The Best (and Worst) Phone Carrier Customer Support

Straight Talk

The last time we took a look at Straight Talk’s customer service, we found the carrier’s online and social media support subpar, but we were generally impressed with how the carrier handled troubleshooting calls over the phone. It’s the mirror opposite this time around: Straight Talk has made great strides in improving its online support, but our phone interactions with the carrier weren’t terribly satisfying.

I spent a few days testing customer support for Straight Talk, asking carrier-specific questions in addition to trying to get troubleshooting support on a Samsung Galaxy S7. The results were a mixed bag, which puts Straight Talk near the back of the pack among the carriers we’ve tested. —Deidre Richardson

Online Support (32/40)

Straight Talk offers an impressive amount of information online for customers, particularly if you’re looking for device tutorials and manuals. To locate those manuals, first select Cell Phones. There, you’ll find the Support section. (You won’t find it if you look under the Bring Your Own Products tab.) Straight Talk’s tutorials cover more than 200 devices and date back to the Galaxy S3 and even basic smartphones, so you’ll probably find something there to help you with whichever device you use.

To find out how to manage the Galaxy S7’s always-on screen, I consulted the Galaxy S7 user guide that’s available on the Straight Talk website. The initial tutorial provides the bare basics about the phone and not much else, but I found what I was looking for in the available user guide (though the exact info was buried in page 164).

The Straight Talk website provides answers to some basic carrier-specific questions. However, the best option for getting clear answers is the carrier’s chat service, which is available from 8 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. ET. Chats are quick and snappy; I usually got answers to my questions in about 4 minutes. And when I tested the service, I got answers to everything from how to manage my passwords to how to change my data plan.

MORE: Best Phone Carriers: See How Straight Talk Stacks Up

I also used the live-chat option to inquire about why I couldn’t access the new Wi-Fi calling feature on my Galaxy S7. Merriam, the representative said she’d work on getting it. It took only a minute or two for her to come back with a response: My device was not compatible with Wi-Fi calling (even though it was). So the chat service, while generally helpful, can still be hit-or-miss.

Social Media Support (4/10)

Straight Talk is generally accessible on both Twitter and Facebook, though response times can be a mixed bag. Generally, I got prompted responses to questions when I used the carrier’s Facebook page for tech support questions.

At 10:18 a.m. ET, I posted a question on Facebook about checking my data usage. Three minutes later, I got a response telling me to either text the word USAGE to 611611 or "use your My Account." A follow-up question revealed that My Account is Straight Talk’s mobile app for managing your account with the carrier. Other interactions with Facebook during my testing never went longer than 20 minutes without a response from a carrier tech rep.

Posting to Twitter proved a bit more frustrating. I used the carrier’s @AskStraightTalk handle, which is the preferred venue for troubleshooting questions. (Straight Talk has a second Twitter account, @MyStraightTalk, but that one directs elsewhere for support.) I posted a question to @AskStraightTalk at 10:14 a.m. ET on a Monday, asking which countries are covered by the company’s Unlimited International Mobile plan. Weeks later, we’re still waiting on a response. It’s a curiously long delay, especially because previous interactions with Straight Talk on Twitter yielded responses within an hour. Straight Talk also claims that its Twitter account is staffed daily from 8 a.m. to midnight ET.

MORE: How Straight Talk Fared in Our 4G Network Testing

The bottom line with Straight Talk’s social media presence: Go with Facebook if you want a prompt, cordial response. But if avoiding any sort of wait time is important to you, head to the live-chat feature on the Straight Talk site from the start.

Phone Support (28/50)

You can reach Straight Talk over the phone between 8 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. ET seven days a week. Results of the calls were a mixed bag, especially when compared against the immediacy of Straight Talk’s web chat feature.

First, a word about Straight Talk’s automated service: It’s a mess. It requires you to “press 3 for” one thing and “press 5 for technical support.” After pressing 5 for technical support, you still have to press more numbers for specific types of technical support, which prolongs the process. It’s clear that the live-chat option, which is available during the same hours as phone support, is a much easier option.

When I called Straight Talk at 2 p.m. ET to ask about how much data I had used, a representative named Christopher fielded my question and told me that Straight Talk’s system was “unable to determine the exact amount of data you’ve used this month.” Instead, he encouraged me to text the word “usage” to 611611 on my smartphone to get my answer. The call lasted about 4 and a half minutes, and although Christopher was friendly, I never really got an answer. That’s a stark contrast to the online chat feature, which could tell me my data usage.

MORE: How Straight Talk's Phone Plans Compare

In my second call, I decided to quiz Straight Talk about the Galaxy S7’s always-on display, making my call at 11 p.m. ET. The representative raised his voice in frustration, telling me that my question was about a feature on the phone, not the service, and that I needed to consult a device manual for it. “We don’t have a device manual,” he told me. “We don’t provide that.”

In my final call, at 4 p.m. ET on a weekday, I asked Genesis, a Straight Talk rep, about the carrier’s unlimited international plan and what countries it covered. Genesis started selling me on the merits of the plan, though I had to reiterate that I was just interested in hearing which countries were covered. At that point, Genesis placed me on hold to find the answer. After 7 minutes, I was still on hold with no answer (he had returned to the phone to ask me to bear with him a little longer), and my phone call was disconnected randomly. This 7-minute phone call took place after I tried to go through Straight Talk’s automated service.

Bottom Line

If you want to see Straight Talk at its best, stick to the carrier’s support site, and make extensive use of its live-chat option. Social media responses are polite and professional, but they appear at a considerable delay — when they show up at all. Furthermore, the carrier’s phone service proved generally unhelpful, particularly for device-specific questions.

Tom's Guide Staff

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