Unlocking your phone is legal, and the wireless industry agreed months ago to a set of conditions that went into effect earlier this year that allow consumers to do just that. Those companies all promised the FCC that they had a plan. And when you tell a federal agency that you have a plan, you probably actually should, and ought to follow it, too. One company didn’t, and that has landed them in some hot water with the commission.
FCC, TracFone Reach Settlement: Provider Will Now Unlock Customers Phones’ Like They Said They Would
Beginning in 2009, TracFone began selling supposedly unlimited prepaid data plans for $45 under brands like Straight Talk, Net10, Simple Mobile, and Telcel America, but without clearly disclosing that users who went beyond certain monthly usage thresholds would have their data speeds throttled or cut off entirely. But today, in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, TracFone has agreed to refund $40 million to affected customers. [More]
Once again, a lawsuit calls into question the definition of “unlimited” when it refers to smartphone data plans. This time, the plaintiff claims that Straight Talk Wireless (a partnership between TracFone and Walmart) is effectively putting monthly data caps in place by throttling data speeds for users once they use a certain amount of data. Furthermore, alleges the complaint, users aren’t being told about the throttling until it’s too late. [More]
A Straight Talk mobile plan with unlimited everything for $45 per month sounded pretty great to Thom, and he bought an unlocked Samsung Galaxy to use with the carrier. All has been well since September, when he subscribed to the plan, but now something terrible has come up. Limits. TracFone (Straight Talk is a joint venture between TracFone and Walmart) tells him that he’s running up against the plan’s unspoken 2 GB limit, and they reserve the right to cut him off.
M. likes Net10, but Net10 doesn’t seem to like him very much. At least their towers don’t. When his phone dove into a pool, he replaced it with a refurbished one. The new phone is the same model as the old one, but he says that Net10 insists that this is a coverage issue. The new phone won’t work in any of the same places where the old phone worked before it went for a swim.
You might need to get a pen and paper out to help diagram the byzantine shell game that the folks at Straight Talk (the Tracfone prepaid phone service sold through Walmart) have been playing with Consumerist reader John’s phone number.
Like most of the StraightTalk customers we’ve heard from, Barb was happy with Walmart’s mobile phone venture…until something went wrong and she had to deal with their customer service. In her case, the problem was that she ordered a smartphone that didn’t work. Simple enough to solve, right? Well…not quite.
The deal aficionados on the FatWallet message boards have various discussion threads devoted to providing the most current coupons for a slew of stores. Rather then dig for them, here’s a master list of their official store coupons and clearance threads. Members routinely get rid of dead coupons and post new ones, so this is definitely one to bookmark:
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.
Perhaps Greg is just lucky. Or it could be that TracFone’s customer service has improved quite a bit since we posted their executive customer service number a little over a year ago. Whatever the case might be, Greg had an unexpectedly hassle-free experience with the prepaid mobile phone provider, and wanted to let Consumerist know about it.
TracFone is a pre-paid wireless cellphone company that people enjoy for its low cost and hate for its customer service. The problem comes from their globally outsourced and non-integrated call centers. Problems don’t get solved. Emails go unreturned. Problems get stuck in infinitely recursive loops. Here’s a typical story from reader Susan, “I asked them to escalate this to a supervisor. Three days later, I get a response saying that they have investigated the problem and I should call their support line. When I called the support line, they had no details of any prior communication and no way to resolve the problem. So I am back at step one. ” Luckily for you, she found the numbers to escalate complaints up to the corporate level and got it solved: 1-800-876-5753 or 1-800-339-9345.