Phone# transfer nightmare with Net10 / Tracfone
I have signed up to share this little story with anyone currently looking for a cell phone service provider... so here we go:
(dates are approximate +/- 1 day)
I have been using my old Nokia 2125 Tracfone for about 1 year. It's an entry level phone, outdated and with some limitations, but it worked.
The battery was getting weaker, so when my minutes were running low at the end of march, I decided to look for a new prepaid phone instead of recharging the tracfone minutes.
The company that best suited my needs seemed to be net10, a tracfone subsidiary. I didn't want a monthly plan because my talk time varies a lot from month to month, I only need a basic cellphone, and I didn't want to bind myself to a provider for a year or two. Net10 offers the Motorola W370 for $50 including 300 minutes - that's only about $20 more than what it would have cost me to get the 300 minutes for my old nokia.
The net10 phone arrives in the mail. I activate it over the internet and it immediately works like it should. A 21st century phone for me, yay!
I realize that I should be able to carry over the old phone number from my Nokia tracfone to my new Motorola Net10 phone. (I grew up in germany, and you can't usually transfer prepaid cell phone numbers over there)
Great, then I won't have to carry around both phones until everyone has my new number!
I enter the necessary information for the phone number port on the Net10 website and get an error message. "Probably because the old phone's a prepaid" I think. The website tells me to call customer service, and I do.
After spending 20 minutes on the phone with a call center that is most likely somewhere in India or the middle east (judging from the accents), they tell me that the prepaid thing is no problem, they can now port my number and it will take up to 7 to 10 days. They give me a ticket number to check on the status of the port.
April 4th, ~9am
My old phone is still working, and the net10 phone still has it's original phone number. Nothing surprising so far, but just out of curiosity I enter ticket number on net10.com to get a status report.
It tells me that there has been an error with the port because of "missing information" and I need to call the hotline.
I call customer service again, this time from my new net10 phone (my mistake). The sound quality is so bad that I can't understand anything except an annoying echo of my own voice. Another try, less echo this time. The guy on the other end is breathing heavily into his microphone.
I tell him my ticket number and he tells me that he can't access my information because they are having some technical trouble with their system, and asks me to call again later that day.
April 4th, early in the afternoon
I call them again as instructed, and no surprise, they ask me for the excact same information again, including the tracfone serial number that I already told them 2 days ago. 33 minutes later ("please hold while I enter some information in my system." x 10 ), he tells me that now they have all the information and will now complete the port. He asks me to turn my net10 phone off and on...
me: "wait that's the phone I'm calling you on right now!"
him: "oh I'm sorry, that won't work. You need to call us again from a different phone"
me: "ok, my bad."
This is in my lunch break at work. Using a phone at my workplace, I call them again and go through the whole process again. At least, this guy doesn't breath into is mic...
So this time they tell me that the information previously given to me was wrong and there has been some error (??), so they need to sent me a new SIM card for my net10 phone in order to complete the port. He creates a new service ticket for me, I give them all my information and my adress (again) and continue to be optimistic (my second mistake). This call was about 40 minutes according to the call display on the phone.
That evening, both my tracfone and my new net10 phone stop working. "A good sign" I think, "that means they've finally transferred the number to that new sim card that will be in the mail shortly!"
Upon entering the new ticket number on net10.com, this is confirmed, and my sim card "will arrive within 24 to 48 business hours".
I still have not received the SIM card. The "7 to 10 days" and the "24-48hrs" are long past, but the information on my ticket# has not changed. I had told some people that my cell wouldn't be working for 2-3 days, but this is getting ridiculous, and who knows how many calls I'm missing.
So I call the customer service again. After only 15 minutes, I am provided with a DHL tracking number for the envelope with my SIM card in it.
I enter the DHL number on DHL.com and it says that the shipment (1 piece, 1lb, letter) from TRACFONE Florida to my address in oregon has been "acknowledged on April 8th". 6 days seem kinda long for a shipment that is called "express". I still have two cell phones, and both of them still don't work. But what can you do. So I wait.
April 18th, today
The tracking information on DHL.com still isn't updated, so I call them and ask:
"how can a shipment from Florida to Oregon take more than 10 days?"
"uh, we have no real information on this shipment - 'acknowledged' only means that someone printed a shipping label with this number, but we have not received or picked up this shipment yet. You should probably call that company and ask them what is going on"
The ticket information on net10.com remains unchanged, "port completed and SIM card on it's way"
So now I call them again.
This time, they tell me that there has been some sort of mistake on their side, but the guy on the phone is unable to really explain WTF really happened.
He creates a new ticket number, my 3rd one, takes all my information (I stopped counting), and claims that they will now finally mail me that card, and I should have it within 3 to 5 days. (only 22 minutes for this call, I'm getting better at this...)
I'm not holding my breath.
In the meantime, I've kind of gotten used to not having a cell phone again. Not all that bad really, although in the long run I will most likely get fired or declared death because people can't reach me. I'm trying to ignore the thought of how much cheaper and better it would have been to sign up for even the worst monthly plan. At least, that new motorola phone makes a nice alarm clock...