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Looking A Gift Horse In The Ass


So, I'm reading one of my favorite sites, ("Shoppers Bite Back"), when I see a posting about Cingular Wireless, my cell provider, giving people debit cards instead of checks for rebates. Down below the post, somebody named Hasan comments:

In CA, at least, gift cards with cash value never expire.

Hmmm, I have a Cingular gift card -- which expired in 2005. I do a little digging, and it turns out, Hasan's right. Here's what ensued yesterday afternoon:

I'm on hold with Cingular now...I've been talking to a rep named Chris Slagh. She told me I'm her first call of the day mentioning this (that it's illegal for them to have expiring gift cards in California), but they do get calls about this.

Oh goody...this means they have some policy in place to rectify things, right? I ask Chris to get right on it.

Chris tells me "I'm sorry, but I can't do that for you today."

"Oh," I ask. "Does that mean you can do that for me tomorrow?"

She says no...of course. (Silly customer, don't you know that's just go-blow-speak, intended to make you say "okey-dokey" and hang up the phone?)

Chris says she doesn't know anything about the California law against giftcard expiration dates. I suggest she simply google "against the law for gift cards to expire in California." I ask if they have access to Google. Apparently, they don't.

I tell her I wasn't going to go away. I asked to speak to somebody else. I also explain that it became against the law for gift cards to expire in California in 1997.

She puts me on hold.

She says her supervisor is busy. I say he can call me when he's done being busy. She says, get this, they're only able to take incoming calls. Well, isn't that convenient! Was I just supposed to play supervisor availability like lotto? What if I called the next time and her supervisor was busy?

She keeps telling me the card had expired and there is nothing she could do about it. I explain again that it was AGAINST THE LAW IN CALIFORNIA for gift cards to expire, and because they broke the law, they needed to rectify this, and without me calling and hanging on the phone for a long period of time. She puts me on hold to go do something or find somebody. I suspect she thought it would be wise to find somebody to intervene.

Okay, now this "floor manager" comes on. His name is Tom Matthews. I must be lapsing into Swahili again, because after I explain the law to Tom, he says, "If there's an expiration date, it doesn't matter whether it's a gift card, a bank card or a debit card, it does expire."

I explain the law again. Tom has never heard of this law, and he "grew up in California." I thought that was kind of quaint. Hmm, I guess that makes me something of a transplanted savant! Here I am, a girl who suffered through childhood in unsunny, unsurf-y suburban Detroit, and look at how well-versed I am (well, thanks to Consumerist) in California gift card law!

I tell him I wanted to talk to a supervisor. He tells me the only way to resolve this was by mail. No e-mail, just mail. "It has to be in writing to be legal." I ask him what law says this. Tom just repeats that I have to mail in my complaint.

The address Tom gives me:

Cingular Corporate Headquarters PO Box 755 Atwater CA 95301

So, wait...Cingular broke the law, and they're jacking me out of $50 because of it, and *I* have to do all this work to rectify it? Nuh-uh.

I tell him I want to talk to his supervisor. He tells me he's the floor manager. Nobody else for me to talk to. Unfortunately for Tom, this does not make me go away like it would most people. I press on. Finally, he says he will have a supervisor call me back at home. "Within 24 hours."

Why is it that so often, the people in "customer service" have so little knowledge that would actually...serve the customer?

The California law is here. (P.S. Cingular's expiration date is on the back, not the front! And it's in miniscule type. I'd guess three-point.) Excerpt of California law follows:

Q.2. Can a gift certificate or gift card contain an expiration date?

A. No. However, this general rule is subject to the following exceptions:

* A gift card that can be used with multiple sellers of goods or services that are not affiliated may contain an expiration date. If so, the expiration date must be printed on the card.
* A gift certificate or gift card that is sold to the purchaser as a gift for another person (the “recipient”) may state a date by which the recipient must redeem the certificate or card. Since this is an exception to the “no expiration date” rule, a seller that chooses to state a redemption date on a gift card or gift certificate must give the purchaser a full refund of the amount paid for the certificate or card if the recipient does not redeem it by the redemption date6.
* Certain gift certificates or gift cards sold after January 1, 1998 are not subject to any of the rules discussed under “Frequently Asked Questions.” To be exempt, these gift certificates or gift cards must contain an expiration date in at least 10-point type on the front and must be either:
o Distributed by the issuer to a consumer without charge under an awards, loyalty or promotional program7; or
o Sold below face value at a volume discount to employers or to nonprofit and charitable organizations for fundraising purposes, if the expiration date is 30 days or less after the date of sale8; or
o Issued for a food product, such as a grocery item9.

The passage above is applicable for gift cards (in California) from 2004 on. Here's more about gift certificates from 1997 on:

Is It Timeless? Most gift certificates cannot contain an expiration date, and are valid until redeemed or replaced. (The only exceptions are certificates issued prior to January 1, 1997; distributed under various awards programs; sold to employers or to nonprofit and charitable organization for fundraising purposes; and for food products.)

Further links to the law in California are here.

Well, well, Hasan...look what you started!

I'm just tired of companies taking advantage of people because they can. Surely, they have lawyers who know about this law. Do they just count on the public not knowing about it? That would be my guess.

I hope a lot of people will hit up Cingular to make good on their cards. Do post comments here if and when you do, and about the process. And if you know California Cingular customers (and those in any other states with similar laws) please pass them the word and/or this link.


Posted by aalkon at July 27, 2006 11:51 AM


How interesting. In a way, I kind of feel bad for the customer service people. They're there simply to help people with their billing issues, their questions and account informatino, but unfortunately, they don't have the ability to authorize gift card replacements because they are just now being told that gift cards with expiration dates are illegal in California.

On the other hand, I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for the customer service rep who, simply because she doesn't know the answer to something, decides to blow someone off in hopes that they'll just tired of the issue and go away.

Posted by: Patrick at July 27, 2006 2:21 AM

It's too easy to be trapped in the "poor customer representative" guilt. They're trained to be unhelpful and unresponsive. While I always make sure they know I have no grudge against them personally, I also make sure they understand that I won't let go of their company, and that I have their name and a call # number.

When I hit a wall, there's always the magic word: small claims suit. I had a similar customer "service" problem with Pentax (defective camera). After endless phone calls and emails (including with managers), I eventually called their legal department, simply asking for the name of their agent for service of process. They got the message. And I got my defective camera replaced immediately.

This is all very pathetic and time consuming -- for all. Companies know that, and they know that most people will give up. But they also know that, once in a while, one won't, and if you show determination they'll eventually give in.

Posted by: LA Frog at July 27, 2006 7:35 AM

Thanks for the photo of those tender vittles, Amy. Anyone got an extra crisp Ritz cracker?

Posted by: Lena Scateena at July 27, 2006 7:58 AM

Small claims is always good, as is the Attorney General in the state of the offending party.

The Cingular reps remind of a telephone sales call before the days of Google etc.
1 section of the firm was say in Texas and they transferred me to Colorado. Talking to a supervisor who was nice but claimed the office that could really take me off the list was closed at that hour, I simply looked up her name, address and telephone number. She was a little surprised that I got that info while on the phone with her and was nice enough to confirm all the facts.
She's leading me into a dead end hoping I'll go away. Telemarketers believed that they held all of the power but now the tables were turned. I simply explained to her that if I wasn't removed from the list in 24 hours then *her* name/address/phone number and firm would be on Usenet and read by x Millions of people. I've never seen anyone move so fast in all my life.

Posted by: Don at July 27, 2006 8:11 AM

The girl told me they get calls about why don't they have any policy to deal with them? She and the guy seem to be in over their heads, and perhaps that's just the way Cingular likes it. How many people follow through and mail something in -- causing them to have to pay?

And doesn't a big company like this have lawyers who know what laws are passed in California that apply to them? Sure they do.

I feel bad for the customer service people, too. They seemed to me to only have the capacity to read off a script.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 27, 2006 8:27 AM

I've had to call Dell customer service several times recently regarding a new laptop. It seems that for my higher-level questions on hardware, the reps are more intelligent -- and probably better paid and less resentful of their jobs. The kids who help with low-level questions like "have you received my rebate application?" seem pretty stupid, and like they can't wait to get off the phone.

Posted by: Lena at July 27, 2006 8:49 AM

The customer service job at MY place of employment requires knowledge and the ability to perform a scientific breakdown of utility bills. Don't forget to carry the 1 or you're screwed.....we just don't have a lot of clout to be able to deal with unreasonable requests (not that your is, Amy). But a lot of the laws we have had approval for are truly rediculous; intent on making more money. i have taken it as my calling in life to right the wrongs as much as possible as i'm just a nobody who's in the same boat as the customer more times than not.

Posted by: Rob at July 27, 2006 9:41 AM

I'm truly appreciative when I get a good customer service rep on the phone these days, and I tell them so. A guy from the phone company helped me about a month ago, and he was smart, spoke great English, and got the job done. It was a pleasure. As I told him, that's a rarity these days.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 27, 2006 10:03 AM

I'm going to chime in just to say that Verizon customer service - the cell phone division, but most especially for the DSL - is horrific.

Three times in three months, the repair people did not show and the company never called to say no one would be coming. On one occasion, I called just before 5pm to verify that someone would be showing up at any minute (I was still naive). The customer service representative couldn't get a call through to the tech department to find out the status of the work order. Then he invited me to schedule yet another date for repair service. I told him I saw no point in scheduling a visit for someone who wasn't going to show up and wouldn't call. He didn't get it. He said he'd have a supervisor call on Monday. No one called. My follow-up call revealed that they had closed the ticket... after they hadn't heard from me. Only then did the service guy showed up, unannounced. Mind you, it takes about an hour on the phone with tech support (plug this in, check this line...) to get them to schedule a repair appointment. After the third no-show, I told my partner I wasn't going to enable her Verizon habit by sitting on the phone with tech support. She cancelled Verizon yesterday - Adelphia comes to install the DSL tomorrow.

In a cell-phone related debacle, after 1.5 hours on the phone with more than 5 Verizon "customer service" people I literally began to lose my voice. One testy "supervisor" transferred my call to something called the cloning fraud department. I eventually learned that the Verizon computer mis-communicated to itself, turning my $157 bill into a $398. My contract expires in 10 months, and I'm already shopping for my next cell carrier. I just can't stomach such poor communication from a company that sells communication services and technology.

Posted by: Michelle at July 27, 2006 10:36 AM

I totally agree with you on Verizon's "mess" -- to put it politely. It's a particularly bad company, but there are plenty of others. They started by producing/offering cheap junk, with customer service to back up the glitches; now they don't even bother about the glitches anymnore -- they just pretend to, and brainwash customers that they're being cared for through clever advertising and buzzwords such as CRM. A friend of mine working in direct marketing coined it: Customer Racketing and Manipulation.

Posted by: LA Frog at July 27, 2006 11:10 AM

Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T all suck major hose. Does that leave anyone left to try?

Posted by: Crid at July 27, 2006 11:31 AM

When I get really good customer service, I ask to speak to a supervisor. I praise the helpful service rep to the sky and ask if there's a place I might send a letter of thanks.

They sure like that.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at July 27, 2006 1:20 PM

Crid- T-Mobile. I can usually get someone on the phone within 5 minutes and haven't yet had threaten them to get what I want.

I have a similar problem with amazon's rebate department. I ordered a $200 phone through them mostly because there was a $150 rebate from them and $50 from T-Mobile. Of course said rebate takes up to 15 weeks to process. One sad day, I get an email saying my rebate is no good cause "product is wireless invalid". Whatever that means. So I go to the website it directs me to and follow the prompts like a good little consumer trying to get an answer. And I get an email back that is identical to the first. Oh, ok, now I'm going to go away. No, I don't think so. So I call the number and of course they advise me to check the website and then eventually tell me that they can't help me and I need to call another number. Wait, the amazon rebate department can't help me with an amazon rebate? Hmmm... Ok, now I get to the other person and did I make any changes to my plan? Umm, yeah. I added text messages and when I discovered I didn't need them I took them off. Not part of my original plan, not having anything to do with the rebate offer. Oh, but you're not allowed to make changes. Oh really, where does it say that? On the rebate form. Hmmm, I'm looking at it right now and it doesn't say anything about that. Well, you're not allowed to cancel. I didn't cancel. Well when you make changes to your plan t-mobile cancels and starts a new one. Umm... no they don't. Give me a supervisor. Hold on. Oh ok we can give you the rebate but it will take 8 weeks cause now we need to start the process over. No, you don't and I've already waited two and a half months. Well that's just our policy. Let me speak to a supervisor. Hold on. Ok it will be there in two weeks. Thanks, moron.

Posted by: Christina at July 27, 2006 2:50 PM

I absolutely agree, Deirdre. If you're going to be a complaining pain in the ass like me, it's only fair that you also speak out when they're good to you. I write letters or send e-mails about good experiences -- like when United's baggage loss department treated me really well, and offered me new luggage in exchange for a piece ruined on a United flight, then just ended up giving me cash value for my bag...and with no fighting from me. They simply made things right from their mistake...which is what Cingular should have done. Their making it so difficult for me to make things right makes me suspect they'd rather keep things wrong -- perhaps because it's cheaper.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 27, 2006 2:51 PM

A transoceanic brunette begs to differ:

There are so many choices for hatred in air travel: The airlines, the security people, the designers of the aircraft. For the rest of this lifetime, I'm giving my venom first to the Fellow Travellers, who weigh too much and want to share their moods.

Posted by: Crid at July 27, 2006 4:05 PM

"they're only able to take incoming calls. "

-Just what you want to hear from your PHONE company.

I'm terrible about cashing checks. I call companies all the time to request a replacement for my expired refund checks. I see no reason why you should not be entitled to this with a 'refund gift card'.

As an aside, it really pees me off when I get a $2 refund check from a company that I have an ongoing account with. Can nobody credit this to my next bill?

I was really dissapointed that AT&T bought SBC recently. I have to say Nevada SBC had the best, most personal customer service that I have recieved in a decade. That's the perk to living in a state with a population the size of a city.

Posted by: smurfy at July 27, 2006 4:37 PM

What a great title of Jackie's post:

United Airlines shafts its customers (no lube)

Well, the luggage people were nice. Maybe they should be training the ones in the terminal.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 27, 2006 4:49 PM

Jackie's a foxy girl, too. Nice photo.

Posted by: Lena at July 27, 2006 6:39 PM

DANG! I would rather jump into a river with 74 alligators than cross you. You never leave a shread of meat on the bones.

Posted by: Inkpad at July 27, 2006 7:28 PM

My new Sprint phone is 3 days old. I've received two calls from them since.... They're trying sell something described as a "free gift". But the accents of the contact personel (Sunday, middle eastern, Monday hispanic) are so thick that it's impossible to tell what. I told 'em to keep it, whatever it is, before hanging up. They say I have 30 days to get out of this, and I might go with T-Mobile as Christina suggests. Does anyone else want to say nice things about T-mobile?

Posted by: Crid at July 27, 2006 7:58 PM

Thanks, Inky...that's really sweet of you to say. And I mean that.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 27, 2006 8:10 PM

Crid: I heard a lot of "good" about T-Mobile. Good service, good rates (ie. not as bad as the others). A favorite with the expat crowd in L.A.

Deirdre: I so agree with you! Good customer service has become so rare that, whenever it happens, I make a point of thanking people. It happened to me recently with Gap; when I asked to speak to the supervisor and filled an "reward sheet", the salesperson couldn't believe it!

Bad customer service may have become a fact of life, but those customer representatives are as victims of corporate policy as customers are.

Posted by: LA Frog at July 27, 2006 9:30 PM

Amy, I think Cingular might be in the clear (although this was also clearly sneaky). I presume your gift card was one of the $50 Visa gift cards, where you can use it anywhere you could use a debit card? Well, California Civ. Code 1749.45 says "As used in this title, 'gift certificate' includes gift cards, but does not include any gift card usable with multiple sellers of goods or services, provided the expiration date, if any, is printed on the card." I think that means the rules do not apply to a Visa gift card (which could be used at "multiple sellers of goods") that has an expiration date that is printed on the card. The fact that the type is three-point and that it is printed on the back probably doesn't matter and doesn't run afoul of the law, because that regulation (that the type be ten-point and that it be on the front) only applies to gift cards to which the rules apply. I'd be happy to be wrong. Am I?

Posted by: Matt at July 28, 2006 11:14 AM

Sorry, I'm too meticulous for that. This is for use only at Cingular - which is why I never used it. I get my earbuds at for about $2. I was waiting to use the Cing. thing until I needed a new phone.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 28, 2006 12:05 PM

Re: T Mobile - I've been a customer for a couple years. They could have better clarity and faster data, but they are the only company that has consistenly treated me like a human on support calls, period. And you can change your plan around as many times as you want without extending your contract.

Posted by: thedaniel at July 28, 2006 4:35 PM

Please do correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm currently expecting a rebate via "gift" card from Cingular. It's supposed to be a pre-loaded Visa that can be accepted anywhere Visa is.

So doesn't exception number one qualify? "A gift card that can be used with multiple sellers of goods or services that are not affiliated may contain an expiration date. If so, the expiration date must be printed on the card."

Isn't that what the Visa gift card is?

Posted by: Kat at July 28, 2006 9:15 PM

That sounds like it falls under the multiple sellers rule. If my card were accepted anywhere Visa is, I'd have no problem using it. But, I buy my cell phone crap at, where an earbud for my Sony Ericksson is about $2.10, no kidding. I'll use that $50 when I need a new phone. And phones in America are so behind and ugly compared to phones in Europe, I'm not buying a new one anytime soon - unless my T68i breaks.

Another tip - if you have an old phone...why are you paying insurance for it? I saved about $50 a year by canceling my phone insurance.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 29, 2006 7:28 AM

cingular's rebates are handled by a 3rd party company called Young America, and as far as I can tell no one at cingular really knows much about them... I had one rep suspiciously deny any existance of rebates.. "you must be thinking of another carrier".. when I had the rebate in my hand.. anyways, here's the number for young america.. 866-852-8617.. turns out you can actually call in your rebate request just by giving your number, address, and imei number.

Posted by: bob at July 31, 2006 1:20 PM

This is a stinky situation all around, but going to the customer service department to solve a legal problem is probably not going to do much other than frustrate everyone involved.

Consider the poor schlub who has to take your phone call. What's he supposed to do? He's not a lawyer--heck, he might not have made it past high school. If he makes an exception to the company policy, it could cost him his job. That schlub's supervisor is probably only one step above schlubdom himself, and while you may be right that the customer service sucks (not being a Cingular customer, I can't say from experience), complaining about it won't get you your gift card.

Really, there are three reasons why Cingular may have settled on this policy:

  1. They don't know about the law (possible, though perhaps implausible),
  2. They know about the law, but have determined that it doesn't apply to them (also possible, and possible that they could be right for some technical reason I don't appreciate), or
  3. They know about the law, and choose to ignore it since they think the consequences will be minimal.
  4. Whichever reason it turns out to be, you won't get any satisfaction from the call center. You'll need to go to the people who research the issue and set the policy, i.e. the company's legal department. If (a) is the reason, then a well-researched letter with references to the law in question should solve the problem after some period of time.

    If the reason is (b) or (c), then going to court (or a plausible threat thereof) is about the only way to get their attention. Enough small-claims beestings or a class-action lawsuit may convince the company to change its policy.

    Posted by: Peter Leppik at July 31, 2006 2:30 PM

    Amy, I visited your blog from the consumerist. As someone who worked in the customer service department (I don't any longer), I think you have a valid argument, however maybe not approaching it in the right way, maybe?

    Customer service reps are taught policies of the company, and I can't speak for Cingular however I know sometimes these policies are long and indepth. And yeah, maybe they have a policy on the gift cards however maybe a call every six months, maybe she's been there for two months and never had that call and so doesn't know what to do?

    I know most Call Centers the CSRs have only inbound lines, and supervisors often don't make outbound calls. Maybe they get a ton of outbound request per day and so wouldn't be able to meet just any request for an outbound call. And yeah maybe they should honor the gift card, but maybe it was printed in 1995 and the law was written in 96? I'm just trying to play Devils Advocate here as I know what CSRs can go through.

    As far as telling a CSR that they broke the law, I'll be honest with you. A CSR will put up their wall when it comes to that as any remark they make back can be considered part of a legal argument and from a legal standpoint Cingular would take responsibility if they said something wrong, thus the policy, if the customer makes a reference to taking legal action, refer them to corporate headquarters.

    Sorry you're having so many issues with Cingular, it just makes me glad I don't own a cellphone at all. If you want to talk more about it feel free to email me.

    Posted by: Shawn Christopher at August 2, 2006 12:56 AM

    She told me she gets calls for them pretty often (see above), not once every six months. And the guy who runs the call center, who seemed pretty convinced he knew everything, insisted I was wrong about the law since he'd never heard of it. Furthermore, he told me he'd have somebody call me back in 24 hours. It's now August 2, no call. Furthermore, the notion that *I* should have to go to the trouble to snail mail them on this when they didn't have the information to answer my question is really bad customer service. What, I was supposed to chance that the next guy I got was 1. available, and 2. more knowledgeable? The fact that nobody called me is even worse. They didn't have to pretend to know the law. They needed to try to help me. If they don't know the answer, get me to somebody who does. That's what I do in my column. If I don't know the answer, or somebody knows it better than I do (ie, they did a study with good data), I'll turn to them.

    Furthermore, via a letter a Cingular intellectual properties lawyer named Glenn Blumstein sent them (everything but his name and area code blocked out), I was able to track down his e-mail address. I e-mailed him twice, and heard nothing. Yesterday, after I made my deadline, I called him. I directed him to this link. He said he'd get the proper lawyer to look into this. I await their call.

    The point is, my personal experience with Cingular's customer service is that it's crappy, the reps don't know enough to help you or get you to somebody who can help you, and the burden is on the customer to work to make things right. I'm going to look into other companies to see who has a better record.

    There's nothing wrong with cell phones -- just people who use them without manners and cell phone companies who aren't too smart in the way they respond to their customers.

    Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 2, 2006 1:11 AM

    PS Nobody I spoke to asked me the particulars of the card (probably since they didn't know the law), but I looked up the law, and I'm within the bounds of it, far as I can see. Far as I can see, Cingular is breaking it, and has yet to do anything but make me work to rectify it.

    Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 2, 2006 1:12 AM

    i dont agree if you idiots would read what the hell you recieve in the mail maybe it wouldnt have expired without you using it. why in the hell would you expect after you lay a card somewhere and forget it for a year, to have the right to use it thereafter. stop being stupid people i know noone likes to read the small print but thats what you have to do or haven't you learned that already. don't blame cingular for ripping you off because it's your fault you didnt use the damn card and as far as it being against the law in california thats because the cingular card is a rebate card not a giftcard its a damn rebate in the form of a visa.get the fuck over it when you recieve gift cards and rebates USE THEM!!!! i bet if they gave that shit to you in cash you wouldnt put it to the side for a year and forget about it so why would these be any different. they are as good as cash.

    Posted by: genesis at September 3, 2006 11:16 AM

    i dont agree if you idiots would read what the hell you recieve in the mail maybe it wouldnt have expired without you using it. why in the hell would you expect after you lay a card somewhere and forget it for a year, to have the right to use it thereafter. stop being stupid people i know noone likes to read the small print but thats what you have to do or haven't you learned that already. don't blame cingular for ripping you off because it's your fault you didnt use the damn card and as far as it being against the law in california thats because the cingular card is a rebate card not a giftcard its a damn rebate in the form of a visa.get the heck over it when you recieve gift cards and rebates USE THEM!!!! i bet if they gave that shit to you in cash you wouldnt put it to the side for a year and forget about it so why would these be any different. they are as good as cash.

    Posted by: genesis at September 3, 2006 11:17 AM

    Amy & All,

    The Cingular rebate cards are not "GIFT CARDS", they are Corporate funded incentive rebate cards. Therefore they are under different law then gift cards. And here is the difference; Cingular pays for the rebate card - its Cingular's money they can do whatever they want with it. Now a gift card is funded by an individual - so its YOUR money.

    So you're right, gift cards cannot expire but Cingular rebate program are not gift cards and therefore is under a different section in the law so they can expire (in the case of the Cingular cards is 4 months).

    Posted by: liam at September 28, 2006 11:32 AM

    Cingular sucks weenie. The only cell phone company I've heard anything good about has been T-Mobile. I've had a minimal problems with Verizon, but I've not yet gotten into a dust-up with them about anything.

    I cancelled my cellphone insurance, too - I buy an old phone off eBay (one that can't be activated in the Los Angeles area due to imcompatibility), take it in and ask them to activate the old phone for the remainder of my contract - they have to give me a replacement.

    Thanks, Amy, for the advice. I'll certainly use it instead of paying the insane prices at the Verizon store.

    And I use a company called Covad for my DSL - I had PacBell and it was horrible. The Covad's more expensive, but I get a great signal and fantastic customer service.

    Posted by: Peggy Archer at October 9, 2006 8:34 AM

    I actually just had a whole run around with Cingular about a astronomical bill that resulted from misinformation from one of their reps about the roaming policies. After calling and threatening and pleading for hours they politely told me to f* off and that they would only cut the roaming charges in half leaving me with a bill of $2,000!! I was having none of that, so I took the claim to Small Claims Court and won! The problem is that the court could only award money they didn't nullify the bill which means I still need to pay up the bill and then find out how to follow through with the court order and get the $2,00 back from Cingular...

    Posted by: Sender Geisinsky at October 27, 2006 1:30 PM

    Okay, here's one for you guys. I had AT&T Wireless, was issued a "$50 AT&T Wireless Gift Card" that I'm looking at that is good for accessories, etc. (not service). Shortly after the merge to Cingular, I went into the AT&T/Cingular store and asked how long this was good for because I didn't need any accessories. They said no problem, there is no expiration date on it and I can use it whenever I want. About 6 months later, I went in again to check on it and was told the same. Last week I went in because I finally NEED something, and Cingular won't honor it. Any suggestions?

    Posted by: Sandy at January 1, 2007 4:16 PM

    It's a damn Hasan conspiracy.

    Posted by: Hasan at May 1, 2007 9:01 PM

    I just got off the phone with ATT and they are going to re-issue my "expired" $60 Visa gift card! It was issued in June and expired 3 months later- now it's Nov and already there are $10 in fees deducted- so they're only giving me $50 - but it's better than nothing. After reading the posts above, I think I am very lucky!

    Posted by: ann at November 13, 2007 10:39 AM

    I recently applied online for a cash loan and just after that my account was being debited for a number of services that I was not applying for. Now my account is on hold and is over drawn. I have never been in this kind of situation before. I dont know what to do!

    Posted by: Sharlene at March 20, 2008 9:16 PM

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