More than a week after a cell phone provider switch, many customers in central Wisconsin still complaining of spotty service and a lack of customer support.
About 80,000 Altell customers were switched to Element Mobile ten days ago. Many of them are still having trouble accessing voicemails, billing information, and other aspects of their service.
Last week incompatible phones and a billing system error caused the company to break data connections, used for email and web browsing, on up to 6,000 phones.
According to updates on the Element Mobile Facebook page, over the weekend the company activated new cell towers to complete the second phase of the transition.
Some customers tell NewsChannel 7 the switch restored data connectivity, as well as resolving constant roaming. Others say the update actually crippled their connectivity, causing more roaming and some dropped calls.
Some customers are also experiencing delays receiving text messages.
The company's 20-30 person support staff has been overwhelmed with messages, calls, and emails following the service interruptions. Many customers unable to connect to support are continuing to voice concerns on the Dump Element Mobile group on Facebook.
The group now has more than 2,000 members, many of them with multiple Element Mobile phone lines, according to founder Ryan Delaney.
Delaney says he would close the group if Element Mobile allowed any customer affected to switch to another provider without paying an early-termination fee, a concession that has not been made. Element Mobile C.O.O. Jerry Wilke told NewsChannel 7 that account cancellations are handled on a case-by-case basis.
"Instead of making a statement saying you guys can leave, we understand you can't wait for your cell service to be up and running, they're handling it on a case-by-case basis and then they're failing to call people back or email people back," said Delaney.
"The fact that we can all speak together as one group instead of all trying to tackle this company that won't call or email us back is a benefit to those people who have joined the group."
On Sunday Element Mobile activated new cell towers which they hoped would resolve many of the ongoing issues.
Element Mobile recommends its customers perform a Preferred Roaming List (PRL) Update to take advantage of network upgrades. To do so, dial *228 + talk from each Element Mobile cell phone.
Company staff say the update will only work if phones are operating on their home network. To check, you can set your phone to "home only" (or a similar setting), and if you have service the update should work.
Online accounts show customers show reporting mixed results. Some users recommend pressing *228 + talk + 1, then restarting the phone, then *228 + talk + 2 to load the new PRL. A message should confirm a successful upgrade.
Element Mobile staff reached for comment say they have been meeting internally today, and may have more information tomorrow.
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