I’ve blogged my experiences with AT&T Wireless before, both the good and the truly bad. A while back Cingular acquired AT&T Wireless, and apparently, also acquired AT&T Wireless incompetence, as demonstrated by the following …
Two of my family members have AT&T Wireless phones on a shared family account. Or rather, they did. Back in December I migrated both of those accounts over to Cingular, which of course required new phones and new SIM cards. The migration did not go smoothly, initial programming was incorrect and it took a few calls to Cingular to get things like text messaging working. But eventually all was good, with one notable problem – the voicemail indicator would not show up on either of the new phones (LG C2000).
So I called Cingular, and was told that there was indeed another programming problem, and that it had been fixed. They also asked for the two IMEI numbers and said that those had not been programmed into the account – that makes absolutely no sense to me as you can switch GSM SIM cards between phones without ever having to notify the carrier of the equipment used. Still, I went along with it. But no, that did not fix the problem.
Another call to Cingular, a long call while I was made to try all sorts of settings and options, and put on hold repeatedly. This was followed by additional calls, until eventually I was told that I had been given the wrong SIM cards for the new phones, and that replacement SIM cards would be sent out.
A week later I installed the new SIM cards and called Cingular to have them activate them. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Still no voice mail indicator, and still more calls needed to Cingular.
Finally a breakthrough, today I spoke to yet another representative who (after putting me on hold repeatedly) came back with some research. Apparently ,there is a known problem with a batch of these phones essentially making them incompatible with Cingular SIM cards. This problem has supposedly been addressed by the manufacturer, and exchanging the phones for newer versions thus solves the problem.
But, my local Cingular store won’t exchange the phones as it is now well past 30 days since I bought them. So I was given an 800 number to the Cingular exchange department to do an exchange by mail.
The guy who answered the phone at the exchange department made me repeat the entire story in detail, even though he should have had all the records in front of him. He put me on hold (several times) and then came back and started asking me to check settings and configuration options (stuff I had done over a month ago!). I refused, and back on hold I went. Then he came back and said that I was mistaken, that the phones were fine but that I needed new SIM cards, and that my local Cingular store would have them!
Fortunately for him I lost the connection, and had to call back. The next rep I spoke to (a couple of hours ago) made me explain the whole story again. She then started asking “was the phone dropped?” and “is there any condensation in the screen?” and “has it been exposed to extreme hot or cold?” and my favorite one “check the battery connections, do any of them look bent?”, and so on. Huh? The phone works! It turns of and off, it makes and receives calls, it sends and receives text messages! Condensation? Temperature? Battery connections?
I tried to explain the futility of the questions being asked, but no go – I assume she had to work through her script, as irrelevant as it was. And then she put me back on hold, and came back to tell me that this was a known problem with the phone, and that it needed to be exchanged. Really? No way! I guess it’s a good thing that I called the exchange line, huh?
So, apparently two replacement phones are on their way. Whether or not they’ll fix the problem is anyone’s guess. I’ll post a follow-up when they arrive.
For now, Cingular definitely takes the lead in the incompetence race!