Cingular in hot water because of legacy AT&T accounts

| 7/13/2006

Cellular service provider Cingular Wireless is facing a lawsuit for allegedly degrading the service and overcharging existing AT&T Wireless customers after its $41 million acquisition of AT&T Wireless in 2004.

The lawsuit, filed July 6 in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, was filed by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, on behalf of seven AT&T customers, most of whom are California residents, The Associated Press reported.

The foundation is seeking class-action status for the suit, which alleges that after acquiring AT&T Wireless, Cingular assigned fees and service charges and lessened the reception on the transitioning customers’ phones, in order to convince them to switch to Cingular accounts.

Cingular had originally promised to provide the same service plans and reception to existing AT&T customers after the merger was complete.

In a press release, a Cingular spokesman, said the lawsuit contradicts numerous investments the company made in AT&T’s network.

“This lawsuit is completely without merit,” said Joaquin Carbonell, executive vice president and general counsel for Cingular. “Cingular has spent nearly $10 billion in integrating and improving its networks in the 21 months since the merger was completed, leading to a significantly improved customer experience and the fewest dropped calls of any national carrier.”

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer