# Why use a TracFone?

1. Dec 23, 2011

### turbo

I bought a TracFone for myself, and another one for my father, since he often drives into remote places "just looking around". Then my wife wanted one, too. This means that three or more times a year, I have to add airtime to the various phones. Just pick up an airtime card at WalMart and punch the PIN into the phone. Simple, right? Wrong.

[rant]Either the WalMart clerks don't know how to properly scan and activate the cards or their system doesn't work, because half the time the phones won't accept the PINs. If you try to add the minutes through their website, that won't work either. Your only option is to call, wade through 10 minutes of crap, dealing with their automated system, and then get routed to a customer service rep that can barely speak English. I mean really! If your customer service staff cannot pronounce the names of numbers properly and unambiguously, they turn what should have been another 5 minutes on the phone into a 15 minute ordeal. Is it really that cost-effective to have non-English natives in such positions?

I spent over 45 minutes today trying to add an airtime card to my wife's phone, only to be told that I should call back tomorrow because "upgrades" might cause their service to be disrupted. Huh? I don't need a more complicated phone, and I hate entering contracts for service, but I'm strongly considering doing so, because their "service" is anything but![/rant]

2. Dec 23, 2011

### TurtleMeister

I've used TracFone for a few years and I've only had problems one time. And even then it started working in about 30 minutes without me having to do anything. But I only add air time at the website. Never tried it on the phone.

3. Dec 24, 2011

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
We have been using trac fone for over 2 years and have not had any issues until last week. My daugher discovered that the option for adding time over the phone has disappeared. It took several days for the web site to get through with the time.

4. Dec 25, 2011

### cristo

Staff Emeritus
Can't you just use a credit card?

5. Dec 25, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

There are a lot of other pre-paid phones on the market, maybe it's time for a change.

6. Dec 25, 2011

### turbo

Not around here, but maybe I'll search farther afield. We have very poor cell coverage up here, and the number of carriers that a pre-paid can contract with is quite small.

7. Dec 25, 2011

### dlgoff

My daughter thinks I should get a TracFone, but that's like being back in the job-force where every minute counts. Being retired; what the hell. If I get stranded on the road I've got a thumb. Give me copper any day.

8. Dec 25, 2011

### TurtleMeister

Who picks up hitch hikers these days? You don't even have to turn the cell phone on until you need it. Three things I always have when I travel are GPS, cell phone, and AAA. They've helped me out of a bad situation twice this year.

9. Dec 26, 2011

### dlgoff

Well. Out here in the sticks, we're all "good old boys". Besides, the State Cops here have way of showing up whether you need them or not.

BTW: Who needs a damn GPS? I have the map of most of Kansas burned into my brain. Engineers are like that.

10. Dec 26, 2011

### TurtleMeister

Well, if you're only traveling locally then that makes a difference. I travel out of state a lot.

11. Dec 26, 2011

### dlgoff

You know I was kidding.....? I love all tech stuff. Now if I was only my daughters age. Still full of energy to truck all over the country.

12. Dec 26, 2011

### TurtleMeister

Yeah, I have trouble picking up on humor sometimes. Remember Data on Star Trek TNG? When he realizes something is supposed to be funny he accesses his fake sounding laugh sub routine. ha-ha-ha-ha. My girlfriend is always getting me with this. She will make a joke and I will take her dead seriously. When she points out that she was joking, I will do the Data laugh routine and we both break out laughing for real. She thinks I have mild Asperger's Syndrome.

13. Dec 26, 2011

### turbo

Feeling the need for more suffering, I called TracFone to try to add the 400 minute card to my wife's phone. The phone won't take the PIN, their website won't let me use the PIN, and I had to resort to "customer service" again.

It took well over an hour, getting bounced from one foreigner to another before I finally got to the senior tech rep, who added the minutes. One guy made me repeat my phone number about 20 times, and asked for my first and last name (twice) before telling me that I am "not in their system". How can a person who has bought and activated three of their phones not be in the system? After wasting my breath on him for over 1/2 hour, I asked him to give me to a senior tech or a supervisor. He transferred me a sales rep instead. I got her to understand what I needed to do, and she transferred me back to customer service, after which I managed to get bumped up to the senior tech rep. I'm about done with the joke company and their "service". When the minutes run out on these phones, I think it's time for T-Mobile or Verizon.

14. Dec 26, 2011

### TurtleMeister

I don't think they keep track of you as a person when you have a prepaid phone. Even if you have an account at their website, the airtime that you buy is for your phone number, not you. You don't even have to have an account at the website to add airtime. All you need is the phone number. What you are going through is the disadvantage to having a prepaid phone. If something goes wrong then there's not much you can do. This is the reason I hardly ever purchase more than 60 minutes at a time. If I lose the phone, or if I experience something similar to what you're experiencing, it limits my losses. If you want the phone company to have your name in their system then maybe you should get a phone with a contract instead of prepaid.

What happens when you try to enter the pin number at the website? Do you have java script enabled? Try having a friend, using another computer at a different location, add the airtime for you. All they need is your phone number and pin number.

15. Dec 26, 2011

### ThomasT

I was going to recommend Virgin Mobile (I've used it for years as a backup phone and have never had any problems with reception or adding minutes.), which is owned by Sprint Nextel. But the less populated areas in Maine look like they aren't covered well, or not at all.

So, yeah, it looks like T-Mobile or Verizon might be a better bet, unless you're in an area well covered by Sprint Nextel, then I recommend Virgin Mobile.

Anyway, don't most of the companies have non-contract prepaid options now?

16. Dec 26, 2011

### turbo

I'll have to look into that. At least local store-fronts won't be staffed with non-English speakers.

17. Dec 26, 2011

### jim hardy

just got our first cellphone. prepaid at Tmobile

$100 for a thousand minutes usable over a year - that's$8.33 a month. and \$29 to buy the phone.

will see how long a thousand minutes last.

if find i dislike it can smash it and be out not a lot. and no obligation.

grumpy old jim

18. Dec 26, 2011

### dlgoff

A little off topic as turbos talking mobility, but that was my first thought. By having an established land line, it speeds up the process of identity when contacting many "service" organizations. e.g. hospital/doctor, financial, Government agencies.

I guess it would be the same if you had a "full mobile number portability".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_number_portability

19. Dec 26, 2011

### turbo

Actually, TracFone keeps track of you as a prepaid cell customer. I get regular mailings of booklets of promotional codes, regular emails, and even reminder calls to my land-line. The guy I got this morning apparently didn't know how to use their database when he said that I was "not in the system", because I certainly am.

When I finally managed to get bumped up to the senior customer-service rep, she pulled my account up very quickly, and got the minutes to my wife's phone within 2 minutes. She was quite familiar with the details of the account, such as promotional codes and double minutes for life on all 3 phones. Plus, she could actually speak English well enough so that I could understand her with no ambiguity.

20. Dec 26, 2011

### TurtleMeister

One good thing that air has over copper: No telemarketers (at least not yet)

Yeah, I get the emails also. It's because I registered an account at the website. But it's not necessary to have an account at the website in order to have a prepaid phone. If you don't register you should still be able to add minutes to your phone without even logging in. All you need is the pin number and phone number. The customer service rep should still be able to get the same information that you got just based on the phone number(s) alone. When the guy told you that you were not in the system, he was probably not referring to the prepaid website account. He was most likely referring to the contract accounts. Did you make it clear to him that you were a prepaid customer? If you did then I don't know why he would have told you that, unless as you've hinted at, there was a communications problem.

Yeah, I understand completely the frustration of trying to communicate with these customer service people that cannot speak good English. I'm not a very good communicator myself, so that makes it even worse for me. I once had a similar experience with Comcast. I had an unusual situation that they were probably not use to dealing with. After being transfered back and forth multiple times, being put on hold for long periods of time, then being disconnected, I finally got transfered to a lady who spoke perfect English. I just flat out pleaded with her to just listen to my whole story and to not transfer me to anyone else until I was finished. She laughed and agreed to do the best she could. She ended up getting me connected with the right people.