Already have a compatible phone yet customer service wants to sell me a new phone

by Greg

Why is it in the new world of recycle, reuse government sponsored programs want to waste taxpayers' money and precious resources by giving the corporate runaround to a simple activation of an LG 200 cell phone that both I and the operator know will work, but for whatever sell quota system just one more piece of unneeded (smart?) phone in the world. Branson wants to go too the moon while the rest of the world goes to hell. PLEASE KEEP ME CONNECTED!!!!!

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Jul 25, 2011
Compatible LifeLine Free Wireless Service Phones - Part 1
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

I completely understand what you're saying. One would think that if someone already has a compatible phone, why would a company try to sell you a phone?! In fact, the phones that are available with the LifeLine programs (ex. Assurance Wireless, SafeLink) are typically not as good as phone that people may already have.

Some things to consider that may help explain why this is happening:

- It may be a system limitation. Meaning that the wireless carrier may in fact not be able to activate a new line of service without it automatically generating a phone shipment to you. I know this sounds a little odd, however, when building operational processes like this, design decisions need to be made. It's entirely possible that the complexity introduced by trying to activate a new line of service with a phone that you already have was too expensive. So while they understand that this scenario might exist, it was concluded to be too costly to build, maintain, train the customer care reps, etc. Also keep in mind that the phone you already have also needs to be programmed, so they need for you to call them back for the phone to be programmed with the new number. This could introduce confusion in general.

- Related to the above, they may have assumed that most people applying to the Assurance Wireless program don't have a wireless phone already, so catering to this type of case wasn't concluded to be cost effective when compared to the cost/inconvenience for the customer and the company when you ultimately end up calling them back.

- As it's a government subsidized program, the government may have requirements that phones shipped are what generate the handset payment back to the wireless carrier. I agree that this doesn't seem to be a cost effective way to manage the program, however, sometimes the simplest path is taken to cater to the largest population and to keep build cost, system maintenance cost, reporting reconciliation, etc. costs as low as possible. In other words, this may not have been a carrier decision.

- When non-tested phones are used on a given carrier or plan type, it's possible that customers experience issues. So carriers often don't even allow non-tested phones on their network, and even on some plan types. This reduces customer experience issues and support costs down the line as it makes it less complex to support should customers with non-tested phones call back with issues. The easiest thing to do is for them to ask you to switch to a phone they know will work, and see if that solves your problems. Sprint is notorious for this, though I expect this will change in the future.

Jul 25, 2011
Compatible LifeLine Free Wireless Service Phones - Part 2
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

As a side note, Branson sold the U.S. Virgin Mobile brand to Sprint, so he's no longer involved in anything related to Virgin Mobile U.S.A., let alone this U.S. government sponsored program under the Assurance Wireless brand. So, unfortunately we can't blame him ;-).

Although this doesn't solve your problems/frustration, hopefully it helps to provide some perspective. All-in-all, it would be ideal if they published a list of phones that would work, and include a warning that you might experience unknown issues. All else being equal, it's cheaper for a carrier to allow a customer to use a phone they already have than to ship you a new one. But for a number of reasons (some of them discussed here), this isn't always the way it works.

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