This is an update of my original Straight Talk review that I posted last year. I have received quite a few emails about this review, so instead of emailing everyone back with my responses, I would just write it out here. There have been some things going on with Straight Talk lately, so I wanted to address those.
I had used the service since late last year and that is why I wrote the original review. Many have asked about a few things, but the main theme of each email I have received is about their data plan.
Unlimited Data – Not Really
Straight Talk advertises unlimited talk, text, and data. I have found through research that this is just untrue. While you do get unlimited data per se, you will find that Straight Talk will throttle you if you become a “heavy” data user. They do this because they lease spectrum from AT&T and T-Mobile and then resell it. This is why their service plan is so cheap at $45 a month.
If you are a heavy data user, then you are taking away from their allotment that they get. In order to keep data flowing for everyone, they will throttle you down. The problem with this is that they don’t advertise throttling and they sell it as unlimited.
If you read their terms and conditions, they technically tell you that you can’t stream video and many other services that people use regularly. They will not tell you that over the phone or in the Walmart stores. You hear unlimited, but you get “maybe” unlimited depending on a number of factors. I think Straight Talk needs to give it to us “STRAIGHT“! It is either unlimited or limited, not both.
Another issue with their data is that no one knows when you will get throttled. I have done some research and most seem to see it at around 2GB for the month or about 100MB per day. This is far from unlimited and there is nothing in the terms that describes this “invisible” limit. Some people don’t get throttled at this point, but most of the reviews talk about this general limit.
If Straight Talk wants to be a great service, then they need to just tell people that they will get throttled after they hit X. This would be upfront and people wouldn’t be upset if they get throttled. So, Straight Talk, I am calling you out on this one. Let’s get real and just tel people the real deal. Don’t hide things inside your terms and conditions and make it so vague. I know you do it to leave you the option of dropping individuals, but that is not a very honest way to do business.
Where did AT&T Go?
When I first reviewed Straight Talk, I picked up the AT&T Sim Card for my Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone. It was easy to purchase and got here quickly. This means that I was calling and using the AT&T cell towers in my area. Straight Talk used to offer either AT&T or T-Mobile service. You got the service based on your zip code and which one provided the best service in your area.
I was emailed a few weeks ago from someone asking me why he couldn’t purchase the AT&T sim card for his phone. I decided to take a look and low and behold, it was gone. Straight Talk took it off the website and now you can only purchase the T-Mobile SIM card. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I jumped on a few forums. The general consensus is that AT&T dropped support for Straight Talk due to their overwhelming popularity. I don’t know if this is true and I am sure that this is just speculation. You can call Straight Talk and they will just say that they ran out of AT&T sim cards. We might not know the truth for some time, but for now, you can only get T-Mobile sim cards when doing the Straight Talk BYOP program.
This area is where Straight Talk needs to clean up the most. I had to call their customer service line for one issue and I had to leave a message. Are you kidding me? What kind of national company just puts customers to a voice mail during regular business hours. Their customer service leaves a lot to be desired. They have a forum, but in order to get direct messages from their customer service team, it requires you to post 5 times on the forum. That is ridiculous. I heard the best way to get in touch with them is to air your grievances onto their Facebook page.
While there are issues with Straight Talk, I do think it is still a great value for casual smart phone users. You can’t beat the price, but their service leaves a few things to be desired. They also need to be more upfront with users. They can make their service better if they just clarify their throttling limits and deal with their customer service issues.