This is our story on recent changes in our cell phone plans that I hope will help others avoid the mistake we made. If you're ever tempted to go with Walmart Family Mobile, DON'T!
My wife and I each used Straight Talk's plan of $30 a month for 1,000 minutes and 1,000 texts. It worked very well for our needs until my mother became gravely ill in September and I had to spend lots of time on the phone concerning Mom's condition and care. Two months in a row I either had to ignore calls the last day or two of the month or pay for the next month early since I had run out of talk time. Previously that would not have been a problem for me since I don't usually talk for long on the phone.
In November we saw an ad on TV for Walmart Family Mobile. Since the first phone was $29.95 and the second phone was $24.95, it was going to cost us $5 less a month, and we would have unlimited talk and text. Sounded great! I read reviews and it seemed as if it would be a good move. It did not take long to find out that there were several places we go to frequently where we had no cell signal. I was telling a colleague about this, and he recommended that we switch to Republic Wireless. He and his wife and her parents had done so shortly before then and were extremely pleased with the service.
And so after having Family Mobile's spotty service for only 3 weeks, we made the switch. We had paid Walmart Family Mobile a $53 activation fee to begin with. What I had read on their site made me think our plan was pre-paid, like Straight Talk had been — especially since we had to pay $53 up front. Since there was no contract, I assumed that since we stopped the plan before one month was up, that would be it. A few weeks later I received a bill for $39.41. When I called Family Mobile's customer service number to ask why we were being billed, I was told that our plan was post-paid and the amount for which we were being billed was pro-rated. So I went to Walmart and paid the bill. I asked if that would finish up our commitment with Family Mobile and was told it would. I thought, "Well, OK." I had not understood the post-paid thing, and I considered that the $39.41 would be a fair pro-rated settlement for 3 weeks' service.
Not long after that I got another bill from Family Mobile for $40.79. I went back to Walmart and was told they could not do anything to help me. I would have to send all the information to the customer relations e-mail address. I did just that and received an e-mail back saying I would hear from them personally in 5 business days. Well, 11 business days later — over two real weeks later — I received an e-mail saying they could not locate my account information. I was to send additional information to the e-mail address I had first written to. When I did, the e-mail bounced. I tried it again, and it bounced again. After I tried it the next morning and it bounced a third time, I printed out all the correspondence and mailed it to the return address on the bill. I heard nothing more for another week, until I got a letter telling me that if I didn't pay the bill immediately, it would be turned over to a collection agency!
I spent 45 minutes on hold waiting to talk to customer service. The young man Sergio told me that the first amount ($39.41) was for November 26—December 13, but he was certain that the second amount ($40.79) for December 14—December 19 must have been a computer error. He told me he would enter that information into the my account history, but he did not have the authority to do anything about it. I would have to send an e-mail to "Credit Request" to ask that that amount be lowered or waived since it was for only 5 days' service. I e-mailed the address he gave me and heard back from them the next morning, saying that that amount was in fact correct.
I wrote back and told them we would pay them what they insisted we owed them and would consider this an expensive lesson — $80.00 for 3 weeks shoddy service, followed by a nightmare in trying to even plead our case. I told them also that I planned to do a blog post about my experience with myfamilymobile.com that might lose them more money than the $40.79 they were getting for those 5 days of service. I let them know that my blog had over 1,000,000 hits in 2013.
In less than an hour I received the following reply:
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