Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On Being Phoney

I recently "upgraded" from my old Cingular service and phone -- nee AT&T Wireless (At least they forwarded the URL; check that out!), pre-merger -- to the new and "proper" Cingular service to change my plan and get a new, "more feature-rich" phone. So far, it's been nothing but trouble.

For one, apparently no one can send me SMS messages. I was able to have my girlfriend, who's on another network, send me one -- one! -- but since that single message, three separate friends (including her) have been unable to SMS me. Bothersome. We like to SMS.

Two, I used to be able to easily email pictures taken with my phone to Flickr. It turns out that that is no longer the case. Because Cingular sends pictures as "multimedia messages," I'm guessing that they're not image files and that I'll have to find a workaround or hack.

And three, which kind of makes sense, my girlfriend, who's on another network (remember?), can't forward me voicemails. That's less worrisome but indicative of the larger ill.

What's worrisome is that the phone rep I dealt with when deciding to pursue this upgrade persuaded me that there'd be little or any feature loss with the changeover. Similarly, the plan seemed more competitive in terms of price and data options. I've yet to be able to access the Net via this phone.

What's more worrisome is that this is a "merger." Apparently, telco mergers are merely acquisitions of customer bases with the intent to either maintain one set of no-longer-supported features and plans -- or "upgrade" them to already-existing and non-complementary or -comparative programs. Kind of like magazines buying the subscriber lists of defunct magazines and sending them the "new" title -- as Sci-Fi Magazine recently did with Cinescape (per Brett Warnock's letter, albeit largely positive, in the June issue of Sci-Fi).

Having called Cingular's closed-for-the-day support line and posted to their online forums, I'm hopeful for a solution -- but if any Media Dieticians can offer insights and ideas, I'll be thankful. That's better than hopeful.

I want to get SMS's. And I want to email Flickr pictures from my phone.

Help me, Cingular.

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