Mobile Network Dispute Reaches The Nyah-Nyah-Nyah Stage

from the so-very-mature dept

If you recall, earlier this summer, Cingular and Sprint got into a bit of a spat over how each could describe their own network. All of the mobile operators like to come up with some twisted way of claiming that their network, and only their network, is "the best." Of course, they each use slightly different definitions to make sure they come out on top -- which is why no one believes them. When you have every company claiming to be the best, it's pretty clear that they're all pretty much full of it. In fact, it really only highlights just how many problems all of these networks have that they want to argue over whose is just slightly better. The fight between Cingular and Sprint (the others have wisely stayed out of it) reached ridiculous levels when Cingular took Sprint to court over the matter. It seems the Better Business Bureau had ruled on the issue, but the companies weren't allowed to talk about it publicly. So, Cingular went to court solely for the purpose of getting the BBB decision made public (yeah, that's mature). Eventually, the details came out and explained the fine line of what Cingular could and could not say about its network. So, is it any surprise that the two companies are right back at it? Apparently they're taking out full page newspaper ads that don't focus on the actual benefits to consumers, but on why the other company sucks. It's a pretty clear sign when competitors start trying to steal market share from each other, rather than grow the market, that they're not seeing the sort of market growth they were used to in the past. That's not a surprise, given the level of mobile phone penetration these days in the US. But, still, it seems like they could focus on more creative opportunities than sticking their tongues out at each other and tossing insults across newspapers.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2006 @ 11:09am

    Why not? It works in politics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sean, 11 Sep 2006 @ 11:31am

      Re:

      "Why not? It works in politics."

      Isn't that one of the largest problems in our society? Next to the media they blowing every little thing up into an epidemic. We need to go back to only having the morning news and evening. No more ~24hr news networks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael Vilain, 11 Sep 2006 @ 11:27am

    Re: First installed in the area == best service?

    Back when AT&T (now Cingular) and Verizon were setting up their networks, they were the first to setup towers in my area, so they have the "best service" for me. When AT&T transitioned to Cingular and they turned off those towers, service went to crap. There was nothing Cingular was offering to retain those customers. In fact, both of the Cingular offices were rather snotty about it.

    So, I switched to Verizon. Good coverage in the area with fewer drop outs. Good service after my phone's hinge cracked after 13 months. They replaced it for $50.

    The CellCos may be quibbling about the coverage (Sprint's is swiss cheese in our area as they and Metro and Nextel were late in the game setting up towers). But, for me, it really comes down service and the least restrictive contracts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Howard Lee Harkness, 11 Sep 2006 @ 11:38am

    When I ask real users...

    A couple of months ago, I was with a group of friends, when the topic of conversation came around to comparing mobile phone services. Funny, but about the best thing anybody would say about their mobile phone provider was that it didn't suck quite as bad as some other provider that s/he used to be stuck with. *Nobody* had a ringing endorsement for their provider.

    Truth in advertising: "We don't suck quite as bad as ".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Yo ho ho..., 11 Sep 2006 @ 1:10pm

      Re: When I ask real users...

      Now I am not one to defend the carriers.... believe me, I hate all of them. BUT, here is something to ponder:

      10 years ago, (yes just a short 10 years ago), you could barely get coverage out of your home area -- and if you could, it cost you $1.99 per MINUTE of talk time. And, less than 10% of the population actually could afford a cell phone.

      Now, 10 years later, almost everybody and their kids have a cell-phone. (hell, even homeless people here in Chicago have their own phones). And we have all adjusted so quickly to this technology that we actually expect to be able to turn on our phones almost ANYWHERE in the world and be reachable with the same phone (and number) we use at home. Wow, how quickly things change... and yet, we keep raising our expectations faster than tech can deliver.

      Of course none of this changes the fact that the carriers are underinvesting in their networks and overinvesting in marketing. The reality is that the biggest cost to carriers is the "churn" factor where they lose subscribers to a competitor. Every customer is usually subsidized when they initially sign up for a contract, (i.e. giving the new sub a phone for $49 that cost the carrier up to $200 wholesale from Motorola). In order to reduce this churn, carriers have added data capabilities to their networks which nobody really wants -- ALL WE WANT IS A DECENT NETWORK THAT LETS US MAKE PHONE CALLS!

      PS -- Sprint sucks!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    chris (profile), 11 Sep 2006 @ 12:04pm

    funny that this was settled by the BBB

    since the BBB website used to have a special section for you to bitch about mobile carriers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 11 Sep 2006 @ 1:37pm

    Coverage area?

    What angers me the most is that while those two are whinning over who is better there are lots of people stuck out there with bad service or only one choice of carrier. I only have one carrier to chose from (US Cellular) and its not nice. And I am so sick of going to different carriers shop, they ask where I live and I say, "you guys arent out there", and they almost robotically say, "Oh we're making plans to move out there." It would seem to me that trying to get your service out to as many customers as possible would be the main goal. What's the point of seeing 10 Spirint commercials an hour if I can't sign up?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2006 @ 1:53pm

      Re: Coverage area?

      "t would seem to me that trying to get your service out to as many customers as possible would be the main goal"

      Which is exactly why providers build first in urban areas, then along interstates, then in rural areas.

      If you were a company wouldn't you invest first where you would make your money back?
      Or to put it a better way, if the companies invested in more areas that were less populated, they would have to charge so much we would still be paying $1.99 a minute.

      As far as them making plans to build in your area, that's true. It makes sense, but you choose to live in an area like that so you take the trade off. If it bothers you that much, have some self responsibility and don't blame the company. I know how you feel. I was raised in SE Kentucky and they get everything there last. Guess what? I moved.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Sanguine Dream, 12 Sep 2006 @ 5:20am

        Re: Re: Coverage area?

        And guess what? Im unable to move at this point in my life. And frankly I'd rather have some cell phone jockey straight up tell me that they don't think they'll be in my area in the near future than to try to butter me up with something that will more than likely never happen. And just because I can't change their minds and regardless of wheather or not I can move I don't have to like their business choices.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bill M., 11 Sep 2006 @ 2:25pm

    In the Cingular vs. Sprint debate I come down firmly on the side of Sprint.

    I was an AT&T Wireless customer and experienced the changeover to Cingular. The first thing was that on the web, ATTWS customers were treated as second-class citizens. Our web-panel for managing the account never worked right or had full functionality. Then the signal got dramatically worse over time. An earlier poster said they were shutting down towers; interesting. All I know is that the signal went from full bars in most of the places I traveled down to two. I went into the Cingular store to see what phones they had and inquired about the Sony W800i. The store manager treated me like I was an idiot.

    The final insult came when I received a letter from Cingular forcing me to purchase a new phone AND transition to a new, more expensive plan. Well, since I was being forced to a new phone and plan, I shopped around. Sprint gave me an awesome discount on the smartphone I selected, and even worked with me on my plan until I had exactly the minutes, features, and pricing that I had with the original ATTWS service!

    Sprint's stores and phone-based customer service reps have been excellent, very professional. I also have enjoyed great connections for both voice and data. Their EVDO network usually runs at 600 kbps for me. Works fantastic with Orb and Avvenue, which lets me watch any live TV station and access any file on my PC, respectively. If the cable moden goes down I can even use my phone for broadband access. How sweet is that?

    As a final pleasant surprise, I don't have perfect credit, yet I didn't have to put down a massive deposit with Sprint. Instead, they have a very sensible and consumer-friendly "spending limit" policy which simply limits how much the unpaid charges can be. (I would have to spend more than $125/month before the limit kicked in; my standard bill is less than $50/mo.)

    As for Verizon, the identical plan would cost me more than $85/month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mike, 10 Feb 2008 @ 4:36pm

    Sprint shakes down customers for its own mistakes

    I disagree with some of the things Sprint CSR's tell me. When I have a dispute over an obviously ridiculous charge, I am placated & lied to explaining that I will be contacted expediently to resolve my issue. Then nothing happens but a text or voice message directing me to pay all charges or lose service. I then contact Sprint again and explain what has happened and give my dispute number. I am put on hold for a VERY long time so that the rep can confer with a supervisor who never gets on the phone. Again I am told that they will handle this issue and that they are sorry for the mis-handling of this issue. Keep in mind, I have not insisted that they dismiss all charges instantly, but only investigate this dispute and contact me in an appropriate amount of time. This never happens. Again I either get a text or voice message about loss or interruption of service unless I pay up. Then I call again, Again I am assured that the problem will be resolved without interruption until dispute resolution is reached. Then I cannot make outgoing calls, all my calls are re-directed to bill payment at Sprint. Be warned that if someone at Sprint makes a mistake, they still need you to pay for it because an employee who makes a mistake will never admit it and you will then run into an endless chain of employees who get away with passing the buck until so many mistakes are made that the company itself will protect their employees by stonewalling you and cutting service completely until you pay for what you shouldn't owe. This is a ridiculous business practice as they will fight to get an erroneous $100-200 dollars from a long term customer who is worth thousands per year and risk alienating that customer just for a small amount of money just because they cannot justify eating the cost of their own mistakes. DUH!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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