What the Flip is Wrong With the Phone Companies?

All my wife wants to do is call someone in case of an emergency. So I got her a Tracfone. Tracfone allows you to pre-pay with a phone card that you have to buy for about $20, every three months. But the past few years I’ve found it harder and harder to get the damned pre-paid cards to work.

Last week I gave up on Tracfone. My wife bought a new pre-paid card, and no matter what I did, it wouldn’t upload air time on her phone. So we’re out $20.

Then my wife got all excited about Jitterbug. For $15.00 a month she could have a flip phone that would be easy to use, and never require those damned pre-paid cards. The Jitterbug company advertises a lot and has a good reputation. Seemed like a good deal for us, even if it was a little more expensive than a Tracfone.

So she bought a flip phone. Then she left me with the job of activating it. That’s because I’m the supposed technology brain in this household. My wife is lost when it comes to electronic devices. She hates smart phones. She can’t figure out how to work them. She just wants a simple goddamned phone for making what?

You guessed it.

Phone calls.

But I couldn’t activate her new fuckin’ phone. I tried to activate it online, and everything seemed to be going peachy. Until the very last screen. It popped up a message that said there was a problem, and that I had to call their customer service line, which is available 24/7.

President William Howard Taft, trying to get his phone activated.
President William Howard Taft, trying to get his phone activated.

It was 6:30 PM. I called them. But all I got was a recording that said they were only available for calls from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. What? Don’t they know what the hell “24/7” means? Maybe they think it’s a math equation, with the end result being the amount of hours they’re available for calls.

Alright, so the next morning I called them again. I got a recording that said, “Due to our overwhelming call volume, you may experience a long fucking wait.” Or words to that effect. And then they gave me another message: “However, if you want to experience faster customer service, please call back between the hours of 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM.” WTF?!! I had just tried to call them the night before at 6:30 PM, and got a recording to call back later.

That’s when I came to the conclusion that Jitterbug is a real fly-by-night operation. Or rather, an operation that claims to fly by night, but really only flies between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

Anyway, I waited nine minutes on hold, listening to jitterbug style old-fogie music, until a customer service rep answered. She then put me on hold to try to straighten the problem out and activate our new phone. I was on hold for 45 minutes. Then a new customer service rep got on the line and said some mysterious things about technical support working on the problem. And then she hung up on me.

That was it for me. I found a new phone number to call, to cancel our account and get a refund. After about 25 minutes on hold, while seething with suppressed rage, I finally was able to negotiate that transaction.

But now my wife has no phone. All she wants is a flippin’ flip phone. Not a stupid-assed smart phone, but a flip phone, godammit. She just wants to be able to make phone calls. Nor do we want to pay all those exorbitant smart phone data rates.

Does anybody know of any phone companies out there with reasonable rates, that offer flip phones, along with good customer service? Our needs are simple. But our choices are complex. And it seems difficult to negotiate the mine fields of all the fly-by-night phone companies out there, where the wheat seems to be buried by the chaff.

We would appreciate any suggestions.

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26 thoughts on “What the Flip is Wrong With the Phone Companies?

  1. I have a flip phone with service from VZ Wireless. Once a year, I put $100 on my account which allows me to rollover any leftover minutes.

    Calls are $0.25 minutes, but I use very few minutes.

    After 5 years, I probably have $400 (out of $500 paid) available to use. So it’s been costing me about $20 a year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’ve bookmarked that web page. We actually have a VZ store in our little town. Getting person-to-person human style customer service sounds nice. Maybe we’ll drop in to their store and check out what they have to offer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Customer service world/nation wide needs a new name. Customer Antagonist works for me, but I am open to suggestion.

    On Sunday I will take my 90 year old mother phone shopping. She has had the same flip phone on my AT&T account for 10 years (as an extra phone on my account it costs $10/month with unlimited usage which is about like sending a 90 year old to an all you can eat buffet. But I digress.)

    They stopped serving her old 2G phone and will give her a new one free if she brings in the old one. I expect to have a frustrating time trying to get her to understand how to use her new flip phone (which, I think, is exactly like her old one that she hasn’t quite gotten the hang of in 10 years).

    I’m not sure I helped. I did get to rant in advance, though, so thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 10 bucks a month doesn’t sound bad at all. How nice that you’re taking care of your mother this way. I’ll put AT&T on my list of phone companies to check out.

      And you’re welcome to rant on my blog any time you wish. I love your rants. In fact, I rave about your rants.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a flip phone, and I’ve had great service with Sprint. But that’s a 2-year contract with a monthly bill. We have 4 phones on our plan, 2 Smart phones and 2 basic flip phones, so I couldn’t really tell you what the monthly amount is for just one of the phones, but I know it’s not the cheapest company around.

    My mother-in-law, who can barely turn her own TV on, had a Tracfone, and her experience was just like yours. Bought a prepaid card and couldn’t get it to work. And she’s on Social Security, so losing $20 is a big deal to her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the advice. We don’t mind a 2-year contract if the per month isn’t very expensive.

      Too bad what happened to your mother-in-law. At one time Tracfone provided a good phone service. But they seem to have gone way downhill lately.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been happy with Verizon as well. The customer representative (in person or on the phone) will help you find the cheapest plan to meet your needs. Remember to ask for discounts–there are many discounts available even based on where you work or if you or your wife served in the military–doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had TracFone years ago. I found the prepaid cards to be a pain, too. A few months in, I found a 12-month card with 400 minutes for $99 at Wal-Mart. So at least I only had to reload a card once a year. Maybe that is still an option? Good luck, Tippy. Customer service ain’t what it used to be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. We’ve settled on phone service from AT&T. The flip phone cost $20 at Walmart. After buying it, you take it to AT&T and they load it with minutes, themselves. It costs 25-cents per minute, but if you only use the phone a few minutes a month, it’s no big deal.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your call is important to us, please stay on the line and a customer service representative will be with you shortly..

    We are experiencing higher than usual call volumes. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and a customer service representative will be with you in the next life..

    Here’s a thought, maybe your wife could get a plug into the wall dial up phone with one of those them thar extree long coil cords so she could just take it where ever she wants and always be able to find her way back to the phone base.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that there’s a humdinger of an idear. It would also make “dropped calls” a public safety menace. If she let go of a phone like that in, say, Nevada, just think of all the damage it would do for hundreds of miles, ricocheting and zinging back to the handset.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If your experience with customer service wasn’t so appalling awful, it would actually be funny.

    I gave up my flip phone not long ago. The sound was so bad, that it was the equivalent of having no phone.
    I’m now the happy owner of a smart phone. I use it primarily as … a phone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the smart thing to do, with a smart phone. I like the simplicity of a flip phone. But a smart phone is a little more versatile. For instance, you can set up a blocking app to block unwanted calls. But if you put too many apps on it, it can really get confusing.

      Liked by 1 person

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