Wednesday, January 01, 2014

TracFone Duped Me: Locked Hardware with no warning

I feel like I have been duped. If this had happened to me when I lived in Connecticut, and when Richard
Blumental was still Attorney General, I know what I would have done. I would have gone to his office with my issue. (I think that he was an incredible public advocate for consumers and consumer rights.)

So here is the story. I went to Costa Rica. I knew from prior trips that international calls are expensive as is adding international calling service. Even with international calling service (at a monthly fee), you still pay for both every call made and received. I added international data and texting, but not calling. I did what folks traveling do, I bought an inexpensive phone to use, and then bought a SIM card in the country to use for local phone calls. The local SIM card was inexpensive and gave me a local phone number.

I made a mistake though. I bought a phone, which I thought was just a phone. It was a TracFone.

Nowhere on the packaging does it say it. Nowhere in the agreement of terms and conditions does it say it. It is locked and can ONLY be used with a TracFone SIM card. The physical handset has no markings saying it is TracFone. Nowhere. Not on the case, not on the battery, not on the rest of the guts of the phone. Nowhere. (Bad marketing, by the way.)

I thought I bought a Samsung phone which came with TracFone service.

So not true.

I wound up going to a store in Costa Rica and buying another phone (Nokia, by the way), which is what I will use from now on for international traveling. It worked fine out of the box, and was even charged when I bought it (unlike the TracFone).

I had a series of emails with tech services at TracFone which were entirely unsatisfactory. Of course, I could have been talking with a machine.

They may provide a useful service, and I know some folks who have used it. However, I found them to be totally deceptive in my dealings with them. I recommend you not use them.

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