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Q&A For Cell One to AT&T Transition - Part 3 (LONG)

by hardcorehavok    Oct 9, 2007, 7:18 PM

Recently, a letter was either mailed to or made available online to Cell One COR stores, agents and dealers. It answered a few questions about the pending AT&T take over. Some of the questions were answered with something like "AT&T will let you know as the time nears." I know there have been many questions about AT&T's purchase of Dobson Communications and Cell One. I currently work in an authorized dealership. Having worked for Cingular/AT&T for a year and a half, I have the advantage of seeing the aftermath of the AT&T Wireless to Cingular transition and being there for the Cingular to AT&T name change. I am going to give a few answers to some questions I have heard on forums or from customers. Some of the questions may sound stupid, but believe me: people have and will ask them. Some questions are for customers and some are for employees (both company and agent). Some questions are for both.

Q: Will AT&T still honor my phone's warranty?

A: Yes. The warranty is not through the carrier. It is through the manufacturer. Most carriers have warranty programs that try to make it seamless by interacting with a company you know (your carrier) instead of a company you don't know (the manufacturer). Again, there are two ways this may occur. The first option is for AT&T to have a separate Cell One warranty department that will eventually be phased out. Cell phones only have one year warranties, so they would only need this department for a maximum of a year. The other way is that they may just have their existing warranty department handle Cell One customers as well. One thing I am really looking forward to with the transition is the warranty program. Currently, Cell One customers must call the warranty department to have a loaner phone shipped to them. When they receive it, they send their warrantied phone back to the warranty department. The warranty department then ships it to the manufacturer who tries to fix it. If they cannot fix it, they will send the customer a replacement. This whole process can take 6-8 weeks. I have had several customers complain about this process. AT&T has what they call Exchange By Mail or XBM. The customer calls them and they sent a replacement phone to the customer. The customer sends the warrantied phone to XBM and that is it for the customer. It is a process that normally takes 2-3 business days. AT&T then sends the phone to the manufacturer who will try to fix it and if they do, it will be returned to AT&T and resold as a refurbished phone. Isn't that so much better?

Q: What about phone protection?

A: Other than a name change to Handset Insurance, there shouldn't be any issues. Both Cell One and AT&T go through Asurian for their protection. The monthly price is $4.99 for both companies and the deductible is $50 for both.

Q: Will agents and dealers have to reapply for AT&T? Will they close any stores?

A: This is one question I cannot answer for sure. I can give you my best guess though. AT&T will do one of two things with regard to authorizing dealers. They will either give dealers a specified amount of time (probably about three months) to reapply and make sure they meet AT&T policies or they will just automatically accept Cell One dealers as their own. As for the store closures, it depends. I have heard of AT&T (and almost every other carrier) closing agent and dealer stores if they are too close to a COR store and/or if they take too much business from the COR stores. This is truly something that we will not know for sure until the time comes.

Q: Who will pay for new signage for dealers and agents?

A: One big change for dealers and agents will be signal. Most dealers have their carrier's name on their building. I know I do. As I stated, I went through the Cingular to AT&T name change and I saw a few different things. AT&T will either foot the entire bill, part of the bill or none of the bill. I know it is not a definite answer, but it is the best I can provide. I saw some dealers have to pay for all the new signage and I saw some pay part or none. It is up to AT&T fully. It is possible that you may have a clause in your contract with Cell One that states that if they ever change the name all signage is covered by the company. Go check.

Q: Will my store be able to carry and sell the iPhone?

A: There had to be an iPhone question. Didn't there? At this time, only AT&T COR stores and Apple stores carry and sell the iPhone. This could change after a while, but don't hold your breathe.

Q: Will I be able to buy an iPhone?

A: Yes, but you will have to sign a new two year contract with AT&T and change to a compatible AT&T plan.

Q: Will I be able to get a Sidekick?

A: Yes, if you mean someone to stand by you to fight crime. No, if you mean the T-Mobile EXCLUSIVE device.

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