On my list of 50 questions, #42 is
Write a review: on anything… a new food, a book you just read, an App
I had toyed with the idea of using on of the movies I am going to watch as the review. I decided to write about Straight Talk instead. If you want to skip to the scary part, scroll to the big red “BUT WAIT! There’s more!” near the bottom.
Disclaimer: I get nothing for writing this. I am just a Straight Talk customer with a huge headache, sharing my opinion on them.
The Basics: What is Straight Talk?
Straight Talk, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is a cell phone company that is offered through Wal-Mart. You can buy a phone through them, or bring your own phone, and their plans aren’t terribly expensive either.
- $30 Plan – You get 1500 minutes and 100 MB of data
- I do not recommend but if you are broke and that’s all you can afford, that is the cheapest they have. It works.
- $45 Plan – Offers unlimited nationwide talk and text and 5GB data at high speeds, then 2 G data speeds after that. Also available for auto-refill at $44 a month
- This is the plan I will use.
- $55 Plan – Offers unlimited nationwide talk and text and 10GB data at high speeds then 2 G data speeds after that.
- This is the plan I have right now since I am not close to home at the moment. In 5 days, I have used 369 MB of data. I think I may have over estimated my data usage. I haven’t had a cell phone with data in a LONG time so I had no idea what I would need. That story to come…
- $60 Plan – Offers unlimited international mobile-to-mobile and 5GB data at high speeds and 2G speeds after that. There are some limitations on the international calling.
You can see the full details by clicking here and then selecting “more details” under the plan you want. (If the link is messed up, let me know and I will fix it.)
The Cell Phone Plan\ Coverage\ Calling and Texting
The reason I picked Straight Talk was for a couple of reasons.
- I have had friends and family members use Straight Talk and all of them are very happy with them. They never had an issue with them before.
- I was gifted a Straight Talk phone from a friend for Christmas. She bought it off of a local “for sale” Facebook page. (This is important. I will explain why later.)
As far as coverage, it is beautiful. It works off of Verizon cell towers which has a lovely network. I don’t think it will have any problems.
Calling and texting works fine. My phone even has a volume boost which was a nice surprise considering I am hard of hearing. But that is more about my phone and not Straight Talk. Straight Talk hasn’t had any issues with calling or texting so far. All texts go through and all calls have gone through too.
The cell phone plan I have is working great. I think I may have overestimated my data usage. BUT – I am on a road trip and not always near WiFi so I needed a data plan. Not knowing what I usually use, I had to guess.
Since my travel plan is to update my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, log my food on SparkPeople, use Gas Buddy to find cheap gas, and play on Reddit while on the road, I decided to go with the higher plan. Plus, I can also use Google Maps for times when we are getting close to exits, or if we get lost or turned around.
Setting up your phone with Straight Talk
When someone I know set up their phone with Straight Talk, they had new phones. They set them up with no problems. It was easy as can be. Which is why I was totally cool with the Straight Talk phone gift (overall, I still am). If I could change one thing, I would have bought a brand new Straight Talk phone rather than getting a used one.
The phone itself is nice. I like the phone. But trying to get my used phone activated… Oh. My. Gawd! The headache from hell and invasion of privacy! Let me tell you…
WiFi phone first. After a month of having the phone, I had set up a WiFi number so I can text and call people with my phone when I have access to WiFi. I could not afford a cell phone plan – but WiFi works well for around my town because I know where the free WiFi is located. This worked great… as long as I could access WiFi. I have WiFi at my house too so it was like having a working cell phone… just without a cell phone plan.
The WiFi at my house became unreliable and I needed a phone I could depend on and internet that I could let people I help know when the internet is out. I need this for looking for work as well.
I ended up finding a job but I lost it because the internet went out for a couple of days and I had no way of contacting them.
I was pissed. I started using Total Wireless (also good service and plans) since I had a cheap LG phone that worked with them. The data combined with my my other phone wasn’t the best but I could contact people if needed.
My new phone only worked with Straight Talk so I had to save up for the BYOP pack.
“How do I activate this phone?”
Once I had saved enough money to get the SIM pack, I contacted Straight Talk to see what I needed to do to activate my phone. The first guy I talked to said I needed to buy the SIM card pack at Wal-Mart. The second lady I talked to also said this.
I finally went online and ordered a SIM card and a $55 plan. I needed it for the upcoming trip so I was hoping there wouldn’t be an issue.
I got the card at the end of September. I switched out the SIM card, did all the steps to activate, and… nothing. My phone didn’t work.
Let the headache begin.
Customer Service Nightmare: Second SIM card
I called the customer service number on the card and got a guy who spoke fluent English. I was happy with that. He only had to repeat a few things. He said that I didn’t get the correct SIM card and that he would mail me a SIM card and it would be there in two to three business days. Fine. That works. He also said the card would be added to the new SIM card when I called back. Sweet.
I explained that I REALLY needed to have it there quickly because we were going to leave town in a week. He assured me that it would be there in two to three business days so that wouldn’t be an issue. I expected it there on Tuesday (3 days) or Wednesday (just in case).
He did say we could get the SIM pack at Wal-Mart if it was there too late. Okay.
It arrived a day after we left. Irritating.
Customer Service Nightmare: AKA Are You FUCKING KIDDING ME!?
So, on the trip, we stopped at a Wal-Mart and I bought a SIM card pack that also has a $55 cell phone plan card. I figured, “Meh. Two months of cell service. That works.” It was barely in my budget but I was making it work. The whole pack cost me $70.
I tried to activate the phone again and it still didn’t work. At the next Wal-Mart, I called customer service again. I could not understand 80% of what the guy was saying.
We did manage to figure out that my phone did not need the Bring Your Own Phone SIM card since it was a Straight Talk phone. Why this matters does not even register on the “I care” scale. At this point, I had bought TWO SIM cards and I still didn’t have a working cell phone with a cell plan.
He ended up switching me to a lady who is above him. Probably because I was really irritated at this point and kept having to say, “I don’t understand what you are saying” so many times that I was starting to get pissy.
The lady was helpful. I apologized for my attitude and explained that I had tried to get my phone activated for about a week now.
She looked up the ticket number from before and it just didn’t exist. The guy didn’t document anything.
She explained the SIM card needed to be a Straight Talk card not a BYOP SIM card and said she would mail the CORRECT card to me. I explained that I was on a road trip so mailing it to my house would be pointless
Since they didn’t recognize my Sister-in-law’s address at all (it doesn’t exist to them), I called my ex and we tried getting a hold of SIL and mother-in-law. When that didn’t work, I gave them my ex’s address in California. They mailed it to him and he turned around and mailed it to SIL’S house in Tennessee.
At least it arrived!
Customer Service Nightmare: I am out $70+ but my phone works.
I got the SIM card thanks to my ex. That cost $6.80 to mail quickly.
I put the SIM in my phone and called to activate my phone.
I had trouble understanding the guy but not as bad as the second guy I talked to. It was still annoying as I had to explain and re-explain everything to the guy.
He added one cell phone card plan but wouldn’t add the other because it wasn’t in the notes. Are you fucking kidding me? So I just lost 70 damned dollars because of their stupidity. PLUS how much it cost my ex to mail it to me here.
I was so pissed I swore I would never use them again. But after seeing how well the cell coverage and service is, I decided to stick with then, write this pissed off mixed review, and hopefully save someone else the headache of a two-week activation.
BUT WAIT! There’s more!
Customer Service Nightmare: Privacy WTF
After five days of using my service, I decided to set up my account so I can add cell phone plan cards to my phone without the irritation of having to call a number.
I took screenshots because it was a moment I just stared at the phone and said, “What the ever-loving fuck?”
I tried setting up the account and it asked for my mother’s maiden name. I entered it and it said my answer was invalid. What? I know my mother’s maiden name. The answer is NOT invalid. After several attempts (including putting random names), I went to online chat because I can not stand talking to them anymore.
This is the conversation with online support
I could not believe it. I just explained that was the reason I was contacting them and now they want to verify my security question on an account I never opened? Okay. How does that work?
I’ll tell you how that works. She changed the email address from someone else’s email address, put in my email address, and sent a password reset email to my email address. It looked like this…
So I looked at this and thought, no… they couldn’t have fucked up that bad. Did they just give me access to someone else’s account? So I logged in.
Why, yes they did. And it’s not like they gave me access to an account that wasn’t being used and was only attached to my actual phone either.
Of course I blocked out the numbers and personal information. But they gave me access to the personal information (mailing address, phone number, birth date, phone numbers) of the people I bought my phone from.
Luckily I am not an asshole. I sent them a message on Facebook explaining what happened just in case they use the My Account app or need to log-in for whatever reason. I also changed all the information to my own and removed their phones from the account so they can start a new account.
I was so horrified at the idea that I called Straight Talk and gained access to someone else’s account, personal information, phone number, and could totally fuck with their lives (I won’t, I am a nice person) that suddenly the headache became a very real concern. I am never selling any phone I have. What psychopath could end up with it (and my information) is absolutely terrifying.
Will I continue using Straight Talk?
Sure. Once you get past the headache of activation, it’s a pretty good deal… But I’ll be damned if I ever sell any of my used phones ever again.