November 2, 2005

Stickin It to the Man!

It's been a while since I've posted, and I'll get back to the "normal" gaming routine.....

One of the first things I got assigned to look into at my new job was an issue we were having with our cell-phone carrier. They pretty much don't have plans with enough minutes to satisfy my boss' airtime consumption. His phones last 4-6 months before the buttons get wore out.

What we were trying to do is get his PDA set-up to retrieve his email, using his cellphone as a modem. Should be easy since they can connect using bluetooth. Problem was with the carrier, Cingular. We couldn't get it to work reliably when John was out and about across the country. Previously we had tried to use a Blackberry device. That was before my time and would probably work fine now, but during the Cingular/AT&T merger, not going to happen. We had paid for a pretty good data plan for the Blackberry and when it didn't work we switched over to a different plan for the PDA.

The real problem came when we got a $200 early-termination fee for cancelling the Blackberry service outside of the 30 day window. Yeah.....we kept very detailed records and service was started just before Christmas. We knew in a week and a half that the service wasn't working and spent another 4 weeks trying to make it work. After that point we switched to another program still with the same carrier!

I ended up calling customer support multiple times, talking to "supervisors" and multiple "help centers" all they basically said was tough shit and no way we are getting that charge removed. Eventually I got a copy of the service agreement and filed for arbitration to remove that charge. In the convoluted document they call a service agreement, I found out I have to send not one, but two letters to different departments. Also in the agreement were the rules for arbitration (basically we only have to pay if the arbitrator find our demands "seriously inappropriate").

A couple of weeks after I send off the necessary letters, Cingular sends us to collections! Not cool and pretty much against the rules for disputed charges. We pay the $200 bill and eventually I get a call from some secretary for some Cingular Vice-President. She apologizes profusely and say they will remove the disputed charge from our account (news flash: we already paid the damned thing!, and duh.....arbitration is going to cost a LOT more than that $200 charge). I explain the whole collections problem and I am promised a re-imbursement check from Cingular in 2-4 weeks.

About 2 months later I call this Secretary back and tell her we haven't gotten the check yet......

It was mailed off soon after......I started this fiasco in April and we finally got it resolved in October. Thanks for the great service!

But hey! We got our money back. I just wonder how many man-hours were lost getting that wrong righted.

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