Metered Service

This has already been mentioned in a forum thread, but I thought I'd make a feature request.  How about metered service instead of tiers?  Automatically switching tiers is the biggest advantage of Ting for me, and metered service would be even better.  It would fit with Ting's philosophy of being straightforward and fair with the customer.

You could offer both tiered and metered service so as not to upset existing customers.

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  • Hi Carl,

    Once you get past the XXL size you go to metered usage. That means that for most people with one or two phones on an account they are using our tiers and for high volume customers they get metered usage.

    Originally we intended to have ALL usage be metered but in talking to people, doing focus groups and consulting with behavioral psychologists (seriously) we realized that it put too much stress on people. If unlimited plans are high-priced, endless smorgasbords, we're an a la carte menu. Metered usage is "per forkful" pricing which made people TOO conscious of every mouthful.

    I know that some people would like and understand the value of metered pricing but for most people we talked to it made them so aware of the costs that they didn't enjoy communicating with others, which wasn't out intent.

    Cheers,

    Ken. 

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  • When one has 2 days left in their billing cycle and discover they have used 98 MB of data so double checking an address may cost them $10 -- that's stress! Knowing that every time one double checks an address, it costs them 20 cents, that's simple and blissful!

    I guess there were not enough people like me in the Focus Groups (perhaps because people like me won't waste our time volunteering or being paid a pittance to participate in a focus group).

    I like Ting overall, but the lack of metered pricing is one thing (the other being Sprint only data coverage) that sometimes makes me hesitate to recommend them.

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  • Another vote for simple metering.  It is the end of my billing cycle and I have a bunch of minutes that are basically use-it-or-lose-it.  It is dumb for me to call my family and tell them to talk it up the next few days.   Just give me a straight per minute/per message/per megabyte rate.

    Other than that, I am loving ting.  Four phones, twice the service, half the price!

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  • Thanks for the feedback. A pure utility model is interesting, and of course once you exceed our buckets we essentially become a pure utility. Our research showed that the current way we package our services resonated with more people. Having said that, there is no one size fits all approach, and I can understand that your preferences may be different. 

    Having your feedback does matter, and it does help guide us as we evolve our business.

    Thanks!

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  • Here is a way to think of the current plans in terms of metered service.  A reasonable assumption is that over time, your monthly usage would would be about uniformly distributed within each tier (not true for everyone).  So to get the metered rate, you should divide the midpoint of the tier by the cost.  On that basis, the metered rate for current plans would be as follows.

    Minutes:  

    6 cents per minute if using less than 100 minutes.

    3 cents per minute overall if using between 100 and 500 minutes.

    2.4 cents per minute overall if using between 500 and 1000 minutes.

    2.3 cents per minute overall if using between 1000 and 2000 minutes

    2.08 cents per minute overall if using between 2000 and 3000 minutes

    2 cents per minute for each minute beyond 3000

    Text messages:

    6 cents per message for the first 100

    0.9 cents per message overall if using between 100 and 1000 messages

    0.53 cents per message overall if using between 1000 and 2000 messages

    0.37 cents per message overall if using between 2000 and 4000 messages

    0.28 cents per message overall if using between 4000 and 6000 messaages

    0.25 cents per message for each message beyond 6000

    Megabytes:

    6 cents per mb for the first 100 mb

    3.7 cents per mb overall if using between 100 and 500 mb

    3.2 cents per mb overall if using between 500 and 1000 mb

    2.8 cents per mb overall if using between 1000 and 2000 mb

    2.4 cents per mb overall if using between 2000 and 3000 mb

    2.25 cents per mb for each mb beyond 3000

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  • I wasn't sure about the tiers at first but now I like them.  Because it makes me think twice about casual usage, I tend to get more conservative as I near the next tier which better helps me manage my costs.  But, Ting's rates are very good so I don't worry about moving into the next tier when I really need to use my phone more in some months.  For most people, there are no lower cost plans than Ting regardless of whether they use tiers or metered rates.  You might disagree if you're one of those people for which terabyte downloads is a goal.  : )

     

    DC

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  • When describing our service, I often say something to the effect of "we never rip you off". Which sadly is innovative in the wireless space.

    There was a LOT of work put into developing our billing model, and it ended up being different from the original vision based on research.

    Most people want to not have to think / worry about usage, and metered plans by design make "average" users act differently because the meter is "running". The prevalence / popularity of "unlimited" plans confirm this, even though most people use FAR less than what they think, and if you are a big consumer you will often be kicked off "unlimited" service.

    Our "automagically" adjusting buckets provide a level of comfort to the average user that is important. 

    We appreciate your feedback, thanks for taking the time to write!

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  • I know this would be a pita from a billing perspective but I also feel the crunch of getting close to the limit with a few days left in your bucket and not wanting to use the service so you don't jump to the next level (because once you get past the small tier the price jumps pretty significantly).  I think the solution is to have more bucket levels so the price jumps aren't as big (some of the jumps are almost $20).  I know its easier from the ease of use in only have 6 tiers but if there were double the tiers you would get a more granular usage statistics and would be closer to the metered service but still keep your current model intact.  

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  • I think the solution to this problem, if it needs to be solved, is rollover and the abolishing the 10% grace allotment before going to the next bucket.

    You pay for what you use, the tiered pricing remains intact, and there is no waste.

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  • How would you implement rollover?

    I wouldn't mind seeing 1-2 tiers between S and M sizes for Voice and Data since the cost jumps there are so large (>2x).

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  • There's a discussion of sorts on Rollover here: http://help.ting.com/entries/21791541-rollover

    Basically the way I'm suggesting Rollover would work is to have a customer use all the minutes/messages/megabytes remaining in their bucket before having to buy a new bucket.

    Month 1 - Talk for 101 minutes, get charged for 500 minute bucket.  399 unused minutes remain.

    Month 2 - Talk for 101 minutes, use remaining minutes from previous bucket and pay nothing for minutes.  298 minutes remain.

    Month 3 - Talk for 299 minutes.  Remaining minutes on previous bucket exhausted.  1 minute remains to be paid for.  Pay for 100 minute bucket.  99 unused minutes remain.

    Month 4 - Talk for 200 minutes.  Remaining minutes on previous bucket exhausted, 101 minutes remain to be paid for.  Pay for 500 minute bucket.  399 minutes remain. (As in month 1)

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  • Dale,

    I believe that Scott is away on a well-deserved vacation.

    I would guess that your suggestion would be considered much more complex to explain to the customer that Ting's existing plan offerings. Ting views simplicity as one of the things that makes them different from the other cell phone providers.

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  • I don't think it's that complicated.  At least, it's no more complicated than buying eggs.  If you buy 12 eggs, you get to use 12 eggs before you have to buy more.  If you eat 6 eggs in a week, you expect there to be 6 eggs left for the next.  If you need 7 eggs the next week, you need to buy more eggs.  You'll have 11 eggs left out of your second dozen.

    Anyway, I'm not particularly concerned and I fully expect the 'idea' to be rejected.  Even if the folks at Ting think it's the coolest thing since sliced bread, the machinations of business don't let you do everything you want.

    What the proposition does do for me is give me something to say to people when they ask me questions like this.  The people I know with cell phones are already cost conscious and probe me when I mention Ting.  Most, if not all, are prepaid customers and 'what happens to my minutes?' is at the top of their question list, shortly followed by 'why?'.

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  • That sounds pretty reasonable to me.  Especially since every minute beyond the first 100 is approximately 1.8 cents a minute across the rest of the tiers and it would remove the reservation of limiting yourself when you approach usage close to pushing you to the next tier close the end of the billing period.

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