January 10th, 2014 by

Why I Will Be a TRACFONE User Forever (Or at Least the Next 2 Years)

I was this close to getting rid of my Tracfone.

It was something that I had been considering for months. I mean honestly, a man has to have self-respect when it comes to his mobile devices. I’m not saying I need a Note 3, but maybe something I would feel a LITTLE bad about if it got run over.

To be fair, parts of me are attached to my Tracfone service. No contracts. Low monthly cost and no setup fees. I really like the straightforward what-you-see-is-what-you-get pricing. A simple monthly minute reload plan that I can opt into. The fact that I can get a new phone for less than a pair of shoes on a hanger at Wal-mart is always appreciated . These are the things that kept me pining for so long in my indecision full of confused emotions. Now that I think about it, having a phone that I can throw on the pavement with no regret when I get angry is definitely a plus.

However, the negative aspects of such a cheap device made somewhere in the bowels of China quickly become apparent. Being charged for the use of a whole minute even if I only use one tiny fraction of a second per call, texts costing a third of a minute to read, open, and send, and worst of all the minute charges are deducted BEFORE anything even leaves the phone. This means sometimes I am being charged for sending texts at work where I get little to no reception and the TEXTS DON’T EVEN LEAVE MY OUTBOX!

Additionally, the phone software gets very buggy sometimes. As an example, the send feature just plain wouldn’t work for no apparent reason sometimes on the phone I had and restarting didn’t always fix the problem. (but I could use the button outside of a text) Granted, by this time my phone was “well-worn” and was getting on its last legs – but that brings me to the story portion.

The plan was to get a cheap replacement phone because I could no longer logically turn on and off the current one. (You know, like hitting the on button didn’t always turn it on. Sometimes this feature was randomly relegated to slightly bending the phone at the middle.) Went to Rite Aid, said give me that cheap $10 Tracfone behind the counter and went through the quick process to Activate it. I Figured this should last me a few months then I can switch to a better service with better phones.

But I don’t think that will happen any more.

You see, the thing about Tracfones is they are used a lot by really cheap people and drug dealers. And how do you keep really cheap people and drug dealers at bay and sticking with your product? You make your phones inexpensive and disposable and hand out minutes like they are Halloween candy. Because with Tracfones, the minutes really are like Halloween candy. Pavlov would be so proud. If you ever call their customer service to get help setting your phone up, you get free minutes for everything – inconvenience, errors, unhappiness, thank-yous, holidays, just-because’s, positive mental attitude. I mean it is practically their form of addict satiating currency. It reminds me of Soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It has a self declared value and it calms the masses. This is a big part of why I was thinking about dumping them.

Until I won the lottery.

When I went through the process of transferring my minutes from my old phone to the new one something miraculous happened. I imagine that in the heart of their communications software network somewhere a script forgot to round and then another dropped a decimal point and then another was like “Crap! What was that first number again?” And then they did it a couple more times.

And when it popped out showing my minutes balance it looked exactly like 10,000. That’s right, simply by switching which Tracfone I was using I was randomly awarded over $700 worth of FREE minutes on my phone. The moment was almost exactly like this:

At the rate I typically use minutes, this was over 2 years worth that I did not have on my phone previously. So the first thing I did was cancel my “VALUE PLAN” of 200 points a month, because I just received the most valuable one of all. FREE.  I just saved $30 a month for 2 years.

Now, being the honest individual I am, and being partly motivated by fear that this might all be some kind of an elaborate setup to charge $700 worth of minutes to my credit card I called their technical support and let them know what happened. I would like to relay part of this conversation to you beginning after I explained that I only had started with 200 minutes, but the new phone was given 10,000:

Support Rep: It was a mistake…Would you like me to go ahead and make sure your phone has the correct number of minutes? [ very crafty miss Indian support rep….]

Me: Well, I was thinking would it be OK if I just kept the minutes because it was Tracfones mistake? Could I just kept the minutes on my phone? Can I do that?

Support Rep: [A slight perceived pause] …Yes, you could do that.

And that, my friends is exactly how you get over $700 worth of FREE minutes from Tracfone who’s communications network I will be greedily taking advantage of the for the next two years with absolutely no cost to myself. I sincerely hope they do not fix those “mistakes” in the software and I will be vigorously monitoring my credit card statements to ensure I am never charged for this. Please leave a comment below, and by all means if you have my number please call. I can afford it now. 🙂

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I am an Buffalo, NY based WordPress Web Developer and Graphic Designer who loves to learn, read and write. My wife says that I got stuck at age 4 (the "wonder years"). I am a recovering Little Debbie's Nutty-Bar-a-holic and I have written a song about falling in love with a Llama. A Designer by trade, thinker by pursuit, and comedian in my dreams.
  • Bethany Fonda

    The title of this post makes me laugh. I think you’re quite clever with your writing.

  • mdfonda

    I still have like 2000 minutes left.