After several days of back-and-forth, a new player appeared on the Republic Wireless trouble ticket yesterday. First, in fact, I got a call from a "private number". I don't usually answer calls from private numbers, but I answered anyway. She wanted to confirm that I was, in fact, using the Moto E (I was) and said she believed they had identified a series of steps that would get their system to correctly recognize the phone I was using. Once those appeared, I followed the steps: basically, shut down the phone, pop out the sim card, then start it up without the sim card and do a VOIP reset. In fact, I think the VOIP reset failed. But after restarting the phone with the sim card, she confirmed that the phone's identity was registering correctly with their system, and they were able to provide me with the RMA label.
Now I just need to track the issue until they actually receive the phone and credit me.
Thanks, Janelle, for sorting the issue out. I guess I should have just said shibboleet to start with.
The experience did give me the opportunity to investigate phone plans quite a bit: One conclusion is that Republic Wireless still offers a distinctive service that matches my needs better than most other providers. I don't need lots of data: almost never more than 1GB -- maybe never. Most of the plans focus on "unlimited data". The only plan I liked better was by Tello which offers a Smart Plan: $25/month for 3GB. That's actually closer to what I want. Republic Wireless used to offer a $25 that gave you up to 5GB, but wanted your average use to stay low. That was PERFECT. But you can't get it anymore. I almost never use more than 1GB, but sometimes I get close and then I stress about whether I need to buy another GB. I hate that. A colleague put in a recommendation for Creedo which received recognition by the EFF as the only mobile wireless carrier to have your back on government data requests.
One other observation was that nearly every plan now "throttles" your connection if you go over their limit. This is a new innovation borne of the death of net neutrality. Philip shared an interesting article about Verizon throttling a Fire Department which interfered with emergency services. Thanks, Republicans.