My story, my run in with the Lifeline Wireless Program (On-going)
On October 27, 2016 I walked to my local store, one block away. I am disabled with some mobility problems, but one block is perfect. Upon leaving and walking home on the sidewalk I was approached by a gentleman who was a representative from Assurance Wireless. He asked if I needed a phone with free service, free 500 minutes, a lifeline phone. I replied that I already have a very nice phone and that it is also a lifeline phone service provided by Budget Mobile and I was happy with it. As soon as I mentioned Budget Mobile he went into high gear. Had a story about how Budget was no longer in business, they had violated Federal regulations, and my phone would be turned off very soon. He also said that quite a few Budget members already had their phones cut off and he had set them up with Assurance Wireless with no problems, everyone even kept their phones and numbers. Very smooth tranisition.
Well, I had previously heard something was going on at Budget Mobile. They had just sent me a new SIM card which did not work, and I was having issues getting a hold of anyone at Budget. So I was already a little concerned with them but didn't know the situation. I had no phone issues at all. But I was ripe for the scam, and didn't realize it. I am so mad at myself for falling for it. This rep had me scared to death in no time. He got me to believe my phone was in jeopardy of being cut off at any moment. Then have no options except to use his service.
He told me that I should change carriers immediately so I wouldn't have a lapse in service. But I told him that my main concerns were that one, service be transferred to my current phone as it contained all of my personal information, medical and emergency contacts, my Social Security, pictures and music files. And two, I retain my number so I would not have to try and contact every person and company I do business with. I had to do that earlier this year, please not again. I made a point of saying this a number of times so he understood, this was important to me.
The rep assured me numerous times that he could do all of this, with the tranisition I would not even know my carrier had changed. All he wanted was my information and he would check elgibility and compatiblity to make sure this would work. I gave him my ID and Quest card, and he just took a moment then handed my ID and SNAP card back to me. He went back to his tablet and it appeared to me that he was having problems. I did not want to wait anymore, my disability issue was starting to hurt badly, I needed to get home. I clearly told him to Stop, I would go home and look up the information and make any changes myself. I turned around and started walking away.
Only went around 20 to 30 feet when he shouted “hold on” and ran towards me. He said here, don't forget this. My name and number if you need any help and put it in my shopping bag. I was hurting by this point so I just concentrated on getting home.
I didn't realize what he had done until later that night. I looked at what he put in my bag, I thought it was just a piece of cardboard he had written on. It was a small box with the smallest phone I have ever seen. The lowest quality and priced phone available on the market. I can't read the screen so I was not sure if it was active or not, so I tested it. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, he had copied my id or took a picture of it, then enrolled me without my knowledge or permission on to Assurance Wireless's plan. All I could think of was “Oh no, he didn't”. Does my phone still work?
So I got taken. I fell for his story long enough for him to copy my information. That turned out to be a major mistake. Nothing he said was true. I found out later that these statements were all false. The documentation is also forged, not my handwriting or initials. The next morning my phone did not work anymore. Contacted everyone immediaetly, Budget, Assurance, anyone I could think of. To late. It was already submitted. I learned a lot about NLAD since then.
The false statements he made were outrageous. Here is the truth:
1. Budget Mobile was not out of business. My service with Budget was in good standing, there would not have been any interruption in service. They had not shut down.
2. Budget Mobile was not closed down by the FCC for violations as he told me.
3. I did not have to change carriers immediately, I didn't need to change carriers at alll, just a ruse.
4. He did not tell me he had changed my service, he was only to check elgibilty which now I realize he only wanted my ID and Quest card to take a picture of. He had planned on changing my carrier from the beginning. I would not be surprised if a picture of my ID is still on his tablet.
5. He did not stop when I told him, he actually chased me down the street to put that phone in my bag, otherwise I would have no phone and not be able contact anyone.
6. He was not honest about the transfer service to my phone nor port my number. Once I contacted Assurance I was informed my phone is not even compatible with Assurance Wireless. He is trained to know this. It was 'slamming' from the beginning.
Shocking, I ran into him again, told him about his doing, he still was claiming Budget was out of business, and offered me a smart phone that would work with Assurance, see him in a couple of days. Really, would anyone believe that.
My service had been transferred to Assurance without authorization, my service with Budget Mobile was terminated. I really did not understand the complexity of this at first, I have learned a lot since, and as easy as it is to slam someone, it is extremely hard to fix.
Budget Mobile will not restore service or let me re-apply for 60 days. This is explained as following the guidelines set by the regulations regarding having more than one line per household. Since my account was transferred to Assurance, it was reported on the National database (NLAD) so Budget had to terminate my account. No exceptions for anything, no reinstatement or re-apply for 60 days. This would have been the easiest way to fix, if there was any flexibility with the government program with special circumstances. No one knew of any special circumstances regulation.
Staying with Assurance Wireless was not an option for me. My phone was not compatible with them, I would have some out of pocket expenses to buy a phone from them that I could actually use fairly easily. And I was not comfortible to continue to do business with a company that had just committed a fraud against me.
I spoke with the Assurance Corporate office regarding my situation, they were sorry this happened , unfortunately they could not help with restoring my phone or service. Would not send me a phone that was easier to use without cost to me.
Assurance Corporate Office offered me to terminate service with them and immediately contact NLAD so I could reapply with a new carrier. This was done with no malice or costs this afternoon 11/1/2016 @ 12pm. The corporate exec. told me it would take 24 to 48 hours to be cleared at NLAD.
I now do not have a working telephone from lifeline. Should have never come to this in the first place. I feel like I've been vicitized twice.
I was informed by Assurance Wireless that this was the only way to become eligible for the lifeline without waiting for the 60 day waiting period. Cut all ties with the program, let the database update, then apply with a new carrier of my choice.
I have borrowed a phone for contact and emergencies for now. All of my contacts, friends, family, doctor, VA Medical, bank, housing, everyone I do business with is now not able to contact me directly by phone, only by internet and email. I need to investigate phone carriers and get signed up as soon as possible.
This expierence has been harrowing for me. There seems to be no real course of action when a situation like this arises. I can't be first person who had their phone carrier transferred without authorization and ran into problems like this. Wonder if everyone of us had to go through this after being slammed, it's horrible. And I'm not lying, I though about crawling into the corner and crying. My medical issues are not getting better, I hurt all the time, refuse to take pain killers most times so I can live instead of sleep, struggle to walk, and have a hard time with anything complex. Yet I still have the desire for life, hold my head high, and thank the Lord. I am a disabled vet and proud of it. This hurt. I was victimized.
I have used every bit of energy and patience I have in dealing with this. And I am the one who is put down, treated like the criminal, told nothing can be done. Getting information from the carriers is like pulling teeth, I feel victimized over and over with every phone call or email.
Something very wrong here. Daily updates on my page on Facebook.
Product or Service Mentioned: Assurance Wireless Federal Assistance Program.
Reason of review: messed up my phone.
Monetary Loss: $200.
Preferred solution: Take that rep off the streets. As for me, there is no solution, I had to terminate. I do not want any thing to do with Assurance, no contact..
I didn't like: Scammers.