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Prepaid Operator Profile: Total Wireless

This one of a series of Prepaid Phone News' profiles covering the major US mobile operators and MVNOs.

Overview: Total Wireless (866-663-3633) is a Verizon Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that's part of TracFone and was launched in 2015. Originally Total Wireless was available exclusively at Walmart and online, but in 2017, distribution was expanded to include Best Buy, Rite-Aid, Family Dollar, TracFone Wireless stores and independent mobile dealers.

Technology: CDMA, 1xRTT and EV-DO on the 850 and 1900 Mhz bands. LTE on bands 2, 4, 5 and 13.

Total Wireless offers 30 day plans only. There are two single line plans and three multiline plans

Total Wireless Single Line Plans:
Price/30 Days Voice Minutes Messaging Data 1
$25 unlimited unlimited none
$35 unlimited unlimited 5 GB
1 Add 5 GB of rollover data for $10. Rollover data never expires as long as service remains active

Total Wireless Mult-Line Plans:
Price/30 Days Number of Lines Voice Minutes Messaging Data (Shared) 1
$60 2 unlimited unlimited 15 GB
$85 3 unlimited unlimited 20 GB
$100 4 unlimited unlimited 25 GB
1 Add 5 GB of rollover data for $10. Rollover data never expires as long as service remains active

Taxes and Fees: Like all TracFone brands, Total Wireless charges all applicable state and local point of sale taxes plus a 1.5% Federal Universal Service Fee and a 0.2% cost recovery fee. You can avoid the USF and the cost recovery fee, which are part of TracFone's cost of doing business, rather than end user taxes, by purchasing Total Wireless airtime cards at Walmart, Best Buy, Rite-Aid or Family Dollar.

Hotspot and Tethering: Total Wireless's terms and conditions prohibit using the phone as a wireless modem for a laptop or other device (tethering). Hotspot is disabled on the phones Total Wireless sells.

Coverage: Total Wireless uses the Verizon native network only (map). Off network roaming (aka Extended Network) is not available.

Devices: Total Wireless sells feature phones, Android phones and iPhones. Phones are available from the Total Wireless website, Total Wireless dealers and at Walmart, Best Buy, Family Dollar and Rite-Aid.

BYOP: Total Wireless SIMs are 99¢ including shipping when ordered with a plan. Total Wireless supports Verizon postpaid phones, Verizon Prepaid phones that have been used on Verizon Prepaid for the required one, six or 12 months (depending on phone model) and "universal" unlocked phones including the iPhone 7 A1660 and 7 Plus A1661, Nexus 5x, 6 and 6p, Google Pixel phones, the 2015 Motorola X Pure Edition and 2016 Motorola G4 series phones.

How to Activate: A Total Wireless SIM card is required for Verizon LTE phones. Verizon 3G phones don't use or require SIMs. Activate your phone or SIM online or by calling 800-767-5599 or by using the online chat option on Total Wireless' Support Page. You can port a phone number from a different operator as part of the activation process.

Payment Options: You can make a one time payment with a debt or credit cans or an airtime card on the Total Wireless website, by calling 866-663-3633 or texting the word ADD to 611611. Airtime cards are sold by Walmart, Best Buy, Rite-Aid and Family Dollar.

Automatic Pay: Automatic pay is available and can be setup online or by calling 866-663-3633. There's a 5% discount for using auto refill.

Account Management: If you setup an online account you can view your balance, data available and plan expiration date online. You can also manage your account using text messages:
Text BUY to 61161 to purchase airtime.
Text ADD to 611611 to apply an airtime PIN.
Text BALANCE to 611611 to view available data
Text DUE to 611611 to view your service end date.
Text PHONE to 611611 to view your phone number and service end date.
Text ENROLL to 611611 to enroll in auto refill.
Text MINC to 611611 to change your phone number.
Text FOUR to 611611 to see the last four digits of your phone's IMEI

Call forwarding:

To forward all calls to another number: Press *72, the 10-digit number to which you wish to forward your calls and SEND. For example: *721234567890 SEND, forwards your calls to the phone number 123-456-7890. You will hear a confirmation message or tone.

To cancel call forwarding: Press *73 SEND. You will hear a confirmation message or tone.

To forward unanswered calls only (conditional call forwarding): Press *71 followed by the number you want calls forwarded to and SEND (*71-123-456-7890 SEND) and wait for a confirmation tone or message.

To cancel conditional call forwarding: Press *71 SEND and wait for a confirmation tone or message.

Call waiting: Call waiting is enabled by default. It lets you place one call on hold while you take another call. When you are on a call and have another incoming call, you will hear a short tone. You'll have approximately 30 seconds to answer before the second caller hears a standard message or is forwarded to voicemail.
To answer Call Waiting: To put the first call on hold, press "SEND." You'll automatically be connected with the second call. To return to the first call, press "SEND" again. To switch between the two calls, press "SEND."

3-Way Calling: lets you create a conference call between yourself and two other people. You will be charged for both calls if you are not on an unlimited plan.
  • While on the first call, dial the 10-digit number of the second person and press "SEND." The first person is automatically put on hold while the call is made.
  • When the 2nd person answers, press "SEND" to create the conference call.
  • If the second person doesn't answer, press "SEND" twice to return to the first caller
  • To end both calls, press END
Free information services calls
711 - Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for the hearing and speech impaired
911 - Emergency services

PRL Update (non-LTE phones only)
The preferred roaming list (PRL) controls which towers your phone can use. If you have no service in areas where you think you should, updating your PRL may help:
Dial *228, then press 2, or dial *22891 to update the PRL.

Customer Service: TracFone brands, including Total Wireless, have a reputation for slow and ineffective customer service.

Online Chat support: I've found Chat to be the fastest and least painful way to get support from any TracFone brand. Chat support is available on the Total Wireless Website from 8 AM to 11:45 PM ET every day. I recommend using chat as the initial contact point for all issues. If you get a rep who is unable or unwilling to help, end the chat and start a new one. If chat representatives can't resolve an issue they will usually give you a phone number and a PIN that will connect you with a higher level support representative.

Phone support: 866-663-3633 is the official Total Wireless support number. Use this number to access the automated service for adding top-ups 24/7. You can also reach a customer support representative at this number from 8 AM to 11:45 PM Eastern Time 7 days a week . Calls are handled by off shore call centers. Initial wait times are usually short and the representatives courteous but sometimes hard to understand. They often appear to be following a script and seem unfamiliar with the details of devices and services. Expect to be put on hold frequently while representatives are "updating your services".

An alternative is TracFone's "Executive Resolutions Dept.", a possibly Miami based call center at 1-305-715-6500 X1029. It's available Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST. The Executive Resolutions representatives are generally more knowledgeable and better equipped to resolve issues.

Social Media: Total Wireless on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter,

Sales and General Information Web Site: https://www.totalwireless.com

Total Wireless Pros: Verizon coverage, add-on data doesn't expire, competitive pricing, BYOD.

Total Wireless Cons: Slow and sometimes ineffective customer support.

43 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. I might avoid any tracfone branches. They are notorious for bad customer service.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Friends don't let friends (or family) get or stay on America Movil brands.
      Carlos Slime can keep his customer disservice circus.
      Always entertaining to see the quarterly reports showing how many hundreds of thousands of customers have fled.

      Delete
    2. Been a TF customer 12+ yrs.

      Delete
  2. Why only native VW coverage? Is there a MVNO that allows roaming on Verizon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TracFone CDMA feature phones have free voice and text roaming.
      Selectel and Page Plus have free text and 20-29¢ voice roaming.

      Delete
    2. Boom Mobile (Red) has more roaming area than Selectel or Page Plus, according to various reports on HoFo and Reddit.

      Delete
    3. That was once true but it's unclear if Boom has any roaming anymore.

      Delete
  3. I admire Tracfone's long-term success as a MVNO business. This is a really hard way to make money. Tracfone has an obsessive focus on costs and efficiency. They can make good money like no other MVNOs, at 10X the number of subscribers of the #2 MVNO (probably Consumer Cellular with >2.5M subscribers).
    Tracfone low prices are just what their customers want. Since CS calls are infrequent, the customers don't put a lot of value on fast, well-trained service.
    Subscriber losses are almost all due to reductions in Lifeline and cancellation of dumb phones, not the profitable lines. Tracfone will not mourn those losses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder how Tracfone will be affected by the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.

      Delete
    2. It'll improve the coverage and viability of brands like Gosmart, Simple, and Family Mobile.

      But since Trac's multi-network brands don't differentiate, they won't be affected much.

      However, if T-mobile becomes a real competitor, Trac could actually wind up lowering prices if they could push T-mobile phones and service as a cheaper yet still adequate alternative to the Big Two.

      The end result might be a greater diversity of reliable devices and increased competitive pressure on both networks and manufacturers.

      The only problem is the potential for anti-competitive corporate collusion, but that's just an inevitability when our government is, on both sides the isle, bought and paid for by those very same corporations.

      I'd like to hope for the best, though.

      Delete
  4. Total Wireless is actually a pretty good value.

    It has unlimited talk and text, a decent starting bucket of data, an autopay discount, rollover top-ups, the best paygo data rate you'll ever find, 24-month device financing, budget options for the miserly and clumsy, and unthrottled Verizon LTE coverage.

    Big Slim's delivered in spades, and it would be a crime not to repay this benevolent Mexican phone lord with our patronage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't believe I've ever heard the MVNO business described as poetically. You, sir, are a scholar and a gentleman.

      Delete
    2. The only crime is Big Slime's concept of customer service, a concept designed to steal & then ignore you when you want your stolen $ / service back.

      Delete
    3. You said a mouthful about "Slime". Unfortunately there are still those that swear up and down that all is hunky dory. Once a shill always a shill I suppose!

      Delete
  5. Boost offers unlimited data for the same money. Cricket offers marginally better customer service, one more line for the money, GSM flexibility and similar coverage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JW - Did you just compare a Sprint MNVO to a Verizon MNVO on a cost basis only? No concerns about network coverage?

      Delete
    2. Good point. How unlimited is "unlimited" data, if you can only use the data at all in a rather small part of the US?

      Delete
    3. Problems with Boost (stolen from a Reddit thread):

      * 50 mins. max voice roaming per month

      * no SMS or data roaming

      * Boost voice and data is lower priority than the already crappy postpaid Sprint service

      * with the $50 plan, data deprioritization applies to all Boost Unlimited users "during congestion" (left undefined), even before the 23 GB limit

      * there's further deprioritization whenever "the Sprint network is constrained" (left undefined)

      * crappy Sprint network and very poor coverage outside of dense urban areas

      Delete
  6. TracFone/net10 seemed like a great deal until I transferred my phone number to a new phone, they lost my 12 year old phone number and over $200 of reserve service, 5 support tickets later and they still don't know what the hell happened. When people say TracFone customer service is a joke, it's an understatement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, to all the Slime lover comments above all I have to say is keep tempting fate, its not a matter of if only a matter of when you're going to get screwed by an America Movil brand and you have been warned, many times, by many people.

      Just look at the 100's of thousands of people who flee every quarter, that lifeline excuse only applied to one quarter a year or so ago, most are people who got screwed over. Amazing how they keep luring in new suckers with the carrot of cheap dangling in the face and then they reach around and steal $ from your wallet and waste your time with a charade of customer "service".

      Delete
    2. "... steal $ from your wallet."

      I'm no fan of Slim, but I have defended him in the past against bigots who bash him mainly for being Mexican.

      And then there are false accusations. I'm sure I will be called a"slimelover" just for pointing out the fact that there is no evidence on which to accuse him of theft or being a pickpocket.

      And I am willing to bet that the last time someone made a accusation of stealing that had any validity on Prepaid Phone News, Cingular was still around.

      I bet you accuse Slim of making the milk in your fridge go bad,too.

      Delete
    3. Has 0 to do with his nationality or ethnicity. All about America Movil's business model which is to steal your money or service and offer 0 effective help getting it back thus compounding your losses by wasting your time with their customer disservice - all pat of the package/plan.
      All Movil brands should be considered off the list for consideration, I maintain / admin. a few hundred lines, if someone wants Movil brand I will dissuade them or they are on their own.

      Delete
    4. Crack open a dictionary sometime. Words such as "steal" have definitions. You have completely failed to describe anything approaching the definition.

      Poor "all pat" customer service is no more "theft" then it is grand theft auto or arson.

      Or do you habitually mix up words, so if someone cuts you off in traffic you yell "Counterfeiter!!!" out the window?

      Delete
    5. It's not the size of your device that counts. It's what you can do with it with the hand size you have.

      Delete
  7. Total wireless has a hard data cap. No slowed down data it just quits unlike Verizon's always on data

    ReplyDelete
  8. *72 call forwarding sounds interesting. Does this work on tracfones? This works permanently on single sim tracfones? I would love to no longer be known as Captain two phones...!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just know that if you forward from one TracFone to another, you will pay for airtime usage on both lines for the duration of a call.

      Delete
  9. Have Total Wireless and am very happy with it. I went the $25/mo plan with unlimited voice and text, no data. I buy the data cards separately and get 5GB for $10 and that's a fantastic deal (and it carries over forever as long as I keep my service active). I don't use much data so this works out well for me. I also get the autopay discount. I do everything I need to via their chat and have always had good service (only had to chat once when changing phones). And, unlike Cricket and others, the data is recently not throttled and is very fast. With their special until the end of the month I got their new iPhone 6 32GB and $25 plan for $201 including taxes, and also got the e-b-a-t-e-s 11% rebate. So the total cost of their new iPhone 6 was $155. Not the newest or fastest iPhone but reliable and that's what I need. They have other phone/plan deals also. So I'm a happy camper with Total Wireless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A) Most iPhones have tiny baby screens for children (including the 6).

      B) The promo code doesn't work anymore. At least, it didn't when I just tried to use it on both a Note 8 and an S8 bundle.

      C) With just the 11% back, you won't save much except on phones you can get even cheaper during a good Black Friday deal.

      D) The $250 and $99 TW S6 at Wally World were much better buys, especially since the max discount for the current promo was capped at $100.

      The fact is, buying phones directly from Trac usually isn't a good idea, since you can find drastically lower prices elsewhere.

      Delete
    2. A) Many people like smaller screens and 4.7" is a good size display for many people, not just children. Everybody is different and not all want a 7" screen.

      B) The promo code TW15OFF worked fine for me a minute ago. And the promo code is good until 10/31/17. Make sure uppercase letters or it will not work.

      C). Discount on the Total Wireless iPhone 6 32GB is 15% plus the 11% e-b-a-t-e-s rebate. Pretty good deal on the new iPhone 6 for $155 total. You won't find it less anywhere.

      D) Wally World has never had the new Total Wireless iPhone 6 32GB phone for $155.



      Delete
  10. Tracfone has about 135M subscribers in the US and Latin America, so they are doing a lot of things right. About the same percentage of people have 'no complaints' as those who don't like 'poor customer service' or 'can't use a coupon code.' The biggest complaint surveyed was 'lack of smartphone options,' not service.
    Tracfone is meeting the needs of as many people as AT&T. They have found their niche; price and convenience still sells.
    We can respect their success even if you don't like the cost controls and efficiencies that helped them achieve it.

    Source: Tracfone Reviewer Survey May 11, 2016

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TracFone has 24 million customers, not 135 million.

      TracFone's parent company America Movil actually has 289 million customers in 21 countries in North and South America and Europe.

      The TracFone brand is only used in the US by America Movil, so all of TracFone's 24 million customers are in the US.

      Delete
    2. Actually, it's because lower freq. Require longer antanae​ in the phone, so the body gets bigger. Back when 1900 or even 2600 was all the rage, phones were small. Now with carriers pushing 600/700, it calls for a larger ant. to pickup signal properly. Remember when flips had an extendable antanane?

      Delete
    3. I want an old style phone with a 3 inch antenanaen sticking out of the top.

      Delete
    4. "We can respect their success even if you don't like the cost controls and efficiencies that helped them achieve it."

      And for all the horrible anecdotes that also give me pause, Tracfone and the other US "American Movil" brands are really average (no better and no worse than the average carrier and MVNO when it comes to customer service, as reported by objective sources.

      Delete
    5. Tracfone brand rates higher than major carriers in the Consumer Reports survey (T-Mobile performed notably better than its biggest competitors for customer support and value). Tracfone subscribers also reported fewer robocalls than major carrier subscribers. ~27M customers could switch but choose to stay.
      It's likely that a a relatively small percentage of Tracfone subs have to use CS anyway.

      Delete
    6. Straight Talk and Net10 have rated well in Consumer Reports surveys also.
      CR also asks why people switch wireless providers.
      10 percent of subscribers had switched within the past two years. 53% did so to get a cheaper plan. 45 percent of the people who switched reduced their monthly bill by $20 or more.
      Other big reasons for switching included wanting to upgrade a phone (25 percent) or to get better coverage or reception (31 percent).
      But only about one in three reported getting more reliable connections as a result of the switch.

      Delete
    7. "Tracfone subscribers also reported fewer robocalls than major carrier subscribers."

      Thanks for finding the silver lining to the problem of calls not being completed.

      In related news, Etch a Sketch tablets report the lowest incidence of computer virus infection of any device in that size class.

      Delete
  11. "but in 2017, distribution was expanded to include Best Buy, Rite-Aid, Family Dollar, TracFone Wireless stores and independent mobile dealers."

    Total Wireless is also distributed in Dollar General stores as my local store carries phones and airtime cards.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anyone have success tethering with an unlocked BYOD set, such as moto G4 series? shopping for a different service, total looks ok, but i need tethering. And being a AM brand is a huge huge neg for me, so im seriously doubtful. slim has stolen from me in the past. by the regular definition of the word- I paid money for TF prepaid service- airtime mysteriously disappeared, and was never returned after hours of calls with customer dis-service. That's outright steeling; no two ways around it. As has been said, many many people have this same experience. listen up people.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Total wireless is an absolutely god-awful carrier. They have the stupidest people working for them at their call centers. So stupid those people are. I hope they hang themselves with their mouse cables!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to the Carlos Slime America Movil customer disservice circus.

      There are many brands of their fail out there, smart consumers cross them all off the list of consideration.

      Only a matter of when, not if, Carlos will cheat you. How many millions of customers have fled Movil last quarter?

      Delete
  14. 50% more data when you port in. 2 lines with 22.5GB shared data for $60 is probably the best deal out there for a Verizon MVNO.

    https://get.totalwireless.com/you-got-this/

    ReplyDelete
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