Cingular Internally Denies Contract Problems

Cingular’s recent SMS rate hike has caused Cingular grief and PR woes. From refusing to comment to, and the entire media, to sending mixed messages… all over a rate hike on text messaging.

Incoming SMS messages are affected by the recent PPU rate hike (from $.10 to $.15). Many, including competitors such as Sprint have been waiving the Early Termination Fee when they raise these rates. However it appears that Cingular now considers this rate hike to not be a material change in services provided. Quoting from Cingular’s internal employee Knowledge Base:

Since Cingular is raising its (text messaging) rates, are customers entitled to cancel service without paying an early termination fee?

A. No, that doesn’t apply here. This is simply a pricing change for pay-per-use text and instant messaging, which is an optional service. It’s similar to buying a ringtone – that’s optional as well. It’s not part of your monthly rate plan.

Customers who pay for text and instant messages on a per-use basis are generally those who use text messaging occasionally. Frequent users generally purchase packages or bundles, so they can send and receive messages for as little as a penny each.”

This response is receiving significant scrutiny. Text messaging can be disabled, however that too would be a material change in services provided. Readers have reported filing FCC complaints, to which Cingular’s Office of the President has refused to respond to with any form of resolution.

Cingular media relations has a long-standing policy of not commenting to