As 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.