Sigularly Disappointing

April 26, 2007

Back in February, with a new job raise firmly in hand, I decided to get a wireless broadband card, or "aircard" as it is sometimes called. Basically a cell phone in PCMCIA form-factor, this card would allow me to connect to the Internet regardless of my location and Wi-Fi availability. Primarily I wanted it for the forty odd hours a week I spend at work.

The first card I bought and tried was Cingular's Edge network capable card, the Option GT Max 3.6. The performance was unacceptably slow, and when I discovered I could get a EVDO card from Sprint for the same monthly price, I called Cingular to start the return process of the Option card. Within a couple of days I had the return authorization and had shipped the card, it's accessories and manuals, back to Cingular in the original box. The return authorization was setup for the US Post Office, and didn't include a tracking number. I opted to pay for the return shipping myself and used UPS with a tracking number.

It turns out that having that tracking number was a good thing. Printing off the delivery confirmation was an even better idea.

About five weeks after the shipment had been signed for by Cingular I called the customer service number for two reasons. First, Cingular was still trying to charge me the month service charge for the card ($60) and second, they hadn't yet credited my account with the refund. I spoke at length with a friendly and seemingly helpful young man who was able to properly remove the second line from my account, and credit my account to reverse the extra charge. He wasn't able to completely sort out the return and refund however. His best effort was to assure me that it would happen soon and that he would look into it the following day (the returns department was closed for the evening when I made my call) and call me back. Right.

This week, now nearly two months after I had returned their card, I once again called customer support. Armed with the original order number, and the all important UPS tracking number and delivery confirmation I was able to get an assurance that the credit would occur within the next three to five business days. Sure enough, this morning when I checked my account balance online, there was a credit for the full purchase price. While I am glad that I got my money back, and I am pleased with myself for having the foresight to keep the various tracking and order numbers, as well as notes from each call to customer service, I am disappointed that it was this difficult to make a return. I strongly suspect that had I not kept track of this and kept calling that I still wouldn't have my money. While I can't say for sure, I even think that Cingular would have kept my money until I called and raised enough of a fuss.

Cingularly disappointing.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.