DISCUSSION: Is Cingular really THAT bad?

cingular.gifI was watching Geekbrief today, as I often do, and I heard something surprising…self confessed Mac Addict, and Geekbrief host, Cali Lewis said that she probably wasn’t going to get an iPhone because of Cingular.

That wasn’t the first time I’ve heard it…and I KNOW it won’t be the last…but I have to say that I’m surprised by it.

Now, I’m not talking about the fact that Verizon and Sprint have faster broadband…we all know that…but as far as customer service and rate plans go, I don’t think Cingular is THAT bad.

I’ve been a Cingular customer for 4+ years now. I started with Cingular because most of my family lives in a small Central Texas town, and Cingular was the first one to get there, so that’s what I picked…but I’ve had really good service with Cingular over the years. My phone never drops a call, and I have never once had any overages on my bill…mainly because of rollover and mobile to mobile minutes.

Recently, I renewed the contract of one of my family’s lines and we got a new phone. I was very happy with it…then it got wet…and it died…two months after I locked myself into a new two-year contract. I called to tell them about it, and they told me that it wasn’t covered under warranty because I got it wet (dropped in the yard and the sprinklers got it over-night)…but they still worked with me, and end up giving me a free LG camera phone that we’ve been happy with without even extending my contract. I have to say that I’ve been pleased with my service.

Now people that are unhappy with services almost always speak up loud and clear, but people that are happy with their service are usually pretty quiet…so, I’m asking you, dear reader, to share your stories both good, and bad, with me.

Does Cingular really suck SO bad that it makes the iPhone not worth it? If so, please explain to me why…my Cingular contract is up in Feb. and I’m planning on riding it out with them until the iPhone comes out…but if it’s REALLY THAT BAD I want to know before I lock into 2 more years…

Comments

  1. *I* never thought they were that bad.

    Then again they have been grandfathering me an AWESOME plan for a long, long time.

    They tend to be a bit more expensive than, say, a T-Mobile, but their coverage and overall signal quality seems to be a bit better.

    Just about everyone I know though seems to like Verizon the best – although it is certainly the most expensive under most circumstances.

  2. Never had a problem with AT&T/Cingular/(and soon to be AT&T again) in 5+ years. I’m wondering what all the fuss is about.

  3. I had Cingular for about a year and a half but broke the contract for VerizonWireless which has better wireless coverage (I could rarely use the phone from inside my home or while traveling through Kansas and the southwestern US) and better customer service. I have been with Verizon for over 4 and a half years with no regrets. I love Apple products, and the iPhone appears to be phenomenal, but I will not switch to Cingular no matter how great the iPhone may be.

  4. To nut shell it. Cingular Sucks, Verizon is the Devil, and AT&T is your worst Nightmare. If I had to choose one of them, I’d take Cingular. Since they are going away, I would just do without. Most people don’t care, check their bill, or anything else. Most people would have bought another phone, where as you were given one. The target audience for the iPhone will have penty of Takers. No worries on sales of iPhones. These are the people that buy a new phone every year. That, is the real question. How is Apple going to handle the people that want a new iPhone next year when Apple comes out with a new one? Hmmm. Maybe Steve will answer that one tomorrow.

  5. My family and I have been with Cingular/AT&T (first AT&T and then Cingular when AT&T wireless got bought out) for well over five years now and have never had a problem. Aside from minor issues about what kind of deal we could get on phones when it was time to renew (my brother and I are pretty picky about phones), I have never had a dropped call or any other problems. All wireless carriers have bad coverage in the same places where I live, so coverage is not an issue. I don’t llove Cingular, but I have never had a reason to go with anyone else.

  6. The point is, echoing some of the other posters, cellular service providers are a consumer’s worst nightmare, a living, incorporated spawn of Satan from which there is almost no escape.

    That aside, I feel Apple has the brand power, as well as His Steveness (it’s a known fact that Steve gets his way, and gets things done right) to bend Cingular a bit and make the iPhone a much better experience. Obviously, a contract cant be sideswiped, and the only way you get an iPhone is to signup with Cingular. The trade off of course is Visual Voicemail, along with other enhancements that rely on Cingular’s network. What is fully dependant on Cingular remains to be seen. However, again, Apple has power, and Steve is not going to let Cingular one-up his vision.
    In a small but important matter, think of this: the iPhone wont feature Cingular’s logo on the device, unlike practicaly every other phone bought under a service provider out there. EDGE wont be required for complete net usage – if you are in a WiFi zone, no EDGE needed. Cingular could have pushed for EDGE only but would have obviously lost. Apple designed the Software, Cingular doesn’t touch it aside from collaboration on technology (is it just me, or does every phone today seem to have a HORRIBLE menu system and GUI?).

    To sum up, Apple has the power to keep Cingular from taking the reigns. Think of it in another way: the iPhone is extremely hyped. No matter what the FUD spreaders say, or any small drawbacks found, the iPhone will sell. Cingular knows this – the blogosphere and internets have already done most of the marketing for them. And with an exclusive contract with Apple, Cingular has the iPhone to themselves for a while.

    Cingular isn’t going to mind Apple holding the power, and Apple knows Cingular can’t do shit about it – Cingular wants the iPhone business badly, and Apple knows it.

    I have faith that Apple won’t let down and will protect its brand name. I’d much rather have the phone unlocked, but it isn’t going to happen, and having to use any provider to get an iPhone is a small drawback. Cingular is no big deal to me.

  7. I’m not in the US so I can’t comment on Cingular myself, but I will chip in with the thought; if anyone’s going to say anything about Cingular, almost all of it will be negative. People with good things to say about a product or service, usually don’t bother to speak about them.

  8. @Aga;

    What do you mean “How is Apple going to handle the people that want a new iPhone next year…?”

    They’ll be handled just like any other customer that goes to their carrier and wants to buy a new phone. If you are buying a phone, unsubsidized, they’ll happily deactivate your old one and activate the new one. If you buy at full price no extension to your contract is usually required. It is usually only with a new, subsidized phone (advertised at $49.95 with a new contract, for instance) that a contract extension is required. However, since buying the iPhone carries with it a two year contract with Cingular/ATT, that may or may not be true at the end of the multi-year contract Apple and Cingular now have.

    There is some speculation that the iPhone is a full price, unsubsidized phone; that Cingular/ATT is not subsidizing the price. Even so, as I noted, buying the iPhone in the US does come with a two year contract with Cingular/ATT. However, since the Apple/Cingular/ATT contract is for two years, I would expect that by that time, more models of iPHone, tied to other carriers, may be out, so you may have choices.

  9. I have positive experiences with AT&T/Cingular for at least the last 5 years. Never a dropped call, seldom a device or billing issue. I can only remember one poor customer service incident. Typically, I have experienced friendly and professional service.
    For me, I will get the iPhone when it comes out, and what ever plan is offered as long as I’m allowed to renegotiate my current contract that extends to November.

  10. While I’ve had my issues with cingular, I really feel that out of the cell providers I’ve had, they are the best, and I will have no hesitation extending my contract to the the Jesus Phone.

  11. I’ve had to exchange 3 different phones after they broke or stopped working for various reasons, and I have never had a problem with Cingular. They always have been very quick in getting my new phone to me and make the exchange process very smooth. The only problem I have ever had, service-wise, have been lack of signal inside my house, but that has always been fixed when I get a new, better phone.

  12. I live in New Zealand so Cingular’s out for me anyway and apparently the phone’s not available until 2008 although something tells me we could piggyback off Europe after all the only GSM provider in New Zealand is Vodafone and they’re a European company anyway.

    Seeing as the iPhone is GSM it makes sense Vodafone will be the provider of the new phone. Of course I’m holding out for the end of year anyway because the current US phone sucks thanks to lack of 3G.

    Ironically when I joined Vodafone it was actually BellSouth who got bought out by Vodafone in New Zealand.

    Never had a problem with Vodafone but my god I hope Apple doesn’t give Telecom a look in because if you want pure evil Satanic spawn then that company is it.

  13. I’ve had Sprint- horrible signal in many Dallas locations, but worst at my home. Since switching to Cingular, absolutely no problems with signal and only a couple dropped calls in two years of constant use. Phone choices always a little lacking (to be ended with iPhone!), and as with most carriers, not the greatest deals, and that damnable two year contract with little reward but a slight price break on a new phone…provided you sign up for another two years! (When are carriers going to start rewarding loyal customers in addition to wooing prospective new ones!?).

    Best part of Cingular is rollover minutes. If you can bank a little each month in the beginning, this quickly turns into never having to worry about minute rates again. In two years with an 850 minute family plan, I have never paid for an extra minute. Rollover minutes never expire. My balance: over 3400 minutes and counting.

  14. I always had problems with AT&T/Cingular worst cell phone service I’ve ever had (dropped calls, insane fees)! I switched back to Verizon after the contract ended and have been getting great service ever since.

    I would love to get the iPhone, but sadly Verizon and Apple had a few disagreements over it and, thus, Apple turned to AT&T/Cingular. Apple’s first choice was Verizon, too bad they didn’t work out…then I’d be using the iPhone at this very moment.

  15. ATT rules, fewest dropped calls, largest network, I do the web on my little siemens phone and it’s fast so I can’t imagine iphone not being.

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