I bought a Net10 phone when my mother came to visit me some years ago. It was the cheapest model, a Nokia 1600, candy bar style phone, which made sure my mother could do things independently during her visit. Even after she left, I kept the service current by regularly purchasing $30/300 minute cards because I appreciated having a backup phone with a long battery life. It proved to be very helpful during and after Hurricane Sandy during which I was in New Jersey with my fiancee.
So, I kept making the payments. It got another period of intense use when my mother was here again this past summer. Occasionally, I would need it after misplacing my phone, forgetting to charge it. It also had the advantage of having very reliable service between Ithaca and Whitney Point which seems to be black hole for AT&T signals (I exaggerate, things have improved since about five years ago, but still …)
I know, I did not need to keep making those payments, but somehow I felt better knowing that the number for the backup phone remained the same.
I realized in December I no longer knew where the phone was. I looked everywhere, and I could not find it. I also realized that the local BestBuy had some deals on Android phones for Net10. I called Net10 customer service to explain the situation, and ask if they could upgrade to a new phone without losing all of my balance. I think, at the time I realized I lost my older phone, I had about 3000 accumulated minutes and service end date of March, 2014. The helpful customer service rep was positive that I would be able to do that “regardless of whatever new phone I picked” which made sense to me. After all, I had paid real money for those minutes that remained unused, and surely, Net10 would be able to give me an air card number with service for the same period.
I had seen a Samsung Galaxy Discover for Net10 at a great price, so I went and got that. After charging the phone, I called Net10 to activate it. After patiently explaining the situation, I was told basically that I was an idiot for believing the first customer service representative, that the money I had paid for the minutes and the service period could not be used to offset the cost of a plan for the first few months of service on this phone etc. So I gave up, and asked the representative to transfer me to a manager/supervisor. The next person I got on the phone made me go through the same machinations and explanations, and gave me basically the same answer.
I gave up, sat down, and wrote a letter.
In response, I got two phone calls, both of which I missed because I was traveling. Both people left nice and friendly messages telling me to call a special customer service number to have the issue handled.
So, today I called that number.
Once again, after answering a bunch of questions, we made a little more progress. The rep offered a one month of unlimited data/text/talk for free in exchange for the approximately 3000 accumulated minutes and a service end date of March, 2014. I explained to the rep that, according to their web page, what he was offering was worth $40 whereas I had paid Net10 real money close to 6-7 times that amount for said number of minutes and service end date. I understand the difference between minutes on a candy bar phone versus unlimited service on a sorta smart phone, but surely, there must be a more fair way to compensate me for the minutes and service period I had already paid for, again, using real money.
Instead of showing a little flexibility, the rep started explaining to me how this was more than fair.
That’s when I realized I had already sunk way more time into this than was justified by what I was getting in return, just because I had had a good experience with the original sign-up and had enjoyed the peace of mind of knowing that when my mother came to visit, I could just give her a phone she was comfortable with.
Simply out of familiarity and past good experiences, I had wanted to stick with Net10.
But, that’s water under the bridge.
There is no reason to throw good money away after bad just because I once paid for those minutes. More importantly, there is no reason to throw away good time after bad. My experience with these three customer service representatives left me with a rather bad taste.
Surely, there are many alternatives in the marketplace.
May the New Year bring Net10 as much frustration as I experienced during this process.