Friday, March 11, 2005

Scamgular, or How I Should Have Known Better

I've been a cell phone customer for some time now, long enough to know that while Sprint sucks in coverage and function, you can call them up and scream at them and they'll give you money to shut up for a while. AT&T, my most recent company, has great coverage and function, but they could give a flying crap if you're unhappy with them or want to bail. You won't get a dime out of them under any circumstances.

I've been out of my rate plan with AT&T for some months now, and since I'm returning to real estate I needed a new plan with more minutes, and for that matter a fancier, newer phone with which to convince clients I'm a go-getter with fancy gadgets. So I dropped in on the Cingular store, formerly the AT&T store, near 45th and Guadelupe here in Austin, because the line at Chipotle was too long for my liking and I wanted to kill some time.

While there, I found a nice little phone with wireless internet, camera, Bluetooth, and probably other features that are unknown to me as yet. It wasn't terribly expensive with a contract, and the rate plan was reasonable, featuring 1100 rollover minutes and a moderate text/picture/browser plan. All I had to do to get the bang I deserved for those bucks was to copy my receipt, cut a UPC sticker out of the box, and mail them in for a rebate.

But of course, there are no rebate instructions anywhere in the packaging, or on the receipt, or on the Cingular website. And since it's 11 p.m. here, you can't talk to anyone at Cingular who knows anything about rebates, because they don't work at night. And you can't email them or get online customer service through the website.

Had I known any of that, I would never have considered using Cingular. And this is exactly the kind of dirty pool involved in most rebates, where time limits and purposely difficult conditions make sure most people never actually get their rebates. That's the whole point: you think you're saving money, and the company and salesmen know very well it's bullsh@t. It's the kind of dirty, filthy behavior I should have grown to expect from companies like Cingular by now, and yet I'm still astounded by it as I write this. Death to Cingular, you dirty sons of bitches should rot in hell. I can't wait to verbally kick the ass of the salesman who gladhanded me through the process, even lying to me about how everything I needed to know about the rebate was right there in the box, the box he had just finished fishing through for ten minutes before that.

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