This is a bit of a saga, so bear with me.
About a year and a half ago, I realized I couldn't make/receive texts or calls. When I called Tracfone, a customer service rep told me my phone had been deactivated because I had been using Google Voice. I have never used Google Voice. I told her I hadn't, she told me multiple times that I had. I was fuming at being all but called a liar, but I remained polite, got my phone reactivated, and thanked her. Note: this deactivation of my phone lost me the phone number I'd had since I was 17.
A few months ago (August, I think), I had the same problems again. I called customer service and was informed that, again, it was MY fault and that I shouldn't be trying to text or make phone calls with fewer than two bars of service. No other explanation was given for the deactivation.
Two weeks ago I noticed the same issue yet again. By this point, I of course assumed my phone had been deactivated. Yet, deciding to give credence to the explanation that I shouldn't try to send/receive texts/calls with fewer than two bars of service, I tried making a call in my backyard, where the signal sometimes soars to a whopping three bars. I got a message telling me my phone had been deactivated.
I spoke briefly to a customer service rep on Tracfone's forum. She asked for my phone's serial number, I gave it to her, and then:
CS: Your phone is permanently deactivated. We can no longer reactivate your phone. You may purchase a new one to transfer the phone number but not the minutes.
Me: Okay. Thanks for your help, but I have a couple questions. Why wasn't I informed my phone was going to be permanently deactivated? And why can't my minutes be transferred?
CS: The appropriate department's record shows that your phone was not properly deducting minutes. Thus, most used minutes are unbilled or not deducted. This is the reason why we can no longer transfer the minutes on your phone.
You'll note she completely ignored my question about why I wasn't informed. Also, texts on my phone cost 0.3 of a minute. I have roughly 600 minutes. That's 2000 texts' worth of minutes. I would have to have sent/received over 1,000 texts without noticing that my phone wasn't deducting minutes for their decision not to reimburse me or allow me to transfer my minutes to a new phone to not be a complete and total RIPOFF. I'm sure you can understand why this seems unlikely. I sent out a mass text on November 21st - the last text(s) I sent - and noted then that when I sent a text to ten people 3.00 minutes were deducted. 0.3 x 10 = 3.00 Clearly, minutes for texts were being deducted correctly.
If the issue were with calls being deducted improperly, I make them far too rarely for Tracfone to not be blatantly ripping me off. I have made/received SIX calls this entire year, from January to December, per my phone's log, and none of them lasted more than two minutes. At any rate, I almost offered to video myself attempting to send a text. Even today, mid-December, an attempt to send a text 1) does not work but 2) subtracts 0.3 of a minute.
When my father heard about this yesterday, he decided to contact Tracfone himself. First, they informed him that I was using premium text messaging services. This is a lie. I've never signed up for any texting service (unless you count Twitter, which is 100% free). But no worries, Tracfone had another lie in the pipeline!
When my father told them, "no, she hasn't used those" they AGAIN accused me of using Google Voice. My father researched it a bit, read Tracfone's terms of service, and asked Tracfone how using GV would violate their ToS. They told him that using Google Voice does NOT violate their ToS. So either they're lying now about GV being allowed or they lied twice about why my phone was deactivated in order to blame me, implying that I was lying in the process. Knowing that my phone could not have been deactivated because I was using GV makes me wonder, why DID they deactivate my phone the first time? And of course I always wonder when interacting with them: why did they lie and blame me?
At any rate, when my father informed them I was not using Google Voice - and even if I had, they'd just told him I could - they went back to their original lie (for this go-round): that my phone is defective and not properly deducting minutes.
Allow me to play devil's advocate for just a moment. Let's say my phone were defective. Does YOUR product being defective make it appropriate to imply your customer is lying and accuse them multiple times of violating your Terms of Service, with not one shred of proof? Does it make it appropriate to blame every deactivation on your customer's actions, even when nothing they've done violates your ToS? Does it make it appropriate to cut off someone's phone service THREE TIMES without any notification whatsoever, leaving them to find out - thankfully not in an emergency - that they had no working cell phone?
And my biggest question: are Tracfone's employees just completely incompetent or is it Tracfone's policy to allow their reps to make things up - like usage of Google Voice violating their ToS - to blame their customers for problems they encounter?
Product or Service Mentioned: Tracfone Cell Phone Upgrade.
Monetary Loss: $195.