linked from Businesses That Bug Us & Cagey Consumer Highlights
So much to go through... so little reason to go through it. :-)
Good prices but is it worth the abysmal customer service?
This is telephone service in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, whether you're talking about local service, long distance, cellular phones, or public phones. You forgo the complex details only at the cost of paying more for your communications.
TracFone's service can be an economical alternative for those who want to have a cell without feeling the need for much talk time. But if you're thinking it would be good for use in an emergency, it just might not be there when you need it.
And you can count on having a lot of trouble when entering new airtime cards, with a declining level of customer service. In my most recent experience, my third call to a CSR was to their 800 number from a landline. Whenever I spoke, it came back with a full-volume echo about a quarter of a second later, which was extremely distracting. And the only way around this would be to call back and go through their menus again. Also, for west coasters, there is no customer service after 7 p.m.
Here are my whines...
excessively effective packaging
Honestly, this isn't the only product sold in a clear plastic "clam shell" package that's designed such that there's no possibility of opening it and resealing it without this being very obvious. Nor is it the only product sold in these plastic packages that require some sort of sharp-edged instrument to open.
If you use regular scissors, they will probably become uselessly misaligned after you use them on this package. If you use a kitchen knife, you risk stabbing yourself. Puncture it with a pen and then try tearing it, you'll likely cut yourself. So they're open to personal injury lawsuits as well as cost of replacement scissors.
complex pricing scheme
You need to add minutes within 60 days, unless you get a 12-month card, which tends to cost about 60¢ a minute. You have to deal with 150 minute cards that cost different prices depending on how long before they expire. You basically need a spreadsheet to figure out the best way to manage your airtime.
- minutes do not expire with active service
- ... this claim is meaningless until you get a definition of what's required to maintain active service. This needs to be accompanied by something which tells you the minimum cost required to maintain active service.
- no monthly bills
- ... but you need to make periodic payments to maintain your service.
- phone cannot be activated until scanned at the register
- a deterrent to theft, but evidently not true
- includes nationwide long distance
- but you have to read the fine print to find out the additional charges for roaming.
- save $200 on airtime
- If you purchased a total of 12 cards totaling 2040 minutes (4 each of 60 minutes, 150 minutes, and 300 minutes cards), you get 360 minutes worth of time. It's essentially a 15% discount, reducing your charges from a nominal 60¢ per minute to 51¢ per minute.
- Oops... that means you'd have spent $1224 dollars. If you're going to spend that much money. That's equivalent to 30 months of service at $40 a month, which would probably be enough to give you an unlimited service plan.
- An unlimited service plan is equivalent to $25,920 of service a month (1440 minutes per day
x= 60¢ per minute =x 30 days per month). Over 30 months, that's a value of $777,600 worth of service for just $1200. Thus, according to TracFone's method of calculating savings, you would save $776,400 in airtime by getting an unlimited service at $40 a month.
limited availability of customer service
- if you need to call in the evenings from the West Coast, they're closed. :-(
loads of confusing "deals"
- double minute AutoPay
- promises airtime at rates as low as 12.5¢ per miute
- but what happens when you add the $14.99 monthly fee for this "service"?
- break even point based on 60¢ a minute would be 50 minutes
- but at 25¢ per minute, it becomes 2 hours a month
- if you're using 2 hours a month, it will cost you at least $30... so you would be better off with regular cellphone service
- double minute prepaid plan
- for $150, you get double minutes on activated cards, 1 year of service, and 300 minutes included
- this has to be a better deal than the regular AutoPay plan, because over a year, it saves you $30 and provides 300 minutes more time (this offer alone saves you $210 using TracFone's calculations (lol)
- but how does this compare to the 150 minute annual card for $95? You get an extra 150 minutes for $55, which works out to 37¢ per minute... so you'd have to compare this to what a regular 150 minute card costs
- otoh, with the 100 bonus minutes available on the 150 minute annual card, it's only giving you an extra 50 minute for $55. bad deal.
- if you think you'll need considerably more than 250 minutes, this card can make sense. For instance, if you can get a 200 minute card for $50, this plan will get you 400 minutes. Thus you get 700 minutes and a year of service for a total of $200. Getting the 400 minute card for $80 results in 1100 minutes and a year of service for $230.
- Is your head hurting yet?
- Doesn't actually work if you enter the 14-digit ESN provided with the clamshell packaging as specified on the instructions; instead, you must enter the 11-digit number that's not labeled as the ESN
- Did you know that when you dial *22801 from your TracFone that you will improve your wireless experience when traveling out of your local calling area? It's easy, dial *22801 today and press the Send key. Then, listen to the voice prompt instructions and select Option 2 to enhance the performance of your TracFone?. This process will deduct approximately 4 units from your TracFone?.
- The above was received in an email after activating my TracFone.
- They offer no explanation about how this wonderful technology operates, or more to the point, why the technology has this defect. Evidently, they expect me to pay extra because they're using a defective technology. Huh?
if you already bought the phone, you could have gotten in for free
- get a reconditioned phone for free and also get the 100 bonus minutes when you buy the one year 150 minute card for $95 from http://www.tracfone.com/e_store.jsp ... use refer-a-friend for another 100 bonus minutes.
- activation process recommends to call *228 "to optimize the roaming capabilities of your new TracFone". All that does is connect to a wrong number.
- wrong number and incomplete calls? you get charged for those too.
- from "$200 bonus" booklet enclosed in package
- 20 bonus minutes on 60 minute card: 51206, 56024, 52636, 56084
- 30 bonus minutes on 150 minute card: 53105, 51263, 53714, 51683
- 40 bonus minutes on 300 minute card: 59184, 52410, 52124, 51224
- from popup window
- 200 bonus minutes on 150 minute annual card: 59210 (exp. 10/15/2004)
- 200 bonus minutes on 300 minute double-minute annual card: 50742 (exp. 10/15/2004)
- 100 bonus minutes on 150 minute annual card: 56525
- refer-a-friend promotion
- everybody you refer gets 100 minutes and you get 100 minutes for each referral
- check ebay if you don't know anybody with a TracFone... some sellers are providing a small rebate... you can put your offer up on ebay after you're registered
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Revision r1.7 - 05 Sep 2007 - 07:15 by EliMantel
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