Those who receive a free smartphone can switch providers. Consumers have all sorts of reasons for wanting to make a Lifeline provider switch. It’s a fact that your current provider might be lacking when it comes to customer service or maybe you just want more text and talk minutes.
Reasons to Make the Switch
If you are in the Lifeline program and feel the need for better customer service or perhaps want a better phone, it can make good sense to change providers. Assist Wireless is the nation’s top choice for users who want high-quality, free Smartphones, reliable service, and networks that offer both text and talk.
It’s important for consumers to realize that, even though the Lifeline program is a federally funded U.S. government piece of legislation, when you choose to get your free phone and service from Assist Wireless or any other company, it is that company, not the federal government, that gives you your phone and the service package that goes with it.
The government simply reimburses your service provider for the expense of the device, service, and the text/talk minutes. That’s why it is vital to choose a provider with a proven track record of excellent customer service, like Assist Wireless.
How Does Someone Go About Changing Service Providers?
If your phone service is not as good as you want it to be, you are allowed to change to another Lifeline provider. You are not “locked in” to an annual contract, as is the case with some traditional phone company plans. If you are not satisfied with your current provider, there are two things you can do:
1. Contact the Federal Communications Commission and file a formal complaint. This process takes a long time, however, and has to go through several layers of bureaucracy before your complaint gets a response.
2. Choose to simply change providers and sign up with a new Lifeline provider. Of the two options, this one is the fastest and easiest for consumers. It’s important to remember that, if you want to change, there is no need to cancel your original service first.
What Is the Process?
The entire switching-over process is regulated by an organization called the Universal Service Administrative Company, also known by its initials, USAC. The organization’s website is a helpful resource for consumers. Its web address is www.usac.org. The USAC is in charge of administering the entire Lifeline telephone program. It also makes the rules that consumers must follow in order to change phone providers. As long as you follow the USAC rules, it’s simple to change to a new, better provider.
Here are the rules, along with some key points you need to know:
- When you make a switch, the USAC calls that process a “service transfer.”
- You have to already have been with one provider for two months, or 60 days, before you can opt for a new service provider.
- After you make the switch, it’s okay to change your mind again and request yet another provider. However, you can only change one time every 90 days.
- Call the phone service provider (the one you currently have) and inform it that you want to apply for “transfer of service.” The provider will know exactly what you mean.
- Your current provider will ask you to fill out a form that shows you are eligible for a free phone and free service. Along with the application, it will ask you to fill out a short form called a “request for change.” This form is the key piece of the puzzle. It lets the provider know that you are going to choose a new company to get your phone service from.
There are still a few more steps, but remember that your old, original phone provider will continue to give you service until the transfer is complete.
- Next, you’ll need to go online and log into the website of the NLAD, which stands for the National Lifeline Accountability Database. When you get to the website, click on the box labeled, “Transfer NLAD Benefit.” You’ll be asked to enter standard information about yourself for the purpose of identification. Then, you’ll need to click “transfer benefit.”
- You’ll be asked to confirm that you really do want to change phone providers. Answer, “yes.”
Contact the new phone service provider you want to switch to. The new provider will need several important pieces of data from you to verify identity and to smoothly process your new service application. At the very least, you will need to give your full legal name, physical address, date of birth, current telephone number, either written or verbal consent to change phone providers, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and a statement saying that only one person in your household has a Lifeline phone and phone plan.
You can search the Lifeline website to find information about all the providers that have been approved to take part in the program. Once you have decided on the new provider you want, contact that provider directly and be ready to give it all the information it will need.
The new provider might ask for proof that you are eligible to be in the Lifeline telephone program, so be certain to have all your documents ready and nearby when you call. After that, the new provider will process your application and get your new service started. It will also contact your old phone service company and inform it that it has begun your new service. This is the time when your old service will close your old account and stop service.
Be aware that it is a major violation of the Lifeline rules to have more than one service provider at any time. So be careful to follow the procedure for switching service when you decide that you want a new provider.
You can lose your eligibility in Lifeline if you break one of the rules. For example, if you don’t re-enroll by the annual deadline, you will be forced to start your original application all over again. That means having to prove financial eligibility to be in the Lifeline program.
You can be removed from Lifeline if you sign up with more than one service provider at a time. Whether someone does this to attempt to get multiple phones or not, it can get you kicked out of Lifeline.
Finally, it’s possible to lose your membership in Lifeline if your household has more than one Lifeline phone plan. This is probably the strictest rule of all and is well-enforced by the Lifeline administrators. The purpose of the federal law is to give phones to households that need them. The maximum number of Lifeline phones per household is one.