I applied for Assurance Wireless in February 2012. I'm on food stamps and a couple of other government programs, so I knew I qualified. I called their customer service number to ask questions regarding phone calls, texting, etc. I was told the 250 minutes were voice minutes but I could buy 50 texts for $1.99/mo. That sounded good, so I sent in my food stamp award letter with the application I downloaded from the internet and was accepted. I received a phone within 2 weeks.
From the beginning, I've had trouble with the phone. I have to charge it everyday, even if I go days without using it. I can only make a few phone calls before it needs recharging. That was just the beginning. I called and requested a new battery and was told I would receive a new phone. I'm still waiting.
And the 50 texts I was told I could buy for $1.99? They don't exist. My second customer service phone call (after the first one regarding the short battery life) was to complain about the Assurance Wireless customer service representative who gave me that erroneous information. Talking to their customer service is a nightmare. I gave up on trying to complain about that, figuring that texting wasn't that important and at least I still could make calls.
Since February, I've made phone calls regularly, using probably half my minutes or less each month. I only use the phone for communicating with doctors' offices, my landlady, and a few other places. Not many people know this phone number because I didn't want to start using the phone and waste my minutes on non-essential calls.
When I checked my balance on May 5, I noticed half my minutes were gone. So I called customer service to find out how they bill (per second, every 6 seconds, etc.). I had first gone to the website, but couldn't understand how they billed and there was nothing there which explained it. So I called customer service and was told that they bill 1 minute for every 1 second of a call. That didn't make sense, so I asked what the legend meant on the website, under "minutes used". The representative couldn't tell me and didn't know who to refer me to, other than to tell me that I should just take it for granted that they knew what they were doing and I should be thankful for a free phone. I told him it wasn't free because the government was paying for it, so it wasn't like Assurance Wireless was giving me a free phone/minutes.
The next day I received a letter from Assurance Wireless stating that I haven't used my phone in 60 days (which wasn't true) and that they were going to cancel my free account within 30 days and start charging me 10 cents per call/text, unless I made a call to someone, and also called a number they provided - from my cell phone -to let them know I still wanted the service. I called the number they gave me and it said it didn't recognize the wireless phone number I was calling from! I called twice, just to be sure, with the same result.
So, I called Assurance Wireless Customer Service once again and then the real nightmare began. I explained to the person (Peter) that I had received this letter but that I had been using my phone regularly. I even gave him my pin number (which I now regret) and he confirmed that I had 120 minutes out of 250 left - which would also indicate I was using my phone. So I asked him what I should do and he said - "You need to use your phone at least once within a 60 day period" ! In other words, what I said to him, even though he confirmed I had less than the 250 minutes allotted each month left, must have gone in one ear and out the other. We ended up in an argument, since he wasn't listening to me and I was frustrated because I couldn't find out who I could talk to other than their customer service. He, too, told me I should be grateful because I was getting a phone for free - to which I replied that the government was paying for it and asked if this was some kind of con to charge both the government and the customer for the same service. I told him I was going to report this to my State Atty General and that this is why we need customer service back in the U.S., where companies couldn't get away with this kind of thing and representatives were trained and knowledgeable.
Today, my phone stopped working. I called Customer Service again, and the guy first told me it must be the phone, so he gave me instructions, which I followed, allowing him to check the phone. Then he said he was going to switch me to a pay plan to see if that would make the phone work. When he did that, he called me from another phone and the phone rang, but I couldn't make phone calls or check my voicemail.
Then he put me on hold and came back saying my account has been suspended! (I believe it was retaliation because yesterday I told that customer service representative, Peter, that their customer service department was a nightmare, no one could speak or understand proper English, and no one seemed to know what was going on and that was why these jobs needed to be in the U.S.) Today's customer service representative said my account was suspended because the Application Dept. had requested it and that I needed to provide paperwork that said I was still eligible! I've only had this account for 3 months and I'm certified until Feb 2013. Assurance Wireless is only supposed to recertify people once per year. So I asked for the number to the Application dept. and called them.
The Application Dept. told me they didn't know what I was talking about. They had received and approved my application in February and it was good until Feb 2013. They said that they couldn't even go into my account, that only Customer Service can do that. (As I said, I had given that one representative, Peter, my pin number.) The woman I spoke with told me to call Virgin Mobile customer service and gave me the number. They referred me back to Assurance Wireless and refused to take my complaint of retaliation. (They weren't in the States, either.)
The second woman I spoke with in the Applications Dept. actually tried to call Assurance Wireless Customer service, and after waiting almost 15 minutes on hold, I was supposed to be on a conference call with some technical support person AND the Applications Dept. representative. This time, the story I got was that "someone" had submitted a second application from my address and so they suspended my account for fraud! I'm 100 percent positive NO ONE submitted a second application. When I asked this woman WHEN the applications were submitted, she gave the first one as February 2012, which was me, and the second one - she couldn't tell me because she said it was too new!
I'm 100% positive that one of the customer service representatives got mad at me for reaming them out and retaliated by making sure I wouldn't have service at all. This woman practically accused me of fraud, yet they have no proof that they can give me that a second application was ever submitted. And indeed, it wasn't. I don't know of anyone who would have done that. I'm almost 60, in poor health, indigent, and have no friends left. I'm certain this was done in retaliation. I told the woman I'd give her 24 hours to get my phone turned back on before contacting an atty. I also said I'd turn this over to my state atty general, call Virgin Mobile HQ and maybe even the TV stations.
Well, they turned my phone on alright - now they're CHARGING me. So I believe they're taking the government's money for the free phone that they 've taken away from me and they've defrauded both the government and myself in the process, because now they switched me to their payment plan - which I neither requested nor authorized.
Never in my life have I dealt with such an unprofessional company. Assurance Wireless is a fraudulent, incompetent, unethical, unprofessional company with representatives that aren't knowledgeable about the phones or the plans, and can't speak English well enough to communicate. If there's any way I can sue these people I will, but I will make it my mission to get them investigated and hopefully, out of business. They shouldn't be allowed to operate and I'm pretty sure they're defrauding the U.S. government.