I’ve been wanting to get a Treo 650 every since the Treo 600 was announced almost two years ago. The Treo 650 adds my missing feature—Bluetooth—and the high-resolution screen and faster processor helped clinch the deal. PalmOne announced the 650 last October, but my wireless plan is with Cingular (formerly AT&T Wireless), who just started carrying on February 2nd. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to get one. Each attempt yields less success than the previous attempt, and mainly seems to have the affect of wasting my time and raising my stress level.
I currently have a multi-line AT&T Wireless voice plan, with two phones. One of them (mine) has an $8/month data plan. Ideally, I would just replace my phone with a Treo 650 and be done with it. My employer has a deal whereby I get a discounted monthly rate with Cingular, so the first thing I did was call the Cingular “Formerly AT&T Wireless” National Business Ordering center. I got a helpful sales rep who informed me that they had the phone available, but I couldn’t put it on a multi-line voice plan. Not only that, but I would need a data plan at a minimum of $20/month. In other words, they won’t sell me the phone without my giving them an extra $40 each month. This is the point where I have to restrain myself from yelling at the phone, and politely hang up.
So much for “Premier” business service: after three nearly identical calls to the NBO over two weeks, I gave up that idea. I was never really comfortable with the idea of buying the AT&T Wireless (“Cingular Blue”) version of the Treo 650 anyway, since it would be locked to AT&T Wireless SIM cards, and if I ever needed to change my plan in a way that would require a Cingular SIM, my smartphone would become an expensive paperweight.
One of my co-workers suggested that instead of getting the phone through the NBO, I could walk into a Cingular store and get one: Cingular lets you put the Treo on a multi-line plan, I would still get my company discount, and I’d have a future-proof “Cingular Orange” version of the Treo 650. The Cingular Web site even offered the 650 with the voice plan I wanted, and a $25/month unlimited data plan, which I established years ago as the price at which I’d spring for one. The only downsides are that since I’d have to switch my plan to Cingular, Laura would have to get a new phone too, and that I’d have to find a Cingular store with one in stock. Those are both manageable problems.
Earlier this afternoon, I called the Palo Alto Cingular store—the former AT&T Wireless location where I bought my current phone—and discovered that they had the Treo 650 in stock. I drove over immediately. The store was packed, I waited about half an hour for a salesperson, who finally told me that the cheapest data plan I could get with the Treo 650 was $29/month, for a paltry 5 megabytes of data. She insisted the plan I saw on the Cingular Web site was not for smartphones, despite the fact that it was specifically offered to me when I priced the Treo 650.
So I give up. Cingular has managed to make it far too difficult for me to give them money. There are still ways for me to get the phone, I suppose. I could give in and pay too much money a month for a data plan I don’t need. I could spend an extra $300 and buy the unlocked GSM version of the phone from PalmOne (I had almost decided to do this a few weeks ago, just before reading that PalmOne had raised the unlocked price from $599 to $699.) I could even switch to Sprint. Right now, though, I feel discouraged enough that I’m not sure I want to bother trying anymore.