Tracfone Tells Customer The Meaning Of Life… Is One Year

from the 'till-death-or-contractual-fun-due-us-part dept

Reader crcb alerts us to a fun discovery made by his sister, who had purchased a phone plan from Tracfone, including the companies advertised “Double Minutes for Life” deal. The idea is that if you sign up and pay for that plan, any additional minutes you buy actually give you double the stated number of minutes. Obviously, for some, that sounds like a really good deal. Except that, at least in this case, it turned out that the “for life” part actually only meant “one year.” If she wanted to continue getting “Double Minutes for Life” she had to buy a new plan… which also apparently would only last a year. This seems quite reminiscent to various telcos having trouble understanding the meaning of the word “unlimited.” Either way, I contacted Tracfone for comment on this on Monday of this week, using two separate email addresses provided on the company’s website, clearly explaining what I was writing about… and have received absolutely no response. Perhaps all the folks there are out living it up… since apparently they believe life only lasts a single year, and they shouldn’t waste a minute of it.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: tracfone

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Tracfone Tells Customer The Meaning Of Life… Is One Year”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Chareene Humphreys says:

Re: Re:how can you lose your double minutes privilege?

, if you let your minutes or service days expire you’ll lose your double minutes for life. Is this true? I have several hundred minutes left, but am almost out of service days. Does this mean I’ll lose my double minutes for life deal if I don’t get more service days?

this true?

trw says:

Re: Re: Re:how can you lose your double minutes privilege?

i don’t know what this is about for life means for life. i remember going oint a restuarant that said all you can eat for $15 what a deal. i went and got some prime rib and shrimp. when i wa done i wnet back to the counter and the server asked what i wanted i said some mnore prime rib he replied “NO” i said this says all you can eat and he said that is right and what I served you is “ALL YOU CAN EAT”. what now/ so now we have all you can eat for life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Common Practice

This is just another example of the unfortunately common practice amongst companies of inventing new definitions for words. Definitions that, of course, favor the companies.

My latest experience with this practice was when I purchased a new headlamp bulb with a “lifetime warranty” for my car from one of the national auto parts chains. When it burned out and I took it back they told me that since the bulb had burned out, it had reached its “lifetime” and the warranty was thus expired.

Laurel LaFlamme (profile) says:

Re: Common Practice Reply

Oh, that is just too funny! “…it had reached its lifetime and the warranty was thus expired.” Well, then, there you have it.

As awful as it sounds, we must just get used to the idea that nothing really is what is seems and we have to DEFINE everything before we decide to go forward with a plan.

Define: Lifetime Warranty
Define: Limited Warranty

Some pharmaceutical companies have got it going on with their explanations of what is and is not – they leave nothing out these days and no matter what, if you use their product and don’t experience great results…it’s your fault.

Remember, you were warned: May cause headaches, migraines, upset stomach, explosive diarrhea, convulsions, coma, and/or death.

R. Miles says:

People should research before they buy.

When looking for a “pay as you go” plan for my wife, I stumbled across Tracfone, lured in by their “low cost” plans.

But something didn’t settle with me, so I started doing research on Tracfone.

Needless to say, they did not get my business.

It’s no surprise anymore to see companies bending the rules to increase profits while giving little back to consumers.

The first to go was customer service.

Now this.

What next?

Rah for capitalism.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: People should research before they buy.

As I’ve written above, my wife and I use Tracfones and have no problems with the company for how I use it. Now that I have kids wanted a phone around to get a hold of my wife or to call a tow truck if my car breaks down. You know, just for occasional use.

Once a year I buy a one year extension plan which includes 400 minutes, which gives me 800 minutes, for 99 bucks. That puts my phone at about 8 bucks per month.

But if saying “life” equals “one year” is the sort of shit they’re going to pull in the future, I probably won’t be using it for long. Let’s hope that the problem the sister is having is a one-time glitch and not official policy.

Diego says:

Re: People should research before they buy.

Yup, I’ll have to agree with you there, big companies are always out to make the most profit they can while offering the least to the customers.

However, what troubles me the most is that people always think it’s the representatives of this companies that need to be blamed for that. I mean sure, tracfone has some customer service representatives that are stupid as hell, but many of them are very professional and helpful and really don’t have anything to do with those cheap bastards at the top of the company that only think about making money.

And not only that, you wouldn’t believe how little these agents get paid compared with america’s salary standards, simply because they live in third-world countries so the company can save LOTS of money by hiring them instead of hiring americans, when they should get paid more ’cause they’re dealing with english-speaking custs, a lenguage that is not their own.

Like you said, “rah for capitalism”

Tracfone CSR

jimates says:

Possibly True - Old Plan

As a seasoned Tracfone user and adviser I will give my take on the situation.

I think there is probably some missing information here, or more than likely some misinformation. Not enough research was done before the post.

Tracfon’s double minute for life (DMFL) plan (also referred to as the DMFL Benefit) is for the life of the phone. It is not transferable or refundable.

Double minutes for life of single TRACFONE after you purchase and add this card; not transferable to another TRACFONE even if phone is damaged, lost or stolen. The minutes that come with this card will not double.

There are some current phones that come with the DMFL BENEFIT applied at the time of activation. The terms for the plan are the same as the one added with the purchase of a separate DMFL CARD.
See the screenshot here

Some time ago there were several cards that included a Double Minute Plan that was only good for one year. Possibly referred to as an annual plan. (1 YEAR)

This is taken from Tracfone’s Terms and Conditions
Annual Plan and Double Minute Prepaid Plan Cards
300 minute Double Minute Annual Prepaid Plan Card
400 minute Double Minute Annual Prepaid Plan Card

If the users info was actually from a recent occurrence there is a possibility that she was given some incorrect information by the customer service rep. This in itself is a common occurrence at Tracfone. Call again and you will likely get a different answer.

When you call Tracfone with a question they enter keywords in their system search for an answer. The answers given may still be part of the current Terms & Conditions but my not directly apply to the situation presented.

Most seasoned Tracfone users know that if you want correct answers with current information you do not call Tracfone’s customer service. You find a good forum and ask experienced users and advisers.

Like the Tracfone forum at HowardForums
or the
Tracfone Users Group at Yahoo.

jimates says:

Re: Possibly True - Old Plan

It is also possible that she was referring to her interpretation of the 1 Year Double Minutes Card.

It is a card that gives 1 Year of service and also adds the dmfl plan to the phone that the card is applied to.

It would be easy to misinterpret what
1 Year Double Minutes Card means to someone that is now familiar with prepaid, especially Tracfone.

There are several different scenarios that could be represented here. What is told is not the norm at Tracfone nor do I ever expect it to be, unless you can get one of those older cards.

This is an older card and may just be one like I described. I have asked the seller for the fine print.

Tracfone forum at HowardForums

Tracfone User’s Group at Yahoo

jimates says:

Re: Re: Possibly True - Old Plan

UPDATE: This card

I sent the seller a question and asked if the dm was for life or for one year. This is the response I got.

Hey Jim, It’s 1 year and my cards are only activated when they’re sold, so my customers get the full 1 year. Thanks

Not sure if he was referring to the service or the dmfl I sent another contact with specifics about the possible differences in the cards. This is what I got.

Jim, It’s for 1 year as stated previously, not double minutes for life. Thanks, ]

So, as suspected this whole thing has been misunderstood due to a lack of information from the user.

Tracfone is great if you know the ins and outs. If you don’t go to one of those forums and find out.

I also maintain a thread at Fatwallet with all the Tracfone info and deals.
Find it here
You can contact me from there with any questions.

Joe Krahn (profile) says:

Did she let the phone lapse?

If the plan really was “for life”, maybe the phone was allowed to expire. If you let the plan expire, even if you have minutes left, you start over with a new phone number and probably lose the double-for-life benefit (but you don’t lose minutes until a few months.) They also send you text messages to warn of an approaching expiration.

I have used Tracfone for years and am very satisfied. It is a great system for someone that does not use a lot of minutes per month.

Roger Friedrich says:

I think the user is confused

My wife has a Tracfone and double minutes for life and has been getting the benefit for three years now. Last year I upgraded her phone and the double minutes benefit still continues.

What the article fails to explain is that under the Tracfone system every time you add minutes you also automatically extend your service. My wifes service date is now November 2011. At the rate she uses the phone which is only about 100 minutes per month she will never run out of service time or lose the double minutes benefit.

As long as you continue using the phone and buying minutes the benefit will continue. The only way you would lose the benefit is if you stopped using the phone and let the service expire. If your not going to use the phone anyway and allow the service to expire then what good would a double minute benefit be for a phone you decided not to use for whatever reason.

fprintf says:

Mike, I think it might be time to update your blog post. If you go back to you will see that she believes she may have mistakenly purchased a 1 year plan.

Either way, I posted your a link to your blog to,, because that is an excellent resource about the good and bad of Tracfone.

FWIW, I am a very happy TracFone customer and have been for 3 years. I have a regular old Nokia 1100 for my wife, and a new DMFL phone from them. For the $8 a month per phone (including 100 minutes of talking) it works perfectly for my family.

Joe Schmoe says:

Everyone really owes it to themselves to go read the page at the second link –

The author admits the possibility of making a mistake or missunderstanding the terms, which is exactly what happened.

Tracfone offers two DM plans. One is a 1 year card DM upgrade that can be applied to any of their phones. The other is a Lifetime DM that applies to a given promotional phone for as long as you use that phone. It is not for the lifetime of the user and has never been adverstised as such.

Tracfone says what they do and they do what they say. A certain amount of responsibility falls on the user to RTFM. I’ve had the need to call their customer service a time or three. You’ll end up talking to someone in who knows what country while they go through their scripted call sheet before they will let you tell them what is actually wrong or what your question is. Yeah, it’s tedious – but they are polite, and they DO actually take care of things. Their website has improved over the past year and you can completely service yourself online – from buying minutes to activation and phone number transfering.

I am happy with them. They have been a reliable service. And I have saved very much money by choosing them as a pay-as-you-go service over a traditional cell phone plan. All you pay for is the minutes. That’s it. My cell phone costs have gone from over a hundred dollars a month to simply $10 here and there.

Anonymous Coward says:

If it’s a double minute card, it is good for the life of the phone. If she bought a double minute for life it is also good for the life of a phone. the service part if it is a one year card will only be good for one year, but the double minutes for life is still good. Don’t ket them try to put one over on you. As long as your sis kept the phone active she should be good to go.

Dr.BiteMe says:

Double Minutes

I just today added a year and got 400+400+250 minutes. I have a double minutes for life phone and searched the web for a bonus code (16142) that got the extra 250 minutes. I am now entering my second year and have been very happy with the service. Only problem that I have had was wrong calls for the person who had the number before me (only about 3 or 4). That has stopped now that I have had the phone for a year. I am really happy with the value of this service.

I wish I had researched says:


I purchased two new Tracfones from Tracfone February 12, 2009. I received both February 16. I wanted to keep my old T-mobile phone numbers so I requested the transfer. One phone was “ported” in five days but the T-mobile account was cancelled for both in one day resulting in no phone service for either set of phones. When I tried to add airtime to the “ported” phone it got nothing but error messages. I went through all the code entering to try to correct the problem. It is has now been seven days and I finally got the airtime applied to my phone. But, now I’m worried there is still a problem because the service says I need to add airtime by October 25, 2075. Pretty amazing since the phone and I will probably be long dead by 2075. I would suggest to anyone wanting a prepaid cell phone to do a lot more research than I did and find a reliable service with an American help center with English speaking technicians. I called the one phone number so many times that I think I have a cauliflower ear. Happy hunting.

Just me Inahh (user link) says:


guys, I posted a comment here coz a lot of people who posted their comments in this blog are saying the incorrect things. please listen.


Hey! dont worry about your double minutes for life of phone.. pls listen to this explanation.. okey?..

last 2006 tracfone had a promotion which was the old 400 minute card.. the dmp was being offered at that time.. and that old 400 minute card should be good for a year only but due to the errors that tracfone encountered in their system, that dmp was extended into another that is why last 2008, a lot of customers have been calling with regards to that issue and we ( Customer Service Reps) explained everything to our customers…


we are now offering the DOUBLE MINUTES FOR LIFE OF PHONE.
it means that for the life of your tracfone, every minute that you will buy, it will be doubled.. FOR AS LONG AS YOUR PHONE IS WORKING, YOU STILL CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE DOUBLE MINUTE PLAN.

the double minute that is not transferrable is the double minute that you purchased with a phone. tracfone offers phone that has pre-loaded dmp and that dmp cant be transferred to a new phone(if you have transferred your phone number and minutes) however, if your phone is defective and tracfone replaced your phone, then the double minute can be transferred.

there are two double minute card that is offered by tracfone right now.

TRACFONE DOUBLE MINUTE FOR LIFE OF PHONE for $49.99 – this plan can be transferred to another phone 3 months from the redemption date or the day you added the dmp.

TRACFONE 1 YEAR SERVICE + 800 MINUTES + DOUBLE MINUTES for $ 139.99 – this plan can be transferred within 1 year from the day you added the card.

understand? should you have any questions contact TRACFONE CUSTOMER CARE NUMBER : 1-800-867-7183

Joe Fattal says:

The Alien Phone

Last time I checked with tracfone about a problem, I was speaking with and Indian, the one from India. I requested one day a sim card since mine expire, I was told when I called that the sim card will expire automaticaly if I don’t add minutes when they expire. In other words is a throw away phone when you don’t add minutes to it. By the way I recieved my sim card, an Indian man deliver it to me. It’s an expensive phone, they are cheaper phones in the market than tracfone.

lorshel says:


I’d love to know if my double plan works — I was quite happy with my old tracfone, but after 5 years, I needed to upgrade, so I bought a new one (LG, camera, really nice) I attempted to set up the new phone with my old number. That was over a week ago and I STILL can’t make any calls. And yes, in answer to whether the reps are Indian, they certainly seem to be. They speak English, but not always very clearly. And believe me, I’ve spoken to SEVERAL the past week. We’ve tried the same things over and over and I still can’t make or receive calls. Meanwhile, my “service days” keeps being shortened — excuse me???!! I can only hope they correct that if they ever get my phone working.

Cammy Pelletier says:

Tracfone Purchase

Beware before purchasing a Tracfone. I have had two experiences with them, and both really frustrating. A couple years ago, I bought one for my son, and it would not activate. It tooks several days for the Tracfone customer service people to get it going. Recently, I purchased another one for my other son. Once again, I could not get the phone to activate. Tracfone said that Albertsons (the store I bought it from had to re-scan it, because it didn’t get into Tracfone’s system the first time. Albertsons does not give money back on these phones, and will not re-scan them (per their policy). I spent days going round in circles with Tracfone, as well as Albertsons. Tracfone had me make copies of the receipt, phone, and fax to them with all my personal info. Never got a call back. When I called them, I was told that wouldn’t help unless I had purchased the phone at Walmart. I know the phone isn’t worth a lot of money, and definitely not the headache I got trying to get help from Tracfone, but I had also purchased a non-refundable $100 card for minutes to put on the phone. I feel that Albertsons SHOULD NOT sell the Tracfone if their customers have no recourse at their store. Tracfone should have stepped up to the plate and figured out a way to get my phone activated or send me a new one! Bottom line is….UNFORTUNATELY….I now have to go purchase yet another Tracfone to use my card. It will be the last one I ever buy!

cranky says:

tracfone complaints

Wanted to update to a new phone # since moving to a new area
code.Called tracfone customer service twice in the last week
but after listening to each rep realized I needed to order
Rosetta Stone since I also needed to translate more effectivly.Bottom line,my tracfone has now been rendered
inactive now I no longer have phone service but still have
285 unused minutes.After each conversation the “reps”.
said “thank you” and “is there anything else I can help
you with today?” or I think they asked that…My reply

Reality Check (profile) says:


Tracfone for no reason whatsoever, deactivated my phone that had over a year service on it & over 500 minutes on it, claiming falsely that the phone wasn’t deducting time when used.

The phone was sitting on a table when it spontaneously deactivated. I saw it actually go to the “UNREGISTERED SIM” message. I called Tracfone Customer Service the first time, telling them the bizarre thing that had just happened. The rep said they would immediately reactivate the phone within 24 hours. The phone was never reactivated.

I called Tracfone again. This time a rep went through a bunch of troubleshooting codes and finally said he would have to send me a new SIM card and then they would reactivate my phone.


THE FOURTH TIME I CALLED, a customer service rep told me the phone couldn’t be reactivated unless I called another office. I pointed out that customer service had told me several times already that my phone would be reactivated & a new SIM card would be sent to me but I hadn’t ever received it. She ignored that comopletely. Then she gave me the phone number for the “other office, which was the same phone number for customer service I had always called!!!! the only number TF gives out for their customer service number!)
I told her that the number she gave me, was just the same tracfone customer service number I’d been using, so she offered to switch me to the other office. I got promptly disconnected.

I called back, only to get another rep who went claimed I had to call another office to reactivate the phone, but this one told me the people in the other office had gone home for the day and to call back the next day.

The next day when I called back, I got a customer service representative who claimed I had to talk to the other office & she promptly put me on hold, and left me on hold 45 minutes then disconnected me.

Again I called back, and this time I got a customer service rep who claimed I needed to buy a new phone because my phone had been deactivated because it wasn’t deducting minutes. I protested that the phone was deducting just fine when used. She insisted it wasn’t even though I pointed out that a month and a half before the spontaneous deactivation, I had just purchased a year card with 400 minutes on it doubled to 800 plus 250 bonus minutes.

She said she didn’t care what I said, the phone wasn’t deducting minutes so they had deactivated it.

I tested the phone by sending a text message, which of course didn’t get sent anywhere because of the phone being deactivated, BUT THE PHONE DEDUCTED .30 minute CORRECTLY JUST LIKE IT HAD BEEN DOING FOR THE 3 YEARS I’VE HAD IT NOW!!!! Tracfone always has deducted minutes even for text messages that fail to get sent at all, another little way they steal from their customers all the time.

I offered to send photographic proof that the phone was indeed correctly deducting time when used, either by email or snail mail, to prove it was fine. I had photographed the screen before and after the text message, to show that the phone had deducted time properly.

I asked to talk to the girl’s supervisor who put someone else on the phone who gave me the same false claim that the phone had been deactivated because it wasn’t deducting time when used. I offered to send the photographic proof to whomever in the tracfone office could do something to resolve my problem and get my phone reactivated. She said THEY DIDNT NEED TO SEE ANY PROOF BECAUSE THEIR OFFICE WAS WHO MADE THE DECISIONS WHOSE PHONE THEY WANT TO DEACTIVATE (those were her exact words too… WANT TO DEACTIVATE!!!!)

To make a long story short, I talked to two more Tracfone customer representatives and got nothing except the same false claim that the phone was deactivated for not deducting, as well as repeat refusals when I offered to email or snail mail photographic proof the phone was properly deducting.

The last time I called to try to get my phone reactivated, I went through everything again, telling the rep that customer service had promised me several times to send me a new SIM card & reactivate my phone, but I never received it, and then when I called back, customer service representatives were claiming my phone wasn’t deducting minutes but I had even taken photographs to prove it was deducting properly and could send the photographic proof to whomever needed to see it. This rep said she would transfer me to another office, and she transferred me to another representative who of course needed me to tell the whole story from the beginning again, who transferred me to another one who again needed everything repeated from the beginning. This went on for almost FOUR HOURS as
Tracfone customer service representatives REFUSED to let me speak to anyone in management, and transferred me back and forth between different customer service reps, until finally the last rep who I tried to get help from, took Tracfone’s horrific lack of decency or ethics to a whole new dimension.

I asked the girl if they could send me a new SIM card like I’d been promised by customer service representatives they would do in the first place. She said no, because the people in the other office said it’s deactivated and that’s just the way it is. You have to buy a new phone.

I asked the rep if the phone wasn’t deducting, why didn’t I still have 1052 minutes on it (I had bought the card with 2 min left on the phone, making 1052 minutes and extending service until year 2012) instead of only 500 plus minutes left on it.

The service rep said she didn’t care, that the people in the “other office” whatever that is, says the phone was deactivated and cannot be reactivated and then said “They said you can’t tell them what to do, if they want to deactivate your phone, you can’t do anything about it, you’re not in charge of them!”

I told the rep that I had photographic proof that the phone WAS deducting properly and she said, “I DONT CARE WHAT PROOF YOU HAVE, THE OTHER OFFICE SAID YOURE NOT THEIR BOSS AND IF THEY SAY THE PHONE IS DEACTIAVED, ITS DEACTIVATED AND YOU CANT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. I asked if I could speak to management, and she said, MANAGEMENT NEVER TALKS TO THE CUSTOMERS, THEY DONT HAVE TO!


I asked her about the phone’s remaining 500 plus minutes & almost 2 years svc time on it (I had just purchased a year card with 400 minutes on it doubled to 800 plus 250 bonus minutes, a month & a half before Tracfone wrongly spontaneously deactivated it!!!! I asked her how could they just deactivate my phone and claim it wasn’t deducting when it WAS DEDUCTING AND I COULD PROVE THAT IT WAS DEDUCTING?


Then she hung up on me.

So after 3 plus years of being a good customer of Tracfone, buying 3 phones from them, buying airtime regularly from them, I had my phone wrongly deactivated a month and a half after buying a 90 dollar card for it, I had empty promises and empty assurances from the first few customer service representatives that they would reactivate my phone, then I was told they would send me a new SIM & reactivate my phone, then came the false claim that the phone wasn’t deducting & the worst treatment I’ve ever gotten from any business EVER, ending with the laughter of the customer service representatives as that last girl delivered her hateful remarks in an extremely nasty tone of voice, ending in the cruel cussing grand finale when she hung up on me.

I was patient throughout the whole ordeal from first call to that last rep’s cussing hangup, never got rude or angry in my tone of voice, never cussed or insulted anybody, even offering photographic proof that the phone was deducting, WHAT MORE COuLD I HAVE DONE TO TRY TO GET TRACFONE TO DO WHATS RIGHT AND REACTIVATE MY PHONE LIKE THEY SAID THEY WOULD?

I wonder if those who own the company approve of this way of doing business with their customers. (I find it exceptionally vile too, that “management never talks to the customers, EVER”)

I think that someone who has some kind of authority and power within Tracfone, should do the right thing, reactivate my phone & give me a large number of minutes of airtime to make up for the wrongful deactivation and all the time & effort I spent trying to resolve it, & all the shock, pain (especially at being laughed at by multiple reps as that girl talked so nastily to me), frustration, and horror at the brutal way I was treated.

ntelos sucks says:

trac fones

trac fones are still better than contracts with standard cellphone companies if you are a person who does not use cellphone much and the text message deal is really good, my gf got a 10 dollar trac fone with double minutes and then got the 1500 minutes and year of service online deal for 200 bucks so its 3000 minutes + 1 year of service for her not a bad deal, only thing i don’t like is how they have the intenet browser button set up as the menu back button on her particular phone so its easy to accidentlly go online and lose minutes other than that its not a bad deal at all and people bad mouth the customer service, but i lost my trac fone and called them and they switched my minutes to a new phone with little hassle at all so i guess i was either lucky or these other people are just impatient with customer service reps

Micki says:

People should research before they buy.

I have spoken with Tracfone reps. on the phone and all have been very professional. They have done so much to assist me when I had a problem (not many problems, however!)
For anyone who doesn’t talk constantly…the Tracfone is an excellent buy.
Maybe people should read the ‘small print’ before purchasing anything. It would save lots of aggravation. I know we all expect so much more today because there’s so much more out there.
Anyway…Tracfone has never failed me over the years.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...