Several months ago, the fiancé (now hubby) had heard about Straight Talk, and decided to give them a try. He’d been wanting to upgrade to the Nexus 4. Being with Sprint, he was stuck with CDMA phones, and so he was looking to switch carriers. Straight Talk sounded too good to be true. Their claim: $45 a month, no contract, unlimited talk, text, and data. He’d been with Sprint so long because they were one of the few who did not throttle data speeds to 2G (read: really slow) once you used a certain amount of bandwidth. Well, he gave it a shot, and it was true – he used 19GB of data in a month and was never throttled. He then became one of Straight Talk’s biggest evangelists.
I admit, sales and discounts make my heart go a-flurry. Saving money on my cell phone bill? Yeah, I’m down. So we decided that after our wedding and honeymoon, we’d both get on it. Now things turned out to not be as straight forward with setup for us due to different factors with our existing accounts. Fine, you know, things happen. No biggie, call their customer service line and that’ll get things squared away, right? RIGHT?!
Coming from T-Mobile, I’ve experienced excellent customer service, but over the years I can tell that they’ve been cutting costs in different ways, it’s dwindled down to “good” and is occasionally “bad” where I’m left feeling like, “Wow, that rep did not care about me". (Honestly, I totally understand why companies outsource their call centers; if the people are trained well and act like they care and want to help you, that’s really all I want. Though, I KNOW your name isn’t really “Fred”, what’s wrong with telling me your real Indian name? Lol!)
How do I feel about Straight Talk’s phone help? It has been DOWNRIGHT TERRIBLE. I am straight up AFRAID to call Straight Talk’s customer service, and I’m hoping I am at a point where I don’t have to. It’s not just once, not just twice, but every single time we’ve called. It’s an exercise in patience. It’s practice in being assertive and telling them what you want them to do. Yes, they pick up the phones pretty quickly, but that’s the only point where I would give them an above-average rating. What happens after they pick up the phone? Here’s an excerpt of what my experience today was like:
me: “I need help setting up my voicemail, it’s not working the way it says it’s supposed to like it says on your website.”
her: “You have to be calling from a different line.”
me: “I don’t have a different line right now. Can you look at my account and see if there’s any error in the account somehow?”
her: “You have to be on a different line so we can troubleshoot your phone.”
me: “I don’t HAVE a different line. Can I put you on 3-way with my voicemail so you can hear what I’m hearing?”
her: “You have to be on a different line. As much as I want to, I cannot help you.”
me: “I do not have a landline and am home alone, so I cannot borrow a phone. I DO NOT have a different line. Can we TRY what I’ve suggested?!”
her: “OK but I cannot guarantee it will work if you are not on a different line.”
me: “OK well it appears I cannot do 3-way with my voicemail. Can I just switch between the calls and tell you what the error messages are?”
her: “I cannot help you unless you are on a different line. I have to do a system update that requires you to switch your phone off and on and we will be disconnected.”
me: “How about you do the update, tell me when you’re done, make a note on my account of what you did, I’ll reboot, and whether it worked or not, I will call back and follow up with the next person?”
her: “We cannot guarantee that things will work unless you have a different line. I will not give you confirmation for this call.” etc etc.
Finally, it magically started working, and then even at the end before hanging up:
her: “If you have any other problems with voicemail, please call back, BUT WE CAN HELP YOU ONLY IF YOU CALL IN ON A DIFFERENT LINE.”
Wow. I made sure NOT to thank her.
From what we can tell:
- they are possibly handling multiple calls at one time and so it takes a lot longer for them to help you. They put you on hold, work on someone else, and then come back to you. (Example: I overheard Chris saying, “Look, I can hear your voice in the background talking to other people. No, that’s not other people, your voice is pretty distinct, I can tell it’s you. I want you to stop that, I’ve been on the phone for an hour waiting for this to be resolved.”)
- they DON’T WANT to help you. (I had to be transferred twice to get to someone who could possibly help me, with each person explaining, “I do not have the capability to help you with this” and never telling me I needed to be on a different line. Also, as from the above rough transcript, I felt like the lady was just trying to get me off the phone so she wouldn’t have to help me. She claimed she “wanted” to help, but I’m sorry, customers can tell if you really want to or not.)
- they will say they CAN’T help you, and that there is nothing they can do. (They have told Chris that the system was “updating” and there was no way to manually override anything.)
- they will lie for no reason. (Example: Phone rep: “I’m going to walk over and catch the supervisor up on what we’ve talked about and they will help you.” [ hold ] Supervisor: “Hi, can I help you?” Chris had to explain everything again, AND when he said, “The guy said he was walking over to talk to you” the supervisor said, “What? We’re in totally different call centers.”)
- they will say things to get you off the phone. (After Chris had been on the phone for hours with them, they said they had done all they could, and then Chris ended the call. Next day, the daytime rep said, “Actually, they didn’t do anything. Nothing was changed.”)
The only thing they have comped him is some airtime. I’m not sure that all that frustration was worth it. It really does always go back to that adage, “You get what you pay for.” As long as my phone works okay, I’m good. I will update here in a few months and see if the savings is still worth the unhelpful and unwilling customer service. At least there’s no contract so I can leave if I want to!
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