08. 08. 2007
iPhone of Hate Winner!
We have a winner in our "iPhone of Hate" contest. We got hundreds and hundreds of entries, we were totally overwhelmed. There were so many awful (meaning good entries) stories, I was just taken aback. Some of my favorites: 1) getting a drug dealer's old number, complete with hysterical calls from withdrawal addled junkies at 4 am, and then getting collection notices for the dealer's $9000 phone bill; 2) ordering a single phone, and when it wasn't received, a complaint brought on a barrage of EIGHT cell phones, all charged at $550 a pop; 3) signing up for an "unlimited" data plan, only to find that the chosen phone is "ineligible" so ending up with $1200 in downloading charges.
I wish we had a hundred iPhones to give away because you all deserve one. There is so much suffering brought on by these companies, it's ridiculous. But we had to choose, and this story had all the elements I was looking for: incredulity, anguish, and finally total breakdown. The winner is....
Michael W. from South Carolina. His story speaks for itself:
I have been (and still am) a customer of AT&T (Cingular) for more than 6 years. Starting out in May of 2001, I had no complaints about Cingular whatsoever. The only problem I had was one time I did not get an e-mail saying my online bill was ready and I almost missed the payment deadline, I called customer service and they apologized profusely.
Well, in early December of 2005 the SIM card went bad in my phone. There was too much freedom of movement available and it scratched itself out of commission. I could no longer access my voicemail through using my cell phone, which at the time was very distressing, as I was looking for work and applying a ton of places. There was a new franchise near where I lived and they gave me a new SIM card for only $20 bucks! Great deal…they even spent 3 whole minutes calling Cingular and getting everything re-programmed on my phone. I had VM access again.
A couple of weeks later my cell phone bill was online. $200! What on earth was going on? Checking my call log I was able to identify that every time I called my voicemail account I was also calling…the country of Iran. Don’t ask me how, but there it was, “clear as purple crayons.”
I call Cingular…they have no idea what is going on either. They “credit” the charges and tell me to visit an authorized location. I rush home the next day to make it to a store not too far from my home before they close…I get there and “they do not do that sort of thing.” Fine. A couple of days later I rush home, fight the heaviest traffic in our area and make it to another, larger, more established location before they close. They could not help me either. I call Cingular. They escalate the issue and I am told a technician will get back to me…a week later he calls. Finally, this technician helps me resolve the issue by phone. Wrong. Next cell phone bill is nearly $173.
I call Cingular, they “credit” me for the Iran calls. By this time it is February and I have started looking for a new phone. I speak Cingular multiple times and to a technician again. No luck. Next cell phone bill is ridiculous as well. I order a new phone.
A technician calls me again, it all started when I got my new SIM card. Something was programmed incorrectly and was missing a digit. The problem is solved, my calls were credited (so I thought), it is March and my new phone had arrived (along with another damn SIM card that I had to use). Of course, the phone is defective. I go through the entire process of calling to return the phone. They take another $100 or so dollars out of my account until they receive the defective phone back. Whatever, let us just end this.
Well something happened, I don’t remember what it was, but I was pissed. I called and attempted to cancel before my 30 days were up (though I reminded them I did not have a working cell phone for most of that time, they did not care). The customer service agent I speak to slyly tells me to wait a few days…until the point I would be locked into a contract. Now I am really pissed, I hang up and call back to speak to another agent. I demand that I get some money back for the 15 or so hours I have spent in the last four months doing their job. This guy is mean, so much so that he causes me to break down…I am a grown man.
I hang up and call the cancellation line. She agrees to (so generously) credit me $40 for my four months of trouble. Whatever, fine, it is good enough. I resign myself to believe this is just a stroke of bad luck, because I had no problems previously.
Now the kicker:
I had been working since as soon as I was old enough. I had money saved up and did not have to start living on a tight budget (in which I kept track of everything) until recently. I never noticed, but Cingular had never credited back to my account. In early June of 2007, my account was credited for around $420. Amazing. Whatever.
Congratulations, Michael! Enjoy your new iPhone and we hope signing a new 2-year contract with the new AT&T doesn't give you flashbacks.