I started writing this blog and once I was nearly done, the page decided to reload. I swear that those bastards at AT&T/Cingular have something to do with it. Let me begin again. I was a loyal customer to AT&T for years. I never really wanted a cell phone and still yearn for the days when we didn’t all walk around in our own little world with an earpiece or bluetooth device attached to our ears? Those were the days when someone would walk down the street and be considered rude for shouting on the phone in a crowd of people. Now? It’s highly acceptable for somebody to get annoyed when they’re in the mix of two thousand people in midtown and scream to their fellow commuters, “Excuse me! I’m on the phone!”
I only got the phone when I was living in LA because I was offered a job and told I could start as soon as I was set up with a cell phone. The next day I rushed over to AT&T and got my first phone, a symbolic gesture that I had entered the new age and sold my rights to be inaccessible by people on a 24/7 basis. Of course, the day after I signed my two-year contract, I was no longer “needed” by the “Women of Film” organization that was going to hire me.
So flash forward five years later, with my loyalty to AT&T for years. I was up to 1000 minutes a week, nights beginning at 7:00, and unlimited incoming text messages (I’m still perturbed by the audacity of these companies to charge for texts on both ends). I was on the old TDMA system and had yet to upgrade to GSM. I didn’t see the need or the point and during the process of the switchover, Cingular acquired AT&T. My reception suddenly got really bad. I couldn’t make calls about 50 percent of the time, and the remaining time the connection was so bad it sounded like I was called from another planet. Cingular refused to honour my contract because they said they could not honour AT&T’s rewards. Why? Because they were no longer AT&T. Not only that, but they told me it would be impossible to keep my number because I had an LA area code and lived in NY. The reps on the phone said the only way to keep this number would be to fly to LA, upgrade, and activate on the left coast. I’m a freelancer… the thought of contacting the thousands of people who potentially have my number for business would be an inconceivable nightmare. Thankfully, I snuck into a Cingular store and the young, sales-hungry kid at the counter was more than happy to get me to sign on for another two years.
Not six months later all the ads start appearing. Cingular is now AT&T. Really? How funny. After us poor AT&T slobs were paying for all these unused minutes thanks to no service, they suddenly went back to the original name. I’m now paying the same for 40-percent of the minutes, with nights starting two hours later, charged for incoming texts, and forced to get a text-plan, which means I’m paying five-ten bucks more a month for less.
I’d like to say two things: I hate cell phones. I think they’re ruining the social fabric of our society, as we all isolate ourselves from the rest of the living world around us and talk on the damn things. Patience is missing in correspondance and I even find myself anxious if I fail to hear back from someone in 2.5 minutes from when I first send out a signal, text, call… whatever. Secondly, fuck these companies for all their mergers and bad service and obnoxious fees. Why do they exist? Because they have become so dominant in our lives that we are at the mercy of them and their lousy service.
But first and foremost, I say, “Fuck you, AT&T-Cingular and whatever the hell else you want to call yourselves in the next year!”
*May I also note that by including their names in this blog, I now have google ads for this morons in my banners on the page.