Cingular Wireless Informative - Connection and satisfaction with cell phone and service
READING, PENNSYLVANIA -- We recently renewed our Cingular Wireless contract and became eligible for phone upgrades. We visited the Cingular store and website before selecting our phones based on descriptions of the features. Then we ordered them from Cingular over the phone.
When we received the new phones and activated them, I spent 6 hours reading the accompanying manual and studying the online manual learning to use the new phones. I made some notes in the manuals. We had every intention of keeping these phones. They had features we liked.
Unfortunately, our upgrade turned out to be a downgrade. We found that the reception on our new Samsung C417's was incredibly poor compared to that of our original Nokia 602i's phones. With the Nokia phones we could make and receive calls from our home in rural Southeastern Pennsylvania. With the Samsung phones, we had to drive 1 mile south or 3 miles northwest to get reception. Even at its best, the Samsung phone reception was poor and we could hardly hear the callers.
My husband and I own a medical business. We simply cannot be unavailable to our patients. We need reliable phones.
If I had been a new customer, I would have blamed Cingular service for the inability to make and receive calls and for the poor connections when the calls did manage to go through. Because we were existing Cingular customers, we realized the fault lay with the new phones, not the provider's service.
I never realized there was such disparity of reception among the various makes and models of phones nor was I counseled to that effect by any Cingular representative.
We considered simply placing the new SIM cards in our old phones and taking a loss on the new ones. Instead, since we were within the 30-day return period, we decided to exchange the Samsung C417 phones for something else, preferrably Nokia.
My husband talked to two Cingular representatives and I was tranferred through FIVE before we at last learned that the exchange would be as simple as entering the nearest corporate owned Cingular store and making the exchange.
However, we ran into a problem when it was discovered that we had "defaced the manuals" by entering notes in them. Now, we faced a $50.00 restocking fee for cellular telephones that cost us only $59.98 after the rebate! What a rip-off! Just taking the $59.98 loss, tossing the new phones in the landfill (they couldn't even be donated to charity for 911 emergency use since reception was so poor)and using the old phones seemed as good an option. The monetary loss was nearly equal.
No one at the Cingular store had the authority to waive the fee, so we telephoned customer service. We ended up spending over half an hour with one of the most unhelpful and stubborn human beings I have ever encountered.
This woman explained that the manuals cost Cingular $25.00 each and that we must pay for the replacement. This may be Cingular's line, however, it is a outright lie.
In addition to managing my husband's business, I also work in the field of publishing. I am well acquinted with printing and publishing costs. A little paperback manual with low quality newsprint stock, such as those that came with our phones, costs Cingular about 40 cents, at the most!
I requested a waiver of the fee, explaining that we never anticipated the poor reception and the need to exchange the phones. The customer service representative just kept insisting that she could not waive the fee.
I repeatedly told her that I understood she did not have the authority to waive the fee and that I needed to speak to her supervisor or superior. We went around and around on this for over 30 minutes! She just refused to connect me with someone in authority.
At long last I must have worn her down because she put me on with another woman, supposedly her boss. This other woman handled the situation admirably. She didn't back down from her company's policy immediately or easily. However, she was polite, sympathetic and calm the entire time. After listening to our story and discussing the situation with my husband, she compromised and we received satisfaction with the waiver of the fee.
As business owners, we are often forced to write off medical supplies costing thousands of dollars, much more than the cost of a simple poor quality paperback manual. We do this because we understand that customer satisfaction is of utmost importance. A satisfied client will return and will spread the word throughout our community.
This is the difference between small business and large corporation. The individual customer is worthless to a large corporation such as Cingular. Customer service and satisfaction is meaningless to such a large corporate entity. Our patronage means nothing. We are a less than a drop of water in the ocean to Cingular.
Fortunately, there was one person on duty that day, Natasia Quonnesville, who did not have the corporate "big business" mentality. She was someone who understood the importance of "old fashioned" customer service.