Monday, January 18, 2010

TracFone: A rough experience thus far

I can't really say much about TracFone yet. Reason being: I can't get a signal in or near my house, and when I do, it's very weak and only temporary. Like right now, for instance. My phone had a small signal earlier that I used to call it from the house phone, but that's gone now.

I have an ethical issue with how they round up call lengths to the next whole minute. What's the point of displaying my remaining minutes with two digits of precision if those digits always read "00"? The one call I got through from the home phone to my cell phone deducted an entire minute for about a second long call.

Part of the signal issue is the network itself. Since TracFone doesn't have their own networks, they use the networks of other carriers, specifically T-Mobile and AT&T. The word around the internet is that AT&T is the preferred carrier for TracFone. Googling the SIM card's type (TF64SIMC4) tells me it's an AT&T card, as the T-Mobile ones end in T5.

I wonder how much of a signal AT&T customers (with real phones and not ones crippled by TracFone) get in this area. I live in the city and there's no signal? What is this, the 1970s? Does T-Mobile work better in Charlottesville?

Here's a photo showing my phone next to my mom's. I think this illustrates the signal problem more clearly than any words can. Due to the screens being at different angles it's hard to see the signal on mine, but since they're both Motorola flip phones the signal is in the same location on each. I did some color balancing to try and help, but it didn't so I resorted to putting red boxes around the area where the signal strength is shown.

I don't get signal. Main screen off.

Now I know the first words out of anyone's mouths will be "you're saving money, so you have no right to complain about shitty service". Fuck that. TracFone is about saving money. They should therefore want to provide good service, so that they build up a reputation for being a good inexpensive contract-free cell phone provider. I'm paying money, therefore I expect service. I'm not getting service. That's the bottom line. If they have no motivation to provide good service just because the consumers of said service don't pay much for it, one should wonder why they're going into the business half-heartedly. If their customers aren't satisified, they won't be in business long, regardless of how much money they make.