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Warning: Pick Your Cell Phone Provider Carefully

Updated on January 8, 2011

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Learn From My Mistake

I happily owned a Tracfone for seven or so years until early 2007 when a little bird, who shall remain nameless, convinced me to join her family plan through Cingular/ATT. Now when I was using my Tracfone, I would have to buy prepaid minutes that cost roughly 25 cents per minute. On the family plan, the rate per minute is pretty much too small to see.

For the first couple of months, I was in heaven. I had a reliable phone that didn't cut into my calls to tell me that I was down to my last minute. I could get reception anywhere and felt safer. My first phone with Cingular was a pretty nifty one by LG that did everything, but cook me breakfast. I was thrilled to be part of the Cingular family.

And then Cingular was taken over by AT&T and my service began to go downhill. Not too long ago, it reached a new low. At around 10:30 one morning, I went to use my phone and this robotic voice told me that the bill hadn't been paid yet. Yet, at 6:30 AM, it had been paid because I got my usual morning message. At 8 AM it had been paid because another message came in. At 8:45 it had been paid, yet another message. Suddenly, at 9 AM (I'm guessing at 9 because that's when I received my last text message), the bill was no longer paid. From 10:30 to 11:15, I was panicking. I tried getting into the AT&T website, but, of course, it wouldn't let me in. (Why allow your customers to remedy a problem when you can squeeze more money and time out of them?) At 11:15, I received a text message. The people at AT&T obviously found our payment and turned our phones back on. It needs to be noted that this same thing has happened several times since then.

It seems like once every other week we have a problem with AT&T. The service is very unreliable. (I can't think of one person I know who has the misfortune of being with AT&T who, like the bill boards say, has the pleasure of "no dropped calls." Our calls are dropped frequently.) There is static on the line seven out of ten phone calls. The phones themselves fall apart internally almost as soon as you get them. We've had our phones replaced more times than we can count.

As far as their employees are concerned, they are either incompetent or very rude. They will try to trace any issue you have with your phone back to your usage of it. It is a rare occasion (even when it's obvious that AT&T messed up) when they have the decency to admit that it's their problem. The best people we've ever dealt with for replacement phones weren't even employed by AT&T, but by an outside company. AT&T employees are the lowest of the low.

In short, AT&T is a horrible company. They will be polite to you (even charming) when you first show interest in joining their cult, but, once you've signed away your life, the smile quickly fades. If you are in the market for a cell phone, stay away from AT&T. You will only waste your money, your time and your sanity.

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