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Opting out of new Contract -- Need Help!

Discussion in 'Western US Wireless Forum' started by KevMo, Jan 9, 2002.

  1. KevMo

    KevMo New Member

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    I signed up with Cingular day before yesterday but it has been a disaster. As I understand California law I have up to 3 days to get out of this. Does anyone know how to do this? Cingular says they will terminate the contract for a $150 fee. Meanwhile they will do nothing to help me solve the equipment issues, I have to take that up with the store that sold me the phones. Of course that is where the problem started and they aren't fixing the problem.

    As it stands I have two phones, one works one doesn't.
    I have overpaid for sales tax, I didn't notice until I got home but they charged me "sales tax" on the retail value of the phone + sales tax on the sales tax.
    I have a phone number that apparently used to belong to a drug dealer because I've gotten 8 calls in two days from strung out people wondering if they can meet me at the usual place for a "hook up"?

    I absolutely HATE these wireless companies and their deceptive practices. If I can get out of this I'm going without.

    Can anyone explain the process of getting out of this thing to me?
    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Kevin
     
  2. KevinJames

    KevinJames WA's 1st retired mod
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    KevMo,

    Where is the deception? I failed to see it. The sales clerk at whatever store you bought it at made a mistake on the sales tax--not a big deal, just go back and point it out.

    I don't know what the no-penalty cancellation period is with Cingular, but if you are within that period, you will NOT be charged the cancellation fee.

    If you bought the phones and service from a reseller (aka, not a carrier-owned outlet), then the reseller is responsible for the sale (and hence the refund for the phones), not Cingular. Resellers don't necessarily buy their phones from the carriers; some buy directly from the manufacturers. That, coupled with their own company discount sales, is why they occasionally can offer better handset deals than the actual carrier. (I'm referring to "Best Buy" type superstores.)

    Kevin James
     
  3. KevMo

    KevMo New Member

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    Hi Kevin, Thanks for the reply.

    For the sake of brevity I guess, I didn't get into the attitude etc. of the sales guy. The deception comes in with the Sales tax issue. It wasn't a mistake, from the conversation I had with the guy after discovering it, it was clear, he was deceptive and charging me for a free phone he as much as admitted it. He won't correct the "mistake". In addition, they seem very reluctant to replace the defective phone. They have admitted it was defective but have given me considerable run-around about replacing it. I have been back 4 times now.

    From my conversation with Cingular it is clear that you are right on the money about the carrier-owned versus retail store. How does one tell the difference, I thought I was buying from a carrier owned outlet. I don't know if it would make a difference but it seems like it would be better for situations such as the one I find myself in.

    Cingular informs me that there is no "cancellation period" but I thought I had read a post from you or someone else on this site that there was in fact such a period. That was one of the reasons I chose Cingular. Now they are telling me it will cost me a $150 to get out.
     
  4. KevinJames

    KevinJames WA's 1st retired mod
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    Wireless Provider(s):
    AT&T & Verizon
    ATT has a 30-day cancellation period, Verizon has a 15-day period. I don't remember ever knowing what Cingular's is/was.

    As far as the ripoff you experienced, you do have recourse. Sales tax fraud is something the government would be very interested in. Also, report these guys to the BBB. Maybe even contact your local newspaper or consumer advocate TV show. Where I live, Mike Feeney (broadcasting from a San Francisco station) has a spot where he gets involved in consumer issues.

    To find out if a store is carrier-owned or is a reseller, ask when you walk in. A dead give-away is any business name other than the carrier name. For example, in Tracy where I live, there are two ATT resellers in the mall. Both display prominent signs of ATT Wireless, but under (or above) it is a smaller sign with their business name.
     
  5. KevMo

    KevMo New Member

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    Thanks for the help Kevin, I appreciate it.
     
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Without knowing about state law (the 3-day contract cool-off is normal), or Cingular's policy, here is what I would do. Keep detailed, written records of every conversation and transaction. Return the phones and get a receipt. Then also call their customer service and tell them you cannot use their product and can't get it fixed, and you have cancelled.

    Then if they threaten, so be it. If they try to actually collect a termination fee, let them. If they turn it over to a collection agency, so be it. You are standing on solid ground and made a good faith effort to get things to work.

    If they threaten your credit report, let them. They can show you in default, but you can also force all credit reporting companies to post your comments about your experience with Cingular, from your written records. If your credit report shows no other non-payment activities like this, creditors will ignore it.

    Cingular is trying to intimidate you, but your argument is valid. There is also a good chance they will not persue any of these steps. Don't be intimidated. Unfortunately they are treating you like the trailer trash who just get tired of paying Cingular each month, your situation is different.

    -Bill Radio
    -www.mountainwireless.com
     
  7. KevMo

    KevMo New Member

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    At first I was in agreement with Kevin's points and that perhaps I was making too much of this.

    As I review all of these receipts etc. I'm finding I can't reconcile them and that this company ( I now know that it is Mobile Systems Wireless ) is simply inundating customers with so much paperwork and misdirection as to baffle them. I am just sick with myself for signing off on any of this. It doesn't amount to very much money, I guess I'm more upset with the whole principle. As best as I can tell ( and the numbers simply do not add up ) I have paid sales tax on a very inflated retail value for the phone, paid for the SIM and paid sales tax on the sales tax. Quite a bit for a "free" phone.

    Given the amount, it's around $50 bucks I guess for personal sanity I should just get a working phone from them and go on with my life. But I'll be that is EXACTLY what they are counting on. Then they can continue to bilk people.
     
  8. KevinJames

    KevinJames WA's 1st retired mod
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    Location:
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    AT&T & Verizon
    For North Calif potential buyers, here's the scoop:

    First, I couldn't find any carrier-owned retail stores. (I guess it is unimportant to Cingular to have such.)

    Cingular states that "all sales are final." However, as revealed to me by a Parrott Cellular salesperson: "If you come in with a good attitude AND you have less than 30 minutes of talk time on it AND it is within 7 days, there shouldn't be any problem with the return."

    Boy am I glad I chose ATT!

    Kev
     
  9. KevMo

    KevMo New Member

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    Thanks for researching it Kevin.

    Now I'm really cheesed. I went to Parrott first but they didn't have any phones at the time, in my haste I went to another outlet. Damn it Jim ! Should have stuck with Parrott. :)
     
  10. brooke

    brooke New Member

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    << I have overpaid for sales tax, I didn't notice until I got home but they charged me &quot;sales tax&quot; on the retail value of the phone + sales tax on the sales tax. >>



    Tax is always charged of the retail price in a rebate situation, which this is. E.g., if you bought a car for $30K you'd pay sales tax on that amount, even if you then got a $5K rebate from the manufacturer. It doesn't change the situation if they give you the rebate as a credit against the retail price instead of cutting you a check later.

    Cingular in Santa Rosa (NorCal) was upfront about this with me, I remember.

    However, it's hard to imagine a situation where they could *ever* charge tax on tax. I'm amazed the point-of-sale software allowed it!
     
  11. KevMo

    KevMo New Member

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    I have no problem with paying the tax. ( well I do, but that is a broader issue. )
    It is the tax on the tax I take exception to. As for the Point of sale software, they simply don't enter the line item as tax. Simple....and deceptive.

    I'll be writing some letters.
     
  12. ComicalMoodyDan

    ComicalMoodyDan Gold Senior Member
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    I was just looking at Cingular's website and apparently they have NO trial period which I think is pretty unfair other companies do so Cingular Wireless should also. As Kevin stated AT&amp;T gives you 30 days, Verizon Wireless gives you 15. I also know that Suncom gives you 3 days and Sprint PCS gives you 14 I believe. With all of those companies you get a period of time to cancel your service and get your money refunded back. I have to wonder does Cingular not have enough faith in there own network to keep customers so they force them into a contract no matter what.
     
  13. brooke

    brooke New Member

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    I agree that it's in the long run a bad business practice not allow some sort of trial period.
    They did (back when they were PacBell) allow me to borrow a phone for a couple of days to check out any areas I was unsure of.
     
  14. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I find this very interesting, as I'm about to get my first phone on my own (I've had one before, but I had great help), in about a month or two.

    It sounds like if there is any kind of grace period, they're stalling you until it's passed. Very lame.

    I believe here (in LA) there are Cingular stores that they took over when they took PacBell. I'm considering Cingular and would be interested in the outcome of your situation, KevMo.

    Good luck!
     
  15. KevMo

    KevMo New Member

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    Well, I now have a working second phone. I finally got through to the Mobile Systems Wireless people at the home office. They authorized a new phone. As for the fees paid, they claimed that the salesperson acting improperly and that if I could prove it and wanted out of the contract they would accomodate me and waive the $150 termination fee. ( although I suspect that they taught the salesperson everything he knows and simply pull a good-cop-bad-cop thing ) Having the second phone working and having already gone through the hassle I opted not to get out of the contract. I did get the fees reviewed, there was a mistake and I got a bit of it back.

    I'm really anti-government interference, but these guys need it. I have accounts with two carriers and I found both of their sales practices questionable.

    As for Cingular, they told me ( I don't know if it is true ) that they don't have ANY carrier-owned stores. They work entirely through 3rd parties FWIW.

    Cheers everyone and thanks for all the help/advice.

    KevMo.
     
  16. KevinJames

    KevinJames WA's 1st retired mod
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    They also have their website (http://www.cingular.com/) you can order from. But most people want to have eye-2-eye contact in transactions like this.

    To the other (anonymous) poster above KevMo's who was looking to watch the outcome: If you are considering Cingular, and you don't want to buy over the net, try Best Buy, Circuit City or Good Guys. I don't personally know which of those (if any) carry Cingular, but my point is: Do business with a reputable firm.

    As far as the cancellation period, I did call a corporate office of Cingular to verify that they do not have a &quot;grace&quot; period or what I prefer to call a non-penalty trial period. I believe Cingular to be a good company. They have had some hiccups both in service and billing but being backed by SBC, I am sure they want to succeed.
     
  17. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Thanks, Kevin. I've been doing lots of research too, and will visit some stores, and may end up choosing a plan and a phone and coming home to order online. In fact, I've learned so much the last few days, that I may browse this weekend. I'm so glad I found this site! Thanks again! : )
     
  18. tabaddon

    tabaddon New Member

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    Thanks again for all the great discussion (from all of you!). I'm &quot;Anonymous&quot; from the last couple Anon posts (looking for a phone soon, probably through Cingular). Anyway, just wanted to register and introduce myself. : )
     
  19. Peter

    Peter New Member

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    Just to put my 2 cents in. I believe, that California is one of the states that requires carriers to charge taxes on the actual cost of the phone, not the retail price. To give an example, As an employee for ATT wireless, if I purchase a phone, I pay the full cost of the phone. The nokia 3360 retails for 99.99, but I would pay att's cost of 179.99. In California, if a phone is sold to a customer, we are required by law to charge taxes based on att's cost of the phone. No carrier has any control over the taxes. I get many complaints from customers asking why taxes are so high, and my only answer is to talk to you local government. Well, Hope this helps. As far as the return policy, as mentioned, each carrier is different, and I believe it is based on the confidence that the carrier has in their network. As mentioned, ATT does give 30 days to try the phone out, BUT, PLEASE, Buyer beware. This is ATT's policy, if you buy a phone from an authorized dealer, often times they will have you sign an additional contract that may give you less time. At ATT we have no control over any additional contracts that you might sign, we can only control our policy, not a resellers. Bottom line, PLEASE, read everything before you sign a contract. Be informed. Hope all this made some kind of sense. Good luck to you.
     
  20. Tommyboy

    Tommyboy Member
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    Peter, (and Brooke touch on it too)

    Good point about the taxes and how they are based on the actual cost of the phone. This is not only true in California but across the country. The government stepped in a few years back when they realized they were losing revenue because the phone was being given away for free. To get around that some carriers will charge you nominal fee and thus you only pay tax on that. For example, if the handset costs Cingular $200 and the tax rate is 8% then you should have to pay $16 worth of tax on that handset if they give it to you for free. But...if Cingular charges you $9.95 then you will only pay $10.75 (9.95 * 1.08) for a savings of $5.25.

    Of course, like everyone else has already stated, tax on top of the tax is illegal. Furthermore, $50 for tax is excessive unless I misread that part.

    Sounds like you got most of your issues resolved in the longrun.

    Tom
     

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