Cingular Sued In California For Bad Service, High Termination Fees

Watch out wireless carriers! You’ve made the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in California mad. They’re letting off a little steam by suing Cingular in California for false advertising and unfair business practices. You can probably guess the charges. The false advertising is for advertising a mobile phone that works… and then many customers get home and discover it doesn’t work particularly well. Then, they have very high termination fees, effectively forcing their customers to stick with them. However, it’s not just Cingular they’re going after. They say this is “just the tip of the iceberg”, and they’re planning on going after others as well. Hell hath no fury like consumer activists scorned. While this sounds a bit like grandstanding by this activist group, they do have a point. From the consumers’ point of view, the wireless carriers have been notoriously bad in responding to complaints of bad service. The termination fees make sense for the carriers to try to cut down on churn – but not making exceptions for cases of bad service simply goes too far and turns customers into enemies (the kind of enemies who drool about jumping ship when number portability is allowed).

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Comments on “Cingular Sued In California For Bad Service, High Termination Fees”

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Garland L. says:

cingular suncom merger in Virginia

I recently was a Suncom customer and was switched from Suncom to Cingular. I am not happy with this transition.
I was asked for my drivers license number to verify my information with Cingular. I did not know it at the time but the Customer assoc. was pulling a credit report without asking for my persmission first.
I was told by customer service at Cingular that my plan would be honored as previously under the Suncom Unplan Platnium. I received my two phones via overnite delivery on Saturday from Cingular. I did not receive my wireless agreement until the Tues of the following week.
I called Cingular to verify that I was keeping all the benefits of the Suncom Unplan to Cingular.
Here is what I was told. That Cingular was not going to honor the 300 anytime minutes for roaming that Suncom had in my plan.
I never received a map for the Unplan coverage now under Cingular. I was told it was the same as Suncom. I went in the store today, 6-5-2005 and spoke with an associate and learned that as Cingular builds new towers to improve reception in my area that I will be paying a roaming fee of .79 per minute even though the former Suncom Unplan included the entire states of Virginia and South Carolina and the outer skirts of Tennessee and Georgia. I asked the assoc. how they could do this and she said because it is a new tower and not a Suncom that it would not be in the Unplan area.

I am posting this to see if anyone else in this Cingular/Suncom merger has had to deal with this?

I have downloaded a complaint from for the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs and am the process of filing a complaint. As of June 2nd 2005 Cingular has 11 complaints on file for things such as double billing to unstable network. The only way we are going to make an impact on this matter is to let our voices be heard across the internet.

I would appreciate if anyone else has had similar experiences to please email me at

Dale P. says:

Cingular not fulfilling AT&T contracts

A week or 2 before AT&T was baught out by cingular I was contacted by an AT&T rep asking if I wanted to renew my current plan and hat if I did I would receive 200 binus anytime minutes. I explained that the phones that my wife and I had were about 2 years old and that for me to agree to any contract it would have to include new phones at the same prices new customers get them. He explained that any AT&T customer with a phone over 9 months old could take it in and get it replaced at new customer prices. So I agreed to the 1 year contract. Several months later my phone finally died so I called up customer service and was greeted by a Cingular rep. I explained the situation and asked how I could get a replacement phone. I was told their were NO AT&T phones available at all and that the only way to get a new phone would be to sign a new 2 year contract with Cingular. I explained I already had a contract that included new phones. I talked to many Cingular reps including supervisors and no one could fulfill my contract, they all said the only thing I could do was sign up for a new 2 year contract, and most of them were rude about it. So I switched to T-Mobile and now Cingular sends me a $500 bill for breach of contract for a contract they could not fulfill. Is this legal?

Jeff W. says:

Do not upgrade or combine into Family plan

Two month ago I combined my service with my wife to family plan.
Cingular charged us prorated minutes on the billing cycle that we already paid the fees. they also counted the minutes from 3/16/05 to 3/22/05 twice on one phone.
When I talked to the customer service people. they keep having excuses on computer problem. and always said a manager will call us back. but never did.

we are being charged in excess of at least $1300 in un reasonable charges.

If anyone wants to upgrade and merge services, please think before you do it. says:

whats the correct policy?

in addition to many other problems ive had with cingular i recieved a motorola v220 handset when i signed up with them. from day one i had the same problem….screen would go blank in the middle of about every 5th call and would have to reboot. returned the 1st phone and recieved a new v220. second phone…..same problem. girlfriends v220 same problem. she returns her 1st and gets a 2nd with the same problem. my second gets returned along with her second…..guess what 3rd phone for each same problem!!!! now that 6 of the same phone in 9 months….i was informed by a gentleman at the cingular store that this was covered by a lemon law act in the N.Y. state area does anyone know because when i called cingular the wouldnt do anything for me besides call in an insurance claim and pay $50 to get a 4th v220 with the same problem…..

ps if you are having this same problem call motorola directly…..they are a good company and actually help their customers….they are replacing my v220 with a v551 at no cost for my troubles…
did you know that the v220 was actually subcontracted out by motorola to another company and they used not to par materials? atleast thats what i was informed of by a motorola customer resolution center supervisor
their number is 1-866-289-6686.

Roger says:

Bait & Switch on a Massive Scale

Two years ago, I had to pay an early cancellation fee when I moved from Cingular to ATT. When the two companies merged I asked for it back. 🙂 Fat chance. This new company claims ATT or Cingular as it identity as it suits them.

A year ago, I took a consulting job that put me on the road most of the time. I needed a wireless internet connection that would go with me. It was important enough to make me willing to pay ATT eighty bucks per month. But I didn?t know how long I would need it. I agreed to the two year contract based on the promise that if I suddenly no longer needed it, I could convert it to a cheap voice service for about twenty bucks per month. Today, I walked into the ATT office, turned Cingular office and tried to do just that. Fat chance!

Instead, the only thing I was offered was a new two year contract with Cingular, or pay an early cancellation fee. After a heated conversation with the rep, I walked out, vowing to look on the internet to see if there are any outstanding class-action lawsuits about this.

What I found in the first Google was a litany of complaints over Cingular pressuring the ATT customers they purchased into converting to new Cingular contracts over a wide variety of issues.

Cingular has pulled the rug out from under its ATT customers, reneging on the ATT obligations to their customers. Yet, the customers are still obliged to adhere to their part in the contract for its full duration, or face early cancellation fees. UNLESS, of course they convert to a brand new long term contract with Cingular.

The bottom line is that Cingular thinks that in this merger, they can have the full benefits of the customer?s contracts with ATT without any of the obligation that was offered when those contracts were made.

If Cingular is not willing to bear the obligation of service to these customers, then Cingular/ATT should admit that those contracts are null and those customers free to cancel at any time without being billed any kind of early cancellation fee.

I finally got an actual ATT rep on the phone and asked to cancel my service. When the rep mentioned the early cancellation fee, I said, please have it indicated on my bill because I?m taking that bill into court with me because you, ATT have reneged on your part of our agreement. With that, the rep asked what I had been promised and said it could be done.

heather says:

1448.00 bill 11/2004

In Nov of 04 I received a bill for 1448.00 and about had a heart attach. I had been a customer of Cingular for about 3 years and my highest bill was 130.00. I called and wrote the presidents office, and to my suprise I received a call from his secretary telling me that they reveiwed my bill and could not help me with any answers or credit to my account. I know for a fact I do not talk that much.THAT IS MORE THAN MY HOUSE AND CAR. I went ahead and paid so it wouldnt be charged off to my credit. I was hoping that maybe there would be others and I see there are. WHAT CAN WE DO??????

SR says:

Cingular CROOKS

I bought 2 Cingular Wireless cell phones from Best Buy in NOV 2005 at Best Buy. I activated the phones and found the phones did not work at my residence due to poor signal. I returned the
phones to Best Buy in a couple of days. Now, cingular is claiming that I never returned the phones and wants to charge me
$488.77 and has sent it to collection agency.

I assume Cingular cells thousands of phones (not for very long if they continue this proactice…) through Best Buy. They have no proper procedures in place for returned phones and it becomes the responsibility of the customer to prove that he/she has returned the phone. They treat (ex-)customers like criminals in doubting if the phones were returned.

I have returned every call they made and still they sent it to the collection agency!

I will NEVER buy anything from Cingular even if they pay me to do it.


why this happens says:

why this happens

if you dont want to pay a cancellation fee then dont buy the phone for a reduced price stop being greedy and thinking you deserve a free phone if you buy the phone what is called the no commitment price you can get the phone unlocked and do not have a contract so you dont have a cancellation fee be a smart consumer and think before you sign something

You Idiots says:


First and foremost I have read all of the above statements and I have to laugh.

1. When you sign a service agreement it clearly states you have a 30 day trial period.
Along with that YOU sign or accept the terms and conditions, which include changes by Cingular for service and coverage at anytime.

2. There is no such thing as a 300.00 cancellation fee. It is $10.00 for each month you have left on contract for a 2 year and 20.00 for each month on a 1 year. Recently Cingular has changed it two a flat 175 term fee, which is lower than most companies.

3. So for all you idiots who say it is your business phone, why do you have the lowest model phone or only one phone!! If you are super important you would have 2 a back up. You shouldnt rely on a mobile phone to do your million dollars worth of business.

4. Keep in mind it is a mobile phone, dropped calls happen!

5. There are better ways to handle things, go into the store, dont act like a moron! Talk to a manager that could put you in touch with a field engineer to look into your problem area.

6. Keep up with your paperwork! This is the best one! Dont go into the store unless you have a way to back up what you say. And when the rep says, so where are you having poor service, dont say everywhere! They can look at your usage and see that is not true, and when you leave they will talk about you and call you an IDIOT!!!

Cingular Rep says:


All of you people on her are retard. Get a life. I have worked for cingular for 3yrs and all i have to say to the cingular rep that made comment 22. you should be fired. You suck big time get another job cingular doesnt want you any way . My co-workers and i love our jobs Cinglar is a great company to work for. Maybe we do have some problems with our network. It is a MOBLIE phone its not going to be perfect. All cell phone companys have poor service as well at times.

CW EX says:

Cingular is going away SOON!!!

Yes the Cingular name will go away and be replaced with a new AT&T name (perhaps AT&T or AT&T Mobility). Unfortunately it will be the same Cingular poor service. AT&T Wireless was a very good company until Cingular bought it. They screwed over the old AT&T customers by letting the system degrade, forcing customers coming off contracts to either leave or buy a new phone, pay $18 migration, sign a contract on a more expensive plan and buy a $2 sim for $18. Cingular even screwed the AT&T Wireless employees by trying to force them to buy new Cingular phones. Cingular is a poorly run company which is getting sued throughout the country and losing market to Verizon . . . . .

Judai Burton says:

Cingular Service

2 tin cans and a string would provide better service and reception than Cingular does for zero the price. The friends that I have that use Cingular Service do NOT have service. I can never reach them. They are not aware that they have missed a call, even though the phone is with them, and find out hours later that that missed a call. If I leave a message it is hours or until the next day that the message even shows up on their cellular phone. My one friend was not going to renew the contract with Cingular but was lied to and told that many new towers were now installed with more to come and her service was going to be vastly better. Unfortunately for her she signed a new contract and still has barely no service. Even when she tries to use the cell phone to call people she is barely able to have good quality phone calls or has to go to certain locations in order to make a call. I thing Cingular should suffer the penalty for lying to their customers and suffer the consequence. I would imagine that their own employees do not use Cingular, at least the intelligent ones!

Dave says:

Tell Everyone About Cingular's Terrible Practices

All I want to say is that if you’ve been taken for a joy ride by Cingular, make sure that at the very least you tell everyone and anyone you talk to about the horrific business practices of Cingular. I have had more problems than I could ever write in this forum, and I have also been in contact with my attorney. All I ever wanted was for my phone to work properly. I don’t believe for a second that anyone contributing to this forum would disagree that a cell phone will occassionally drop a call or go out of reception. But what’s going on here with Cingular is ridiculous. Never have I had a cell phone work so horrible in my life!!
At least tell others so that no one else has to deal with this as we do.

Ashley Beauchamp says:

Down with Cingular!

I honestly thought I was the only one having billing problems with Cingular. After reading these comments I’ve noticed the same pattern. On one particular occasion I was billed twice on the same phone in a family plan, I had to stay on the phone for 1 hour and 14 minutes trying to fix it the extremly noticable problem. After that gruesome process, the idiots on the other end FINALLY realized the mistake they made and I recieved a credit. This wasn’t the first timeoverbilling has to me with them and I’m sure it won’t be the last. They also changed the “nights start at 7pm feature” on my plan without my knowledge twice. All I can advise consumers is to either avoid Cingular service, but if you are stuck in a contract read EVERY SINGLE BILL LINE FOR LINE, until your contract is up and then ditch them.

john best says:

Cinguloar bills even if you don't do business

I have never done business with Cingular, I have never had a Cingular phone or an account yet they managed to get my credit card number and charged my card. I got it stopped by by credit card company and after 6 calls to Cingular customer service finally got a refund. I’m still getting billed and when I call customer service they say I don’t have an account and don’t owe them anything but I got a call form a collection agency. This company is pathetic.

adrienne says:

ruining my credit-help!

I had paid off my $450 bill and disconnected this line from my other account 4 years ago in april2002, and i got a bill from a collection agency saying i now owe 700 dollars and that its been reported to a credit reporting agency—they wont do any account research for my account what can i do to protect my credit, i’ve already diputed the what?

Christine says:

Screwed out of $500 credit

I had two go phones for my sons that we convertered over to contract phones. At that time we had just over a $500 credit on those accounts which was to be switched over to my post paid accounts (which has 5 phones on it). Three months, 35 phones calls and 17-18 hours of my time later I’ve been told that I’m basically screwed. They all told me “we’ll research that and get back to you within 3-5 days.

I’ve never recieved a call. Not one. In order for them to realize the seriousness of the matter I stopped paying my main account bill. My phones are now set to be shut off.

If I cannot get this resolved with them I will let the phones be disconnected and I’ll file a lawsuit and get another company to do business with that does care about my business.

Julie L. Gomez says:

promising one thing and doing another

I am one of those who was transferred from ATT, when Cingular took over, my experience since then is horrible. I have been fighting ever since. Today, I have relocated to Texas from California and I’m experience nothing but headaches….I’d like to know what can we do as a group to make sure this doesn’t happen to others

sam donahue says:

cingular billing unfair no customer care

I was a former AT @T customer I would advise anyone to not get involved with cingular they rush to turn you into collection as a fear tatic for collecting fees that are not correct nor resonable they do not try to resolve any issues calling them is like talking to a wall if i ran my buss like they are runing this one i would soon not have one i cannot wait to no longer have anything to do with them i to am looking for a class action lawsuit to join do not do buss with them run save yourself a lot of trouble bad bussiness

Heather Hickey says:

Cingular & SunCom

I was a former Suncom customer until they merged with Cingular. I never received any info on this merger. Luckily I logged into my account to pay my bill and noticed that in 2 days my phone would be cut off if i didnt switch to Cingular. So, thats what i did. I have been receiving collection notices for two years from suncom for early termination. i refuse to pay it since i didnt have a choice. now cingular has added that to my bill and i have a 1500 dollar phone bill. i called to set up a payment plan, which they were fine with. im thinking about switching to another carrier and just making payments on this bill until my contract is up. i will never use cingular again!!!

SA says:

Same Bahamas international roaming issue as Cather

I have *exactly* the same issue as Catherine has: Cingular representatives (5 different ones…) told me that there would be no charges whatsoever for calls originating in the US to the other line in the Bahamas.

Turned out not to be true. Cingular is claiming that no one said that, despite me having a recorded phone conversation with a customer care representative (one of the five from above).

The bill is in the amount of $7,000, of which Cingular only wants to credit 50%. In the mean time of course they have suspended service and now even refuse to allow the number to be ported back to T-Mobile (despite clear FCC guidelines against those practices).

Catherine, if you are interested in contacting me, please use webcomments at

Gary Lester says:

Cingular over billed me and here is how they did it.
My plan was 500 anytime minutes with free nights and weekends as well as free Cingular to Cingular.
They applied my 500 anytime minutes to all calls made at the beginning of the billing cycle regardless of if they were made during the free times or conditions.
Subsequently this resulted in my being charged the high per minute rate towards the end of the billing cycle because they claimed I exceed the limit of the plan.
Almost a year into service with them my phone was constantly being shut off and I was told I owed ever increasing amounts. They claimed I was over $400 dollars in arrears.
Finally I sat down one day and went through the last year of statements and discovered what had happened.
To their credit they did give me the next 7 months for free.
After that I switched carriers.
People should be aware that the catalyst for this kind of ongoing rip off is a complicated statement/billing called estimated charges.
After recently signing up for AT&T(formerly Cingular) cable and internet I notice the same type of thing happening.
Every month I go online to pay my bill and notice that it says ‘current charges’
and ‘amount to be payed’.
The second being the amount expected and the first being a number more than double that.
For the life of me I couldn’t figure that out till I meticulously wrote down each payment, went over each of the six months I have been using the service.
Finally I realized that there is a $129.00 charge notation on the very day my service was installed as well as the expected charge of $129.00 I payed the first month after service began.
But… and here is the thing. I was told $129.00 would be the cost of installation and first month of service. As it was and I paid.
But it four months later that suddenly that additional $129.00 noted the day my service was installed started appearing on my account statement as ‘current charges’.
Only it isn’t.
Because after several more hours of my time I discover what it actually is is something they call ‘estimated charges’.
Sound complicated?
I think so.
Wonder if any other consumers are confused by this system. Wonder even more what is the purpose of this system.
Actually correct that. I really don’t wonder.
Thats my story.

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