If you have a customer who already purchases most of your services on a regular basis, you'd want to make it as easy as possible for them to purchase more, right? And you would want them to be quoted the same price no matter who picked up the phone, correct? You certainly wouldn't want your internal business processes to make it impossible to place another order, would you?

Not the wireless division of the New AT&T, formerly known as Cingular.

My daughter is 15, has had a part-time job for several months, and wanted her own cell phone (that she will be paying for) added to our our Family Plan. We checked the web site and then Alison said she wanted to go to a store and actually look at the phones before deciding on a model. Prices in the store were about $50 higher than online, but the stores would waive the $26 activation fee and offred a $20 rebate if you added a text message package, which Alison wanted. She was about ready to order a RAZR, when she found that the store only stocked them in black. So we decided we would order online from home.

First we made a stop at Best Buy to pick up a gift card for a family birthday party that evening. Best Buy was offering the RAZR FREE with 2 year contract, plus a $50 gift card by mail. The salesperson pointed Alison at the most recent RAZR model which had several additional features and was the color she wanted. Alas, they did not actually have any in stock.

The salesperson returned from the stock cabinet with a Samsung Sync phone with the same colors and features as the RAZR, with the added advantage of being of sturdier construction. I've had a Samsung phone for about a year and it has survived many drops with no adverse effects, while Alison has several friends who are on their second and even third RAZRs in that time.

I gave my phone account info to the salesperson, who started the “add a line” procedure on the AT&T web site. The procedure got stuck at step 3 of 6. After several phone calls to AT&T, the problem was determined to be that I had “combined billing”. My landlines, cell phones and DSL service are all on one bill. According to AT&T, I could not add a cell phone line without calling Combined Billing, having them “unbundle” the billing, add the line, and then redo the bundling. After calling that number and winding through a number of menus, the Best Buy salesperson was informed that the Combined Billing office was CLOSED on Sundays.

So we will have to go back to Best Buy on Monday or pay $50 more for the same phone online from AT&T. Or maybe take all 3 cell phones to Sprint and the land lines and internet sevice to Comcast.

Stay tuned…