Cingular comes through

I have such a love/hate relationship with [Cingular]( I can’t stand some of the things they do, but I stick with them because of rollover minutes and the Fast Forward cradle, both of which have saved me hundreds of dollars in the past year. You would think something like moving from one state to another would be easy, but no. Took 6 weeks and one exceptional Cingular employee to do the right thing.

Thanks to the Fast Forward cradle, I can get my cell phone calls routed to my home phone number when I’m home and it doesn’t cost me any of my minutes. As a result, my cell phone number is my main contact number. I give it out freely (but it’s not published online that I know of), knowing that clients or child care givers can reach me without calling around. If I’m home, great, if not they get me too. Most months, I have more minutes in mobile-to-mobile (Eric and my Mom are on Cingular) and Fast Forward than anytime minutes.

When we knew we were moving from Connecticut to New Jersey, I went into a Cingular store and asked about getting a new local phone number. No problem, they told me. But what about the old number? They told me it just goes away. Uh oh. No forwarding? No. Cell phones aren’t like land lines, no recording that says “The number you have dialed has changed. The new number is…” So I could get a local NJ phone number, but at the moment I was assigned the new number my old one would go away immediately. Callers would get a message that the number was no longer in service. Unacceptable. I called Cingular to complain. I spoke to Cingular employees here in NJ. I was told that’s just the way it was. I could start a new contract with a new number and keep the old one for a little bit with overlap, but then I’d have to pay a cancelation fee on the old number as my current contract doesn’t expire for another year. Ugh. I decided to wait until my current contract was one month away from expiration and I’d do the overlap then, willing to pay $40 for the extra month (my monthly fee).

I was getting a little tired of explaining to everyone why I lived in New Jersey but my phone number had a 203 area code. Yesterday, while Laini and I were at the Menlo Park Mall I stopped in the Cingular store there to pick up a new case for my phone. The cashier, a very nice man named Badar, asked for my Cingular phone number to ring up the sale. I gave it to him. He asked me about the 203 area code. I explained my situation, telling him my plan to wait the 6 months until my contract is close to expiration, start a new plan with the free phone, switch the SIM cards and leave voice mail on the old number telling callers the new number. Badar said, “Wait a minute. Come back here with me and let’s get this straightened out.” He walked me to a back desk and he called Customer Support on my behalf. He explained to the woman on the phone my situation. Within 15 minutes Badar had arranged for me to have a new SIM card with a 609 area code and my old SIM card with the 203 area code would be active for 30 days. **At no charge and with no change to my contract length.** Since the old SIM card is not in a phone (I have it in a safe place), callers are immediately directed to voice mail with a greeting I recorded that informs them of the new number. The old SIM card will automatically be deactivated after the 30 days are up. Perfect.

Why was that so difficult? I have no idea. Once again, thank you Badar for going above and beyond. I need to find the address for Cingular HR so I can sing Badar’s praises to them too. Maybe I’ll just send something to the manager of that store.