Review of the
Pre-Paid Plan for TracFone Cell Phones
My experience with the pre-paid TracFone cell phone has been pretty good ... now, that is not to say there haven't been a couple of bumps in the road over the years, of which I will explain in detail shortly... but, overall, I would consider their cell phones to be a very good deal for those on a budget who require reliable and consistent cell phone coverage and service.
I had originally switched over to TracFone around the year 2002 when my current cellular provider, US Cellular, raised their cell phone rates to around $35.00 + taxes and fees each month. This is not a high amount but I couldn't see spending that much money for a cell phone that I was only going to use strictly as an emergency cell phone so I began looking around at other cell phone providers and cell plans.
I gave Nextel a try and ended up very dissatisfied. Then, I came across TracFone. I was a little unsure at first, especially after the 6-month ordeal with Nextel, but found out that TracFone was everything that they said they were.
I had done my online research and there were lots of negative reviews on the web about their customer service but, my thinking is, you have to take those reviews with a grain of salt ... not everyone will have the same experience - and, depending on how they approach the "issue", it may not even be an issue that the company has - it may be the problem of the person writing the review. Unfortunately, I know people who have written really bad reviews but, in reality, it was the user's fault because they didn't understand how to work the technology.
It is now December (2011) and I have only had 2 issues with all of my tracfones put together ... and, I have gone through about 6 tracfones just because I upgraded to a different style of phone with more features (such as double minutes or a nicer phone, at my yearly renewal time).
When using TracFone, I typically bought the one-year cell phone service plan so that I wouldn't have to worry about feeding my phone every month. This, alone, made the switch MUCH easier than the monthly plan I had been using from US Cellular. Plus, I added TracFone's double minutes for life plan so that every time I added minutes, I would get double minutes - free minutes, it was a no-brainer! Now, I see that TracFone offers triple minutes but I will not be renewing my cell phone in January 2012, this time, because my oldest son went to college (last year) and they didn't have a good texting plan (at the time), so I switched to T-Mobile so that I could text him whenever I wanted with a nice keyboard phone that was easier to use than my current cell phone and I would not have to worry about minutes being taken out with each text that I sent or received. With T-Mobile, my texts only cost me $15.00 per month, regardless of how much I text anyone. I feel confident enough to get rid of my TracFone and start using T-Mobile as my exclusive emergency phone now. More on my current phone's review ...
Anyway, back to my TracFone review ... During this entire time that I've had my TracFone, the only issues I have dealt with were:
#1 - Difficulty porting my old cell phone number to the new one and having my current minutes transfer. This was easily remedied by calling and having customer service fix the issue immediately once I realized that there was an issue.
#2 - The other issue was my service just disconnected and I lost all minutes. However, when I noticed it and called, I had my service back almost immediately, along with all of the minutes that had been wiped out.
I have also wondered if sometimes more minutes have been taken out of my account (than should have been), however, since I upgraded to the double minutes for life, it really has not been an issue for me. Any unused minutes, at the end of the year, roll over onto your new time as long as you add more minutes to the phone before the expiration date of your current pre-paid plan or card.
One issue that I would like to clarify, since there are SO many negative reviews on the internet about it, is the customer service. Yes, sometimes the customer service representative may be a little hard to understand. If this is the case, when you call, I would recommend hanging up and trying your call again. Obviously, they have a lot of representatives and I have never gotten the same one two times in a row. I understand it can be quite frustrating if there is miscommunication but, the customer service reps that I have spoken with, have all been very happy to help me resolve the issue or answer my questions.
Now, as for actual phone coverage, I can say that I have used my TracFones in many different states. I live in Iowa, but I have used it (without issue) in: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, and other states that I'm sure I'm forgetting about. The only time that I lost reception was in the Bahamas ... and, of course, this isn't the fault of the company because US Cellular didn't work for me 100% of the time there, either. And, Nextel coverage was very poor compared to either of the other companies I have used.
If you are looking for a reliable cell phone company on an minimal budget, I would definitely recommend giving TracFone a try!