I first got my TracFone in 2001 because I was a single woman living alone in a new city and I was very concerned about being caught out on the freeways without some way to contact help. I was very pleased to hear about the TracFone on the TV, it was being sold by Radio Shack. They offered prepaid cellular service and a mail in rebate on the phone that would essentially be free once the rebate was processed.
The rebate was the first ripoff. Of course! I did exactly as I was told and it was returned to me as missing some essential element and I only had ten days in which to respond. Screw that, I just let it go. So I did end up paying over $100 for my TracFone and 30 minutes of airtime, which I felt was sufficient, since I only wanted it for emergencies.
Getting a phone number and having the cell phone activated was an absolute NIGHTMARE. At the time, there was only the toll-free number method for this process and it could not have been more complex and frustrating than if someone was TRYING to make it impossible to activate the phone. Long strings of numbers and combinations of star and pound signs had to be keyed into the phone itself as well as the serial number having to be keyed into the phone to get registered. This was an ongoing problem as far as adding air time to the phone once it was activated. Their phone menu was tedious with un-interruptable commercials for their service and LIES about how all this could be done on their website, WHICH IT COULD NOT BE DONE ON THERE.
Eventually, around 2002, you actually COULD use the website and I did. There was still a lot of dinking around keying numbers into the cellphone but it was at your own speed instead of trying to keep up with someone speaking on the phone that you could not start over if you made a mistake.
So, I was happy. Then recently (June 2004) my TracFone no longer appeared to be chargeable. I would charge it then it would lose its charge the very next day. So I bought another TracFone off of the website which came as scheduled and appears to be fine. Here's where it gets nasty.
Over the years I had the TracFone, I hated having to renew my minutes every 60 days or risk losing my minutes and my cell phone # and having to go through reactivation again every time I failed to renew in time. So when I saw an offer of 1 year of service with 150 minutes for around $100, I was happy to take them up on it because that way, my expiration date would not occur for a year. So I purchased it and as time went by, took them up on more offers of this nature until I had over 500 minutes available with an expiration date of October 5, 2005. 200**5**. That's what it said right on the phone screen. I had decided to get more minutes because it IS fun to use my cell phone when needed without worrying that I'll be using up potential emergency use minutes.
As I noted, in June 2004 my phone died for all useful purposes. I could plug it in with the charger on it and read it but it was useless for carrying around. I got my new one and called Customer Service because I knew there would be issues concerning getting my 504 minutes transferred from the old phone to the new one. I knew this because a month or more before I bought the new phone, I had emailed TracFone Customer Service from their website asking how I would go about doing exactly that. The response I got said I would need to request them to pull some sort of files and verify that I had 504 minutes and it would take 12-14 days upon my request. Apparently, the fact that I was asking them RIGHT THEN to do whatever needed to be done to effect the transfer was not sufficient.
There were some more emails but the gist of all of them were to lead me to believe I was best off calling Customer Service right off the bat to do this transaction. So one night I sat down and called them and the commercials weren't as bad as in the past, thankfully. A fellow came on the line who had a very heavy accent, I can't remember what I thought his name was, but I am certain I didn't have it right anyway as it was a Spanish name. Outsourcing their Customer Service to another country is right in line with TracFone's deplorable version of Customer Service.
Anyway, we got my phone working so that he could transfer the minutes to the new phone. This involved strings of 20-digit numbers being keyed into the phone, and other manipulations until finally the Time Tank said 0.0 although the 10/05/2005 date still showed. He put me on hold to check with another department regarding the transfer, came back on, said something, then supposedly put me on hold when he, in fact, disconnected me completely.
I knew it was hopeless then. I called Customer Service again and asked for an approximation of the guy's name. The new guy had just as heavy of an accent as the first guy, and disavowed any knowledge of a person with a name at all like what I said. So I tried to start over with him. He tells me the same thing I was told in the original email about them needing to obtain my files to see if I really had those minutes, but he said it would 4 6 WEEKS! I told him the email had said 12-14 days and he disputed this.
Ultimately, he told me my minutes were lost and he could not help me.
Okay, now here's the real kicker. I finally resign myself to the fact that I have lost all these minutes and there's nothing I can do about it. I accept the fact that I'm going to have to PAY MORE MONEY FOR MORE MINUTES TO THESE PEOPLE! This took like a week for me to come to terms with the reality of it all. So, I go on their website, which in the past has worked wonderfully. I select the option I want and click on the icon. I sit there. And I sit there. And I sit there some more. I click again. Nothing. No matter WHAT I did on that web site to get to where I could purchase more minutes, NOTHING WORKED. I didn't even bother to email them to tell cause I figured their email wouldn't work!!!!
My husband has an AT&T cell phone and he has wanted me to get the same thing as him but I wanted PREPAID. Looks like I can't have it. I am so pissed off at TracFone, I can't believe it, I really hate being this angry about ANYTHING. Maybe venting here and forewarning others will be of some solace!
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Tracfone