Having trouble reaching a human at Tracfone or its new, Walmart-exclusive cousin Straight Talk? Call their corporate office at (800) 876-5753. This bit of information comes courtesy of reader Michael, whose service was canceled out from under him for a reason that no one fully understands to this day. Here’s his story, in the form of an open letter to Straight Talk. Which, thankfully, he didn’t send, because it sounds like nobody there would have had time to read it.
Dear Straight Talk,
Until today, I was a vocal proponent of your service. “Such a deal!” I would exclaim to all suffering under the weight of ridiculously long and expensive contracts for mobile phone services. Having been a user of your “All You Need” service plan beginning in January of this year, I had found no reason to give it anything but the most glowing of reviews. “Finally!” I said, “A reasonably priced, pre-paid service that doesn’t nickel and dime me at every turn!”
I was truly satisfied. Alas, that satisfaction was seriously assaulted today, damaged perhaps irreparably.
What happened was this: this afternoon, I attempted to make a phone call. A perfectly reasonable request of a mobile phone, I would say. After listening to the usual mechanized assertion that the time available for this call was sixteen hours and twenty nine minutes, something strange happened. Rather than connecting my call as expected, I received a Verizon Wireless service error message indicating that the successful completion of my call was a ridiculous thing to expect from my phone. Sixteen-plus hours of service time be damned! Such a request is clearly an impossibility for some esoteric reasons that, to me at least, continues to remain infuriatingly unknown. But more on that later.
The next logical step was to see what happened when I tried to call my own number. Upon attempting this, I was informed that my phone number had been “…changed, disconnected, or [was] no longer in service.”
Oh, really? Because the $30 for my plan was certainly deducted from my bank account, and the website certainly seems to think I’m a customer in good standing.
Oh! I almost forgot. The Verizon Wireless error message always instructed me to contact customer service by dialing *611 and hitting send. So I did that. As was greeted by the beginning of a recursive nightmare telling me to contact customer service by dialing *611 and, again, hitting send.
So I move on to my work telephone. At 4:55pm, PST, I called your customer service line directly at (877) 430-2355, informed your voice mail system than I was an English-speaking person seeking technical support, and was promptly put on hold.
A few minutes passed, and I was greeted by another disembodied robot voice tells me that the expected wait time was approximately ten minutes. I grumbled, but accepted my fate.
Putting the phone on speaker, I proceed to go about my work, constantly taunted by the insipid muzak you people play in what can only be an attempt at psychological warfare, trying to break out will to call technical support. I’m reinforced in this belief by the once-a-minute interruption of said muzak (hey! I was just starting to get into that melody!) informing me that, y’know, it’d probably be better if I hung up and tried to sort this all out by myself by availing myself of the glorious tools available at my disposal on your website. The glorious tools that have already failed me, mind you.
And so, I pressed on.
Soon, it was twenty minutes. The music was starting to really get to me and my coworkers. Oh, and my workplace happens to be a high-end musical instrument store, so the horrible muzak really was a burden on the workplace, filling the air with horrible, scratchy tones when people were trying to determine if they liked this $4000 Mandocello or that $3500 Harp. Either way, very inappropriate, but necessitated by the failure of dialing *611.
But I digress.
Finally, an entire hour and four minutes had passed, and we had to close the store, thus depriving me of the phone I was attempting to make the call to technical support with, which is why I still don’t understand the cause of my currect predicament.
Upon arriving home, I tried again, this time from a friend’s phone. As loathsome as the idea was, I needed my phone more. To my dejected amusement, the voice mail system informed me that I would have to try again tomorrow, as they were closed for the day. Just great.
As much as I rely on this phone, its failure to operate is costing me not only in a social sense, but in an immediate financial sense as well. I am thoroughly disappointed, and if this matter is not handled in a manner superior to that which I have thus far become sadly accustomed, I will be forced to discontinue my service and become and advocate against your service at least as vocally as I previously had been extolling its virtues.
The next day, he sent us an update:
This morning, I finally reached technical support, where I was informed my service had been disconnect *for absolutely no reason*. At least that’s the story they’re sticking to. I also found out rather depressingly that my phone service had been dead for three days, rather than the one I initially thought. Because my Google Voice number was still working, I was still receiving my voice mails and didn’t notice that I couldn’t dial out.
The point, though, was that after quixotically struggling with several levels of technical support for several hours, I had succeeded in my epic struggle against the windmill, and they were able to get my phone working again. Hey, its not like I have anything to do with my time, like go to work for eight hours or try to have a social life or anything.
The technical support people kindly informed me that there was nothing they could do about the three missing days out of thirty. Now, I may not have a degree in higher mathematics, but I’m fairly certain they were telling me that I could kiss 10% of my service time goodbye. This was not good enough for me, and I demanded to be made whole.
After waiting nearly five minutes for a phone number of somebody who *COULD* make that right – somebody in “the Tracfone corporate office”, as it turns out – as well as a contact e-mail of ANY sort (they provide none anywhere I’ve seen on the web, and have even gone so far as to disallow comments on their “Straight Talk Blog”), I went off to do battle yet again, this time in an attempt to get back the full 10% of my service that had been denied me.
Fortunately, this time around was much simpler and more direct. After calling the corporate office at (800) 876-5753 I was able to speak with a live, native English speaking person almost immediately, and that person seemed to understand my plight. It took her a good 10 minutes or so of futzing around and asking me to bare with her, but she finally was able to credit me 3 extra days, as well as 1000 extra minutes and 30mb of more free data; both tokens I can appeciate, although I’m certain I won’t be able to use them in my remaining time, as I never run out of the minutes I have as it is. The three days to USE that time, as there are no “rollover” minutes with Straight Talk, was much more important. With this plan its 30 days or 1000 minutes, whichever comes first, and the 30 days *always* runs out first.
So, as long as you sound like an educated, well spoken person who is clearly aware of their rights under the contract they signed, you can get your service back to normal.
Y’know, after they suspect it for no reason, that is.
If you should ever find yourself in a similar situation, I recommend you bypass the regular customer support line and call the corporate directly at:
If you need to e-mail them, and Tracfone/Straight Talk seemingly doesn’t want you to, the addresses are as follows:
I hope perhaps this can help somebody else out in the future. And don’t let them tell you that the time you lost is somehow gone forever, because “they don’t have the tools to give you more time” (their exact words). They may not, but corporate certainly does.