What kind of Karma is this? I can’t even connect to the internet with it

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By Christopher Elliott

Linda Dutrow’s Karma hotspot can’t connect to the internet. The company won’t help her, so she turns to our advocacy team for help.

Question

I have a Karma Hotspot. When I tried to use it recently, a Karma representative told me the unit had been deactivated.

I have tried to get Karma to activate it, to no avail. I just get a form email saying they have sent it to their tech department. They have no telephone number listed, so it’s all been done by email.

There is money in the account, so no reason not to activate it. This is very frustrating. Can you help? — Linda Dutrow, Downers Grove, Ill.

Answer

Talk about bad karma! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!). You had a Karma hotspot, you should have been able to use it — and yet you couldn’t.

Before we continue, let’s define our terms. The Karma is a “free” hotspot (the company’s words) that can “be easily carried to demos, meetings, class, study groups, and wherever else you want.” The company has a sense of humor, which I like. Among the benefits: “New Karma Smell.”

You weren’t getting any new karma smell out of your unit. And when the company started to bounce you between departments, the karma turned a little negative. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problem.)

Don’t turn off your Karma hotspot for too long

Karma offers step-by-step instructions for activating your unit on its site. But those directions don’t address a unit that’s been dormant for more than a year. (Related: My T-Mobile plan is eligible for an upgrade. No, wait — it’s not.)

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As it turns out, turning off the Karma hotspot for an extended period of time may mean the Karma can’t connect to the internet. In fact, the company said as much in one of the many emails it sent you:

My sincere apology for the huge inconvenience here. Currently we are facing technical issues for re-activating the devices [that] have been deactivated due to non-usage. Our engineering team is working on it and once it gets activated, you are all set. We regret the inconvenience.

When our advocacy team contacted Karma, it explained that a year is just too long. Numerous updates need to be installed in your hotspot. Karma can’t make the updates remotely, so it needs you to send your unit back. Otherwise, your Karma can’t connect to the internet.

If Karma had offered you this option first, I think we could have avoided all of this unpleasantness. But it sent your case into a vortex of engineering department nonresponses, and that’s frustrating.

You have your Karma back!

After a little back and forth, Karma repaired your hotspot and sent it back to you in perfect working order. Problem solved! But it’s an important lesson about technology, too. Gadgets become obsolete quickly. A year is half an eternity in technology terms. Next time, don’t wait that long to use your device — and if you do, brace yourself for another runaround.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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