Note: Answers from Page Plus Cellular are paraphrased. Representatives for Page Plus asked us to not record the interview.
Page Plus today responded to the widespread concerns and complaints from consumers regarding many recent issues. Read more to see their side of the story.
Page Plus initially expressed anger at PhoneNews.com for “relying on online forums” for collaborating our report, and not contacting the company properly.
Even faced with stated apologizes from Page Plus leaders at the show, Executive Vice President Yassine Yassine continued to express frustration that PhoneNews.com did not wait until CTIA to run its report. We addressed each of these concerns and disagreed completely with his opinion that we did not take our due diligence in researching and attempting to reach media contacts for the company. Mr. Yassine dismissed our initial article as lacking any merit. Mr. Yassine did admit that Page Plus’s web site, and customer contact numbers lack any delegation or direction to a formal media contact.
In regards to unlimited plan removals, Mr. Yassine insisted that all customers affected by this are notified by text messages, refuting claims from several customers that they did not receive any text message. Further, he argued that Page Plus validates confirmation of receipt of each and every text message. At that point, customers have been moved from unlimited plans to pay as you go service.
Despite reports of users speaking with customer service, Mr. Yassine argued that no customer is forced off of Page Plus, and that they can sign up for any of the company’s other plans, including the $29.99 1200 minute “Talk and Text” plan.
The boundaries for the plan were not available, as they are based on “behavior usage patterns”, which can be triggered from brief periods, and can also be based on intra-day usage of Page Plus service. Mr. Yassine argued that these are no different from the policies that other carriers and MVNOs use, and that they can be based on call duration, number of calls, use of three-way calling, and other factors.
Many customers have expressed frustration that no customer can seek redress with a supervisor, or anyone with power to reverse the decision forcing them off of the unlimited plan. Mr. Yassine argued that he “is not in the business of being nice” and that since the decision has been made and is final, that customers would not be able to speak with any decision-maker in regards to reversing the decision. He argued that the patterns can be reviewed by customer service, and if they do not see the concern, that they can escalate these cases on their own if they see a potential error.
Even if the usage is not abusive, Mr. Yassine argued that Page Plus still has the right to consider it abusive. Because of this, he argued, customers are entitled to no pro-rated refund of the unused service.
Mr. Yassine was not aware of any customer losing a number because of these, or other account changes, though customers have reported these issues in FCC complaint filings. Mr. Yassine did welcome us to forward these customers to him so that he could intervene if this issue was ongoing. If you have been affected by this issue, please contact us and we will forward your information to Page Plus for resolving it.
In regards to the blocking of Palm, HTC, and RIM BlackBerry devices, Mr. Yassine addressed the confusion with some reasons that have been provided. Mr. Yassine confirmed that Palm and other devices have activation issues which prompted them to require re-approval with parent network operator Verizon Wireless. Page Plus has said that they hope to release Palm devices quickly. Because HTC ESN-based (not MEID-based) devices share the same prefix as Palm, they too are blocked until the issue with Palm ESN-based devices is resolved.
Other representatives confirmed that Page Plus is in negotiations with RIM to secure a formal BIS license, which Page Plus lacked when activating BlackBerry devices initially. A BIS license from the parent operator does not transfer to the MVNO, requiring Page Plus to secure their own license and pricing policies before allowing BlackBerry devices to be activated again.
Similarly, representatives confirmed prepaid devices from Verizon are blocked because Page Plus does not have a way to determine which Verizon prepaid phones have met the “6 month rule”, the term for which Verizon requires before unlocking prepaid devices for use on Verizon proper or its MVNOs.
Finally, Mr. Yassine addressed the notion which some commented on in our previous article; that Page Plus was telling customers that powered-off phones continued to use data. Mr. Yassine stated that this is actually a problem with Verizon’s network, where the NOC (Network Operations Center) continues to log data usage periods even after the phone is turned off. It is not clear at this time if that is simply lagged data billing for data which was previously used, or if the charges are erroneous. Page Plus must rely on Verizon’s network logs to determine billing, which is why Page Plus encouraged customers to remove the battery from their phones to ensure that they were properly powered off, but Mr. Yassine did agree that this was not communicated properly to customers in-depth.