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Wal-Mart to sell Straight Talk, not that big a deal

Something strange was afoot. My RSS reader, filled to the brim with cell phone blogs and various keyword alerts, showed an inordinately high number of unread items. In a normal day I’ll see about 60 unread items between when I empty my reader at 9 a.m. and when I check it again at 2. Yesterday that number was closer to 100. It turns out that there was some pretty big news in prepaid: Wal-Mart will begin distributing Straight Talk cell phone service. I’m not quite sure I understand the overhype, but it is news nonetheless.

In our Straight Talk user reviews, I’ve seen a number of people mention purchasing the device at Wal-Mart. But if the deal was announced today, how can that be? Apparently those users are from Dallas or Atlanta, where Wal-Mart stores featured a trial run of Straight Talk. The experiment has gone well enough for Wal-Mart to expand it nationwide. This was inevitable; cost-conscious consumers are naturally attracted to Straight Talk’s low-cost, high-capacity service plans. Look for Straight Talk at Wal-Mart locations nationwide starting October 18.

Perhaps the most affected carrier in this is Cricket wireless, which recently announced a big box retail strategy. Cricket currently has distribution deals with Target and Best Buy, and they have said that more announcements will come. After yesterday’s Straight Talk announcement, Lund commented that the company planned to announce a distribution deal with Wal-Mart within a week. It sounds odd to hear an official spokesperson — Lund is the Director of Corporate Communications — announce a deal unofficially, but it seemed of necessity in this situation.

Still, Cricket could find trouble. Straight Talk operates on the Verizon Wireless network, which provides nationwide coverage. Cricket, while it does have roaming deals, only provides regional coverage. The advantage the hold is that their $40 plan is about as comprehensive as Straight Talk’s $45 plan. Cricket also has a $45 PAYGo plan that includes unlimited Web.

If you plan to buy either a Cricket or a Straight Talk phone from Wal-Mart, remember that Wal-Mart will only sell you two prepaid phones. Sad, but true in most instances.

17 Responses

  1. Peter Kent Says

    Yeah, they make it sound like the prepaid second coming when we have known about it since June, a full four months.

    In a way, it is important in that it will keep the prepaid unlimited price wars burning at full throttle. With Tmobile and their new move, it will be a full scale war on both prepaid and postpaid fronts. At least between Tmobile and Sprint.

    I see Cricket and Metro finally merging amidst all this. Buy the stock on the rebound when they announce the merger.

    Straight Talk will have a strong impact on the whole industry. My own concern comes from how the rest of the industry will react and when do they finally hit bottom on pricing?

    Posted on October 20th, 2009 at 4:58 am
  2. GaryP Says

    I’ve had the Straight Talk unlimited for a few months now and it certainly is a great plan.
    I think the hype is quite well deserved – the mighty distribution channel that is Wal-Mart will mean more people will realize it’s a here-to-stay deal. Also, Targeting the price-conscious consumers of Wal-Mart means ST will perfectly reach their target market. It’s a genius move from ST. I think I can hear a lot of whimpering from their competitors. ;-)

    Posted on October 20th, 2009 at 6:08 pm
  3. Corey Anders Says

    I’m glad I can now add airtime by buying cards at the WalMart near my house. Before, it was just available online and in other areas not here.

    It’s really a great thing but the best thing about Straight Talk is its simplicity. I am so tired of wading through funky phone bills with mysterious charges and fees.

    I really appreciate the savings, of course, but not having those awful and undecipherable bills has been a great stress-reducer.

    Posted on October 31st, 2009 at 1:10 pm
  4. Pat Yoe Says

    I have Straight Talk. I previously had Verizon then switched to AT&T but the bills were CRAZY!.

    When I heard about Straight Talk I couldn’t believe it but got it from Walmart and have had it now for 2 months and it is just sick! I’d heard that it was on Verizon and the coverage is rock steady, so yeah!

    Posted on December 27th, 2009 at 6:37 pm
  5. Kathleen Says

    The one thing that really concerns me, is that it states that this is a joint effort between Walmart, Verizon and Tracfone, with Tracfone providing the software and Customer Service. I’ve had Tracfones and a SafeLink phone through Tracfone, and their Customer Service is the absolute worst in the industry. Their service centers are not in the USA but mostly Central America, Belize and Panama, and I will tell you, I have had numerous nightmares trying to very simple issues resolved, mainly due to very poor line connections with static and dropped calls, and of course the language barriers, where although English is spoken, it is not always understood. Some calls to their CSR’s have taken up to 45 minutes(at 25 cents a minute) where I have to keep repeating myself over and over, being put on hold while “they update their system”, and they still got the information wrong! And never a supervisor available. Thanks but No Thanks; I’ll deal with a company whose Customer Service is located in the USA.

    Posted on January 6th, 2010 at 2:24 pm
  6. Lindsay Says

    Straight Talk is great! I switched from my monthly contract to this prepaid plan and will be saving me over $500 a year with the $30 plan for 1,000 minutes and texts. With it being on the Verizon network, I get the best coverage as well. I’m impressed with Walmart finally taking this plan exclusively nationwide. The savings with Straight Talk are just too perfect!

    Posted on January 12th, 2010 at 4:58 pm
  7. Jorea Says

    I live in Dallas and I have bought a total of 7 straight talk phones from walmart. 3 were purchase at the same time so I guess each walmart is different

    Posted on February 9th, 2010 at 1:41 pm
  8. Minou Says

    Straight talk doesn’t allow you to send sms internationally. Cricket does with 15c/each, i think.

    Posted on March 15th, 2010 at 6:36 pm
  9. aj Says

    I am interested in either straight talk or cricket and find only cricket supports email service. Any ideas would help as the customer no service not helpful.

    Posted on March 24th, 2010 at 6:10 pm
  10. khandie Says

    Straight Talk is wonderful for my two teenage children that have to have phones!!!! The unlimited plan is TERRIFIC for only $45!! Only issue can’t seem to get anyone to answer the calls I make to there toll free number?? I have tried different times of day AND nights only to hear a recording—- my daughter’s phone says prepaid service disabled eventhough minutes have been added and shows available—maybe its the phone??!!

    Posted on April 10th, 2010 at 5:21 pm
  11. JOHNNY Says


    Posted on August 9th, 2010 at 1:52 am
  12. JOHNNY Says


    Posted on August 9th, 2010 at 1:54 am
  13. Trina Says

    I wanted to let anyone know that is thinking about Straight Talk, to please take heed to Kathleen’s post (#5) and also to my experience. I was with them from the beginning and while their coverage was fine with some glitches (but inexpensive so ok) their customer service is absolutely horrendous!! I cannot emphasize that enough! They actually ‘lost’ my phone number in switching from one phone (broken) to a new phone. They LOST my number, after hours on the phone and told everyday that in ’24 hrs’ it will be fixed, and being told ‘well, the system is telling me that your phone is fine so it must be fine,’ they finally admitted that they lost my number. And the rep. had the very nonchalant attitude of oh, well, oops! Please, do not be sucked in and mislead by them! There are too many other inexpensive plans on the market!

    Posted on August 16th, 2010 at 1:01 pm
  14. Jeff Says

    Trina Says: “Please, do not be sucked in and mislead by them! There are too many other inexpensive plans on the market”!

    Well don’t just say that they are bad and to buy other inexpensive plans, without giving some examples of other service providers.

    Thats the problem also complaining, but never offering a solution.

    Posted on November 14th, 2010 at 7:51 pm
  15. JeffersonG77 Says

    Hey everyone. I have a couple of questions maybe some of you can answer me pleasee. Ok so i’m thinking of switching to a prepaid plan or company but all i really seem to hear is StraightTalk, and to be honest all i have really heard is how good they are. Also i heard they have no contract and can offer unlimited service for just 45 bucks. Can anyone guide me towards if this is a good service?

    Posted on January 29th, 2011 at 12:43 pm
  16. Arietta K. Says

    I’ve spent hundreds of hours in research and still haven’t hit the “checkout” button on the Straight Talk dot com site!

    I’ve found that deciding to change from my contract plan is not quite as easy as just going into Wal-Mart or getting online and buying a new phone and moving on.

    If you get a Straight Talk phone with the letter C, it is a CDMA technology and uses Verizon towers. If it has a G after it, it is the GSM technology and uses AT&T towers. GSM can be used worldwide on other phones, CDMA cannot. But on Straight Talk you can’t easily use the phone internationally anyway.

    For my uses, in the West, Verizon works best so I want a phone with the letter C after the model number. For other people,especially in the East, AT&T might have better coverage so they would want a phone with the letter G. Look at their coverage maps to decide.

    Phone availability online and at a Wal-Mart store, is based on specific activation areas (not service areas because those are the same no matter what phone you have).

    For example, for L.A., 11 phones are offered online. For a town in Oklahoma, 8 phones are offered.

    The only complaints about Straight Talk that I have found in researching hundreds of sites are:

    1.) Some problems with activitation delays.Sometimes BIG problems with that.

    2.)Problems for people who buy cards monthly or load minutes manually, with phones being inactivated. I would have an automatic payment, to try to avoid that.

    3.) Some problems with unexplained phone service disconnection and subsequent loss of the former phone number. That would be a terrible thing for me!

    4.) Almost everyone complains about customer service being slow, hard to understand and not helpful. A few say they have not had too serious a problem. No one has said it was really easy!

    5.) Using the Internet and email is very slow on most phones. One site said the average download (aka, open up a web page) speed is less than 1mbps. My little netbook, on a network, is 70mbps and I think that is slow sometimes.)

    As a factoid: Straight Talk is owned by Trac Fone, which is owned by Movil America, which is owned by Carlos Slim, of Mexico City who is the world’s richest man as of January 2011. ($53.5 billion dollars.)

    I still haven’t hit “checkout” on the Straight Phone site, but I’m getting closer…I think.

    Posted on February 6th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
  17. Kevin Teegarden Says

    why can wal-Mart haveing the economic muscle bring customer service to the USA , for a person that loves dealing with people an minimum wage at what is it now 7 bucks an hr an have a chance at being number one but wal-mart hasnet been known for its reliability…. Im keepin my Verizon postpay till i find someone cheaper thinking T- Mobile at moment

    Posted on May 23rd, 2011 at 1:08 am

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