hellHortus_Deliciarum_-_HellThe horrors didn’t stop when I gave up on The TracFone Guy from Hell and moved on to other tech support reps.

Even after a replacement SIM card, my Nexus 6 still won’t work with TracFone’s prepaid plan even though the company assured me in advance that the 6 would do fine as a Bring Your Own Phone.

That’s with some 2,000 minutes accumulated. And the tightwads at TracFone won’t give me a refund. This after perhaps a total of six hours talking with TracFone reps—including Mr. Hell! Remember? The bozo said I’d have to go outside to use the Nexus 6 with the TracFone data plan because the “indoor atomospherics” were not right.

With growing numbers of e-book lovers reading off phones—perhaps large-screen phablets that they themselves buy for Bring Your Own Phone plans—I can’t help but wonder whether how many other consumers are suffering torture. Not just from TracFone but rivals. Got any BYOP nightmares to share?

At TracFone, the latest rep just said I was SOL and would have to try another phone, ideally one designed originally for the AT&T or Verizon network. My howls about easier assurances were met with deaf ears. Adding to the fun, he asked at one point if the Nexus 6 was a Widows phone.

Yes, there is the possibility that my particular Nexus 6 is a turkey. My hunch is that it isn’t. This isn’t a full test of that, but I have on order a SIM card from PTEL for use with the Nexus 6, perhaps with the $30 LTE plan rather than my present Pay-as-You-Go that my Huawei relies on. If I’m successful, I’ll switch to the PTEL account for my main cell phone number.

I’ll still talk up TracFone for use with the prepaid phones the company itself sells. But if my experiences are representative, the company lacks the technical prowess to live up to the ballyhoo in its Bring Your Own Phone program.

In fairness to TracFone: An NBC survey found that “TracFone Wireless, a prepaid phone provider, scored a 77, well ahead of Verizon at 71 (a drop of five percent)” in consumer satisfaction. “Both T-Mobile and AT&T Mobility saw their ratings go up to tie at 70. Sprint dropped four percent to an ACSI score of 65.” I just wonder how many TracFone  customers using BYOP were participating in the survey.


  1. I had no problems buying a BYOP Tracfone card and activating it in a Windows phone. The card came from Walmart, and the Windows phone was an AT&T device (Nokia Lumia 520) which I unlocked. I did not transfer a number or tracfone account, however.

  2. Tracphone’s tech department over the phone is abysmal. I’ve never been able to get any of my problems solved through them. That was just transferring a phone number or activating one of their own phones. It is one of the reason I’ve never tried to bring my own phone with them.

    I will say that their instant chat reps are a lot easier to deal with and most of the time manage to help me. I had them add a year of service to my phone one time because they lost my minutes. Of course their to get access to them you have to sign up to tracfone’s forum, complain on a thread, and then have them set up a chat room for you. To me that is a round about way to get help from them.

  3. @Nate: Yes, it may reach the point where I must abandon the already accumulated minutes. Life is too short to put up with this crap. What carrier are you yourself using? I’ve had fairly good luck with PTEL.

  4. You might check for a Tracfone/Nexus 6 specific thread at howardforums dot com, and check some of their other BYOD threads. I bought a new Verizon unlocked Moto X to use as an mp3 player and was thinking about activating it on Tracfone. I haven’t yet, but I found the thread their really useful as people reported their results and what they did that helped them succeed. There are several people who post there who seem to activate a lot of phones and have all kinds of tricks to make things go more smoothly.

  5. I tried both T-Mobile and AT&T in the college town where I live. Both were worthless, dropping or not putting through about half my calls. Both also seem caught in a catch-22: poor coverage meant few long-term customers which justified not adding more towers. AT&T doesn’t neglect retail stores though. There are two closer to me than the nearest cell tower.

    I had to got with Verizon, but didn’t want to pay Verizon rates. Research said that mean signing up with PagePlus, which is a quiet Verizon reseller. Here’s what I did to keep the costs down and avoid the troubles you faced.

    1. An agreement with the FCC to acquire new spectrum meant that Verizon shipped all its iPhone 5’s factory-unlocked. With the proper micro-SIM, they’ll work with almost any carrier on the planet.

    2. Used iPhone 5s were going for a little over $200 on Craigslist. I began to look for one that was not just an unlocked Verizon phone, but one that’d been used on PagePlus. When one came up for $210 I bought it, even though picking it up meant driving about 200 miles round trip.

    3. Before I paid for it, the seller and I called PagePlus and confirmed that it would indeed work on their system.

    I’m quite happy with the result. And iPhone 5 is marvelous, although if I were looking now, I’d pay a bit more for an iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5 is 32-bit and a few upgraded apps, none vital, won’t run on it. But if I went for an iPhone 5s, I’d still set the same conditions: unlocked, Verizon and previously run on Page Plus.

    PagePlus does have its hassles. To use an iPhone 5, I had to get a SIM from them by mail, since their local pay-for-service outlets did not have them. PagePlus seems to cater to a clientele that lives paycheck to paycheck.

    Also, to use a smartphone on their system, the least-expensive option is a $30/month plan that offers far more of everything than I need. I live with that because it at least means I never have to worry about running over on any service.

    They’re billing is also clumsy. My $30 is auto-deducted, but the end of each month still sees them hassling me with emails and texts about refilling my minutes. That’s a nuisance, but worth dealing with since I’m paying less than half what Verizon would be charging me and getting almost every feature.

    I know you like Android, but if you decide to deal with the Dark Side, you can certainly do worse than getting a used, unlocked, Verizon iPhone 5 or 5s, checking before purchase that it will work on PagePlus. The popularity of new iPhones means that old ones are quite reasonably priced, particularly two models back.

    Here is PagePlus:


    I’ve not had any problems with their phone support, but the local stores that let people renew their minutes aren’t worth the bother. They know nothing.

    –Mike Perry

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