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October 3, 2006

My recent battles with the service industry (my old landlord, Comcast, and now Cingular) are turing me into some kind of John Stossel.  While looking for info on how former AT&T wireless customers are being screwed by the Cingular buy out, I found this bit of information. It seems that Cingular, and other companies, rate your worth to them as a customer based on how much you spend. So, let’s say you’re not a cell phone geek, just someone who makes an hour’s worth of calls each week on your low level plan. You pay your bills on time. You’re likely worth less to the company than the kid who spends every waking moment texting and downloading Ja-Rule ringtones and is probably a month in arears. So when it comes time to renew, who is more likely to get the $500 pocket pc for $10 and extra minutes on the service contract? It ain’t you. Their idea of a good customer and our more traditional idea of a good customer appear to be at odds.

Cingular isn’t the only carrier using a system like this. The other carriers use something similar, and this kind of thinking is similar to the LTV (loan to value) rating already in use in financial services. So, if you’re a little late with your Visa payment next month, don’t worry too much about your rating as long as you’ve spent and spent well.

So if you’ve got four lines on a shared plan or the like, when your contract is up, take advantage. Don’t just go for what they offer in the adverts.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2006 10:25 am

    This is also becoming the rule in mortgage lending. As much noise as is made about good credit rating, I’m seeing (in the mortgage industry) more value placed on customers who have–and make–frequent late payments. Those late fees are gravy to the lender, so there is a not-so-secret tussle over who gets those folks.

  2. October 6, 2006 4:45 pm

    Cell phone companies need to be closely scruntinized by state attorneys general (I think that’s how you say it.) I’ve had much better luck with Cingular than Verizon, but I haave a few big complaints. Verizon would not give the phone numbers for incoming calls on my bill. I could never audit my bill. I just needed to assume that they were telling the truth. I wrote the BBB. Now with Cingular, I have suddenly started getting unsolcited telemarketing text messages–and they are chargin me.

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