DrekFone: Done. I think. Hope.

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.

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DrekFone: The farce is with me

The whole, unexpurgated story.


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.

DrekFone: -whimper-

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?

DrekFone: Excuses, excuses

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”.

Mr. Bussjaeger,

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.

Thank you,
Kim Filardi

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.

My reply:

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 [redacted] 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.

Shipping Address:
Carl Bussjaeger
[redacted]
[redacted]

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.

Never, ever get a T/r/a/c/ Fone

Unless you’re into masochism, of course.

So I’ve been trying since early May to get Drek Fone to change my phone to the local area code.

TL;DR: Their online system doesn’t work, neither does calling their 800 customer abuse line, nor email. Ditto for their “Chat” which can’t actually be found on their web site.

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:
http://www.bussjaeger.org/

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.

T/r/a/c/ DREK Fone: It’s getting funny now.

Original and complete saga (kept up to date).


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:

Dear Carl,

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.

Sincerely,

TracFone Wireless

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
> EST.

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:
https://bearbussjaeger.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/the-joys-not-of-tracfone/


Carl “Bear” Bussjaeger
Author: Net Assets, Bargaining Position, The Anarchy Belt, and more
Free Books, Craft How-To Articles:
http://www.bussjaeger.org/

Drek Fone; or, “Why one should stop digging”

RECAP: I moved. I wanted to change my phone number to a local number. Trac Fone can’t figure out how. (TL;DR: Their online automated system doesn’t work. Their 800 line customer abuse line is manned by Indian call center rejects. Their email system is based on a TRS-80 Model 1 that will never, ever pass a Turing test.)

I’ve actually been trying to change this number for going on 6 weeks. It became a challenge. Then a joke. Yesterday, I agreed to let them call me and scheduled a time.

They forgot to call.

This morning, they sent an email claiming to have changed my number anyway. They didn’t; so some poor SOB somewhere in the world is wondering why he suddenly has to dial long distance for “local” calls. Boy, is he gonna have fun trying to get that fixed.

I sent them an email noting their error.

But Drek Fone never heard the advice about ceasing excavation upon the realization that one is in a hole. They grabbed a pickaxe to pound their further down through bedrock.

This evening…

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.

Yep, they failed to note in the chain of emails in that very message their own claim to have already changed the number. But then, they forgot that I already gave them all that information, most of it repeatedly.

I did… um, “succeed” in getting them to stop calling me by my first name (as if we’re friends) even as they sign their own missives anonymously as “TracFone Wireless.”

Now they just address emails to “Bussjaeger.”

ADDED: Ah, this may explain things. What with paying the FTC $40 megabucks for deceptive practices and not being able to cheat customers on bogus “unlimited” data plans anymore, they had to cut expenses by firing all their humans. I probably really have corresponding with TRS-80 Model 1 they found dumpster diving.