Updated(lost count), 11;40AM, 6/12/15: Done. Or as done as it gets.
Updated(lost count), 6/12/15:
Got a new SIM and a bricked phone.
Update(#whatever), 6/11/15: -whimper-
Oh dear Bog…
Update 8 – seriously, 6/11/15:
The saga continues. New excuses prompted by PSC & FTC complaints.
Update 7, 6/10/15:
Right now, my phone shows that I have 1208.10 minutes and 316 service days. I won’t be terribly surprised if all that airtime disappears.
Update 6, 6/10/15:
I’m just having fun with them now. I’ll never get the number fixed, so I’m treating them as Nigerian scammers
Update 5, 6/9/15:
This getting morbidly funny. They don’t even know they claim to have changed my phone number already (not that they actually did).
Update 4, 6/9/15:
Oh,dear Bog…The stupidity, it burns! Tracfone is going to collapse into a singularity
Update 3, 6/8/15:
Apparently they’re deliberately trying to piss me off now.
Update 2, 6/8/15:
See below. These idiots are determined to burn up all my airtime.
Update 1, 6/6/15:
Since I’ve moved, I wanted to change my Tracfone number to a local number (I’m still using the old number from a state far, far away), so local callers don’t have to call long distance to reach me. No problem; Tracfone lets you do that online in just a couple of minutes.
Except when they don’t:
“We’re sorry. Your transaction cannot be completed at this time. Please call our Customer Care Center at 1-800-867-7183 for further assistance.“
In fact, I tried online several times over the course of weeks. I always got that error message. Today, I foolishly called the 800 number.
It starts with the usual automated system. I punched buttons to tell them what I wanted. The system needed my phone number and serial number. It helpfully pointed out that if I called from the Tracfone in question it would be faster and easier. Cool; I was calling from the Tracfone, that being the only phone I have. I so indicated.
So I got put on hold. Oh, the joys of modern life.
After around half an hour, I was startled out of a light snooze (seriously; I started nodding off) by a CS rep with poor language skills (see above re: modern life joys) and no idea what I was calling for. I again had to verify my phone number and explain that I wanted to change my number. The line went silent; hold again, no explanation. Eventually, the line came live and I heard other people talking in the background, but nothing from “my” rep.
So I spoke up. She helpfully explained that she was logging into my account. That went on for several minutes.
Again, I prompted her for some response. She was still “logging into” my account. More silence.
“Are you calling from your Tracfone?” she wondered at last.
I told her yes, just as I had instructed the automated system.
“You have to give me another number, and I will call you on that line.”
I responded with an expletive directive and hung up. She’d just wasted 47 minutes, 21 seconds of prepaid cell time without accomplishing anything whatsoever. And demanded a number I don’t have to continue wasting my time.
Yeah, I emailed Tracfone. I want my minutes back, the desired number change, and a written apology.
I expect none of it.
Update 1, 6/6/15: I got an email response to my complaint about them wasting my airtime without accomplishing my goal.
They told me to call again. And waste more airtime.
Or, alternately, I can contact them via “Chat” to do it.
Except that there’s no link to “Chat” on their website. I considered the possibility that “Chat” is only available when one is logged into one’s account, so I dusted off my Tracfone login and …
Failed. Tracfone killed my account, probably because I rarely used it. Of course, one of the alleged advantages of Tracfone is that one supposedly doesn’t need an account.
I’m giving them a final chance to pull their heads out.
I may write another story in the Net Assets universe just so I can ridicule them in it. I’ll probably file a PSC complaint, too, since it’s free.
Update 2, 6/8/15: These idiots are determined to burn up all my airtime.
I received another reply from Tracfone Customer Harassment this morning.
Thank you for your interest in TracFone Wireless. We are responding to your recent inquiry.
In order for us to further assist, please provided us with the phone number and the available time we can call you.
If you have any further questions or concerns, you may contact us via Chat or contact one of our customer service representatives at 1-866-806-1840 and enter the reference PIN 032700. The reference PIN is only valid for two (2) weeks. For your convenience, our representatives are available Monday-Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:45 PM EST.
Yes, when I complained that they responded to my complaint that they wasted 47+ minutes of my airtime by telling me to call them and waste more airtime…
They want me to give my number so they can call me and waste more of my airtime. My reply this time:
That answers one question: You _cannot_ read.
You ask for my number. That is already reported below.
You ask for a time to call me, burning up more of my minutes. I complained that you already burned more than 47 minutes of my airtime accomplishing nothing but to ask for some other phone number that I don’t have.
You have my phone number. You have my phone’s serial number. You have the new zip code to which I’ve moved. There seems to be no reason aside from your incompetence why you can’t do what I requested.
And you know what? I find it rude that, dealing with an unsatisfied customer, you repeatedly address me as “Dear Carl” while anonymously signing yourselves as “TracFone Wireless”. Try “Sir” or “Mr. Bussjaeger”.
Yes, they do have the phone number, serial number, and zip. In the very email they sent (the reply chain has full replies quoted in every response). They should be able to make the change, since that’s all the information their nonfunctional online number change application requests.
Just for the heck of it, I also provided a link to this blog post to Tracfone’s business and media offices.I’m also CC’g those addresses when replying to Customer Disservice.
Update 3, 6/8/15: Apparently they’re deliberately trying to piss me off now.
Got another email from Tracfone:
We understand your concerns of losing minutes when you answered our call and your request to be communicated through e-mail. This is regarding your request for phone number change. In order for us to change your phone number using your new zip code, we need you to please answer your security question. Your security question is asking your father’s middle name. Please reply to this e-mail CorporateOffice@tracfone.com with your contact number and preferred time for a callback.
No, I’m concerned about the airtime they already wasted. The new airtime they want to waste is secondary.
Regarding the security question: Well, I’m glad someone can get into my account now. I wish I could.
And clearly they still have trouble with basic literacy (as illustrated by the lousy grammar quoted above), since they’re asking for my phone number…which they have, which has been included in all the messages back and forth.
So I gave them a time to call, hoping-but-not-really-expecting that just maybe they’d have enough of their act together to make the change with a minimum of wasted airtime minutes.
They didn’t call.
If you need a prepaid cell phone, avoid Tracfone. Shop around (and I think Straight Talk is the same company, too).
Update 4, 6/9/15: Oh,dear Bog…The stupidity, it burns! Tracfone is going to collapse into a singularity of stupidity.
Another email today, 8:24AM:
Please accept our deepest apology for this experience. We do not want our customers to encounter issues about the service we offer. We understand how important your service is to you. Upon checking your account, our record shows that your phone number was successfully changed. Feedback from our customer is very important to us. Be assured that we are doing our best to provide you the best service possible, and we are continually working on improving and expanding our products and services. Thank you for bringing this information to our attention.
Saw that, and immediately doubted it. Checked my phone. It’s still showing the original 603-8XX-XXXX number. Tried calling someone; her Caller ID showed the original 603-8XX-XXXX.
I don’t know whose phone number they changed, but he’s probably wondering why he suddenly has to dial long distance for everything “local.” If he’s text-messaging, all his recipients are asking, “Who the hell are you?”
If this is truly “the best service possible,” I’m forced to wonder if Tracfone is run by a bunch of escaped executives from Worldcom and Cap Gemini.
Update 5, 6/9/15: This getting morbidly funny. They don’t even know they claim to have changed my phone number already (not that they actually did).
So this morning (see above), “Effing Moron” (see below) claimed to have changed my phone number. They didn’t.
But I sent them another email pointing that out, and wonder what poor schmuck they screwed over by changing his number. Heard nothing back all day until nearly 8PM:
We understand your preference to be communicated through e-mail; thus, we would like to inform you that your phone number was not change yet because you need to verify your account security question first. As we mentioned on our previous response that in order for us to process your request for changing your phone number to your new zip code 31558, you need to provide the answer for your security question asking for your father’s middle name. Please respond to this e-mail CorporateOffice@tracfone.com with your contact number and preferred time for a callback.
Damn, that looks familiar. [grin]
“We” understand that you are barely illiterate, none-too-bright, and generally incompetent. If such were not the case, you might have read your own messages below and seen that you already claim to have changed my phone number. Of course, you did NOT, so I wonder what poor slob _did_ get his number changed. I suppose he’s wondering why he suddenly has to dial long distance for his “local” calls now, and why his friends reply to text messages with, “Who the heck are you?”
I pity that poor fellow in his efforts to get you clueless clowns to fix _that_ mistake.
Regarding your current demands:
1. I provided the answer to the security question yesterday.
2. I told you what number to call me at: my Tracfone, which I’ve
repeatedly told you is my only phone.
3. I gave you a time to call. You failed to do so.
4. If you prefer addressing me by naked patronymic, something usually considered rude, I will simply address you as “Effing Moron.”
5. Folks are quite enjoying the account of your continuing stupidity, as posted on my blog: https://bearbussjaeger.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/the-joys-not-of-tracfone/
No doubt you can tell that I’ve given up on getting this number fixed. [grin]
I’ll just use up the prepaid minutes I have, then dump the phone in the trash. Frankly, I’m not even counting on the phone continuing to work that long, unless Tracfone suddenly demonstrates an unsuspected ability to pull its head out of its ass.
Update 6, 6/10/15: I’m just having fun with them now. I’ll never get the number fixed, so I’m treating them as Nigerian scammers.
Got the now-routine morning Drek Fone email. They’re still following the same basic template, with some extras today:
Thank you for your interest in TracFone Wireless. We are responding to your recent inquiry.
Please understand that we will need to validate the information on your account. For security reasons, we want to ensure the changes being requested is done for the owner of the phone. Please provide us with the answer to the security question provided below:
Security Question: What is your father’s middle name?
If you are unable to validate the answer of the security question on your account, we will need you to verify additional information. Please verify one of the items listed below:
• Activation ZIP code
• Date of Birth
• Month/year of initial activation
• Other phone numbers on the account
• Last 4 digits of Credit Card on the account
• Last redemption date
• Last redemption total amount paid
You may contact us via Chat or contact one of our customer care representatives at 1-866-806-1840 and enter the reference PIN 032700. The reference PIN is valid for two weeks. For your convenience, our representatives are available Monday-Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:45 PM EST.
Thank you for being a TracFone Wireless customer. We appreciate your business.
Seriously, this shit looks like a Nigerian phishing attempt. Zip code? Date of birth? Credit card? Other phone numbers? The funny part is, I never opened an account for this phone. I did have one from several years ago for another phone (gave up that phone and number years back, too), but I went phoneless for a while before I bought another Trac Fone and airtime with cash. So the “account” they’re apparently looking at doesn’t even have anything to do with my phone.
But, being in a sarcastically whimsical moody this morning (a common condition), I replied. This time, instead of just replying above the quotes, I embedded. That’s because I’m pretty sure these fools are having trouble maintaining context.
Dear Effing Moron,
On 06/10/2015 08:44 AM, TracFone Customer Service wrote:
> Dear Carl,
That’s “Mr. Bussjaeger, sir” to you anonymous twits.
> Please understand that we will need to validate the information on your
> account. For security reasons, we want to ensure the changes being
> requested is done for the owner of the phone. Please provide us with the
> answer to the security question provided below:
> Security Question: What is your father’s middle name?
Please understand that I have answered that question repeatedly. Why, I even gave you a time to call me to work this out (as YOU requested), and you failed to call. Honestly, I no longer believe there’s anyone at Trac Fone capable of completing this task; I’m just in it for the humor value now. Although — should I win the lottery, manna fall from the skies, US government revert to constitutional principles, Jews and Arabs get along — and you actually fix my problem I’d be pleased.
> You may contact us via Chat
No. I can’t. As I’ve also told you idiots repeatedly.
> or contact one of our customer care
> representatives at 1-866-806-1840 and enter the reference PIN 032700.
Last time I called you, you wasted 47 minutes, 21 seconds of my airtime, and were completely unable to accomplish anything, and wrapped up by demanding a non-Trac Fone number that I don’t have. Coincidentally, I’ve told you _this_ repeatedly, too. And I still want that airtime back.
> The reference PIN is valid for two weeks. For your convenience, our
> representatives are available Monday-Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:45 PM
Sorry, brain dead reps who can’t even log into an account don’t count as “available.” I’ll give you points for morbid humor, though.
> Thank you for being a TracFone Wireless customer. We appreciate your business.
Really? When did that happen? So far, you’ve treated me like dirt to be farmed. Or is it that you appreciate still having a customer after the $40,000,000 FTC fine and the end of your “unlimited data plan” ripoff?
Just out of curiosity: Yesterday morning, one of you claimed to have changed my number already (you didn’t); did you ever figure out whose phone number you actually screwed up? And have you given that customer a projected year in which you’ll pretend to have fixed the problem?
In case you’re confused about your “progress” on this issue, you can keep up to date here:
Carl “Bear” Bussjaeger
Author: Net Assets, Bargaining Position, The Anarchy Belt, and more
Free Books, Craft How-To Articles:
Update 7, 6/10/15: Right now, my phone shows that I have 1208.10 minutes and 316 service days. I won’t be terribly surprised if all that airtime disappears.
Trac Fone called this evening. Since they were supposed to call (as scheduled via email) two days ago, I was a little surprised.
It did not go well. And, no, they still didn’t fix my phone number.
Hee’s the email I sent to their corporate office when I got off the phone:
Dear Effing Moron (please see earlier emails regarding term of address),
At 5:02PM EDT, 6/10/15, I received a call from Trac Fone. This is roughly 45.5 hours late, as the call was scheduled for 7:30PM two days ago. When asked, your rep stated that the call was in regards to my requested phone number change. I expressed surprise since I’ve only been trying (online, by phone, and through email) to get this changed since early May.
The rep insisted that my number had not been changed because I would not provide the answer to the “security question” (father’s middle name) despite the fact that I have provided that information several times. Again, I gave him the correct answer.
He then informed me the number had not been changed. I replied, “No shit,” since I’ve been attempting with a laughable lack of success to change the number for almost six weeks.
Your rep then informed me that he would terminate the call for language, so I hung up.
You’ve got my phone number (demonstrably, since I’ve given it to you more times than I can count without pulling up copies of all the message traffic and screen captures. You’ve got the phone serial number (ditto). You’ve got the new zip code (yep, that one, too). You’ve got the security question answer (many times).
Either change the number and return my lost airtime (47 minutes, 21 seconds for the first call; 58 seconds for this call; total 48 minutes, 19 seconds), or stop bugging me to no purpose.
If your tender sensibilities can’t handle irate customers, perhaps you shouldn’t jerk them around for weeks.
Carl “Bear” Bussjaeger Author:
Net Assets, Bargaining Position, The Anarchy Belt, and more
Free Books, Craft How-To Articles:
I will grant that this call came from someone with an acceptable grasp of American English. I suspect it might even have been a lawyer, since the only thing he was definite on was that the call was being recorded (for the record, I did not consent to recording which could be interesting in court: Florida, where Trac Fone is located, is a two-party consent state. Well, that and the fact that — despite Trac Fone’s own delusional claims (see previous updates) — they still had not changed my number.
Yesterday, I found this amusing. Today, they have me pissed off again.
Ah! And I have a new email from the idiots. They aren’t going to change my number at all now.
We talked to you today, June 10, 2015, 5:00 PM EST at 6038649390. In the middle of our conversation, we identified a foul language, we warned about it and then you hung up. In this case, we were unable to continue your request for a phone number change. Please reach us from a different phone if you pursue to change your phone number.
“We?” They’re fond of the royal plural. I only heard one Trac Fone person on that call.
“Middle of the conversation”? Hardly, I said, “No shit” at the end. He simply said he would terminate the call, so I hung up then.
“Unable to continue”? Why? They had every piece of information they themselves claim they need. Heck, they’ve gotten the “security question” answer from me multiple times now, both by phone and email. Anonymous “TracFone Wireless” dickhead means, “Wah, ‘we’ can’t take it when our customers speak up about us screwing them over! I won’t continue!”
ADDED,6/10/15, 9PM: Oh,why not?
I just filed Public Service Commission and Federal Trade Commission complaints.
The PSC might do something, but I’m not holding my breath.
The FTC doesn’t resolve individual complaints at all. But…
They do collect complaints, and when they get a bunch on the same company they start investigating. Because it’s profitable. In fact, the reason I thought of complaining to the FTC about TracFone is that TracFone was just forced to pay the FTC $40,000,000 for ripping people off with bogus “unlimited” data plans. I expect they’ll be happy for an excuse to shake them down again.
Update freaking 8, 6/11/15: The saga continues. New excuses prompted by PSC & FTC complaints.
I filed PSC and FTC complaints last night. This morning I received yet another email. This one purports to come from a person with an actual name: Kimberly Filardi, who according her LinkedIn profile, is a “Sr. Mgr at TracFone Wireless”.
I will assist you with your requested number change to zip code [redacted]. Since this zip code is in a new market, your phone will require a new SIM card.
Please provide me with a shipping address and I will have one sent to you overnight via Fed Ex. Once you receive the SIM card we can proceed with changing the number on your device.
Points for 1) addressing me politely and 2) actually giving a name that seems to be real.*
Points off for only now determining that I need a new SIM for a reasons that makes no sense as given. More points off for doing so after PSC and FTC complaints.
Dear Ms. Filardi,
As a telecommunications technician with decades (more than twice the time shown on your LinkedIn profile) in the field (RF & lightwave transport, switch, broadband support, network operations, and related support activities — even a call center where I dealt with customers so upset that they made bomb threats, without terminating their calls) I confess to some confusion as to why a device purchased in early May IN THIS [redacted] MARKET requires a new SIM card to operate in this [reddacted] market. I wonder if you require all customers who purchase TracFone devices in the [redacted] zip code to spend weeks wondering why their phones don’t work, only to finally be told they need something _else_ to make it work.
I also find it darkly amusing that you suddenly discovered this new reason why the change failure isn’t your fault immediately after I filed PSC and FTC complaints.
But — as the weeks I’ve already spent on this issue before filing said complaints demonstrate — I am a patient man; it took those weeks of jerking around and repeated rude and incompetent behavior and outright lies (that the number _had_ been changed) by your reps to finally drive me to a single profane word. I’ll play this a little longer.
My reply went out at 11:05AM EDT. “We” will see.
* During the Verizon/FairPoint transition, I had to deal with Verizon’s Indian call center reps. They had been assigned “American” working names to use instead of their real names, thinking that would fool customers into believing they were talking to Americans in America. It was pretty darned funny to get a call from some gruff, bass-voiced Indian calling himself “Angela.” Seriously. Someone handing out fake names had a sense of humor.
Update #whatever, 6/11/15: -whimper- Oh dear Bog…
Received this afternoon. After corresponding with Sr. Mgr. Kimberly Filardi:
Your issue has been brought to our attention here at the Corporate
Office today, June 11, 2015 at 4:00 PM EST. Due to your limited contact information, we were unable to call you. This is in regard with your request to change your number and to be reimbursed with minutes. In relation to this, we would like to speak with you directly for further assistance.
Pending whether or not a new SIM actually shows up tomorrow, I thought this was settled.
As for “limited contact information,” they have my full name (which they mostly still refuse to use), my current phone number, my phone serial number, my security question answer, and my full mailing address. What’s left; brain-to-brain Vulcan mind meld?
Updated (lost count), 6/12/15: Got a new SIM and a bricked phone.
So I received a new SIM for my phone. It’s a TF64SIMC4 V2, exactly as the “old” one differing only in serial number. As expected, it bricked my phone when I installed it. (Note: That is normal, since cell phone companies register the SIM to their neworks. I knew it would happen. There’s reasons for it, which involved the companies doing things the cheapest possible way, but it’s lousy security.)
I sent an email to “Sr. Mgr. Kimberly Filardi” at 9:52AM, asking to proceed with the number change. In theory, I could probably use the online phone activation system (which has worked in the past), but I suspect that would zero out my existing airtime and service days.
Updated(lost count), 11;40AM, 6/12/15: Done. Or as done as it gets.
It only took six weeks, and complaints to the PSC and FTC (this blog report may have helped, too), but it’s done. I have a new working number and I got my wasted airtime refunded. I never did get the apology (a generic “We are sorry for any inconvenience you may have experienced” inserted into auto-reply form mails doesn’t count), but this being corporate America, I never expected it. That would be the right thing to do, and corporations only do the right thing when it’s convenient for them.
The polite thing for me to do is acknowledge that Ms. Kimberly Filardi, Sr. Mgr. at TracFone, did get the issue corrected once it finally got to her. She did so politely and efficiently. Hopefully, someone will train the CS reps to do the same thing.
I still can’t recommend TracFone to other people anymore, though.