AT&T, Cingular – Merging is not that easy


Like everyone else I have watched the more bars in more places advertising campaign by Cingular, touting its merger with AT&T Wireless, hoping for better coverage. Whenever I move out of downtown San Francisco, those claims ring hollow, and well I have observed an increased incidence of dropped calls. That, I can live with it, but what annoys me the most is the lack of real progress in the merger.

Merrill Lynch in a recent report cuts its EBITDA estimate for Cingular in 2005 and did a major mea culpa. “Frankly, we had overestimated the pace at which Cingular would execute the AT&T Wireless merger integration process—which has contributed to better than expected subscriber growth to date, but is delaying potential margin improvement until later in 2005.” Such honesty is not what you expect from Wall Street, but as a consumer who has borne the brunt of this bumbling effort, I can certainly agree with them.

Beyond the superficial merging of their store fronts and websites, the real merging hasn’t begun. For instance, if I want to use a Cingular Siemens SX66 Pocket PC phone, I cannot pop in my AT&T SIM Card. AT&T website, now re-branded Cingular, won’t send WAP settings to a Sony Ericsson S710a, because I have mMode and not Cingular’s Media Net service. Walk into their stores, and you still have to switch from one service to another, get a new plan, and lose all the perks you had. This is very frustrating as a customer. As a consumer, I don’t think the merger really happened. Perhaps they should go back to the old ads where Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens merge into a Frankenstein type creature. Because that’s what the new Cingular seems to have become. (I made the mistake of signing up for AT&T Wireless before end of 2004, one of the four things I most regret in my life.)



I’m an AT&T customer on Cingular and went to switch from my individual month-to-month plan to a family plan with four phones, and you’d think they were trying to drive me away. (They did, BTW — I’m switching to T-Mobile.)

Sales reps in the same Cingular store offered me different deals on different days. One day they’ll give me these four phones for free, three days later they insist I have to pay for all the phones unless I buy a more expensive plan. When I showed them the notes I took three days earlier, they’re like oh, well I guess we can give you the phones for free on the cheaper plan after all. (Believe it or not, they said that some sales reps can offer deals that others cannot in the same store!)

Dealing with Cingular was like buying a used car from an obviously shady dealer. No matter what options they offered me, I was convinced it was the wrong decision.

your friend

dont worry everyone… cingular’s sorry ass is being sued


I also just came from att now on cingular they changed my unlimited voice mail now they take away from my daytime Min. called the 4 times just getting the run around said they will not change it back


I am can’ t use my new cingular phone because of my old at&t SIM CHIP. I want to hurt someone!

Om Malik

my advice to you is call them, yell at them, and if that doesn’t help, tell them you are filing a complaint with better business bureau and fcc. also say you are switching carriers. that will get their backends in high gear


when they merged, cingular sent me a phone that i could swich my number to. now my att phone died and i want to use the cingular one they sent me. the only problem for me is that not only can i not activate my phone but it says that my phone number does not exist in their system. AND i dont have a landline to call them from. WHAT THE HECK CAN I DO????!!!!

Tom C.

Irwin did you buy your Treo from cingular.. I read something about these cellphone companies “locking” the phones so that you can’t use it on a different carriers network. Since the law was passed that a person could switch providers and take their phone number with them, this has become an issue. I think I read somewhere about a possible lawsuit regarding this.

Tom C.

As an at&t customer I’m also pretty upset with the merger. I was told if I wanted to change my rate plans, and stay as a at&t customer, I would lose all my perks (no nationwide long distance, no unlimited off peak minutes, no mobile to mobile minutes). Quite frankly I think some lawyer needs to start a class action lawsuit for all of us at&t customers. Seems to me since at&t no longer exist we should not be obligated to our contracts.

Komal Sethi

I recently lost my cell phone. I happen to be in some crazy category of having an AT&T account, a texas phone # and live in san francisco. I first tried to buy a phone from at&t, now cingular, they told me i had to switch to cingular, great i say let’s switch. However, it seems cingular cannot transfer my 512 area code # because it’s “out of their market”?? I went back and forth with the folks at cingular about how ludicrous this was. They said there was simply nothing they could do. My options according to them were to switch to cingular and get a new 415 number, or switch to another service. Let me repeat this I actually had an employee at a cingular store tell me I was better off switching carriers!!!! Talk about customer service. I have since moved to t-mobile who was more than happy to migrate my 512 number and am a happy camper. It will be a VERY long time before I consider even talking to cingular/AT&T again. Nice job cingular.


actually i have a cingular device so that should not be that much of a problem.

just an (ex-) AT&T customer

Careful on just jumping the boat and switching from AT&T to Cingular. I have some information that points that the switch may be more than just a new SIM card for your SX66 – it may require a new radio (and thus device).


i agree – it is frustrating to no end. i can get the new SX66 to work if only i get the PDA package which is point less since it costs $49.95. why not go for verizon evdo which is cheaper

Jesse Kopelman

Just remember it all depends where you live. Contrary to the commercials, there is almost no seemless roaming between networks, so you will always tend to the top choice in your SIM until you fall off. If you live in much of the the Northeast and Northwest, the AT&T Wireless network is better and that is the one you want as the top choice in your SIM. Elsewhere, the situation may be completely reversed. The thing that urks me the most about the misleading commercial campaign is that while there are major challenges due to vendor incompatibility (both use Ericsson and Nokia, but often each uses a different one than the other in a given location) the networks could easily be better integrated than they currently are.

Irwin Lazar

I switched to Cingular from AT&T a few months ago when I got my Treo 650 (it wouldn’t work with an AT&T SIM). The Cingular rates were a bit cheaper, and they have an unlimited data plan which AT&T lacked. The one nice thing about Cingular is that they won’t charge you an early termination fee if you switch over from an AT&T account. The setup was painless as well, just a call to an IVR system to activate my new phone and switched numbers when it arrived. Overall, I’m pretty happy with Cingular.

Om Malik

amen – i agree with that. this is pretty lame on their part to even start advertising the service as better already. oh well!

Andy Abramson


You think your tale of woe with ATTINGULAR is tough, talk to Helene, my fiance. She is still trying to get her AT&T Blackberry, with an AT&T SIM chip activated. Even following the directions of the PR team at the merged company has not yielded any success.

I think all that mergers bring is mediocre results…in this case, mediocre would be a step up….

Go into a Cingular store as an AT&T customer and it’s like your a T-Mobile customer. The switchover is not a switchover. It’s a “change carriers” not merge account bases.

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