2009-10-09

There are many ways to say "Evil" in Spanish: Net10, TracFone

Let's talk about evil first. Net10 has a slogan that says "No Evil". Do you know why? They have this slogan precisely because they are "Evil". Here's how it happened. They started out with a reasonable idea which was squeezing money out of people so wretched that they couldn't qualify for the oppressive plans normally offered by the cell phone "service" providers. They called this evil thing TracFone. But then smart people figured out ways to take advantage of TracFone. I, for example, bought their "lifetime double minutes" card. After using that for two years, a funny thing happened, it mysteriously got converted to a "1 year double minutes" card. Ahem. Evil. So TracFone is clearly evil. I know it, you know it, everyone, even TracFone knows it. So what does TracFone do to fix that? Become less evil? Noooo. They just create a phony new company. This is Net10. From a page on the Net10 website:

"All NET10 prepaid wireless service is provided by TracFone Wireless, Inc, America's largest prepaid wireless service provider. TracFone Wireless is a subsidiary of America Movil (NYSE: AMX, Nasdaq: AMOV), Latin America's largest mobile phone provider, with more than 165 million cellular subscribers across the continent."

America Movil... Hmmm take out the "o" and turn the "M" 90 degrees counter clockwise. I think you're seeing things clearly now. This means that if you've been burned by TracFone's flagrant evil, don't let Net10's "No Evil" (comically displayed on the same web page) fool you. When Net10 says "No Evil" what they really mean is "We needed an alias to avoid being recognized by our hallmark which is being evil".

Now it gets funny. Since TracFone screwed me, I've been hard at work screwing them and I encourage you to screw them too. The first thing to note is that they really want your nuts in their mouse trap and this is why they have "special" "deals" on phones. The interesting thing is that one can buy 300 minutes of phone time for the eponymous 10 cents per minute *and* get a phone thrown in. Note that Net10 does not offer any real incentive to buy a 600 minute card over a 300 minute one. Why not buy 2 phones that are charged with 300 min each? (Hint: google.com/voice is your friend.) If you do this you can basically get a spare battery and charger for free. Or a whole second phone etc. And it gets better. You should always search the web for "promotion codes net10" before ordering. I got my 300 minutes for only 23.91 complete which is less than $.08/min. Oh, and the W375 "phone" thrown in purely as a bonus.

The last time I did this, I got a phone with 200 minutes on it and a 300 minute card. They've caught on to this and now they don't send a separate card (ahem, quite easily fungible (sellable) on eBay) anymore. However, one can get minutes transferred to the new phone and aggregated to the new minutes.

How did all that go? Not too great. The process starts out with "Press 1 for English" but there's no option for intelligible English. After being on a (landline) phone for about 30min with customer "service" everything seemed set up, number transfered, minutes transfered, activated, signal.... yet all calls resulted in "Call Failed". Then about an hour on the phone with another tech support guy. I had given them all the info they could possibly need and since they were able to remotely set the number my "phone" was clearly in contact with a base station. The ball was in their court. The only thing they had to say by way of excuses is that it could take up to 72 hours. That's THREE days for those keeping score at home.

Ok, so at this point this "phone" still can't make or receive phone calls. Maybe its other fantastic functionality will make it worth the electricity it has used.

First off it has a Bluetooth functionality because my computer told me it detected it. Great! Only not so much. Turns out that the Bluetooth is only for headsets (verified by a customer "service" person).

Ok, how about the extremely helpful-looking USB connection? I tried connecting the "phone" to a USB memory device: nope. How about to my computer's USB port: nope. Surely you can charge from the computer's USB port's power supply: nope. So much for the USB port.

On to the "Camera"! This is so ridiculous that it's actually funny. After reading up on the "camera" and asking the tech support person about it, I was left with the question, why? Why did they include fancy CCD electronics on this "phone" when they could have just skipped that part? You see, if you take nearly any object, say a banana, you can say it's a "camera" banana because the photons constantly hitting the banana are indelibly changing the subatomic structure of the fruit. In fact, it's really a "video camera". The problem with our "video camera banana", of course, isn't that this is untrue, but rather how does one extract this video information that does, in fact, exist in the banana? It's such a stupendously hard problem that we tend to think of bananas as not being video cameras. And so it is with this "camera" "phone". Oh sure it's mysterious internal state is recording variation in incident lighting, however, that recorded information is trapped forever inside the device. In other words, you can "take" photos, but they're forever stuck in the "phone". The only thing you can "do" with them is to joyfully delete them. Fun!

So let's see, not only is the "camera" "feature" no better than that of a banana, but the calling service is also no more satisfying than a banana. I think I'll stick with a banana in the future because of its long battery life and pleasant ring tone. Also, with the banana, you can at least feel good about eating it.

Wishing you creative luck at screwing whichever cell phone "service" incurs your wrath!

4 comments:

xed said...

I sent an email to the customer support email address provided with my phone - bounced.

Doctor TracFone said...

If your TracFone issues haven't been resolved, please see http://bit.ly/dzWCN. And please let me know what happens.

xed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xed said...

Wow, the Evil™ just keeps on coming! Turns out that with Net10 you can not turn off their voice mail. You can not set how many rings until their voice mail picks up.