There's something strange going on with TracFone's Page Plus brand. Multiple Page Plus customers have reported on HowardForums that they have received texts from Page Plus saying that their phone "...is not receiving optimal network service from our network partner. In order to avoid further degradation, including full service interruption on April 1st, you will need to replace this device." Verizon is PagePlus's network partner. However, Verizon has not announced any network changes that would make any currently usable phones unusable on April 1.
I would dismiss this as an April Fools joke were it not the fact that the texts contain a link to the page below which is on the official pagepluscellular.com domain. Further confirming that these messages are no joke, two different Page Plus Dealers forwarded me the image above that they received from Page Plus today. The image is accompanied by this message; "Select Page Plus devices will no longer be supported on the carrier network. Your customers may receive an SMS notification regarding this update. If they receive this notification, it means their phone is outdated and requires an upgrade. To upgrade their phone, select from the TracFone Handsets on VIDAPAY." VIDAPAY is the system that dealers user to process customer payments and to order SIMs and phones.
Interestingly no one at Page Plus seems to know what's going on. One of the dealers told me that they contacted their master dealer who contacted TracFone but was unable to get an answer as to what type of phones were getting kicked off the network and why.
There have been a number of theories posted on HowardForums as to what's happening. Some think Page Plus is kicking off grandfathered non-Verizon phones that were activated before January, 2015 when Verizon stopped allowing Page Plus and other Verizon MVNOs from activating non-Verizon phones. However users have reported receiving the message on many Verizon phones that were not flashed including a Verizon iPhone 6, Verizon Galaxy S5, Verizon LG G Vista and a Verizon Motorola RAZR HD. A user of one of the crippled 3G-only Samsung Galaxy S III phones from Straight Talk also got the message.
I really don't have a clue as to what TracFone/Page Plus is up to. It's bad business to tell customers that their perfectly good phones will stop working tn three weeks with no explanation. No other Verizon MVNO has said anything about phones being kicked of the network April 1 and neither has Verizon. TracFone has a reputation for buggy billing and activation systems and poor communication to both customers and dealers so this fiasco doesn't surprise me. Is it a mistake, a joke or incompetence?
If you have received a message from Page Plus or any other Verizon MVNO saying that you have to replace you phone, please leave a comment saying what phone you are using.
Update: according to industry sources familiar with the matter Verizon will start blocking "unapproved" phones on all Verizon MVNOs starting sometime in May, 2017. Phones to be blocked include:
1) Flashed non-Verizon devices. (These were previously said to be grandfathered by Page Plus management so this will not be popular.)
2) Lost and stolen phones that got in on a loophole like swapping sims.
3) Prepaid Verizon devices that haven't fulfilled their obligations to be let out of the Verizon prepaid ecosystem.