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Why Wal-Mart Will Refuse to Sell You Prepaid Cell Phones

A few weeks ago we came up with the idea of doing some activation guides for the prepaidreviews.com site. My boss asked me to run up to Wal-Mart and grab every prepaid phone they sold. Now, I’m not a big Wal-Mart fan (reading The Wal-Mart Effect definitely had an impact on me) but they had the largest selection, so off I went. What should have been a 30 minute trip (like over 50% of Americans, I live within five miles of a Wal-Mart) turned into a four hour ordeal. I’m still in awe of the entire fiasco. Note: associates names have been changed for privacy issues.


Wal-Mart Store

I head to the electronics department, find the nearest salesperson and tell him I’d like to buy some prepaid phones. The prepaid phones are locked into the racks and require a sales associate to unlock them (it’s at times like these I’m in love with the online shopping revolution). A very nice associate named Tom tells me “no problem” and locates a set of keys to open the racks. He asks me which phone I want and I say, “I’d like to buy one of each brand.”Tom gives me a puzzled look, and I quickly explain that I work for a website that reviews the phone providers and we were working on a project and needed one from each carrier. Tom smiles and makes small talk about how he goes online sometimes to find car parts (at this exact moment, I realize that not everyone spends 12 hours a day online). He collects my phones (seven in total) and walks me over to the register.Then another sales associate named Tara looks at me, then at Tom and finally at the phones and says to Tom, “you know he can’t buy all those phones”. Tom looks puzzled for a second and then his eyes light up with recognition. He turns to me and says, “I’m sorry sir, she’s right. We can’t sell you more than two phones”.

Wal-Mart EmployeeMe: “What do you mean you can’t sell me more than two phones?”

Tom looks at Tara, who looks and me and says, “It’s the law sir. We can’t sell any individual person more than two phones”.

Me: “At one time?”

Tara: “No, total.”

Me: “You mean I can’t come back tomorrow and buy two more phones if I purchase two today?”

Tara: “Not if one of us is on shift. Now that we’ve seen you, we can’t sell you more than two phones.”

Me: “Are you serious?”

Tara: “Yes, sir.”

Me: “Why can’t I buy more than two phones?”

Tara: “We can’t sell them to you by law.”

Me: “What law? Why would it be against the law for me to buy more than two prepaid phones?”

Tara: “Because they’ve been commonly used in drug deals.”

Another female sales associate who had by this time to come over to hear the commotion – I didn’t catch – nods in agreement.

Me: “So you’re telling me you can’t sell me more than two phones, because I might be a drug dealer?”

Tom: “It’s not that we think YOU are a drug dealer sir. That’s just the law.”

Out of Luck Grandmother

Me: “So what if I was a grandmother, with more than two grandchildren, and wanted to buy each one a phone for Christmas?” Tom: “We could only sell you two.” Me: “So, I’d have to bring a second person with me, pretend they’re not with me, and purchase two phones and have them purchase the third?”

Tara: “If we realized that was what you were doing, we couldn’t sell you the phones.”

Me: “This is insane. Can I speak with a manager?”

Tara: “He’s not here at the moment, but I’m next in charge.”

Me: “Fine, please ring me up for the T-Mobile and the Virgin Mobile phones then please.”

This was crazy. There was actually a law that prevented me from purchasing more than two prepaid cell phones? Yes, because, if I make my living dealing drugs, I’d respect that law and not go to 14 different stores purchasing phones instead. I was completely livid with whoever made this “law” and I now was short several of the prepaid phones I had been sent to buy. I hopped in my car and headed across the street to Circuit City.

Circuit City with Verizon BoothI quickly saw the Verizon booth and walked over to buy a phone. I informed the sales associate that I wanted to buy a prepaid phone. She asked me which one. I said it didn’t really matter. She told me to come pick a phone and she’d activate it for me. I explained to her that I needed it un-activated and after getting a puzzled look, why I needed it that way.

Verizon Associate: “I’m sorry Sir. I cannot sell you an un-activated phone.”

Me: “Why not?”

Verizon Associate: “I’m not really sure. But that’s our policy.”

Me: “So, I can buy an un-activated Verizon prepaid phone in Wal-Mart, but I can’t buy one un-activated from Verizon?”

Verizon Associate: “That’s correct.”

By this point, I’m looking around for a Candid Camera like gag show (I’d say Punk’d, but I’m not a celebrity no matter what my mom thinks seeing my bylines online might mean). Disappointed, I walk over and find a phone from Amp’d Mobile (my Circuit City only carries Amp’d and Verizon prepaid phones).

I take my un-activated Amp’d Mobile phone up to the register. As the cashier is ringing it up I ask her, “Just out of curiosity, if I wanted to purchase ten of these phones right now, could I?” and watch her look at me like I’m some kind of freak in response. “You can buy as many as you want,” she replies. I feel compelled at this point to prove that I’m not a freak, and tell her what Wal-Mart told me, “I only ask because Wal-Mart just told me there was a law that they couldn’t sell me more than two phones.” For some reason, I immediately feel fear. What if she rips the phone out of my hand realizing I’ve already bought my mandated by law limit of two prepaid phones? I try not to look nervous and await her answer. She mumbles, “Well, if there is a law, no one told me” and hands me my bag and receipt.

I head out the front door of Circuit City, tuck the bag under my arm (after checking to make sure you couldn’t see through it to realize what was inside) and head into Office Depot next door.

Office DepotI locate the prepaid phones and see that they have TracFone, Net10 and T-Mobile available. I pick up one of the TracFone models (the C139) and one of the Net10 models (also a C139) and stand there staring at the twenty dollar price difference between the two identical phones (Net10 is really TracFone, so the “double the price” difference made me chuckle).

I shake my head and take my two new “illegal purchases” to the register, leaving the T-Mobile I had already purchased at Wal-Mart behind. I wait in line and eventually hand the phones to the cashier to ring up.

Repeating the process, but choosing my words more wisely this time I ask, “If I wanted to buy ten of these right now, could I?” The cashier looked at me and said, “I think we only have eight in stock.” I smiled and said, “but if I wanted to buy them all, I could?” trying not to look guilty as hell. She looked confused. I said someone told me there might be some law against buying a large amount of prepaid phones. She responded with, “well, maybe because we have such a small selection, we weren’t told about this law.” At this point, I was the one looking confused. I was too tired to point out the flaws in that statement.

I took my phones and headed back to the car. I had five phones in all. I felt a somewhat perverse sense of joy at knowing in spite of “the law” I was racking up prepaid phones. Not because I wanted to break the law. But because from the moment I was told about it, it was the stupidest thing I had ever heard and here I was proving it. But, at the same time, I’m starting to wonder why two stores hadn’t heard of this supposed law. I still needed more phones.

On my way to the next store, Target, I called the office and explained that I had “run into a problem” and that I’d explain when I got back. I then called a friend and asked him to see if he could do an online search on this supposed law and see if it brought anything up. While I drove the ten minute drive to Target, I started to wonder. Since Wal-Mart was the only store citing this law of the three I had visited, maybe this was a Wal-Mart thing and not a legal issue. I pulled into the Target parking lot, parked and headed inside.

Target StoreI found the prepaid phones, but like Wal-Mart, they were locked into the rack. I hit the button to call over a sales associate and waited. A woman who looked annoyed that I was interrupting her came over and asked what I needed. I had already perused the phone selection while waiting and saw they only had one that I didn’t already have in my possession – Boost Mobile. After she unlocked my selection, I asked “If I wanted to buy ten phones right now, could I?” She had already gone behind the register and gave me an even more annoyed look and replied, “So now you want ten?” I told her, “No, I just want to know if I could buy ten” to which she responded, “If you can afford it.” Wow, I guess she really paid attention to the “we care about customer service” video she watched during her training.

Purchase in hand, I headed back out to the car. I now had six phones. I was completely convinced this was a Wal-Mart issue at this point and Wal-Mart number 2 (as I said, there are three in our county) was my next stop.

I located the electronics section after a minute or two (this Wal-Mart is much newer and set up differently than the first one I visited) and found they had two phones I didn’t have. I walked up to the register to have the sales associate (who I later found out was Ann) unlock them for me. She was having a conversation with a man she had already finished ringing up. Ann finally finishes her chat and asks me if she can help me. I show her the two phones I’d like – a Cingular Go Phone and a Verizon Wireless prepaid phone (in all of its un-activated glory) and while she is unlocking them, I ask the same tired question, “If I wanted to buy ten of these right now, could I?” and Ann looks at me and says flatly, “No.”

AH-HA, this wasn’t a law at all but a Wal-Mart thing! I ask Ann why I can’t purchase more than two cell phones. She replies, “Well, there is a certain type of business that is interested in these phones, so we cannot sell more than two to any one person in any one day.” I ask, “So I can’t buy the phone because I might be a drug dealer?” thinking back to what Tara at Wal-Mart number 1 had said and she responds, “Well, yeah, that is one type of business who likes these phones. But, what I was referring to were cell phone dealers.”

I’m more than a little confused, and Ann can see this, so she continues on to explain to me that they’ve had a problem with cell phone dealers coming in and buying up the prepaid phones and selling them as contract phones after replacing the SIM cards. I ask Ann, “So, this is a Wal-Mart policy then, and not a law?” and she confirms that to be the case. I ask her for the number to call Wal-Mart corporate and she walks away to locate it. After a few minutes, she comes back, “1-800-WAL-MART”. I buy my phones and head out to my car, dialing 1-800-WAL-MART as I go.

Wal-Mart Corporate

I bounce through some voice activated menus and finally get a human on the phone. I explain that my local Wal-Mart stores have informed me that I can’t buy more than two prepaid phones and that it was a Wal-Mart corporate policy. I explained to the person on the other end of the phone that I’d like to know WHY it was a Wal-Mart policy (never revealing the stories Tara and Ann gave me). She explained that only district managers could quote store policy to me, and that if I’d give her my zip code, she’d give me the number for my local district manager. We exchanged information and I hung up. Next, I dial the number for the district manager. A woman answers the phone and explains that the district manager is busy and that maybe she can help me. I explain that the main Wal-Mart number told me only a district manager could quote me policy, so I’d just leave a message for him. She responded that my information “wasn’t correct” and that she could quote me store policy if I’d simply explain to her what I needed clarification on. By this point, I’m back at the office. I walk in with five bags containing eight phones, four hours after I’d left with my phone glued to my ear. I wave away the stares silently going “where the heck have you been and why do you have bags from every electronics store in the county?” and walk over to my desk.

I explain to the woman on the phone that I was told I couldn’t buy more than two prepaid phones due to a Wal-Mart policy and that I wanted to know if that was true and if it was, why. She told me she’d check and give me a call back. A few minutes later, she calls me back and says that yes, it is indeed a Wal-Mart policy not to sell a person more than two prepaid phones. However, she said that the official policy was that they “could not sell more than two phones per person, not per household, per day”. So, Tara was clearly not listening on Wal-Mart policy day. I asked why this was an official policy (again, I stayed mum about what Tara and Ann had told me) and she said she wasn’t really sure, but that she could find out and give me a call back.

Feeling a sudden pang of full disclosure, I told the woman, “In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to tell you that I’m a writer for a prepaid cell phone site and I’d suggest having the manager call me back with the reason behind the policy, as it will be quoted in an article I plan to write on my experience today.” She said, “You’re a reporter?” and I said, “Somewhat” and she stammered, “I’ll have someone call you back.” And that was the last I ever heard from Wal-Mart on the topic as my subsequent calls were never returned.

I sat back in my desk and it was then that I felt the eyes piercing the back of my skull. “What was that all about?” one of my co-workers asked motioning to my phone and then looking at my pile of bags on the floor and the pile of receipts I had taken out of them while on the phone and placed on my desk.

“Well,” I said, “Wal-Mart has a corporate policy on not allowing any one person to purchase more than two prepaid phones in one day.” My co-worker responded, “Why on earth would they make a rule like that?” I answered, “Well, I’m not really sure. From what I can piece together from the reasons I was given by store employees, they think I’m a drug dealer, or a cell phone dealer, but either way, it would seem that Wal-Mart has decided that buying more than two phones likely makes me a dealer of some kind and has a blanket policy refusing to sell more than two to me in one day.”*


My Prepaid Phone Loot
The fruits of that day’s labor – eight phones in all

*Please note: As mentioned above, we were never able to get an official comment from Wal-Mart on why they have this policy about prepaid phones. I’m only recounting my experience and interpretation of the day’s events. Phone calls requesting clarification for the reason behind this policy were not returned.

107 Responses

  1. Mikey Says

    I think if they just said company policy from the get go it would have been a little bit easier to swallow. Companies can set up any policy they want even if it doesn’t make much sense.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 10:57 am
  2. David Watts Says

    I wonder if Wal-mart have any restrictions on how many guns you can buy at one time?


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 11:30 am
  3. Steve Says

    True, they do have the right to set up any policy they want. But if their policies end up hindering the consumer, then, well, it’s not a good policy.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 11:31 am
  4. Bram Says

    Having been in the cellphone business a whie, the reason behind it is very simple: these phones are fairly heavily subsidized by the carrier or store. They make up the loss in expensive minutes, or longterm plans. They also tend to be sim-locked to the carrier to prevent customers from buying these subsidized phones and using them with cheaper plans, but those are easily defeated. If you buy umpteen cellphones chances are you’re not going to be a heavy user of their minutes. In other words, this is simply WM protecting their profit margins. In Europe, where I operate, the same is true for lots of supermarkets and department stores doing cheap phone promotions.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 1:34 pm
  5. KC Says

    As a former Wal-Mart manager I have to say that Wal-Mart policies are geared toward protecting Wal-Mart (profitability) and nobody else. I am now a local small-business owner and I have been told by current Wal-Mart management that they wish to discourage me from buying products from their store for resale. I do not do that because they sell low-quality merchandise but I can understand that they are threatened by every aspect of competition. As far as prepaid phones are concerned, Bram is correct in his assessment. Wal-Mart makes a commission on all contracts for full-service phones so they wish to prevent other dealers from cutting in on their profit.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 2:38 pm
  6. 7700587 Says

    You’ve got to be kidding me! I read this whole long rant titled “Why Wal-Mart Will…” and the last paragraph just says you don’t know WHY?!


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 2:40 pm
  7. Jess Says

    Actually, it does say why they won’t let you buy prepaid phones – if you want more than TWO is the reason. What they don’t seem to know definitively is why buying more than two is a problem.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 2:44 pm
  8. Ty Moser Says

    It is probably not just the Drug dealers and people like that. It is mostly the illegal immigrants. The people who bring them across the border will usually set them up with a phone and other stuff to get them started. It is well known in the cell phone market that if you speak Spanish you can make a killing and if you are close to Mexico even better.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:04 pm
  9. Viral Electronics Says

    The Simple reason for this is that wal-mart have under priced so much that in this case it is hurting them. They are selling these prepaid phones for cheaper than they are actually buying them for and then making a small amount of money back from the carrier. They are afraid and have probably had other cell phone dealers and just regular people buying them and reselling them for a profit. It is their own fault. They shouldnt try and underprice everyone out of business and then wonder why it would come back to hurt them in any way.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:07 pm
  10. Nathan Says

    Rubber neck corporate response! Remember last summer when 3 guys hit the news as possible terrorists. They were arrested after buying 80 phones from Walmart.

    Arrest Story
    The case was thrown out lacking evidence.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:09 pm
  11. matt Says

    BFD. Wal-Mart won’t sell you more then 2 phones, who cares.

    You may as well write about K-Mart not letting you buy more then two folding tables that are on sale.

    While the article was written fairly well it had no climax and relatively pointless.

    That’s my two cents.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:18 pm
  12. Chris Says

    I was curious so I tried going to walmart.com to see what would happen. I was able to put lots of different pre-paid phones in the cart, but if I tried to change the quantity of any particular phone to something more than 2 I got an error saying “We’ve changed your requested quantity to what is available for purchase now…” and the quantity gets limited to 2.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:24 pm
  13. Chris Says

    I can shed some light on this situations for you. The Wal-mart issue deals with laws about selling cell phones. They have no control over the laws passed by lawmakers. As for the Verizon store they don’t have control either and they were probably third party. When these franchise stores buy phones from the service provider they pay full unactivated price. Its set up so they only make money off phones that are activated. If the compay has a few stores they pay the same price you would buy for. Most people would say alright well then as a customer service standpoint you should just sell us the phone. This from a business standpoint however doesn’t work. Shipping on a hundred plus phones can run a campany a couple hundred dollars. Therefore every time the business orders phones and sells them unactivated they are running a loss. That loss might be only five or ten dollars to the business but it also ties up inventory and forces them to pay hundreds more dollars to order more phones.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:27 pm
  14. James Powell Says

    Man thats screwed up.
    Very cool article.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:29 pm
  15. Nea Says

    In my Wal-Mart training, they were really vague on a lot of things. They also tend to really blur the lines between ‘company policy’ and ‘law.’ I think part of it is because you’re more likely to bend the rules if it’s just policy than if it’s law and the other part is that the information gets filtered through so many channels before it reaches the associate that nobody really knows the full truth.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:29 pm
  16. dontremember Says

    Remember the arab guys who were arrested for buying a ton of these. They were “terrorists” because one had a picture of a bridge and a bunch of cell phones. Typical clueless LEO arrested the guys, then had to release them without any charges. It was then established they’d buy the phones, change out the sim cards and sell them back in their country of origin for a profit. Expecting Wal-Mart employees to know anything is goofy.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:30 pm
  17. Alex Says

    I had this happen to me when I worked at Target. A guy tried to buy 5 phones at a time, but when the manager came over, he said we could only sell him two. After buying two, and yelling some more, the manager allowed him to buy the rest, but only with two on a receipt. So this isn’t limited to Wal-Mart, it’s just a poorly followed guideline.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:34 pm
  18. Brian Says

    I was a video game store, and the day after thanksgiving took every cheap phone radio shack had, but they limited you 2 per person, and said dealers not welcomed.
    So not just walmart has the policy, radio shack as well had the policy.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:39 pm
  19. Jim Says

    Wal-Mart has ALL kinds of weird issues – mostly due to the fact that they like to be the ‘moral’ police. I assume it is from some kind of ‘family values’ thing -

    Did you know that EVERY CD you purchase at a Wal-Mart is a ‘clean’ CD? You don’t even have a choice of purchasing a ‘parental advisory’ CD! – which doesn’t make any sense – because you can buy an R rated DVD just down the isle.

    So I imagine the first girl had actually been told the ‘drug dealer’ story – as part of the ‘family values’ package you have to buy into there to be an employee.

    Just another reason not to shop there.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:53 pm
  20. Alex in Toronto, ON CANADA Says

    I guess if you want to buy more than 2 cellphones from Walmart they have to be made in China.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 3:57 pm
  21. Nick Says

    Im my town we had a story of people buying many phones. They were later arrested and authorities found plans to use the wireless phones as remote explosives to blow up a bridge. From that point on stores limited purchases.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:01 pm
  22. DEL Says

    As a Target electronics employee I can tell you that Target has the same policy about 2 phones in effect. I assumed you didn’t buy a huge amount of phones from that rude team member but the register will limit us to selling 2 phones per transaction. We have had numerous problems with cell phone dealers buying 10 phones before this policy was put into place. Personally if you wanted to buy one of each phone we sold, I have no issue with that so I would just do multiple transactions from multiple registers and sell them to you, Wal-Mart was simply being rude when they told you that. I do get upset when specific phones were purchased in quantities buy some guy and then I have none left when real consumers come looking for the phone. I think these policies are both a blessing and a curse


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:03 pm
  23. Frank Says

    Worst Article Ever. You certainly are not a reporter, and I think you made half of this up.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:06 pm
  24. Cell Dealer Says

    The practice that Walmart and RadioShack and other retailers are trying to avoid is called arbitrage. These phones are discounted at retailers and these retailers recieve commissions based on these phones being activated. If these phones are not activated, the retailers are just turning phones, not making anything on them. Phones like the NOKIA 1100 Trackphones, came be unlocked and sold in markets like china for much more than they cost on the shelves at walmart.

    Cellular dealers often build complex buying plans to collect 500-1000 of these phones and sell them overseas. Retailers placed limits, because they were not making money on the transactions. http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060217-6205.html
    shows how tracphone has tried to stop this practice.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:07 pm
  25. Tyler Says

    As much as this rule may seem odd, I doubt that it is an inconvenience to many consumers. I found it odd that you would choose to semi-bash Wal-Mart for being consistant with their policy at several location. No one is forcing you to buy your phones at Wal-Mart, and I don’t hear everyone cry when every other store has a product on sale – limit 2 per customer.

    Get over it.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:08 pm
  26. Steve Says

    Frank, I couldn’t have made this up even if I tried and I never claimed to be a reporter. Thus my response of “somewhat” – it is easier than explaining the online media world, what a blog is and what I do for a living.

    Tyler – the phones were not on sale. I wanted to purchase them at full price. Sales increase demand – this was not the case. I also did not try to buy them out of one particular carrier. I wanted one each of the carriers they had – and they had a minimum of five phones from each carrier.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:12 pm
  27. james Says

    every time there is a terrorist bust they find trunk loads of these phones.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:12 pm
  28. Steve Says

    And thanks to everyone posting their experiences and knowledge of the retailer side of the cellular industry. It has been interesting to research every angle that’s been posted.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:13 pm
  29. Phil Says

    Engadget Mobile on the topic

    ABC News on the topic


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:40 pm
  30. Ben Margolin Says

    What, don’t you guys watch The Wire on HBO? There was a major part of the storyline a season or two back about buying “burners”, prepaid phones they could use once or twice and dump in the trash, and the difficulty of the cops getting “blanket” warrants to wiretap them.

    Cool show, btw. Ranks up there with Deadwood and Sopranos for “politics in action”.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 4:46 pm
  31. Motorcycle Guy Says

    Now your ready to do some drug deals apparently, or maybe conduct some terrorist business.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 5:08 pm
  32. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Standard Prepaid Cell Phone Policy Says

    [...] it is the law – which is what happens when you tell people to do things without explaining why. Why Wal-Mart Will Refuse to Sell You Prepaid Cell Phones: He collects my phones (seven in total) and walks me over to the register.Then another sales [...]


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 6:30 pm
  33. Nick Howell Says

    The prepaids are sold below their true cost by the plan providers. Organized groups were buying large numbers & selling them to locations outside the US where they are unlocked for use by service providers other than originally intended. The groups were making $5-$10 profit per phone when they sold them in bulk…


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 7:00 pm
  34. Terry Kepner Says

    As “Cell Dealer” above states, Radio Shack and other dealers are paid a commission on every phone sold. I am personally responsible for the “five cell phone limit” for Sprint phones. Back in 2000 I had a man come into our store and buy 30 phones at a sale price that was half the normal price. Later that same day a woman came in and bought another 20 phones. The next day the man came back and wanted to know if we going to be getting more of those phones. I said the district was out and delivery of more was known. He confided that if we did get more in, to please call him, and he gave me his number, in Jamaica! Turned out he was buying them from us and reselling them for triple that price in Jamaica. The next week we got word that we could not sell more than five phones to any customer, activated, nor more than two phones unactivated. The district manager tol me we lost $10,000 on my two transactions. And the customers who did want that phone to use, left empty-handed. As a stroe corporate manager what woul you have decided?


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 7:03 pm
  35. geekygirl23 Says

    You sir are an idiot. I would assume, and your second rep makes this seem the reason, that Wal-Mart doesn’t profit on these phones. Much like their CD’s, video games, etc. they are there to get people in the door and small dealers would buy up everything to resell at a profit. Rather than coming to this obvious conclusion you spend hours and hours compiling and writing this story. I’d fire you.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 7:15 pm
  36. ean Says

    Wal-Mart does make money on these phones, but not much. As for the 2 phone rule, that is a policy that Wal-Mart created to ward of heat from the federal government. In some cities over 50% of the GSM (T-Mobile and Cingular) phones are purchased by third parties and taken overeseas and sold. The reason is because GSM phones can be used with foreign sim cards overseas.

    These phones, believe it or not, have been linked to terrorist activities; ie bombmaking. These phones can be connected to a bomb and when called, they trigger the bomb to blow.

    That my friend, is why Wal-Mart refuses to sell phones more than 2 at a time.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 9:30 pm
  37. matt Says

    quit complaining. i work at a retail store now where we sell prepaid phones and we cant sell more than 2. we had a bunch of foreign people come in and buy like 15 at a time once. they had hit up the local dollar general stores and such and bought a lot from them too. the police got suspicious and we can only sell 2 at a time and we have to see a driver’s license and write down the information in a book. if they refuse…too bad, i dont have to put up with their crap. but yeah dont blame the guy at the desk… he’s just doing what he is told.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 9:42 pm
  38. Matt Ellsworth Says

    my guess is that it is because walmart might actually be losing money on every prepaid unactivated phone they sell (at least for verizon). Thats why some stores will only sell them to you activated on service.


    Posted on June 21st, 2007 at 11:56 pm
  39. lifehack Says

    There is a rather easy hack for this. Walk out side and look for 5 people. Now I prefer looking for what most people consider ‘bums’ the worst the smell the better the choice. If all of the bums have been chased off by the walmart greater police then choose walmart next to a big box home store (aka homedepot) they seem to have a never empty pool of local labor available. Higher these plebes, give them cash, walk each in to the store have each request two phones. Walk them all up to the register and as they are rung up give each the cash to pay for the phones and a few extra bones, hey these guys gotta eat. Take from the phone. Now you have followed Walmart policy, no one person bought more then 2 phones from them. Not only that you helped a few members of the proletariat (the very people walmart claims to support) earn enough for a Dollar Meal. Finally you got to show the other walmart shoppers and staff where they are dragging their wages to as support a beast that is in a race to the bottom. Its a Win all around!

    Btw the same trick works for students that have money stored on their campus food account. Bring in a few bums and buy the lunch when you need to burn through that cash you aren’t using. That will teach them to steal unused account balance.


    Posted on June 22nd, 2007 at 12:35 am
  40. Bee Says

    Actually there is a law out there were you can only buy 2 prepaid phones at a time. As an employee of a major retailer I know this for a fact. Its part of Homeland Security. In some adds for major retailers it will actually say Homeland Security. Retailers can be fined heavily for selling more than two prepaid phones on a receipt.


    Posted on June 22nd, 2007 at 12:45 am
  41. Sudpdu Says

    It could be some agreement that walmart has made with the people they buy their phones from. Wal-mart always negotiates for the lowest price and they can do it because they move so much merchandise. So part of their agreement might limit the number of phones they can sell to one person.


    Posted on June 22nd, 2007 at 12:04 pm
  42. Dante Says

    As a former Target electronics employee, I can say that I was told that we could not sell more than two prepaid cell phones at one time. The reason was because they were being sold at other stores under contracts. I guess the woman at Target was not listening on that day either.


    Posted on June 23rd, 2007 at 10:17 am
  43. alvinc5 Says

    As many people have already commented, and what is actually fairly obvious and widely practiced by retailers, products are sold underpriced leading to a losses. It’s a type of sales promotion. It’s a common marketing pricing strategy. Products sold like this are known as ‘Loss Leaders’.


    Posted on June 23rd, 2007 at 10:35 am
  44. alvinc5 Says

    *typo.

    ‘..a loss’.


    Posted on June 23rd, 2007 at 11:04 am
  45. demente Says

    Actually it’s a provider rule at least in ATT(Cingular) , you can only buy 3


    Posted on June 24th, 2007 at 9:11 pm
  46. G Says

    I worked in LP for one of these stores. The problem with the multiple phones thing isnt necessarily a “drug dealer” issue. Drug dealers mainly use Boost Mobile phones because lookouts can beep someone of the cop’s coming without taking their hands out of their pockets.
    The main reason I heard was that the phones are being shipped to the middle east to be stripped and used as remote detonators for IEDs (I reckon they do this because they dont have radio shacks over there).
    We were told to watch them, and that our info would be forwarded to the Department of Homeland security.
    So yeah, not drug dealers, not a thing to get you to buy their plan (who really needs more than one phone anyhow?), more a terrorism kinda thing. For some reason in our area it was ALWAYS middle eastern folk, not being racist, just pointing out an observation.


    Posted on June 27th, 2007 at 3:31 am
  47. Editor’s rant: Why you can’t take pictures in a mall (and how it relates to the iPhone) | Prepaid Reviews Says

    [...] weeks ago, Steve ranted to y’all about his less than ideal experience when trying to buy a slew of prepaid cell phones. We thank all the commenters who posted reasons [...]


    Posted on July 5th, 2007 at 9:41 am
  48. Impressive. « Irregardless Is a Word… I Swear! Says

    [...] and apparently, you can’t buy more than two prepaid cellular phones per day at Walmart. Is this the stupidest rule or [...]


    Posted on July 11th, 2007 at 8:55 am
  49. The Evil wal-mart and prepaid cell phones. | Viral Electronics Says

    [...] So there is evidently a policy from wal-mart that they will not sell any more than 2 prepaid phones to one person.  The reason?  Pretty much they underpricing everybody so much dealers, and pretty much anyone on the street, can go buy the prepaid phones at wal-mart without any service and resale them at a profit.  The truth is Wal-Mart sales the phones cheaper than you can buy the phones directly from the dealer as one of their agents or somewhere else.  Evidently Wal-Mart has this vast need to sell that many prepaid phones that they are selling them probably cheaper than what they are actually buying them.  In which they make the money back from the service providers after they are activated.   Which by their pricing can not be very much that they are making per phone.  You can read the full and actual story at this blog. [...]


    Posted on July 19th, 2007 at 8:29 am
  50. The Writing On The Wal » Blog Archive » WAL-MART HIDES BEHIND FAKE LAWS… Says

    [...] But apparently Wal-Mart is still phone-shy after the incident and has implemented a policy masquerading as a law to thwart anyone wishing to buy more than a couple of phones. From Prepaid Reviews: [...]


    Posted on August 4th, 2007 at 4:38 pm
  51. Tracfone still suing over unlocked phones | Prepaid Reviews Says

    [...] goes a long way in helping explain the Wal Mart incident. They have been selling Tracfones for as long as we can remember, so it would make sense that [...]


    Posted on August 8th, 2007 at 9:01 am
  52. Realise About Verizon Cellphones? Why Wal-Mart Will Refuse to.. Belpop.com.. » Mobile Phone Info . net Says

    [...] Why Wal-Mart Will Refuse to Sell You Prepaid Cell Phones Feeling a sudden pang of full disclosure, I told the woman, ?In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to tell you that I?ma writer for a prepaid cell phone site and I?d suggest having the manager call me back with the reason … [...]


    Posted on August 21st, 2007 at 1:09 am
  53. tito Says

    Here is why they DONT WANT to sell you more than 2 phones. A couple of years ago they arrested several terrorist in the west coast with thousands of prepay phones and guess who sold the phones to them. WALMART. for that reason they dont want the bad PR. now take the 2 phones and be happy.


    Posted on August 31st, 2007 at 11:13 pm
  54. tito Says

    The carrier or private label dont care about the price after all they dont make money off the phones they make money of the plans. So the cheap price is not the reason is the bad PR they got several years ago about the terrorist buying prepaid phones from walmart.


    Posted on August 31st, 2007 at 11:16 pm
  55. kathy Says

    Boy that was an amazing storey you told, I did not know that bying a cell phone was such an issue. I can’t believe one of my favorite stores has such a assinnine/stupid policy. boy this makes me think twice about bying a phone at wal-mart. Boy im lucky I don’t need more than two phones. WOW Wal-mart is amazingly dumb.


    Posted on October 16th, 2007 at 8:28 am
  56. Jessica Says

    I found this article on accident, searching for “Go Phones”. Very funny article. The conversation between you and the Wal-Mart employees sounded like Catch-22. Heller would be proud!


    Posted on October 26th, 2007 at 8:44 pm
  57. Apple won’t accept your cold, hard cash for an iPhone | Prepaid Reviews Says

    [...] giving: limiting unauthorized resellers. As you know if you’re a regular reader of this site, that’s nothing new. Apple suits are giving us the same old song and dance. From spokeswoman Natalie Kerris: [...]


    Posted on October 29th, 2007 at 12:01 pm
  58. Ryan Says

    I am a wal-mart employee,and i agree completly with kc’s comment.


    Posted on November 2nd, 2007 at 5:41 am
  59. mskelley Says

    I had the same thing happen to me. I have 3 girls and was in walmart trying to get 3 prepaid phones for them. The manager tells me it’s a law that they can’t sell more that 2 because of the terriorist act. When I informed him that I worked for the government and I would check it out, he looked as if I knew that he was lying. It’s amazing how people us the law for their own good.


    Posted on December 22nd, 2007 at 4:34 am
  60. Robert Says

    As a Connection Center associate at Wal-Mart we now can only sell one prepaid cellphone per person. And 2 prepaid phones per party! and all this is per month. Its company policy And Also a Law Through the FBI but some stores are not aware of this law Here at wal-mart we also have to sell them activated!! This helps prevent Reselling and Making of IEDS OR VBIEDs which are the number one killers in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan!! If caught you can do prison time and be sued by every company like t-mobile tracphone att/cingular movida virginmobile and more!


    Posted on January 18th, 2008 at 12:18 am
  61. Will Congress impose restrictions on prepaid cell phones? | Prepaid Reviews Says

    [...] If you’re new to the site, you may want to subscribe to the the feed.By this point, we know that certain companies will only sell you one or two prepaid phones at a time. It’s company policy, but a few retailers are trying to pass it off as law, which it is not. [...]


    Posted on February 1st, 2008 at 11:30 am
  62. Courtney Anthony Says

    I really think that Wal-Mart should sell prepaid flip camera phone for a low price like $30.00 for teens who can’t have real phones that are not prepaid.So please take what I said in consideration of doing because we really want prepaid flip camera phones.


    Posted on April 7th, 2008 at 7:50 pm
  63. Michelle Says

    That reminds me of a few Christmases ago. My mother and I were going to a party and were stocking up on batteries for the cameras. (I believe they were lithium ones?) Anyhow, at the cash register they could only allow us to buy a little under half of what we wanted.

    A few days later, my cousin (who doesn’t exactly hang out with the right crowd if you know what I mean) heard about what happened. He told us about how certain kinds of batteries can be used to make illegal drugs.

    I thought something similar to what you mentioned in your article. … If I was a drug maker, couldn’t I simply go to 10 different walmarts to stock up?


    Posted on April 14th, 2008 at 8:32 am
  64. donna Says

    nothing shocks me about wal mart.they think they run the country.i try my best not to give them my hard earned money.and if i have to it makes me sick!!!!!!!


    Posted on June 9th, 2008 at 12:21 pm
  65. mike Says

    walmart is not the place i would want to be..lol see if i was ther they would have replace the saleman…i would rock on some head …lol


    Posted on June 17th, 2008 at 9:37 pm
  66. ELH Says

    I work at a Wal-Mart in the Connection Center and I do know that we cannot cell more than two cell phones to a customer per day but thats a store policy not a law.


    Posted on August 11th, 2008 at 5:37 pm
  67. Rick Says

    The suspected Terrorists were actually buying Nokia 2126 cell phones. these are a CDMA model that is easy to reprogram and sell to a middle eastern country (where they sell for $70 to $80). There were groups all over the country buying these phones and then reflashing the memory and sending them to be used in another country.

    Walmart and Tracfone came up with the two phones per person thing together. Tracfone was paying way more than the $19.99 that Walmart was selling the phone for but making their money by selling the minutes to use the phone. I bought 4 of these phones a day for about 6 weeks. Two on the way to work and two on the way home. I was able to sell the phones for between $30 and $45 each on ebay. Some days I went a little out of my way and bought another pair at another Walmart. I made several hundred dollars for very little work. The phones are no longer carried by walmart or Tracfone.


    Posted on October 7th, 2008 at 1:10 am
  68. law Says

    what a complete waste of a day and another waste publishing this article. Who cares if you can’t buy more than 2 per day Granny better not buy all the grandkids cell phones, mom’s gonna be pretty P.O’d when it’s time to buy minutes cause kids blow thru them like water!


    Posted on October 22nd, 2008 at 6:38 pm
  69. Shawn Says

    I work in walmart electronics dept. at the moment and actually had this issue. If we tried to sell more than 2 prepaid phones at a time, it would actually prompt on the register that we can not sell more than to per transaction. I dont know if it is illegal but i do know it strikes as suspicious. Let me explain. One day 2 men came in and said they wanted to buy some prepaid phones. I ask how many and they said all of them. Tell me what would you do with 40 or so prepaid phones. So at the time i tried to sell three and it prompted sell not allowed exceeds max. quantity of 2. So i called a manager and he said do it in seperate transactions, so i did. During the conversation with the men i asked what they were going to use the cell phones for. They said it was for church. After the fact i realized what could so many cell phones could be used for, detenators.(not saying they were or are going to be used for that reason)The men came back the next day and wanted to buy all the ones we just recently put out. I once again i called management and he said go ahead. After i said you can ring them up because i wont and then explained my reasons. He then said we couldnt sale them all. It did not help that the men were of middle eastern decent.(might sound racial but its not)suspicion 1. Buying 40+ phones at once then coming back the next day to buy more 2.As of recent events(9/11) we learned cell phones can be used as detenators and i live very close to chemical and gas plants(sulphur, la) 3.Paid in all cash(non-traceable). You be the judge of why we canbt sale more than 2 phones at a time.


    Posted on October 25th, 2008 at 12:48 am
  70. Rubi Says

    t-mobile wouldn’t let me buy 1 prepaid phone, why because I had already bought my mom 1 two months ago!


    Posted on October 28th, 2008 at 10:25 pm
  71. Mac Says

    You can pick out the ones that work for walmart.


    Posted on November 8th, 2008 at 11:22 am
  72. Rick Cell Phone Guy Says

    They are scared you will buy the phones and then send them overseas where they will be reprogrammed and used. They made a deal with Tracfone not to sell more than two to a customer.


    Posted on November 30th, 2008 at 10:11 am
  73. Sandy Says

    OMG these ppl are not shipping phones from america. to nowhere CDM is mostly used here and GSM has been used for a long time in europe and every where else.my husband is deployed 2 Iraq & they buy phones from the Iraqi’s all the time and they are not phones we use here. Walmart is crazy I just bout 3 phones the other day..3 and they acted like the 3 prepaid phones I was buying for the 3 kids that was standing right there was gonna kill somebody if I bought 1 more than 2. If I had left with 2phones worls war 3 woulda happened in my home. I did leave with 3 but every person that buys prepais is not a terrorist oor drug dealer and they defnitely won’t buy phones here & ship them to china when they are made in china..ppl wake the heck up!


    Posted on January 7th, 2009 at 11:14 pm
  74. Peter Says

    Not a big Walmart Fan, just like everybody else, but keeps going back there to buy stuff, just like almost everybody else!

    Walmart sucks! Even if not considering how they are hurting America (they’re in business to make money and while there are no laws agains how they do it…)
    but the Customer Service is just HORRIBLE. Try to buy something that you can’t just get yourself, like a TV or a bike, impossible! It could take hours!!!

    It’s cheaper because they don’t pay their employees right, therefore, service SUCKS!


    Posted on April 16th, 2009 at 7:00 pm
  75. John Says

    Well, if a company doesn’t want to sell you more than two it’s their problem. Just go to the next store!

    First of all, I hate Walmart, it sucks!!! HOWEVER, if you use a little common sense, you realize that if you’re a normal customer and just want a phone for “normal” use, they will serve you. But if you really think about it, one person alone buying like 40 phones at once, will that be for anything POSITIVE? Maybe in a few rare cases. But most cases it won’t! Just think about it.

    Think about it. If you need a phone, or two, you can buy it, and it usually for legitimate use.

    But in a way, it kind of make sense not to sell the whole inventory at once.

    Even with the author, who is complaining, the policy worked. He didn’t have a “legitimate” intention to use the phones. Although perfectly fine and not illegal, he was gonna write reviews about it. So i understand Walmart, being the bastards they are.

    And don’t get me wrong, I’m glad there are reviews, because I’m gonna buy one tonight. JUST ONE!


    Posted on April 16th, 2009 at 7:11 pm
  76. Bigperm Says

    The real reason why is because people like me take these phones and sell them for more money…i can buy a prepaid verizon razor and flash it to postpay and wallah…money in the bank…and the phones that have codes in them to keep them from going on other networks??? I can pull all of those codes and make it work…THAT is why Walmart and other companies wont sell more than 2…its just that easy…


    Posted on September 10th, 2009 at 6:40 pm
  77. tiffany Says

    That’s totally bogus! I work at walmart -in the connection center right now since april 09- and you can buy all those phones if you wanted to, you just have to buy 2 at a time.


    Posted on September 19th, 2009 at 12:18 am
  78. Orchid Says

    After reading the article, comments, and combining it with my own experiences regarding Walmart, nothing they do surprises me any longer. Nor should it surprise anyone else quite frankly.

    Using the phones for illegal immigrants? Considering the trouble some of their suppliers have had in that subject, and who they do business with…remember the Tyson trials and suits? Somehow I don’t think Walmart cares much about that aspect.

    Drug dealers can get phones and anything they want for that matter outside of Walmart and do just that when and if needed. Besides, think about it. Why would a drug dealer go into a store and buy something like cell phones in that quantity knowing it would cause suspicion…besides plain stupidity? They are more apt to send someone else in to buy what they want and/or need…that keeps their hands “clean” of it so to speak.

    The whole terrorist groups theory, while it does happen at times, that too throws up red flags and casts suspicion on those people as well. Again, most doing that would use some sort of cover to purchase such things.

    Now the fact that people buy them to re-sell…that happens often. Look at ebay and all the other similar sites.

    It boils down to this in my opinion:
    MANY policies and practices of Walmart in-store as well as out are questionable at best.

    Also…if someone wants something bad enough…they’ll figure out how to get it. Policy or no policy…law or no law.


    Posted on October 1st, 2009 at 1:02 am
  79. shadowking Says

    I am looking for the alleged “law”, and as yet have not found it. I became curious when I saw little signs on all of the Wal-Mart registers that said, “We can sell only 2 cellphones per person, it is a Federal Law.” . It made me curious because no “law” was quoted. There are signs in many businesses referring to Federal Law, and the specific law is usually posted. For example, the laws regarding the sale of tobacco products, in retail stores where I live, the law is quoted verbatim…USC Code….etc. The article was well written, I think that all of the posts were helpful. Unfortunately, I will still have to keep looking to satisfy my curiosity. I don’t care about the reasons why or why not, I do care about a company telling an outright lie. If they dont want to sell more than two for whatever reasons they may have, well, we all will have to live with it, but they should tell their customers honestly why. If I don’t like the reasons why, I will go somewhere else. But keep in mind, if a company will lie to their customers about something that doesn’t really matter…what else will they lie about? Thank you all for such good information. If I can find the answer definitively, for those of you that are curious like me, I will try to get it posted here.


    Posted on December 22nd, 2009 at 2:11 am
  80. Ktwist Says

    I work for Tmobile and we have no policy on this matter. In fact, we dont need an ID just a name and date of birth. I’ll sell you as many as you want…


    Posted on January 18th, 2010 at 3:05 am
  81. Elizabeth Says

    I went through the exact same thing last night with my 3 teens (who do not need a plan) and WalMart. I was told by an dumb*ss at WalMart that he couldn’t sell me 3 of the straight talk phones for my teens that it was a Federal Law (the Patriots Act…LOL!!) I was ticked off but curious too! So I asked if he could call someone at another Walmart and ask if they had any or if they could sell 3 of them. He said everyone was out and none in warehouse.I then drove from Georgia to Florida and found 1 of the 3 phones I wanted at one of the stores that he said didn’t have any. This is about the biggest bull I have ever seen..it’s a way to say there is a limit of 2 without taking the responsibility on themselves.


    Posted on February 2nd, 2010 at 2:39 pm
  82. mikex Says

    I had to travel to Winona, Minnesota to get a Straight Talk phone. Wal-Mart has stopped selling them in their stores in La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta and Tomah, Wisconsin, all at the behest of Verizon, it is suspected. Verizon had no towers or marketing here until August, 2009. Wal-Mart, Trac and Verizon rolled out Straight Talk about the same time. I suspect the strong sales of the Straight Talk phone undercut sales of higher monthly tariffed Verizon cells including their blackberry, which has a monthly rate of $70-$90, versus the $30 and $45 rates for Straight Talk service. Straight Talk is still sold in Black River Falls, Wisconsin and Winona and Rochester, Minnesota Wal-Marts, and, of course, you can buy them online. Does anyone know of other markets where Wal-Mart has shut down sales of the Straight Talk Phone?


    Posted on February 17th, 2010 at 1:13 pm
  83. mikex Says

    On the ‘terrorist’ angle. Homeland Security may have a concern about selling a load of trac phones to Americans. The two stories about groups buying large loads of trac phones resulted in those people being ALLOWED finally to purchase those phones. I’ve read some idle chatter here suggesting cheap tracs were being shipped to the middle east to be used as IED detonators. PLEASE! One needn’t travel half a world away to the US to get cell phone detonators. They sell them everywhere else in the world too. One of the biggest selling items in politics, stores, in families, in American life, is FEAR! I’ve been watching the growing power of this product since the seventies. Its growth continues unabated. Americans should stop living in fear and face up to reality. 9/11 was an anomaly, a lucky break for the terrorists. The chances of a repeat of that event are zero. The chances of many other smaller scaled events like the shoe bomber and auto bomber events succeeding are also near zero. I read a piece in the Wall Street Journal on the likelihood of these events occurring to and average American. The likelihood is ZERO! Our politicians need to stand up and tell their constituents we have nothing to fear, because the REALITY of
    Terrorism is that a small group of unidentified Middle Easterners is threatening a nation of 300 million. The success rate of these brigands is practically nil. Stop worrying. Your kids will eventually get decent jobs and succeed at something, even if that doesn’t quite match up to YOUR success!


    Posted on February 17th, 2010 at 1:39 pm
  84. Steve Jacquizzi Says

    What exactly is the best phone out of all these, like im not a druggie, or anything like that….like the stuff you said, but i want a prepaid phone so my parents don’t know..


    Posted on February 18th, 2010 at 10:51 pm
  85. mom of 4 Says

    I had this problem at wal-mart this last christmas. I’m not a dealer of any kind, a terrorist or anything like that. I’m simply a mom of 4 who wanted to buy her kids pre-paid cell phones for christmas. Wal-mart refused to sell me more than two and also refused to tell me why. I think it is the most insane thing I have ever heard!


    Posted on February 20th, 2010 at 1:14 am
  86. V Says

    Well written. Nicely done indeed.

    I enjoyed how you didn’t slam their ignorance or poor service skills, just reiterated them simply.

    I do understand Walmart’s policy.. drug dealers are stupid and lazy.. they are just trying to put obstacles up for them. It’s a noble effort I think. And most grandmas have time to shop around anyway.

    You are the exception, not the norm.


    Posted on March 9th, 2010 at 3:01 am
  87. Gary Says

    I ran into the “Walmart policy” of no more than 2 prepaid cell phones per customer” myself when trying to purchase 3 straighttalk phones (1 for me, 1 for my wife, and 1 for my daughter). Good story! http://garyfarnam.org/wordpress/2010/02/23/walmart-limits-straight-talk-prepaid-phone-only-2-per-customer-at-one-time/


    Posted on April 4th, 2010 at 11:29 pm
  88. Meghan Says

    OMG! This happened to us! We were told the same thing. However, we only needed two phones and we purchased them. But the guy after us was told that he couldn’t buy one until the following day. I’ve sent this link to EVERYONE. Forget Wlamart, go to Target!


    Posted on May 7th, 2010 at 3:55 pm
  89. Phones and Guns Says

    I don’t think Walmart should pre-judge anyone on what we are going to use anything for. Whether it’s Cell phones or Guns. You probably can buy more than two guns at a time. But, You’ll just have to back the next day and buy your twoo bullets….


    Posted on May 18th, 2010 at 3:18 pm
  90. Wal-Mart increasing its cellular presence | Prepaid Reviews Says

    [...] feed.If you run a search for “wal-mart prepaid phone” you’ll probably come across this article one we wrote years ago. Yes, Wal-Mart has been in the cell phone business for quite a while. [...]


    Posted on June 9th, 2010 at 7:31 am
  91. Roy Says

    Just ran into a similar “Walgreens law”. Walgreens claims (“due to a new law”) that I can only buy prepaid cellphone cards with cash or debit card, not credit card.

    I can’t find anything on any such “law”. Closest I can find are reports of Walgreens not accepting checks for phone cards, supposedly due to loss problems with phony checks passed to convert them to cash equivalents like gift or phone cards.

    Is this just “Walgreens policy” blamed on “a new law”?


    Posted on June 12th, 2010 at 7:27 pm
  92. khan Says

    Its day to day thing since I am related to cell phone industry. I used to take friends to help me buy more than two. Now there is a new law a group of people cant buy more than 2 phones.

    Is it a federal law or not ?, cuz the reps / managers always point at a board saying its a federal law. I been browsing for hours cant sight any federal law of that sort.

    I think other businesses have bench marked wal-marts policy.


    Posted on July 26th, 2010 at 10:14 am
  93. Phil Ossifer Says

    Ever hear of a company called “Gillette”? King Gillette made razors and sold them at cost, knowing he had a lock on the sale of blades for them. He made millions selling the blades. AFAIK this was the first time someone tried this technique which so many emulate today. Screw the phone, make money on activating and feeding it!


    Posted on September 16th, 2010 at 10:20 pm
  94. beckie Says

    That has to be the worst policy ever, phone dealers and drug dealers are probably more coniving then the average joe, if they want the phones they’ll find a way, weither they bring someone in the store with them to buy 2 phones or they have someone come in 2,3,5 hours later to do the same thing. In the end its all pointless and they are only screwing legitamite customers that have 3 or 4 kids and a spouse


    Posted on November 11th, 2010 at 10:03 am
  95. robert Says

    THE SOLUTION TO THIS IS SIMPLE. GET A COUPLE PEOPLE OF TO GO WITH YOU NEXT TIME , YOU BUY TWO ,AND YOU GET YOUR FRIENDS TO BUY TWO EACH, AND TELL THE CASHIER OR WHATEVER THAT THESE CELL PHONES ARE GIFTS, AND THAT THEY’LL BE ACTIVATED LATER BY THE OPERATOR. OTHERWISE BUY YOUR CELL PHONES ON EBAY AND RECYCLE TECHNOLOGY INSTEAD OF WASTING IT ON “BLING”.


    Posted on November 22nd, 2010 at 3:03 pm
  96. obviousadvice Says

    WHAT I WANT 2 KNOW IS – How did the survey work out??
    Which pre-pay was the best? Why did U think so. ….and how come I keep reading about the Walmart/T-Mobile phone plans, and can’t seem to find anyplace that sells them (as of 2-day [12-11-10] neither the walmart website, nor the T-mobile websites seem 2 offer them.


    Posted on December 11th, 2010 at 3:01 pm
  97. Jay Says

    I have been purchasing phones from straighttalk.com recently and they also only allow 2 phones to be purchased at a time. They also seem to have a daily limit of 12 phones per address per day. I thought maybe my credit card was being declined so I tried using a different card and it would not go through as well. Today I ordered more phones again and was automatically cut off at 12 again.


    Posted on March 1st, 2011 at 10:03 am
  98. jp Says

    radio shack limited because it was a black friday deal not because of law. it is a profit thing for stores.. target lets you buy four (4), wal-mart (2) because the phones are cheaper for purchase than the company pays for them so that you the consumer will go there and buy it and the minute cards that are highly overpriced from what the company paid for them. so basically if you just buy a phone walmart losses money.. if you buy the phone and the minutes to add to it and continue to come in and buy minutes for the phone wal mart is cashing in and making a profit


    Posted on April 2nd, 2011 at 8:42 pm
  99. Allen Says

    Yes some sick people use them for making I E D’s LOL! It is laughable that anyone would think that limiting the number of sales form a store would hamper them at all. WAKE UP! It is ALL about their bottom line period. At any major city area anyone could collect hundreds of these phones in one day with just a few people.. I alone could go to a dozen of the retailers that sell these and JUST getting their limit of two, get 24 in may area in about a hour.. Now place 4 people in a car each getting two at each stop. Hell if the author of this article had 3 other people with him each getting the same amount he did – that’s 24 and I’m sure that was just stopping at stores close by, if he would of did a bit more driving around (especially in a large metropolitan area) you could easily get 100 a day; times 6 days = 600 phones a week…. Idiots still make I E D’s with them and poor souls loose their lives to them – and to use this as an excuse for out right greed is sickening…. And for those people out there who will comment that poor Walmart will loose money on that – Walmart seems to have no problem losing money on items they sell when they do it to undercut a competitor to run them out of business…


    Posted on April 3rd, 2011 at 5:44 pm
  100. rsmit9 Says

    Maybe they should stop selling more than 2 rolls of aluminum foil and 2 bags of plastic baggies as well. Just saying


    Posted on April 24th, 2011 at 6:54 pm
  101. Stella Says

    Well, I was a bit disappointed by the end of the article, but it was a fun read. What I had the best laugh about was the writer pointing out the fact about how (tongue-in-cheek of course) that if he was a drug dealer, he would certainly follow all the rules and not go down the street or to another store to buy more! LOL!

    Great point, but at least the policy keeps stores from being totally out of stock on popular models (at least for a little while).

    Our WalMart has now stopped selling the prepaid refill cards. I don’t know why, don’t know what the scoop is, and WM won’t tell me. You can’t buy them (at least Net10) from WM online now either. Not sure if this is only Net10, or if there was a problem with the cards. Either way, it is a pain in the rump.


    Posted on June 8th, 2011 at 1:20 pm
  102. I know from experience Says

    This has nothing to do with terrorism. Anyone who thinks it does should take their Hardy Boys-level detective work and go get a real job.
    Terrorists can buy prepaid phones anywhere and they would not be picking specific ones that are not always the cheapest phone!
    I know people who have bought these phones. People do not buy all prepaid phones- they just buy the ones that re-sell for more money.
    If it is Middle Eastern people who are more likely to buy them, it is because many Middle Eastern people own cell phone shops (drive around and see). This is like being surprised that owners of Mexican restaurants were buying a lot of tomatoes!

    Walmart employees are told that it is a law, which it most definitely is not, because Walmart does not respect their employees enough to tell them the truth.

    When these phones are bought by people who re-sell them- Walmart who sells them at a slight loss- loses potential card sales (and commissions from activation).

    Clearly, Walmart has no problem trivializing terrorism and national security, in order to make a dollar.

    As for stories of “terrorists being caught with dozens of these phones in their trunks”… I advise you to look up all these cases- you will see that none of these people were ever convicted of terror charges. They merely were arrested and accused of terrorism due to their ethnic background, and the media took it from there.

    Doubt what I have to say? Well its been a few years— go look up what I said and confirm. I have no doubt that I am correct.


    Posted on February 12th, 2012 at 7:20 pm
  103. candytripn Says

    Wow, this is ridiculous.

    Had a similar (well, strange anyhow) experience with walmart. I was told I wasn’t allowed to purchase a painball gun and paintballs (they said I had to be 21 to purchase them) at the same time… I was extremely confused considering at age 18, just two days earlier, I picked up a .50 caliber black powder rifle,a bottle of gun powder, squibs and a a box of hollow point .50 BP rounds.

    Guess a kid with paintballs is far more dangerous than someone with a .50 rifle.

    I avoid walmart whenever I can


    Posted on February 22nd, 2012 at 2:28 am
  104. Sam Walton Says

    Well no one said the people who run Wal Mart are intellingent.Their anti union orientation day,yes they spend an entire day using false propaganda to all new hires,is indicative of their complete lack of respect for their staff,and they are not much kinder to customers.Wal Mart is the poster child of whats screwed up with this country.


    Posted on February 28th, 2012 at 7:58 pm
  105. Joseph Mattox Says

    We’ll actually it is not a store by store policy nor is it corporate policy to limit each customer to only two in every store it is at discretion of store management on all levels down to the zms of electronics. Each store is required to limit the sell to a reasonable number of prepaid devices due to people buying phones to flash or unlock to resell at profit. Wal-Mart target etc does not make any actual profit on the sell of the actual device only bill/airtime added to the account that is used on/with the said device. I have worked at several levels within walmart and target and have had many many customers get very upset about this 8 times out of ten the ones who act nuts about it are the ones the policy is meant to prevent from purchasing the devices


    Posted on February 8th, 2013 at 3:38 am
  106. clayton Says

    i saw the sign about the 2 cell phone limit yesterday…i asked the guy why did they have the limit he said it was federal law and he mentioned the patriot act…the fact of the matter is walmart wants people to buy contract phones in their walmart mobile stores like they have inside the walmart here because they make more money off contracts than pre paid….but walmart probaby sells more prepaid phone in the country than anybody so i think its a money issue with walmart what about families who cant afford a contract phone has to go to walmart more than once to get enough phones for all the family..you should test and see if you can buy more than 2 pre paid phone cards at one time


    Posted on February 22nd, 2013 at 11:29 am
  107. The Ceej Says

    I can tell you one thing with 100% certainty: If they refuse to tell you the real reason behind this policy, that’s because the real reason is illegal and probably also immoral.

    So, you may not know what the real reason is, but at least you know it’s shady.


    Posted on October 1st, 2013 at 6:45 pm

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