"I, too, went through days of frustration with them a few weeks ago. I bought my Motorola V551 from Cingular after being told a Bluetooth-enabled PDA would be able to connect to the Web through the phone. Well, thats easier said than done," Green said. "The first two levels of tech support had not a clue. After getting through to the Data Group, I was given settings to connect with the PDA and the settings didnt work. I had to search the Web to get different settings that actually worked."
Greens story continued a familiar theme: "I was just about to the point of walking in the store, handing the phone and PDA to the rep and telling them to make it work or give me my money back. The download speeds are not that great usually and the phone has to be reset periodically. One of those things that sounded good in the store but didnt work out nearly as well as expected."
OK, so I struck out with Green. Ive got the perfect person, though: Michael Fisher, the IT director for the Natural Retail Group. Hes in IT and should understand the challenges of data integration.
"I had a very similar issue with their customer service. I tried to add a shared line to my AT&T Digital One Rate plan. After three hours of no one knowing what to do, they finally added it. The next day, I get a call from Cingular/ATT/who knows? They say that they made a mistake and they dont have a plan like that, but if I wanted to switch to Cingular, they could do it and commit me to a two-year agreement on both phones. I tried to explain to them that Cingular has very poor coverage in Tampa Bay [, Fla.,] and does not work in locations I travel to nor at my house in Largo."
It doesnt sound like Fishers buying their "isolated" argument, either. "After that, they said, No problem and Oops. Yes, indeed, they do offer a plan with my Digital One Rate and a shared line and would be sending out my new phone that day. I received two phones. My Digital One Rate plan was changed to a local plan. My bill still showed Digital One Rate as well as a $9.95 charge for a shared plan plus $99.95 for the new phone."
Fisher said he got bounced back and forth several more times, ultimately being unable to resolve a billing issue involving phones and data. "The gist is that they are losing my business and it is going to cost me $175 to cancel the new plan, which wasnt as promised," Fisher said. "I have written to AT&T—as directed to, by customer service—only to have them tell me to call customer service: a vicious circle of incompetence." Ouch.
Fisher also added a sobering thought: "It will take them approximately 18 months to two years before they will be able to merge the systems. Until then, unless you have a dual-mode phone (which they will not offer), you will have problems with service," Fisher said. "In other words, the merger means nothing since the two systems dont share any common equipment or technology. So if you switch to Cingular, there will be areas that you will now get service that you might not have before and areas that you used to get service where you wont any more."