phone, only to discover that as a current AT&T customer wanting to keep my current number, I had to order through Cingular. So back to Cingular and its endless voice-mail tree. Finally, I got to a very nice sales representative who quickly told me that she had never sold a Treo and proceeded to ask a lot of innocent and very basic questions about what I was looking to do with the Treo 650. She deserves an A for effort and an A for patience." Dyms saga continues: "Most importantly, after approximately 40 minutes on the phone with me firing lots of questions at her, and her putting me on hold to talk to Technical Support (there was no way to conference them in to our conversation), she did identify the right data plan. And amazingly, the Cingular unlimited data plan is actually $25 less than what I was paying on AT&T for their unlimited PDA Data Plan. "But the combination of poor Web site description of the plan she recommended (it focuses on multimedia and never mentions pop3 mail), the potential confusion from not speaking directly with technical support, and even the fact that the plan was less expensive made me very suspicious that I would end up having to change something," Dym said. "Surprise: I went back to the Palm Web site, took the route of a new customer wanting to buy a Treo 650 from Cingular and, lo and behold, there, clearly laid out, was an excellent description of the available data plans. Best of all, it confirmed I had purchased the correct plan." Maybe Ill have better luck with Rodney Green, in the electronic development unit of Coldwell Banker. Surely he can be convinced that the Cingular support glitches are isolated. Next Page: More customers data integration headaches.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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