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More Evidence

Posted on Monday 14 June 2004

I’m down to one working Mobitex device because my second RIM 950 died. I still have my trusty Palm i705; I must be one of the few who are still using one.

I was working for Jim Hobbs at BellSouth the day that RAM Mobile Data launched its interactive paging service. In fact, I received my first 950 via personal delivery from the local RAM sales manager. (BTW, I insisted on paying for the device and the service.) That particular piece of gear lasted a long time, until about a year ago, actually. Five and a half years, which is remarkable for several reasons. First, because the device itself lasted that long, and second because neither the device nor the service was outdated. Nevertheless, that first unit finally gave up the ghost last spring.

So I called Cingular, who sent me a replacement unit for about $100. Only the replacement never worked well – kept cycling itself, and rebooting. They sent me yet another one, and it lasted until last fall, at which point it started to do the same thing. So I took the battery out and let it sit. But for some reason, likely nostalgia, I kept paying the bills, thinking that some day I’d need the 950 again and would just get it replaced again.

But now it’s been a while and I find my limited need for C3I email is more than satisfied by the Palm. It’s not nearly as good for writing email and their server is not nearly as reliable, but it’s more than adequate for the half-days I’m away from a more robust email machine. Plus it can carry my entire phone book and calendar, not the scaled-down version I can keep on my Z600. And since I use Macs on my desks I have never been able to sync with my 950, regardless of the software version on it.

So it was time, but I still hedged. I called Cingular and asked about getting a new 950. The rep said it would cost me $125 for another refurbished one. I hesitated for a minute, felt a little lump in my throat. I hemmed and hawed, then did it: I cancelled my account.

I wanted them to say, “Gee, Mr. Barse, you’ve been a subscriber since Day 1. Why are you quitting now?” or “Look, you’ve been with us for nearly seven years, how about $50?” or even “Would you be interested in one of our GSM BlackBerries with a cellular phone?” But they didn’t. Just a perfunctory, “Thank you for calling Cingular.”

OK, I can forgive you for not knowing what part I played in getting your business going; that you’d have such a thing in your database is a fantasy of mine, anyway. But you could have at least thanked me for my business.

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