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Cellular One Scams Text Message Recipients

For as long as Carey and I have been on the same cell phone plan with Cellular One, receiving text messages has been free. Sending them has always cost $0.10. I send Carey text messages during the day with ideas for dinner, schedules for the evening, etc. She could read them and save them without the hassle of looking at voicemail.

I used to send these messages via the Cellular One website, but then I began sending them via AOL Instant Messenger when that became available. Receiving text messages has always been free and was a large part of the reason Carey and I chose Cellular One.

This month, Carey and I were charged $1.50 for text messages. When Carey called to complain, she was told that a few sentences in our bill last month alerted us to this change and that our contract specifically allowed for such changes. Our cell phone bill, as you can imagine, is 22 pages long, most of which is set in small type, and roughly looks the same every month.

I intend to call back and complain, but if I can't get anywhere, so be it. But that leaves the question: how much will this cost Cellular One in goodwill? Instead of being proactive and sending a separate flier - or including a bright piece of paper separate from our normal bill with "IMPORTANT Update on Text Messaging" (or something) written on it, they just wait, knowing people won't read a few lines that occupy about 0.5% of their bill's text. And instead of saying "We're sorry. I'll credit your account $1.50, but please be aware of the charges going forward," we get this hardline "you should have read your bill" response. Instead of creating a solution, Cellular one created a trio of customers (me, Carey, and her parents all have cell phones on this same plan) who will switch to the hated Verizon as soon as possible!

P.S. Cellular One's website (enter 16506 as your zip code, then click "text message") offers text messaging to customers via the Web. I used this before AIM messaging worked. Nowhere on this page does Cellular One inform the sender of the text message that the recipient is going to be charged $0.10. I've taken a screen shot for posterity:

Cellular One Text Message

P.P.S. One additional "fact" - the last paper statement we got listed December 16 as the due date. When Carey called, she was also informed that she had a late charge. Apparently her billing cycle had been changed to December 5. This was done without notification as well. Supposedly they'll take care of that and wipe the late fee.

17 Responses to "Cellular One Scams Text Message Recipients"

  1. Similar thing happened to me with Cingular. I've yet to find a cell phone company that doesn't pull this kind of crap. The thing is that I receive a lot of text messages from people with unlimited texting plans, so sending me a message costs them nothing but they don't realize that it's costing me 10 cents every time. I can't choose not to receive text messages, so I have no way of controlling my monthly bill. I ended up just buying a $5/month text message plan because I was tired of worrying about it.

  2. Jason, other cell phone companies doing this doesn't make it right. Erik and I realize that legally this may be okay, but from a "goodwill" or a "don't piss off your customers" standpoint, it's not.

    Erik also mentioned that Cellular One could have sent everyone a free text message to tell them that receiving text messages would no longer be free.

    Slipping it into a massive document is sleazy at best.

  3. I do NOT recommend Verizon. Once you sign up for a contract, they lock you in. What was supposed to be a 2 year contract ended up being stretched out to 3 years or more, until we canceled it (175 per line) and went to T-Mobile.

    On another note, T-Mobile is great. I actually managed to talk to a person on their support line only after two menus or so. A real person. I was so amazed. And, at least here in Seattle, the reception is great. Full bars all the time, I'm serious.

  4. Carey, I wasn't trying to justify what Cellular One did. I was just sharing a similar experience with Cingular as well as my frustration that other people can run up my cell phone bill by sending text messages that I have no way to refuse. Sorry if it didn't come across that way.

  5. When you say Cellular One, I believe everyone here is referring to Cellular One from Dobson Cellular Systems. I did read the fine print, but even so, I was still VERY DISAPPOINTED!!!

    I just purchased Cellular One on a two year contract a month before, and the BIG selling point that the sales representative made was FREE INCOMING TEXT MESSAGES.

    This was a good selling point for me because I do not really like talking on the phone, and voice mail is a drag, listening to and playing messages. If you are in an office environment, it is much easier to glance at a text message, then call in for a message.

    Also, Cellular One's service is so crappy and horrible here, that even when you do call someone, you are constantly getting cut-off or the call does not ring through. With text message, the information pushes through as soon as they return to service.

    Many times I would simply use the service to say "Pick up a gallon of milk on the way home." Very simple and easy.

    So I signed a two year contract, and now Cellular One from Dobson Cellular Services has stabbed me in the back.

    I think in the long run, this is probably costing them more money, because now I actually do end up having to call. Then I end up talking for several minutes. I have an unlimited plan, so it does not cost me any extra. So basically I can talk as long as I want.

    You would think that it would cost Cellular One more money to process voice calls that it would to process a few text messages a day.

    I am not happy with what Cellular One has done. I think it was very poor business practice. And, I am not going to sign up for one of their text plans, as they are rediculous in price. I do not see the rate on their difficult to navigate website, but last I checked it was over $20 for unlimited. Others charge $5.

    Also, when I last checked, I did not see the unlimited voice plan listed anymore. So I am wondering if they will attempt to screw me out of this feature too?!?!

  6. I use a site called, they have real free text messaging to any provider. The sender nor the receiver gets charged.

    I stopped paying providers a long time ago, for a service that should've been free from day one.

  7. About 2 years ago I had three different phone accounts with Cellular One. All three cells had unlimited text messaging. They even billed me seperately for each phone for unlimited text.
    $5.99 a month which is nearly 18 dollars a month. I get a bill for $408.00 for the month. I called them and asked why my bill is so high? They said you had text messages. I said I pay for unlimited text messages. Their response was "when will you be paying your bill?" I told them again, I am not paying for text messages when I am being billed for unlimited texting.
    They said there is no such thing, but to prevent it again, I could get unlimited texting for something like 20.00 additional per phone per month but they can't put the order in until I pay my bill. I said I am not paying that. They said they would cut off my service and I would have to pay the full amount of the contract.
    I decided I had eaten their over charging for the last time. I asked to speak to a supervisor. They gave me another number. I called it and got their collections department.
    Again they warned that if I don't pay my bill than they would shut off my service...The fight went on for months. They called my work and asked to speak to my boss. They threatened to throw me in jail. They cussed at me and threatend to take my house and car. They did in fact scar my very good credit rating.
    I didn't get a zero percent down on my vehicle because their mistake ended up on my credit report. I have paid in thousands of dollars on interest on my vehicle loan. But thats ok. I would rather pay ten thousand dollars before they ever get another dime of my money. PS their paperwork was wrong too. When I told them that I always pay my bill and I had the phones for years...they told me I was lying and said my phone had belonged to a Margaret something the year before. They are liars, scam artists, and all and I mean all of their customer service reps are trained in collections and the owners and shareholders of cellular one should be ashamed of themselves.

  8. So, i think i have a similar problem as Cathy above me. I have had cellular one for about 4 years now. We have always paid our bill on time and have had the same contract when we signed up. We signed up 4 lines with unlimited texting on 2 of the lines(mine and my brothers). Well we have never had a problem other than no reception 24 hours a day everyday, until today. My mom was reading that like 500 page bill they send you with everyone you call and text and everything that was used. Well it said i had used 2547 some that were free then we had to pay for 1434ish? or so. They werent any different. They said i had exceeded my 3000 limit? When was there a limit on unlimited? So my mom called and complained and telling the guy that we signed up for unlimited and he said no you didnt you signed up for 3000. My mom tried telling the guy that they had incompetent salespeople working for them because they falsley lead us to believe we were buying something we werent really. Now i know 3000 texts seems ridiculous to go over but that includes incoming ones too! Even if they are other cellone carriers we still got charged .15 per text. I cant control who texts me and if i would have known it wasnt unlimited i wouldnt have texted so much. Now we have 200$ to add to our bill because of cellones stupidity. Its so frusterating too because they wont let us out with out charging us 175$ per line for cancellation.

  9. hi. i just want to comment on a few things.

    i work for cellular one.

    i just want to say, 99% of the situations you guys are talking about are easily fixed. i always try to help anyone that calls in that has situations like this. we WILL credit, if we feel like we can. i have a limit, but we can submit for credits. just be nice to us, and we are nice to you. if we accidentally did not backdate a text messaging package, it's OUR error, we will fix it. if you didn't see the flyer that we sent out to advise every single customer (with/without packages for texting, those with blocks on text messaging, those without) to let you know that text messaging prices increased to 0.15 per incoming/outgoing text did starting in june.

    also, we can remove the detail billing on your account, so you don't receive a 22 page bill. just call and ask.

    and i have nothing to do with collections. 🙂

    also, we don't have 3000 sms packages. it's 200/1000/unlim. it just sounds like someone did not backdate your package and you got a pro rated amount to use for the rest of your bill cycle.

  10. I just got the same scam. Only it was a $150.00 bill, not $1.50. Not cool! You got lucky. Also, they charged me 15 cents per incoming, not 10.

  11. What you are talking about is just the begining with cellone .They have a lot more scams going on than that particular sort of thing . One of the things that they also do is a scam involving the insurance on the phone that you purchase . How it works is they will sign you up for the extended warranty on the phone . If at any time you get rid of your insurance , they disable your phone to the extent that it will not even turn on . When you go into the store and ask for a replacement , they tell you that you have to pay $35 to have the manufacterer send you a replacement while the manufacturer fixes your phone . Meanwhile the cellone reps try to sell you a new phone or get you to sign up for a new contract with a free phone . I know this is true because I had experienced this sort of thing . Because I did not get a new phone or a new contract with cell one they were stupid enough to turn back on my cell phone immediatly after I had left the store and made it clear I would no longer be a customer. Keep in mind my account was current at that time .

  12. Since my purchase of the Motorola KRZR in March 07 (and renewing for another 2 years) I've been having problems with my text messaging. Every time I send a text I am billed an incoming text two seconds later. Of course I didn't notice this until my second bill-which was a full month with the new phone. I was almost at 500 messages and I never go through that many. Looking closely at the bill I discovered the billing problem. At first Cellular One was trying to help me: they thought I had a return receipt turned on my phone (KRZR doesn't have that feature), they told me to get a new SIM card (didn't help), they even had me send it to Cellect Solutions for a repair (couldn't be fixed and they sent me another KRZR - so they claim). Well, after that two month wait on the other KRZR, same problem and I don't think Cellular One really cares. They keep putting in trouble tickets and they can't figure it out. Last week I was told that I write messages that are too long and that's the reason. So, every text I wrote since March 18th has been too long, really? If that were the case (which it is not) I can understand them charging me two outgoing messages-but a sent and a received. So, is that reason because they are full of it or they know what's wrong, it's on their end and don't want to do anything about it? It will be a week since I fought with two Customer Service people. They were looking into it. No communication since. They have my money and my signature on a two year contract. They couldn't care about my problems!
    Please if anyone else out there has this problem or knows someone that does let me know! They keep saying it's only me and my two phones 😡 !

  13. now that Cell One has changed over to Dobson, where do you go to text from the web? the screen looks nothing like your shot above

  14. [quote comment="45515"]now that Cell One has changed over to Dobson, where do you go to text from the web? the screen looks nothing like your shot above[/quote]

    CellularOne is now actually AT&T here...

  15. Sorry, my mistake. Is texting from the web still available?

    I'm in Erie, too and plan on canceling my contract within the next month. I had a customer service rep refuse to help me unless I gave her my SSN. I basically told her due to privacy concerns, I was not comfortable providing that over the phone. She replied, "Well, then I guess I won't be able to help you today." I asked for her supervisor and surprisingly, they weren't "available". I'm walking in to a store and asking for the manager straight away. Then they can take my contract, put some BBQ sauce on it and eat it because that's about all it's good for.

  16. I know now that Cellular One is At&T now that some things have changed. The online view of your bill is the only way to see things. They said you can't go into a store and have a rep pull your usage up. (?) Don't know why.
    I do have to say that I did finally resolve my texting issue with them. That only happened because a friend of mine knew someone in their main headquarters. After he emailed this guy twice I finally got a phone call from someone high up. This woman was in contact with me since September until late December. She WAS the ONLY person that was willing to help me without trying to talk me into buying something more.
    I'm still under contract til next May. Don't know what I'll do then. Hope your contract taste good with the BBQ sauce! It'll probably cost ya though.

  17. I have also had nothing but trouble out of cellular one! Not so much with texting but with service itself. I have a contract that we got in March (2 phones) both sony ericsson that after the 14 day trial period both started not working correctly (like literally the 15th day!) I called cell one and they told me they couldnt replace them because it was after the 14 days (of course!) but told me to send one into the phone warrenty service, did that. They sent me a replacer phone to use while mine was inactive. I waited 2 months for my origional phone to get back to me, and it wasnt fixed ( wasnt reading the memory card to play music and stuff) so I called and they had me send it back again, 2 months later I get it back and same problem persists, so I call cell one and tell them they said I could call sony ericsson and they might know what to do, I did that sent it off and 10 days later I got it back and phone works better than new. But I sent the replacer phone back the same day I sent the broken phone to the sony people and now I get a card saying they charged my account $103 because they never received the replacer phone in the mail!!! I called and they said there is nothing they can do until the phone gets returned and that I should have gotten a tracking #, OK ITS MY FAULT, I sent it in the pre~addressed pre~stamped envelope you provided and its my fault it gets lost in the mail!!! So I call cell one and tell them I am fed up. I want out of my contract! But to get out costs $20 per month left on the contract per phone!! We just signed up for 2 yrs like 6 months ago!!! Signal sucks, Customer service Sucks in store and on the phone!!! and I feel like I am completely stuck with this service until my contract is up!!!