Campbell County woman frustrated with low-cost carrier phones that don’t work

JACKSBORO (WATE) – With wireless phone deals becoming more and more expensive every year, a growing number of people are turning to low-cost wireless carriers. As a recent customer of one of these inexpensive carriers said recently, sometimes you get what you pay for.

The major wireless carriers are in a battle to get your business. You likely watched a lot of their commercials during the holidays. The cost of unlimited text and data, and other bells and whistles, add up and are simply too expensive for some people. Therefore, low cost carriers offer cheaper phones and monthly plans help fill a niche.

What happens when the phone doesn’t work and you can’t get one that does? Debra Shelton has been waiting for months to get a phone that works.

She lives paycheck to paycheck and like many people, she wants to keep in contact with her family. They live in Ohio and expensive wireless phones and their contracts are beyond her financial means. So she went to Walmart in Jacksboro late last October where she bought a low cost Straight Talk wireless phone.  She also purchased a monthly plan.

“It’s $45. You pay for it, then you have your phone activated. You have to call Straight Talk and they activate your phone with that card,” she said.

Debra Shelton
Debra Shelton

Shelton says once she gave the PIN numbers, the phone should have worked but it didn’t. She was told to call Straight Talk’s technical service and was given directions on how to get the phone working.

“Had to take the battery out, put the battery in. Then I went to supervisor, to supervisor, to supervisor they said they will fix it. I said, ‘Should I take it back to Walmart because I had 30 days?’ They told me no,” she said.

To be on the safe side, Shelton bought a two year service plan for the phone for $9. She also bought a 30-day unlimited talk, text and data card from Straight Talk for $45. Shelton was told to send the phone back. She did and was sent another one, but it didn’t work either.

That first 30 day phone card had expired by the time the second phone had arrived.

“They null and voided the new phone; it had a different serial number. So Walmart doesn’t have track of that serial number,” said Shelton.

That also meant the two-year warranty from Walmart was no good. In December, Shelton was sent a third phone. When turned on, you can’t call out.

“I’ve been talking to Straight Talk since the end of October,” said Shelton.

She has kept notes of ticket and reference numbers every time she’d called the wireless carrier since November.

“They just keep putting me off to another person, to another person, to another person. Ticket after ticket after ticket, box after box after box, I’m, I’m over it,” she said.

While at her home last month, she called Straight Talk’s customer service. For the fourth time in two months, Shelton went through the same drill and was asked again for a ticket number and a phone number. After waiting about 10 minutes  and talking to two different service representatives, neither could answer her questions.  However, she was told someone would get back with her in a few days to try to resolve her issue.

“I don’t understand. You don’t want to give me my money back. You don’t give me a phone that works,” Shelton said during the call.

Straight Talk’s record with the Better Business Bureau shows 4,600 filed in the last three years and over 1,100 were resolved over the last 12 months. Nevertheless, they have an A rating because according to the bureau, Straight Talk is  working to resolve the other complaints.

Just before Christmas after a call from the company, Shelton was told to send that third phone back to corporate headquarters in Florida and she followed their directions. Just the other day she was told there may be a refund check on it’s way. Shelton says she’ll never buy a phone from Straight Talk again.

While all those phone calls with Straight Talk’s customer service department have been unproductive for Shelton, the company does have what’s called an “executive resolution department.” She says apparently that’s who she is dealing with right now.

If you face a situation like Shelton’s, don’t give up. Keep on trying and working with customer service and eventually with Straight Talk’s resolution department.

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