A Cingular disappointment

The last four months, I've experienced a sharp and unpleasant shock every time I open my cell phone bill. $498. $677. $525. $798! For some reason, four months ago, Cingular started categorizing every minute of my call time as roaming even though I've been with them on a nationwide plan for years. Every month, I have to call and wait on hold for up to an hour while I'm transferred up the ladder to someone with enough authority to issue a refund. Every month I'm told the problem is fixed, and every month I call back to remind them that no, it's not.

I bit my tongue and waited until I arrived in Los Angeles to dump Cingular. My cell phone had long since stopped sending and receiving text messages, and the recurring billing problems were the last straw.

Verizon doesn't have the fancy phones that other providers offer, but their tagline of "There's only one reason to choose a wireless company: It's the network" makes sense. Cingular's coverage just can't match Verizon's in the last three cities I've lived in (Seattle, New York, and now LA), their base individual plans are the same price, and frankly, whipping out a sexy cell phone wins admiration for the phone, not the owner. Sure, I'd love to still be on GSM and to be able to pop in a SIM card in a foreign country, but it's always proven cheaper to just purchase a local cell phone and SIM card when traveling abroad than to use any of the U.S. providers' overseas plans.

The best deal I found, by the way, was not at a Verizon store but through Amazon.com, which offered an LG VX8300 phone for free after rebate and only required a 181 day rate plan commitment. At the Verizon store, they wanted to charge me $129.99 for the phone with a 1 year contract or $79.99 for the phone with a 2 year contract.

Their commercials can be aggravating, and Verizon is far from perfect, but for now, they're an upgrade. Yes, I can hear you now.