This has little to do with the bike trip, except that the trip was really the only reason for getting a phone at all. For $19.99, I got a Samsung T301G, charger, double minutes for life, and a 60-minute card. I ordered directly from the tracfone.com site, and shipping was free. Note that this is the same price as buying a 60-minute card alone. The phone was refurbished, but appears to work just fine.
The documentation for the Samsung T301G is terrible. All you get is a little card. And if you look on the Samsung site, the pdf is just that same little card. Thank God for the Internet. As long as someone in the world figures it out, Google will find their answer.
I actually bought the phone way back in March, to take advantage of a special deal. It sat idle in a corner of our bedroom until recently. TracFone minutes evaporate after a time limit, so I didn’t want to start service on the phone too long before I actually needed it. If I called their 1-800 number, I would get 10 minutes of time, and 60 service days. But if I activated on tracfone.com, I would get 20 minutes. So, I activated over the web.
- The website said the activation was successful. It also said to turn the phone off and on quickly to establish a network connection, and that it would take a few minutes to work. There was a note at the bottom of the web page that said if this didn’t work within an hour, call the 1-800 Tech Support number. So for the next hour, I did the dance of closing and opening the phone, even taking the battery out and putting it back in, but the display still showed 0.00 minutes and 0 service days left. I tried to make a call but it didn’t work. I called Tech Support, but found they were closed until 8 am the next morning.
- The next day, I got Lisa on Tech Support. She had a Filipina accent – it reminded me of where I grew up. She was very kind. After hearing my trouble, she gave me a long code to enter into the phone, maybe 32 digits. Voila! I had 20 minutes and 60 service days. That evening, I tried to make a call, but it didn’t work. I went to the menu to see if I had a phone number, but it was blank. By that time, Tech Support was closed until 8 am the next morning.
- The next day, I got Nan on Tech Support. She had a Filipina accent, and was very kind. After hearing my trouble, she gave me a long code to enter into the phone, maybe 32 digits. Voila! I had a phone number, which handily spelled MADE-BLIP. Remembering the previous night, I immediately tried to make a call. It didn’t work. I got a message saying “THE SERVICE YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO USE HAS BEEN RESTRICTED OR IS UNAVAILABLE. MESSAGE CA84065.”
- I called back to Tech Support, and got another woman with a Filipina accent. She was very kind, and kept apologizing for putting me on hold while she asked her supervisor things. After checking their billing system and trying a bunch of things that didn’t work, she decided that I needed a new SIM. This was after 30 minutes of debugging. I waited to supply my address so that she could mail me a replacement SIM. Then she said to turn the phone off and on, and tell her what I see. Voila! The phone now showed a little orange icon to show that it was connected to 3G, and gave the expected “Welcome” message. I thanked her for all her work, and hung up.
- Filled with hope, I dialed my home number. RING!! I hung up immediately, and no minutes were billed to the TracFone. I had lost my cool number unfortunately. In reprogramming the billing system, I got a new number that contained a 1 and a 0 – which don’t translate into letters. No matter – I was on my way.
Overall, I still view the activation experience as positive. Tech support was very nice, and I’m a sucker for kindness. So, my advice for lonely old men who have no one to talk with is: Get a TracFone, and try to activate it.
A Few Other Tidbits that the Documentation Didn’t Tell Me about the T301G TracFone
The volume control on the side of the phone is only for the ringer. To adjust the speaker volume, you need to go to the menu, Settings -> Sound Profile -> Phone. If you have keyboard beep turned off for some reason, setting the volume will be grayed out. In this situation, you must enable keyboard beep, set the desired volume, then disable keyboard beep again.
You would expect the Voice Recorder to be under the same tools menu as the camera, but it’s not. To make a sound recording, you must go to the menu, under My Folders -> Audio. It’s not a super-convenient thing to do, if you want to use it often for voice memos.
This model has a speakerphone, but nowhere in the documentation does it say how to turn it on. The speakerphone only works during a call, and you press the OK button to activate it.