Straight Talk Debacle

tl;dr – Avoid Straight Talk like the plague if you want mobile data or customer service.

Like so many others, we took the plunge and decided to go with prepaid cell service to save money and avoid contracts. After researching the options we went with Straight Talk’s “unlimited” plan on AT&T’s network and all was well for a month or two. Coverage is the same as getting service directly from AT&T and it was just as reliable. Even data speeds were the same and I thought we’d found a winner.

However, the week before thanksgiving I noticed my data speeds had dropped to around 120k/s so I dropped ST an email and the pain started. The first reply stated I’d been throttled for heavy usage (300M in a week and a half by my count), the second said they had to call to “troubleshoot” and the last reply said I’d been throttled. All of them were canned responses and my attempts to clarify via email were ignored completely.

I finally was able to carve out the time to call them on the Friday after thanksgiving and had one of the worst customer service experiences of my life. The first person I spoke with swore I wasn’t being throttled and a power cycle would fix things. Of course it didn’t so I called back and was able to confirm with the csr that I had indeed been throttled. I was bounced to someone in a different department and had to step through a series of questions (they called it a survey) about my usage. The questions ranged from the silly (how do you close your browser) to the standard (do you use your phone to provide internet to other devices), but after completion I was bounced back to the first level csr and data access was restored. For a little while.

I was on Wifi for the rest of the day, but when I was heading back to the hotel I noticed I wasn’t getting any data connection on the phone. Once back at the hotel I did the usual reboot and apn checks but was completely unable to get any cell data connection. Another call back to ST and was told my account had a “flash” on it and I’d have to call back the next day as that department was closed.

I called back again (call number four for those keeping count) the following morning while on the drive back home and got the normal canned responses. I was less than polite after being told I was being throttled after clearly staying multiple times I had NO data access whatsoever. The csr had me power the phone off while she “checked” things on her end, once I powered back on I had full data access again. I asked what had been changed and she wasn’t able to give me a direct answer, so I can only assume she removed whatever block has been placed on the account.

Since getting home, I’ve moved to using the tmobile $30/mo prepaid plan for the time being and moved my other lines back to AT&T. One upside to all of this is that I was able to get full AT&T service without contract since we weren’t purchasing phones. I may end up moving my line back over as well, but for now I’m enjoying the higher data speeds from tmobile.

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