Press "Enter" to skip to content

Anybody had this happen with Tracfone?

If this has happened to you — particularly if you managed to resolve the issue — I’d like to hear about it.

Got a text from Tracfone this morning: URGENT — Network changes in your area — ACTION REQUIRED — You MUST call … Blah blah.

I called and all I got was, “Press 1 if you already have your replacement phone. Press 2 if you need to purchase your replacement phone.” No other info. No option for reaching a human being (which wouldn’t help much, in any case, as I’ve never spoken with a Tracfone rep who could speak English, not to mention they probe for private info and can take hours at customer expense(!) to resolve problems).

Here’s all that TF has to say about the issue. Yeah. Big help.

Here’s what complaining customers have said about TF requiring replacement phones.

I presume TF is about to obsolete my phone. Actually, two phones. One of which I carry every day and is about to run out of minutes. And one of which is a backup only but has 2,200 precious minutes on it.

Not surprising if they’re going obsolete. I’ve had them since sometime in the mid-Jurassic. Still. COMMUNICATION, people!

If any of you dear Commentariat members know how to fix this with minimum fuss (and no damn snoopy smart phones), I’d love to know.

Oh, and if anybody is going to suggest I quit Tracfone and try some other privacy-respecting phone service, keep in mind that said service must operate here in the western edge of nowhere. NetZero doesn’t work here. I tried an AT&T GoPhone for a while, but it was a horrible rip-off, charging me substantially for a day of “use” any time the phone rang, even if I didn’t answer it. Oh, and the only local dealer of privacy phones just closed.


  1. Bear
    Bear May 20, 2016 11:47 am

    Document everything.Take screenshots. Be ready to file complaints with the FTC and your state consumer protection agency (probably public services commission). If your state allows it, try to record any phone calls with Drekfone representatives.

    I also have a direct email address for a Drekfone “Senior Manager” from last year when I spent almost two months trying to get them to give me a local phone number when I moved. Email me if you want it.

  2. Joel
    Joel May 20, 2016 11:59 am

    I’ve had a similar but not identical situation. It’s been ten years and I’m still a bit traumatized. It started when Tracfone informed me I needed a new sim card. I spent much time on the phone (my dime, of course) trying to resolve this. They repeatedly claimed to have shipped the card, which never arrived. Weeks passed. It never was resolved, I finally just went to a dollar store and bought a different phone and started over.

    Lesson: I like Tracfones, but no good can ever come from actually contacting Tracfone. Ever.

    You can, however, transfer your number and minutes from an old phone to a new one. They encourage buying stuff, of course, and don’t put obstacles in your way. So the simplest solution, IMO, is to NOT CONTACT TRACFONE. ANY EFFORT TO RESOLVE DIFFICULTIES THROUGH TRACFONE IS DOOMED TO FAILURE. I’M CONVINCED SOMEWHERE IN INDIA THERE’S AN OFFICE POOL FOR WHO CAN DRIVE AN AMERICAN CUSTOMER TO ACTS OF SELF-HARM EACH WEEK.

    (ahem) It’s…I’m okay now. Sorry. Flashbacks.

    Buy a new phone, Claire. It’s actually pretty easy to transfer your number and minutes to a new phone online. Don’t fall for the game. You’ll become a running joke to a bunch of bored and hostile Indians.

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 20, 2016 12:22 pm

    I have a TracFone, and have not gotten any message like that. I suspect it is a scam and not from TracPhone at all.

  4. Bear
    Bear May 20, 2016 12:44 pm

    ML, it appears to be legit. The wireless carriers are beginning to phase out older 2G network support, so 2G phones need to be replaced. The carriers in your area may not be dropping 2G yet, or you might have a 3G phone already.

    The real scam seems to be Drekfone offering the cheapest possible replacements to affected customers, depriving them of stuff they had on their phones (QWERTY keyboards and such).

    Joel’s right. The easiest way to to buy a new phone and transfer number and minutes. The second you actually involve Customer Abuse, you might as well just file the FTC and PSC complaints and wait.

  5. RW
    RW May 20, 2016 2:40 pm

    I replaced my old flip type a year or so ago at trac with a LG fuel, cost was 10 bux, was a pain to call and get the mins and number transferred but finally done. The fuel(optimus?) is an “old” smart phone, small compared to new, runs on the Verizon net, works fine, have seen them other places like wallyworld for about 10 also, think its 3g. Better coverage than before. Stayed on the same monthly plan as before and triple mins for life. Trac is fine but customer service is a pain. Just cked their site and don’t see the LG but they have others cheap and some with triple mins, ck stores, think Walgreens, walmart, maybe kroger, etc carry them, so far I’m happy w/ the Fuel.

  6. RW
    RW May 20, 2016 3:04 pm

    Was thinking, the monthly value plan I have @trac I’m pretty happy with using the triple mins phones, 2 phones cost 18.xx a mo, ck out the plans if you haven’t already, hard to beat the deals unless you use lots of minutes. A friend went with consumer cellular and is happy but seems the overall cost is higher but they are easy to deal with, uses att net.
    If you have an old att phone with the little card they will send a card, change out and good to go, trans number free,

  7. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard May 20, 2016 8:08 pm

    Claire, TF is a pain in the ass but I haven’t seen anyone else come close to their price. I bought a TF Samsung S M – S 7 6 6 C last year – cost $50 – and it works pretty well.

    I sought to deal with TF customer assistance once and wore out my profanity quota for the month. Upgrading to a newer phone might be the simplest option.

    Good luck!

  8. Eric Oppen
    Eric Oppen May 20, 2016 10:23 pm

    I have a Tracfone LG, and didnt get any such message.

  9. jim
    jim May 21, 2016 11:02 am

    Hi Claire, I have several Alcatel A206 3g flip phones, just sitting here NIB.
    You can have 1 if you want it….You can transfer over your minutes and these are 3g …email me if you want it….I also have a lg 440 3g flip you can have

    just let me know

  10. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 21, 2016 11:35 am

    OK Bear… I just assume anything like that is a scam unless proven otherwise. 🙂 I bought the TracPhone a few months ago, just to have in case of emergency. It’s an “LG,” but I don’t see a number with that anywhere. No idea. It has internet, bluetooth and a bunch of other stuff I’ll never use, but $7. a month is pretty cheap insurance. Oh, and it does have a camera, though I can’t see any way to transfer the pictures to the computer or anywhere else. The only port it has is the one to attach the charger cord. It came with the little earphones too, but I’ve not tried them yet. So far, have not figured out how to place a call… but ate up quite a few of the minutes trying. sigh Need to have someone show me how to use the silly thing. The booklet that came with it is pretty much useless, as always.

    Good luck, Claire. I suspect that everyone is correct in saying that the easiest and cheapest thing to do is just get a new phone. And is there some reason you don’t use the one with all the minutes on it?

  11. Jim B.
    Jim B. May 21, 2016 12:34 pm

    I’ve just been at the local Target, viewing what they had in the way of Tracphones phones. Not much, mostly the cheap smartphones. However I turned around and saw that they are now offering Sim Card kits. I came home and checked their website for the SIM card kits. They have the Standard SIM card, a Micro SIM card, and even a Nano SIM card. The way I see it, if you get an updated flip-phone that won’t be obsolete, meaning 3G and up, all you have to do is make sure they’re GDMA or GSM compatible and uses one of the cards mentioned above, then you should be good to go.

    I will say if I were to go with a smartphone, I’d go with an iPhone with the big screen, it’s basically an handheld computer version of a Swiss Army knife. I figured out that I can get a Tracphones SIM card for one considering I don’t really make that many phone calls throughout the year. Heck, I may even skip that and get a tablet that can use the Nano SIM card and use that for phone calls.

    With all the electronic stuff, it’s inevitable that standards will also advance and that in order to keep communicating, we would have to keep moving too. The less the telecoms have to deal with “older” tech, the more they can advance the tech to make it better and hopefully, eventually make it cheaper. Hell, some of the Europeans have better and faster networks than we do.

  12. Claire
    Claire May 21, 2016 12:42 pm

    Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. Thanks especially to jim and RW who offered me phones! I will probably not take you up on those, but let me do my research first.

    I’m most likely going to do what the most TracFone experienced commentors suggested, and just buy a new phone. Given how much texting people do nowadays, I might take the opportunity to upgrade to a Qwerty keyboard.

    I’ll probably stay with TracFone just because a) it’s more private than some of the alternatives and b) I’m a very “lite” phone user who finds even low-priced monthly plans to be more expensive than I’m used to. As Jim Bovard notes, TF’s got everybody beat on prices (though of course the free that a couple of you offered ain’t bad, either 😉 ).

    Gotta plan a trip to the Big City and Walmart, the closest place to buy a phone. But first need to research the options.

  13. Claire
    Claire May 21, 2016 12:45 pm

    “And is there some reason you don’t use the one with all the minutes on it?”

    Yup. It’s got a phone number from a different part of the country that I’ve never gotten around to changing. I just buy a $20 card for it every three months to keep it alive, and that card keeps adding minutes that I never use.

    It’s solely a backup on the theory that one is none and two is one.

    But given the finances right now, I may just get one new 3G phone and transfer those minutes to it.

    BTW, I knew the message from TracFone was real. My main objection was to how opaque their communication was.

  14. Claire
    Claire May 21, 2016 12:50 pm


    (ahem) It’s…I’m okay now. Sorry. Flashbacks.”

    I’m soooooo sorry to have brought up bad memories, Joel. My bad.

    Now … just take those nice meds and settle yourself down. I’ll try to avoid mentioning T—F–e C—-r S—–e in the future.

  15. Dave
    Dave May 23, 2016 1:28 am

    1) What’s wrong with using a phone from a different area code? My number is from a place I left in 2008. There’s literally no need whatsoever to change it.

    2) ML, if by “emergency use” you mean dialing 911, there’s no need to pay anything at all. Any phone that can connect to the network will call 911 even if there’s no account connected to it.

  16. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 23, 2016 1:19 pm

    Actually, Dave, I have other options in an emergency that would require the phone to be connected… I wouldn’t call 911 unless there simply was no other option. For $7. a month, I have plenty of choices. 🙂 One problem with calling 911 would be to get the operator to shut up long enough to accept the fact that I couldn’t hear them well enough to answer their questions. 🙂

  17. TMZ
    TMZ May 23, 2016 3:08 pm

    I’ve had to use Tracfone customer service and they are the worst, any problems deal with them via email

  18. Butler Reynolds
    Butler Reynolds May 24, 2016 8:39 am

    I wonder what’s going on. Black Wireless recently told me that I have to upgrade my SIM card for their pay-as-you-go service that is similar to TracFone. To my surprise, it says that my existing minutes will be lost.

    I don’t care that much since it is purely a backup phone for me, but what the heck?

  19. Claire
    Claire May 24, 2016 12:02 pm

    Butler Reynolds — It seems just to be the 2Gs losing network support. Totally sucks that you should lose your minutes, though. That’s not right.

    Even TracFone (which is notorious for stealing minutes from users) managed to transfer all mine.

    Is it possible that, instead of replacing the SIM card in your existing phone, you got a new phone and transferred the activation to that you could save those minutes?

  20. Claire
    Claire May 24, 2016 12:04 pm

    “1) What’s wrong with using a phone from a different area code? My number is from a place I left in 2008. There’s literally no need whatsoever to change it.”

    Dave — Oh, nothing’s wrong from my POV. It’s so nice now that there’s no need to worry about roaming charges or long distance. I just refrain from using that phone so that locals who may still face extra charges for long distance don’t have to pay extra to talk to me.

    OTOH, it would keep their calls short. Short is good.

Leave a Reply