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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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Michael / November 5, 2004 2:20 PM

Cingular. Not great, not bad, but gotta love the rollover minutes.

Ruthie / November 5, 2004 2:23 PM

I use Sprint PCS. I like it. The minutes are free after 7 pm and on weekends, which is the only time I really use it anyway.

dce / November 5, 2004 2:24 PM

Verizon. I'm happy with their service, but the phones they offer are terible.

Before switching to them from Cingular, I signed up for AT&T, Sprint, and US Celluar. I cancelled them all within the grace period (usually about two weeks)as I simply couldn't get a good signal. Verizon was the only one that worked reliably.

So I guess that's as ringing an endorsement one can give . . .

jennifer / November 5, 2004 2:26 PM

I am one of the very few cellularless people left in the country I think. If I were to get one, I'd go with Sprint, because I think the spokesman is hot.

Benjy / November 5, 2004 2:33 PM

I have Cingular and the service has gotten noticably worse in recent months. I live in Lincoln Park and there's pretty much a dead zone between Racine & Clark, Diversey & Armitage. Every time I'm on my phone driving in that area, calls drop or get so full of static I have to just hang up.

But I'm on the old TDMA network, and their newer service is GSM. I think they're not replacing/fixing the old network when it breaks. Anybody have a Cingular GSM phone and live in LP? How's it work?

Naz / November 5, 2004 2:38 PM

As of last week I'm back on a cell phone after a year and a half absence. Feels odd to have one again. I'm back with Sprint PCS, my former provider - they're pretty solid in the areas I need it to be and since most of my friends are on the same network, you can call them for free, which is pretty damn good since that doesn't eat into minutes. The optional unlimited minutes starting at 7pm (for $5 a month) is swell too.

I used to have Cingular but their reception in the Lakeview area sucks arse. When I lived at Belmont/Damen, the signal was barely there. When I moved to Belmont/Halsted calls would get dropped regularly. Bah.

j3s / November 5, 2004 2:46 PM

I've had T-Mobile for four years, since it was VoiceStream, and have had no complaints at all; in fact I've recommended it to several friends. The service and coverage has been really good in Chicago, especially because I got it at a time when I had to place calls from a landline ten times to reach friends who had Sprint and AT&T. Outside of major cities and highways the coverage can be a bit spotty (it's all GSM), but I tend to be pretty urban so this has not been a big problem for me.

Cynical / November 5, 2004 2:55 PM

I have T-mobile and I love it. Never a drop -- but then I never travel far from a Starbucks. Took it all the way up to Wausau, WI where it roamed (but for free), but seamlessly. Did phonebanking for Kerry using Sprint which was AWFUL. Maybe that's why he lost in so many places ...

brian / November 5, 2004 3:02 PM

I've had Sprint, Cingular, and AT&T Wireless. Cingular was horrible and I promised myself I would never use them again. I was reasonably happy with AT&T Wireless (despite that fact that their website sucked monkey butt for awhile when they switched systems). Eventually though when they were bought by Cingular, I left.

I now have Working Assets Wireless, which means that some of my money goes to things I care about. And they don't charge late fees when your bill is due.

Krissy / November 5, 2004 3:02 PM

I just renewed my contract with Cingular, and now CBS2 says they suck? Well, I don't care, because my new phone is so badass. My calls don't seem to drop, but their customer service is a bit dodgy. Twice I've asked for a map of my calling plan and twice I've been sent (to my Chicago apartment) a map of TEXAS.

Mike / November 5, 2004 3:08 PM

Cingular- Don't really think it's any better than any other plan. I just don't think I actually want a Cell at all and probably won't get a new plan after this one is up. The free long distance is nice, but I forget to turn it off in theatres, at work and basically whenever it's not supposed to be on.
Also, it's supposed to be a convenience but it seems to end up making my life busier.
Now, if I could get service on one of those 80s phones with the carrying case and huge antenna; I'd do it in a heartbeat. But then I'd probably want a Delorean and a pink blazer and after that it's a pretty slippery slope.

diane / November 5, 2004 3:11 PM

tried em all...
ended up with Tmobile...
not a single problem.

michelle / November 5, 2004 3:46 PM

I had Verizon on a company plan, and attempted to switch to Cingular (just to get a newer, better phone) -- BIG mistake! My phone from Cingular was never delivered, and trying to get ahold of anyone there to find out why was a nightmare. Two hours on hold only to discover they had cancelled my account because FedEx returned the package! No one bothered to call me, and I received a bill for services despite this fact. I still haven't been refunded for the $50 phone...

Craig / November 5, 2004 3:47 PM


eep / November 5, 2004 3:47 PM

I'll put in a fourth bit of praise for T-Mobile. I've had them for over two years, and they're lovely. Great customer service, too. I recommended them to a friend, as he was having massive problems with Sprint. He has no complaints, either.

Miranda / November 5, 2004 3:54 PM

Sprint. The PCS to PCS unlimited minutes plan can't be beat. And the free & flexible plan is a good idea if you occasionally go over your minutes.

The text messaging to other Sprint phones, however, is kind of spotty.

robin.. / November 5, 2004 3:59 PM

brian--i was considering going wireless with working assets as well (they do all my ground line services right now). who is their carrier for that? AT&T or something? i've been staunchly anti-cellphone for YEARS and i'm so uneducated about it. willfully.

Eamon / November 5, 2004 4:00 PM

I've been with T-Mobile since they were VoiceStream, and I love 'em. When I was on vacation in Ireland last spring, we had a major catastrophe at work resulting in dozens of phone calls and several hundred panicked pages from confused machines, resulting in a phone bill just under a grand. They were incredibly co-operative and allowed me to pay a nominal percentage. Great coverage, good customer service, moral values-- highly recommended.

Carrie / November 5, 2004 4:11 PM


I used to have Cingular and I couldn't stand them in the end. I'd be sitting in the same place for an entire phone call and yet calls would still drop. If I was on the subway and someone left a message, I wouldn't be notified. I missed at least messages within a week.

I have yet to have any problems with T-Mobile. They were the only company that was highly recommended by a lot of people when I was going to switch companies.

Joseph J. Finn / November 5, 2004 4:11 PM

Virgin Mobile, so I can avoid the contract silliness. The reception could be better indoors, but I like paying for only what I use (this is not a good plan for heavy volume users, but I don't use my phone that much).

Ally / November 5, 2004 4:49 PM

I second Working Assets Wireless. I've had them for 3 years and loved them. (Robin- they're on the Sprint network, which I've never had a problem with). Their customer service is always great too. I called them a few months ago and asked how I could get a new phone (as the one I had was several years old) and they sent me a new one FREE! Plus it feels good to know my money is going to a good cause. I also have their credit card

Brenda / November 5, 2004 4:52 PM

Virgin Mobile piggybacks the Sprint network, so it's got really good coverage. I recommend it for pay-as-you-go types, especially if you travel a lot.

Now that I've got a Treo, however, I have to strongly recommend T-Mobile. All nationwide plans, so no roaming. I don't use the phone much, but email all the time, so I have an unlimited data plan with a pay-as-you-go phone plan (20 cents/minute). I've heard T-Mobile has a lot of black holes, but if you live and travel in the city, like I do, you won't have a problem. So far customer service has been automated, and their online account tools are pretty good. Email setup is a bit wonky, but if you're geeky enough to want email on your phone, you're geeky enough to figure it out.

The new Treo 650 will only be available on Sprint for the next year, which is reason enough in my book to wait to buy one until other providers start carrying it. And--hey--maybe T-Mobile will start discounting the Treo 600 for you new customers. Score! (I love my Treo... can you tell?)

Pat / November 5, 2004 5:08 PM

Tmobile- I've had the service for three years now. Great price, very good coverage(always have signals when friends don't), the best customer service(broke my phone after six months and they sent me a new one for free), and a free phone with only a one year contract(The best deals seem to be on Amazon's T-mobile store) and every year I renew and they give me another phone.

I've used the phone there service all over the US and Canada and never have a problem.

Onid / November 5, 2004 5:13 PM

I am with T-Mobile and I am happy. I was in Greece last week and it worked as soon as I turned it on. At one point I was on a train in the middle of no-where (spitting distance from the Albanian border) half asleep and my phone rang. It was a friend from Chicago who wanted to know if I wanted to go for beers. I just thought that was the coolest thing.

Kris / November 5, 2004 5:17 PM

I've got Sprint, and for the last couple of years I've had no complaints. Their coverage used to be spotty--I know when I lived in Humboldt Park a few years back I couldn't make or receive a call without it being dropped--but they seem like they've really made improvements. I seem to have good signal everywhere in the city these days. And I've got the free Sprint-to-Sprint which saves a lot of money, and I can go just about anywhere in the country and still be on network. Roaming? What's that?

Oh, their phone selection kind of blows. There is that.

Joe / November 5, 2004 6:13 PM

Cingular. It has some issues. The newer Motorola phones (V400) all seem to suck on Cingular. Also, there's ALWAYS been a dead zone around the 'L' tracks from Fullerton to Belmont.

Also, the Motorola dropped call issue is starting to annoy me, and I can't get anyone from either Cingular or Motorola to admit there's a problem. Basically, the phone drops calls at regular time on a call. You know it's that drop as your signal bars pop back to full from almost none as the call drops. Also, the phone is unresponsive to hitting "end" right when the call is about to drop.

Anyway, I agree with the CBS piece, Cingular isn't so hot.

Angela / November 5, 2004 6:37 PM

Cingular. The reception is so horrible in my apartment that once a phone "accidentally" slipped out of my hand and flew into a window. Oopsie.

So now in addition to a crappy cell phone, I think we lost our security deposit.

Joe / November 5, 2004 6:57 PM

I don't have one. I still have to practice the lost art of coordination. You'd be surprised how uncoordinated cellphones make people. Who needs to make plans if you can change them instantaneously with no penalty?

ron / November 6, 2004 1:06 PM

ATT was the absolute worst service I ever had

Thurston / November 7, 2004 12:03 PM

Joe is right. Cell phones give people the opportunity to flake out at the last minute. A lot of people, because they're always in touch, will never make firm plans because they're afraid they might miss out on something cooler, so they "maybe" it the whole time waiting for that cool call to come in. The thing is, most people really aren't as cool as they think they are, so the call never comes, and they end up never doing anything.
I think most people are pretty rude with their phones. People pick them up while you are mid-sentence speaking to them, and they're so dependent they just can't bear not to know who might want to shower them with attention. Cell phone users as such pretty much say to anyone with them that they take a back seat to anyone else in the entire world who might call at any moment. Of course, not everyone is so extreme, and I don't condemn the phones but the people. But I think everyone knows someone who behaves with their phones as I have described.
That said, I got my first cell phone a few months ago after years of serious problems and spurrious bills with SBC and AT&T landlines. I made a mistake. I don't need to be in touch all the time; I make a plan, and I go and do it. My crappy cingular service can not penetrate the walls of my apartment building, so I have to make all my calls form outside on the deck. That was fine in the summer but it is becoming increasingly unpleasant.

Steve / November 7, 2004 1:21 PM

AT&T. Don't like it; don't hate it. My phone is a 20th-Century block of cheese but the battery is still old and what's old eventually becomes new again, so someday soon all will worship at the altar of my big blue Ericsson....

Andrew / November 7, 2004 2:19 PM

I've had Sprint for 5+ years, and for the most part I've been happy with them. There are some persistent dropout zones, but not too many, and I generally get my calls and hold them.

chris / November 7, 2004 3:58 PM

I am a loser, I don't own a cell phone. No one will talk with me. boo hoo..poor me.

steven / November 7, 2004 6:07 PM

verizon. good service, no drops as of yet. i still think they're all too expensive though.

Ray / November 8, 2004 2:39 AM

My T-Mobile phone worked like a charm in England and Italy last year...very handy. I like the service, except for the dead spot in my girlfriend's apartment (to be fair, it's a concrete elevator building).

Anthony / November 8, 2004 9:18 AM

ATT Wireless, now part of Cingular, which I'm not happy about since I detest SBC with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.

ANYWAYS, I've been happy with it for the better part of the last year. This weekend it gave me a hard time because my voice mail got messed up. I had to call to have them fix it. I swear I went round and round in their automated customer service thing for 15 minutes before I got a person on the phone (I had to choose "Add features and services"). Great customer service, ATTWS!

davin / November 8, 2004 9:44 AM


seriously, have not a single complaint. i think it's the best for traveling too. i have never been roaming and i have never had any trouble with reception.

you just have to keep an eye on your bill for any extra charges, but other than that i have had great luck.

they even let me get a new phone and new contract before i had fully completed my previous two year contract.

nothing like talking up 'the man'... i might as well tell you to eat at mcdonalds too.

len / November 8, 2004 11:37 AM

Cingular and I hate it.

The combination of the service and my phone make for terrible reception and lots of dropped calls. It's the absolute worst near my apartment (lincoln square) - I can't even talk unless I'm in my sunroom. The thing works like a charm downtown though.

My boyfriend also has Cingular but a nicer phone, and he has problems too but just not as bad.

I've been thinking of switching to T-Mobile but the $150 to drop Cingular (still have year and a half left on contract) is a little hard to swallow. Should I just do it? How is T-Mobile for those who live in Lincoln Square?

robin.. / November 8, 2004 12:05 PM

joe and thurston: ah, yes. you've hit the nail of my cellular reluctance on the head. i deeply dislike the way that cell phone users are constantly colonizing public space, trying to turn it into private space. additionally, those of us who make plans and stick to them are constantly shafted, waiting by the home phone for friends to let us know what the rumpus is for the evening. argh. there must be a better way...oh, wait, the better way is judicious use of the cell phone and not using its (presumed) instantaneousness as a crutch.

i am so willing to explode on trivial things these days it's not even funny anymore. i propose our next "fuel" be "puppies and kittens: a good thing? please discuss."

Brenda / November 8, 2004 12:43 PM

Judicious? Crutch?

A cellphone is a tool, people. If someone is inherently rude and unreliable, a cellphone ain't gonna change that, and vice versa. Hammers can be used to build houses or smash skulls; how it's used is up to the user.

Be indignant anti-cellphone people if you want, but consider the possibility that the problem you're having with your friends has more to do with your friends than their cellphones.

Kirsten / November 8, 2004 1:30 PM

I have Cingular, and I've never had a problem with drop calls or the reception with my phone, even when I lived in Lakeview. However, I can't call into my voicemail when I am out of the Chicago area, and it is really really irritating. The customer service people don't know what is wrong with it. Has anyone else had this problem?

Monya / November 8, 2004 2:14 PM

US Cellular for the past year. I've been pretty happy with the reception, except when I'm deep in the bowels of a building downtown, where it not only gives me the ROAM symbol but I get an obnoxious recorded message that says I'm not recognized in their system.

The start-up cost was pretty low, I like my phone and I like the unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes.

I've also tried Working Assets Wireless (Sprint towers) and the reception was great even in a basement, just a bit more expensive than US Cellular.

There's not much worse than being stuck on the train, listening to someone's personal conversation on the phone. ick.

Jason / November 9, 2004 3:23 PM

NEXTEL = Crap in the NW burbs! Had Sprint for two years from 00-02. Couldn't wait for the contract to expire, total junk. I've had Nextel for the past two years and my contract expired this month....thank god! Tonight I switch to T-Mobile....

Tommy / November 20, 2004 10:57 AM

An interesting sidenote. I have heard that Nextel towers are overpowering everyones signals including police radios. Apparently police on patrol have lost communications when near Nextel towers. The FCC is doing nothing to correct the problem or punish Nextel. The media should jump all over this.

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