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Straight Talk: When It Is Better to Pay More

March 15, 2010 by ruetheday

Reviewed by Jill Harness on March 20, 2011.

In November, I made the regrettable mistake of trying out WalMart’s Straight Talk Wireless A $30 plan for 1000 minutes sounded like a great deal. Unfortunately, this is most certainly a case of “you get what you pay for.”

I started out by heading to WalMart and buying my phone (you can only use a phone purchased specifically through their service) and the phone service card. Then I set about activating it. My first issue was with the fact that the company does not tell you that it is a prepaid phone plan. Yes, they say “no contracts,” (by which they mean no time commitments although you are still required to agree to a contract) but there are certain month to month plans through actual cell phone companies that don’t have time commitments either.

Personally, I hate the idea of a pre-paid 30 day contract because that means if you forget to pay your bill by even one day, you lose service immediately. I had to subscribe to their auto-pay system to ensure I wouldn’t lose service, which also meant that I risked forgetting the bill was coming and over drafting my bank account at the end of every month.

Then came the terrible customer service. When I registered, my T-Mobile phone number was supposed to transfer over to my new phone…but it didn’t. Instead, my phone number stopped working, but I could still somehow make calls from my new Straight Talk phone. When I called the outsourced customer support, they used my phone number as the account number, which meant that they couldn’t find my account. When they finally did look it up using a bunch of wonky work arounds, they finally got my phone to receive incoming calls, but the internet still didn’t work on the device, which was supposed to be included in the plan. I ignored this problem because I didn’t really need the internet, but I still find it odd that no one could help me to get the internet working, nor did they even care.

Later on, I couldn’t access my account on their website because you can only log in with your phone number. I called support again (went through the complex work around to get them to find my account without the phone number) and found out the number was still somehow not in their system. Until the number was in their system, I couldn’t get online with my account –even though I had originally signed up to the service online using that phone number!

Within a month, I found out that I still had a few months left on my T-Mobile contract and I wasn’t particularly impressed with Straight Talk, so I opted to switch back. Enter nightmare ordeal #2. To keep my old number (which was fairly important since I just sent out a bunch of resumes with the number on it), I had to have Straight Talk release my number. Big problem.

Remember how they couldn’t transfer my number at first? Yeah, it turns out they never actually fixed that. Somehow my phone number was sitting in limbo and although I made and received calls, they never actually activated the number. So in order to get my number back, they had to release it, but they couldn’t find it in the system to do so.

The representative at the T-Mobile store spent an hour on the phone with them trying to get them to figure this out and fix the problem and eventually I was instructed to “call back next week and we should have it fixed.” So I did, and the woman who answered the phone had no idea what I was talking about, even when I told her from the beginning, “I need to speak to your elevated level of customer service.” Finally, after the eighth explanation, she says “ok, let me put you through to the elevated level of customer service.” When I got through to someone who actually knew what they were talking about, they told me “call again next week.” A week later, the phone number just transferred on its own.

After the whole experience, I decided to sell my Straight Talk phone because I had no intention of ever working with the company again. So I put it on Craigslist, thinking the people could just activate it and that will be the end of it. Unfortunately, Straight Talk won’t activate it for someone else without all of my personal info, so the strangers I sold it to had to keep calling me back, asking for my old address, my mother’s maiden name and my birthday. If I had known that selling my phone could have opened me up to identity theft, I would have just sent the phone to the recycler.

Every single step of the way my experience with Straight Talk was horrendous. I hope that sharing my story will at least dissuade a few people from trying their service, at least until they improve things dramatically.

On a 5 point scale, they get a 1.


17 Comments »

  1. Mariah Jones says:

    Okay so I bought a new Straight Talk phone at Walmart a few days ago. I called to get it activated, but it just wouldn’t work. The auto activation said it was having difficulties, and tried to transfer me to customer service. After waiting for an hour, I finally hung up. I made a few more attempts to try and get my phone account started, and the same thing happened. Eventually, I talked to someone in customer service. They told me my phone account was currently active, but my phone couldn’t recieve calls, make calls, txts, etc. After a while, they told me to wait atleast 24 hours to try and activate my phone again. Well, it’s been 3 days. I wasted 145.00 on a cheap phone. What a rip off. Straight Talk SUCKS!

  2. andrei says:

    wow. what a bunch a pussies.
    Called in. got it activated in 2 hours. Everything worked just fine ever since.

    You guys are just ignorant

  3. Jill says:

    You’re so right…the fact that anyone’s experience differed from yours means they are ignorant pussies. I guess that means everyone in the world is an ignorant pussy besides you.

  4. Sticky Monkey says:

    Straight Talk phone service is fine…as long as nothing goes wrong. If something happens, you will bang your head on your desk for days trying to get in contact with someone at customer service who 1) speaks English and 2) is remotely competent. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’ve been out of phone service for TWO WEEKS and apparently no one can help me.

  5. sam says:

    omg. help me help me. nobody speaks english.. F U dude – I bet u don’t speak any foreign language. so tired of this US ignorance.

    i’ve used page plus/straight talk for over 2 years now – never had a problem.

    WHAT KIND A PROBLEM DO U REALLY CAN GET WITH THE PHONE THAT U HAVE TO CALL TECH SUPPORT AND THAT CANNOT BE RESOLVED JUST BY GOOGLING AROUND?

  6. Jill says:

    You could have the problem I had where they managed to not actually port my number and they never turned anything on. You can’t exactly fix that for yourself on Google.

  7. sam says:

    yeah. That be the only thing I can come up with – activations/ESN swaps. Even ESN swap you can do online (at least on page plus).

    Other than that – if there is a physical problem with the phone….you just get another phone and call for ESN swap.

    Seriously – I happened to work in tech support industry (not from india). 100% of calls (I shit u not) were not related to actual service provider/phone problems – but rather to individual’s inability to read/comprehend the manual or follow common sense steps!

  8. Jacoby "DJ Certified" Edwards says:

    I ordered 2 phones under promotion on straighttalk.com on 12/14/2010. the phones were free with the first months bill. 4 sum reason the order didnt go thru, but the $ was takin off my card. i had 2 wait 4 days for it 2 b returned. so on saturday(12/18/2010) i called straight shit to order my phones again but of course the phones that i wanted and the free over night shipping was no longer under promotion, so i chose 2 other phones that were. then they say that if i get the phones with the $45 unlimited plan, that they r no in stock but if i order with the $30 plan that they were(wtf). so i order 2 phones on the $30 plan(christmas present for kids) and pay $14.95 a piece for overnight shipping. I call back Tuesday because phones didnt come.. they promise that they will be in on Wednesday.. lol.. So today is Wdenesday(12/22/2010) and of course no phones. I call back to strait shit only 2 find out that my phones haven’t been shipped out. I wait till after 9pm(till my mobile mins were free, ive spent enuff on strait shit) and call back 2 cancel my order and they tell me that my phones will be delivered on the 27th.. wtf.. uh no.. can u say refund and return.. if i have to go thru the worst customer service jus to get the phones.. i cnt imagine how its gon b if i was 2 use them.. no thx.. death to strait shit

  9. andy says:

    @Jacoby “DJ Certified” Edwards: we don’t care about u or ur phones

  10. Rachel says:

    I had a straighttalk phone for 4 months with no issues or problems. Activated just fine, added minutes no problem. Then one day I’m texting my friend back and forth and wondered why she just stopped texting me. Turns out my phone “broke.” called customer service and was told it would be fixed within 24 hours. called next day, no we can’t fix that your phone is bad. you have to send us yours back and then we will send you new one. 3 weeks later i finally get my phone and can’t activate it because the exact same thing is wrong with it as the last one. ???? brand new phone. customer service tells me that it won’t work because i was not in walmart when i tried to activate it and i should go there and activate it. are you serious??? does walmart have special powers for the phone, i think not. and how would that explain my phone that worked for 4 months suddenly not working. talked to 6 different people and still does not work. I’m no longer a straighttalk customer

  11. Tonya says:

    I’m sorry for all of your troubles. I have used ST quite successfully for the last few months in between phone plans from one of the big guys and only had one issue that was resolved promptly by ST’s Facebook customer service. I am aware of the many horror stories of ST users and I hesitated before getting the phone, but I’m ultimately glad I went with it.

    However, your first paragraph stuck out to me about payment. Just because you are not financially responsible enough to remember that you have $30 or $45 coming out of your account at the end of the month, it’s not a point against Straight Talk. I don’t know how you couldn’t have known it was a prepaid plan. Did you not do research and instead just randomly grab the phone and walk out of Walmart completely clueless about how it worked? I’m not trying to be smart, I honestly cannot wrap my brain about this.

  12. Jill says:

    When I went with the company, it was right after they first started advertising on television and I didn’t know it was a prepaid plan until I went into the Walmart.

  13. Hector says:

    It is quite strange to me that you had all of these hardships with straight talk. Maybe you bought a phone from straight talk before they had there act together? I can’t answer that question for you. I have had a straight talk phone for more than a short while and it is a really great unit. I get good reception and i never have any of the problems that you speak of…

  14. Jill says:

    That’s very likely, I did get the phone right after the service started, but based on the number of negative comments on this post, I know I’m not the only one who has had issues.

  15. The Lil Rascal says:

    So strange that there have been so many bad experiences with Straight Talk – I have only heard great things about Straight Talk and what great smartphones are available on it these days. I think you just need to get a nice phone with Straight Talk and bite the bullet (it’s still cheaper than most deals) and then you just save from there on out!

  16. wyeoak444 says:

    Customer service here is reputably horrible but maybe I’m lucky in that my E71 hasn’t broken or something bad hasn’t happened. Other than that, I love straight talk, I pay only 45 bucks a month for what other companies charge 120 and they don’t force me to sign a contract, which I hate.

  17. KAREN says:

    I live in Maine and the reception for Straight Talk is extremely horrible. Dropped calls are the rule and not the exception! I loved the 45.oo plan and I loved the phone itself, but the connectivity is ATROCIOUS. Recently, I fell and broke my leg. The ambulance came. I couldn’t even call a family member because there was no signal on my phone!!!! That clinched it. I’ve returned to Verizon even though they are over-priced.

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