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Should I dump Cingular over Roaming?

Discussion in 'GENERAL Wireless Discussion' started by RSaunders, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. RSaunders

    RSaunders New Member

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    I've been a mostly happy Cingular customer for about 3 years. I like my GSM phones, I even have a pay-per-call SIM for when I travel outside the US.

    I was recently on a cruise from Puerto Rico, which from a cellular point of view is in the US. I was surprised to see folks talking on their cell phones, as we were a couple of miles from shore. I turned mine on and it said "Cingular" with 5 bars. That's pretty cool, apparently they have some deal with the cruise ship company to put a cell relay on the ship.

    Over the next week I even made a couple of calls. Since I'd not known this feature was present, I didn't tell anybody about it. My phone spent most of it's time in the stateroom safe.

    Imagine my surprise to get a $300 phone bill. There are two things going on. First, the network that displays "Cingular" on my handset is not Cingular, but rather Cingular At Sea. This is a totally different network, and alas my phone hasn't got a big enough display. Thus all the calls I made were "International Roaming" at a cost of $3 a minute. Second, anyone who called my phone made the same sort of call, even though they got voice mail. I you left me a 5 minute voice message, that cost $15.

    When I spoke to Cingular Customer Service, they said four things that made me want a new cellular carrier:
    1) I should have checked rates on their web site before I left. How was I to know that this was even an option?
    2) I should not associate "Cingular" on the display with being on the Cingular network. They were unable to tell me any process for confirming I was on the Cingular network.
    3) There is not any way to prevent my account from international roaming. I must know the boundaries of their network and never allow my phone to leave it.
    4) They thought it could have been much worse. The rep told me that sometimes girls spent $1000 talking to their boyfriends while on a cruise. I explained that $300 was six-months of charges for me and not a minor fee.

    Frankly, I'm not that attached to my phone number. I'm thinking about switching to another GSM service provider. With nationwide calling plans, how can I find a carrier that doesn't support this international roaming scam? In this case, anyone but Cingular would do, but I'd like to encourage a company that thinks about the customer implications of it's service. Any suggestions??

    Thanx in advance.
     
  2. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    It is unfortunate that you got that bill, but that would have happened with any carrier roaming internationally. The only way to avoid the international voicemail charges is to turn the phone off. If the phone rings, then goes to voicemail you are charged internationally. Cingular phones by default are programmed to show "Cingular" on the display no matter what network you are connected to. If your phone is a Motorola there is a hack to make it display the correct network name. I am not sure if this can be done to other makes of phones. A friend of mine went on a cruise to the bahamas last year and she mainly used text messaging as international texts are much more reasonable. She kept the phone off when not in use. She did get charged for 611 calls to CIngular as her phone did not work when she arrived, but she was able to get those charges waived.

    -Jay
     
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  3. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    One thing, the Voice mail charge should only be a t minute charge, one for incoming and the other is re-routing. i would say the OP needs to disbute that if there was a charge for a call of 5 mintues into voice mail. now as to international Roaming, I have no idea what they said that, yes they can shutt of international roaming all together. I would call this number 1-800-335-4685 as they would know about the roaming better than the first line CS. Another case of first line CS trying to be smart and handle a call just as like at home call.
     
  4. Scrumhalf

    Scrumhalf Bronze Senior Member
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    RSaunders, Are you sure about point #3 in your message? I thought you could instruct Cingular to disable all international roaming so that your phone would just be a paperweight if you went abroad....
     
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  5. Fire14

    Fire14 Easy,Cheap & Sleazy
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    I find #2 a common problem with everyone that has Cingular, there is no way to tell if you are on another network with the Alpha Tag saying Cingular all the time, Especially outside the US & when you would be subject to roaming fees.

    As for dumping Cingular, you can do that, but you will still have to pay the bill, then pay another carrier for activation fees & for a phone if you don't want a free one.

    As others have said, you can have & I thought normally International roaming is automatically disabled on their phones & you have to call to activate it.
     
  6. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    I don't think the Cruise ship thing is a normal thing, But I know that when i roam internationaly my netwrok options gets unlocked and the proper netwrok name shows. But since the Cruise ship thing is a Cingular exclusive (which I think some one else has an interest in the cruise shipp signal availability), I would say it would show Cingular.
     
  7. RSaunders

    RSaunders New Member

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    I'm not sure about anything. I only know what Cingular tells me. :confused: It's the dumbest thing I ever heard. That said, I'm going to call the number hf1khal suggests. I'll update this thread with the outcomes.
     
  8. RSaunders

    RSaunders New Member

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    What burned me was that Cingular used their "exclusive" feature to show the network name of my home network, when in fact they "knew" that it was not my home network. They obviously did this to accrue additional fees. That's the sort of business practice that steers me towards any other company.
     
  9. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    I hear your point but trust me they all do it. If it was VZW or any other it would be the same. Now let say VZW allows calls on planes and it is their netwrok that one is using it would show VZW (marketing is the big item here) and one sees that and makes a call only ti find out that it is a $4 dollar a minute call. Unfortunatly, they do have an argument the word national and the locations are very well spelled out. I think it is a 2 way fault here not just one.
     
  10. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    Cingular doesn't do this to trick you into roaming fees. They do it to trick you into thinking that their coverage is everywhere. Its all marketing. If you saw your phone roaming you'd think less of the network. (At least that's their logic) All my phones except one are modded to show the true network name.

    -Jay
     
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  11. nKrypteD1

    nKrypteD1 Software Architect
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    Yep and even in what is considered their Native Network, you'd be surprised to see when you're not on Cingular but a partner provider (regional gsm, Centennial Blue is an example.)
     
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  12. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    Yes indeed. On my last trip to Pennsylvania I noticed my phone roaming on CellularONE for a few minutes while driving down I-81.

    -Jay
     
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  13. QLR

    QLR RIP Note!
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    Wirelessly posted (Q's Mobile Device: Opera/8.01 (J2ME/MIDP; Opera Mini/3.0.6306/1558; en; U; ssr))

    In the case of verizon and the cruise ships, the phone will say roam and/or the nonflashing triangle will display... Whenever you're not on verizon or out of your plan area, the phone's display will indicate as such.
     
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  14. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    The cruise ships only have GSM based on teh exclusive thing with Cingualr. I never heard that VZW works on them.
     
  15. QLR

    QLR RIP Note!
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    They just started this service on select ships over the summer; they also put a notice in this month's bill about the rates.
     
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  16. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    Oh yes, speaking about notices, I remember recieving these thing from Cingular wen it was introduced. Also it is spelled out in teir roaming charges. For me I never go any where outside the US wiht out checking the roaming prices as this way i would be aware of the potentil cost and if it might pay off to buy a local SIM instead of using roaming.
     
  17. PCSuser

    PCSuser Senior Member
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    Well I would call Cingular's office of the president... and talk to them about the issue of not displaying that you are roaming. I would fight it that you are not responsible to pay as your phone did display Cingular and not ROAMING... maybe then they will wake up!
     
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  18. Jay2TheRescue

    Jay2TheRescue Resident Spamslayer
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    Who are you kidding? This is not news to them.
     
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  19. jones

    jones Silver Senior Member
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    Cingular Roaming outside the US is
    pretty expensive especially Cruise ship.
    Roaming outside the US calling the US
    you will be double fried.
     
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  20. Scrumhalf

    Scrumhalf Bronze Senior Member
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    The first thing you should when you get on an international flight is to turn off your phone. The 2nd thing you should do is to yank out your SIM card so that you can't get charged even accidentally.
     
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  21. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    Which is still more or less okay in areas where no roaming fees apply, but in areas where roaming fees apply, they can't just have their phones display CINGULAR. What the hell is my screen for? I am supposed to see all the information I need, including whether or not my call will cost me, and since Cingular has taken that away from us, even when we are billed for calls, it shouldn't be our fault.
     
  22. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    But when it shows CINGULAR, it's a cheap way of making people believe that their phones will operate in the same manner as in other CINGULAR areas on the dispaly. Areas where you are charged, including Cingular owned properties, like the cruise ships, for which they charge roaming on, should display something like OFF-NETWORK or ROAMING. This is a cheap way for Cingular to make more money from people that use their display as a way of telling whether or not they are charged roaming. If my phone displays CINGULAR, why would I worry about roaming charges?
     
  23. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    Why would you think or assume that other carriers, including Verizon would do the same? I don't know of any other U.S. carrier that hacks alpha tags to display their home network anywhere, even if roaming...only Cingular comes to mind. Verizon shows "Extended Network", Sprint shows "Roaming", T-Mobile shows the Alpha Tag, ALLTEL and U.S. Cellular use roaming ERI's...I can't come up with anyone other than Cingular who does this...sorry.
     
  24. RSaunders

    RSaunders New Member

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    That's part of how I had this problem. I'd had Verizon in the past, and they made it clear when you were not on your home network. If it were technically impossible, then I'd have a problem. However, since Cingular seems to be actively behind this fraud, that's given me the motivation to dump them.

    /Randy
     
  25. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    I only made examples of possible. I would like to see how VZW would showit if they owned or operated the netwrok. As to roaming, Cingular does show roaming when one goes into and interantional network and the phone actualy will show the full netwrok name. Now as tot eh phone itself, that could be an issue if one particular phone only shows part of the name that could be an issue. With my moto when the name is a bit too long, the second line I think the date line) gets taken over by the rest of the netwrok name. In any manner, I asked my next door neighbour who was on a cruise a litle while ago (he has CIngular) and I asked him and he said that his Nokia showed it was roaming.
     
  26. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    What type of phone do you have? Have you called the interantional group and what did they tell you? I am very curious as to exactly how many minutes you talked on the phone vs. how many minutes were on the voice mail. I also would like to know, when you said that your phone was put aside in a safe place, did you leave it on all the time or shut it off?
     
  27. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    The cruise ship network, even though owned and operated by Cingular, should be treated as "international roaming" though since they are obviously charging a fee for it...If they would not charge a fee for it, I could understand their CINGULAR alpha-tag, but since they are charging a fee for it, albeit being on the "Cingular" network, they need to differentiate.
     
  28. charlyee

    charlyee Ultimate Insanity
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    RSaunders, I travel quite a bit both on business and vacation and believe it or not I check with Cingular before every trip I make including voice & data charges, mostly because I don't want surprises like yours, As a matter of fact I am going to Nebraska in March and I just checked with them for coverage.

    I have left my phone on all the time when I am travelling because someone from home may need to reach me. If the calls are not necessary to answer then I just let it go to VM. As hf1khal already said, they should be 2 mins. no matter how long the message left was.

    International roaming is always disabled unless you ask for it be enabled which I have had to do.

    As for the phone showing the roaming status, all my unbranded phones have and as I posted my Cingular branded Blackjack does also. I do agree that always showing "CINGULAR" can catch you off guard.

    If the network on the cruise ship belongs to Cingular, then that is what it will show unfortunately but calling from a cruise will never be free.

    If you have been happy with Cingular's coverage then my only recommendation would be to talk to Cingular and get a discounted bill, instead of dumping them over this. The CS does make allowances for misunderstanding, they took off $75+ from my bill from my recent overseas trip due to a misunderstanding on data usage.

    Good luck to you...:)
     
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  29. hf1khal

    hf1khal Who am I to judge
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    It is diffrenciated and to sue international roaming one, as Charlyee said, would have to specificaly call Cingular to enable international roaming and international roaming is not just granted like that as there are qualifications rules. So if one is on a cruise ship and outside teh US main land in international waters one would have to know that there is some thing different. Not once have I been taveling internationaly and I did not see the roaming or the actual network name. Now I have anohter question, os if one travel to a place in no man's land about 15,000 miles away, and one happens to see a netwrok tag with a name of Cingular and that tag actualy belongs to a foreigne provider and the US Cingular has nothing to do with it, ais one supposed to assume that this is our home network or one would question it before even attempting. By the way, Cingular has a contact number that one can call from the cell to inquire and one will not get charged for that call at all.
     
  30. Fire14

    Fire14 Easy,Cheap & Sleazy
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    I agree they should show when you are roaming outside the US including Ships, and there should be an indication when your roaming, but since inside the US there are no roaming charges, I believe this is the way they can get around it, plus if you are doing excessive off network roaming, and are planning on booting you, they send you a letter & have your alpha tag show it's off network prior to booting you.
    Of course so far if you moved are in a school in these roaming area's they have been decent on waiving the ETF ect...

    With the Ship & calling fees, yes the OP should have checked prior to going on the trip, but there should also have been something posted somewhere on the ship or with the paperwork, telling people about the roaming charges.

    If not, then he may have an even better case against them, but I am sure it's somewhere as a "cover" for Cingular.
     

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