Cingular is punishing their customers

Comments

Cingular logoAs BlackBerry users, on the (mostly) cutting edge of technology, this post might seem a little strange (especially since our BlackBerry data charges over the years have most likely numbed us to all but the largest monthly bills). However, there are some out there who don’t want the newest and best technology because what they have works perfectly fine for them. A report from Cellular-News has shown us that Cingular Wireless is trying to punish their customers who are like this.

Cingular has announced that about 4.7 million of their subscribers with older phones will have to pay 5 USD extra each month as the company tries to prod them to get new handsets so it can devote its entire network to one type of signal. Right now 92% of its 57.3 million customers use phones based on GSM, but that still leaves a significant portion who are using analog (can you believe it?) or TDMA devices.

Although Cingular is required by the Federal Communications Commission to keep providing analog service until early 2008 so long as it still has customers with those phones, Cingular is complaining that having to carry three different kinds of wireless signals leaves them less room to connect calls and provide data services for their much larger audience of GSM customers. The new fee will generate $23.5 million a month for Cingular.

In a statement, Cingular stressed that, “the per-customer cost of using that network is increasing considerably. That’s why we made a decision to impose this charge. Customers can avoid the charge by switching to our GSM network and equipment. The combination of coverage, service quality, devices, and advanced features on GSM is superior to TDMA.”

But what Cingular doesn’t get is that these people are obviously fine with the service they have now, and don’t really want to change; the promise of advanced features doesn’t hold the same allure. By punishing their customers for using a service that Cingular is required by law to provide until 2008, Cingular is acting in a fairly despicable manner. I wonder if they’ll also charge these customers activation fees for their new service when they finally do decide to switch.

It’s sad that Cingular will most likely be able to hide this behavior under the guise of trying to unify and improve their network, when all they’re doing is screwing over 4.7 million of their customers. What’s even potentially worse is the fact that these 4.7 million are probably happy with what they have, and that’s not a bad thing. Hell, BlackBerry Cool knows of a couple of Rogers sales reps who still use the old BlackBerry 950, because it does everything they need it to do. And when you read an article at Engadget that shows an Apple Newton outperforming a brand new tablet PC, you know that newer doesn’t mean better. Perhaps a slightly new concept for loyal BlackBerry Cool readers to relate to, but a valid one nonetheless.

What a shame.

  • T.A.

    I maintain a spare TDMA/Analog Nokia phone with Cingular because the areas I travel in (rural) have excellent TDMA coverage. I even keep an old analog “bag” phone (no service) in the car to call 911.

    Oh well, that’s $60 less a month going to Cingular…

  • T.A.

    I maintain a spare TDMA/Analog Nokia phone with Cingular because the areas I travel in (rural) have excellent TDMA coverage. I even keep an old analog “bag” phone (no service) in the car to call 911.

    Oh well, that’s $60 less a month going to Cingular…

  • http://www.gunmecha.us/ Jamison Banks

    Let’s get something correct here. Cingular is not fining customers simply because ‘they’re using old equipment’. When’s the last time a carrier did that, eh?

    What’s going on is the FCC is mandating 95% of all subscribers on each cell carrier be E911 compatible – meaning the cell phones can be tracked within 100 yards. This mandate has been pushed since at LEAST 1996, and it keeps getting pushed back.

    The curent mandate is coming up, and only Verizon has announced they will be meeting it (and even then they’re still going to be late and subject to the fines like everyone other carrier)

    Why is it taking so long? Because the solution has to be done, from scratch, on either the handset side or the network side. The network solution isn’t a good one, because it’s not nearly as accurate or reliable. It’s also more expensive.

    The handset side is more accurate and cheaper, but Cingular can’t exactly turn off everyone’s non-compat handset (you’d hear some REAL yelling then, and for good reason)

    So, Cingular is taking the middle route – they’re passing the cost of the fine on to their customers. Who are also voters who can yell at their congressman to do something about the FCC.

    This isn’t something that’s going to be put in place overnight without a HEAVY cost. If the voters and politicians, who pushed for this for the past decade, want to fine the carriers, well the carriers have the right to pass along the cost to the consumer.

    Dispicable or not, this is about more than fining customers for simply having ‘older’ handsets.

  • http://www.gunmecha.us Jamison Banks

    Let’s get something correct here. Cingular is not fining customers simply because ‘they’re using old equipment’. When’s the last time a carrier did that, eh?

    What’s going on is the FCC is mandating 95% of all subscribers on each cell carrier be E911 compatible – meaning the cell phones can be tracked within 100 yards. This mandate has been pushed since at LEAST 1996, and it keeps getting pushed back.

    The curent mandate is coming up, and only Verizon has announced they will be meeting it (and even then they’re still going to be late and subject to the fines like everyone other carrier)

    Why is it taking so long? Because the solution has to be done, from scratch, on either the handset side or the network side. The network solution isn’t a good one, because it’s not nearly as accurate or reliable. It’s also more expensive.

    The handset side is more accurate and cheaper, but Cingular can’t exactly turn off everyone’s non-compat handset (you’d hear some REAL yelling then, and for good reason)

    So, Cingular is taking the middle route – they’re passing the cost of the fine on to their customers. Who are also voters who can yell at their congressman to do something about the FCC.

    This isn’t something that’s going to be put in place overnight without a HEAVY cost. If the voters and politicians, who pushed for this for the past decade, want to fine the carriers, well the carriers have the right to pass along the cost to the consumer.

    Dispicable or not, this is about more than fining customers for simply having ‘older’ handsets.