Make XS '1 minute, 1 text, 1 MB'

Yesterday (my third day of Ting service) I received a text message saying "What's up" from a number I'd never heard of.

This one text put me in the S bracket. Because numbers are recycled, you end up getting random people who don't realize their friend changed phone numbers.

Ting currently provides 1MB of data per month for Android housekeeping. If you just made XS '1 minute, 1 text, 1 MB', that would go a long way towards solving this kind of problem. Telling someone on the phone 'wrong number' takes 1 minute as well. It also sounds a bit catchy.

Thanks and have a good day,

James

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25 comments
  • I suggest contacting Customer Service - they'll probably remove the charge for that text message, as they did for me.
    (I didn't know that "Ting currently provides 1MB of data per month for Android housekeeping" - good to know.)

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  • Hi James,

    I can understand the frustration of one call putting you into the bigger bucket. 

    We probably won't do this though for a few reasons:

    1. If you want NO usage, in a month you are probably better off turning off data and/or messaging on all your devices (through the Your Account section of our site).

    2. As soon as we say you can have one free text message, someone will get two spam messages and say "can we have just one more free one?" and so on.

    Hope that clarifies even though it's not exactly the answer you were looking for.

    Cheers,

    Ken. 

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  • This is the same problem I have had on occasion. I have to leave text receiving enabled as it is used by the emergency notifications from work. Most months though there aren't any notifications but I do get a couple of spam texts. I understand why you don't want to have a free tier with actual usage, but maybe you could create an XXS tier to cover that kind of usage. Maybe have it include 10 of each usage type.

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  • This isn't something I can forsee being solved by adjusting the buckets. For data it makes sense as there is a somewhat predictable amount of data that is being used for the maintenance of the connection, usage of OS services, etc. For calls it is simple, there is no excuse for ever needing to have a free minute (unless Ting is going to compensate us for dropped calls?), as you simply don't answer the call if you don't know the caller. Text is the trickiest as they can be sent in an automated way and Sprint maintains an open gateway which leaves us vulnerable to fraudulent messages. The only suggestion or request I may have there would simply be a special form for reporting abusive texts, which could serve first as an appeal of charges for fraudulent texts (which maybe at the end of the billing cycle could be checked against usage to determine the appropriate bucket?) and then second for establishing a database which could eventually be utilized as a filtering mechanism for fraudulent messages. 

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  • Ken,

    "1. If you want NO usage, in a month you are probably better off turning off data and/or messaging on all your devices (through the Your Account section of our site)."

    that line makes Ting sound like every major carrier. There are months when I may have no reason to use text at all, but yet get a SPAM message, but other months when someone may need to text me on my cell phone, or I may need to text out, such as in the event that there is a 3G and/or Internet connection outage. It is a pain to have to deal with things like that when the service is supposed to be available when I need it. Luckily I have not had to deal with that issue personally because I brought my own number to Ting. A friend of mine was not so lucky, he used a Ting supplied number and has to deal with the occasional errant text in his inbox. As a result he has disabled all incoming text services. This configuration is not ideal, but seems to be the only way he can get away from wasting $3 every month either by someone that doesn't know their friend's phone number or a stray message from Sprint's email system. 

    We need a solution to this problem, but I don't think it will be found in changing bucket sizes or anything like that. Some carriers use an online form to report messages like that and then credit based on that form (with a certain amount of weighting and oversight for misuse, etc). In the Ting universe I could see that working by the billing system checking for reports from a specific account before determining texting bucket, and then if it actually matters for billing purposes, generating a support ticket so that someone in support can take a look and make a determination about what should be done.

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  • Hmm.

     

    It could be done like the 10MB the first month for Android setup, as opposed to the 1MB for Android maintenance.

    Namely, drop the first inbound text (outbound are clearly intentional) the first month. Possibly similar on voice?

    Really I'd think you would only get messages from people you don't know the first month, if the previous number owner didn't tell them he or she changed numbers.

    Nobody would order a new phone for one free minute and/or one free text, so abuse isn't a problem in that case.

    A support call scheme really wouldn't do, as the cost of one text/minute to Ting is probably less than the cost of paying support wages for their time. :)

     

    That said, I see what you mean about turning off texts. That's certainly how I was treating it -- I wasn't planning to send any and wasn't expecting any.

    Please consider having a program or unmetered mobile-compatible support website to turn them on/off from the phone itself then (if you haven't already) -- having to find a PC with Internet in the event one /did/ need texts works fine usually, but is a big problem when traveling. Should have sprung for the smart not the feature phone, now that I think about it. :)

     

    Have a good day

    James

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  • Interesting discussion. Thanks for the feedback folks. I like how I marked it "Not Planned" and you guys just barreled on. :)

    Let me look into this a bit and give it some more thought. I can't see us monitoring text numbers and putting processes in place to verify and credit people for those. Remember these are four for a penny at full volume, so not exactly a big profit center. :)

    But there might be something we can do. Let me percolate this.

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  • Thanks Ken. This is exactly why I love Ting. You guys are reasonable and I feel like customer feedback matters.

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  • My work around was to use google voice and disable texting on my line entirely.  It was best for me since I use data anyway and give out my GV number as my text and "cell" number which keeps my ported (to Ting) "main" land line number private.  Some folks don't have that set-up and I can certainly see myself feeling a bit annoyed about having to pay for spam were I in their place.

    Ken, I think that is what it amounts to; folks feeling like they are paying for spam.  I'm sure if the texting was intentional, even if only a few that month, there wouldn't be much complaint.  I'm glad your giving the situation more consideration.  I would think a small buffer of 5 texts would be enough; there is already a "maintenance" buffer on the data plan so it's not unprecedented.  

    You could call it the "spam buffer."  Hell you could even market that as a perk exclusive to Ting.

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  • Be simpler just to use 1. 1, you can't reply (you'd need 2), so you can't have even a short a conversation. 5 could be used intentionally :)

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  • I'm less concerned with people trying to cheat us out of 5 text messages than the slippery slope we start down by saying (or even implying) that we won't charge for unwanted messages.

    The feedback is great though. We'll percolate. That's a technical term. :)

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  • I have 3 daughters so 1 or even 1000 texts are not an issue on my account.  A solution might be to add a whitelist feature to the account.  For those who like to be notified of server outages or maybe only want to receive text from wife and kids could whitelist those numbers.  Block all inbound that are not on the whitelist.  I have no idea if Ting pays for the inbound text at the time it reaches Sprint or at the time it's transmitted to the phone or if what I am saying is even possible.

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  • Hi again Ken,

    I was thinking about this the past few days.

    There are some legitimate uses for 1 message as a plan that make XS being 1 worthwhile. Consider:

     

    What can you do with one minute of voice?

    Tell someone they've got the wrong number.

    Activate a credit card.

     

    What can you do with one minute of text?

    Get one text from someone you don't know.

    Register the mobile number with your bank for two-factor/reset.

    Get your password back from that bank after losing it.

     

    Some folks have small needs.

    In these cases they might otherwise look at $3 for 1 and opt out of doing it entirely.

    You'd make their lives better for a cost hardly above the noise floor.

     

    Also, if it's framed as the base level plan nobody'll come looking for charity.

    Folks are smart, they'll know what it's for.

     

    Have a good day,

    James

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  • I meant 'one text' not 'one minute of text'. Sorry about that.

    Registering a mobile is another example of texting that doesn't require a reply (2 texts).

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  • Spam text messages are one of the main reasons I sometimes rant here about the "cliff" function of Ting's buckets.

    I need to leave text on in case I want to use it or a family member wants to contact me. In reality, I'm not too popular with my family so I might send or receive (solicited) text messages one or two months out of the year. Unfortunately, most months I get ONE or TWO spam text message so end up paying the $3 - i.e., I waste about $30/year due to less than 20 spam text messages. For those keeping track, that's $1.50 or more per message that I don't even want!). If I were paying a reasonable price "per message" (come on, 10 cents a message is certainly doable for Ting for messages up to the first 10 or 20 messages), I wouldn't care as I would end up paying perhaps $2/year for spam - a $28/year saving - or just about one month of service on my account!

    Spam voice calls are not much of a problem for me -- I get a few, and usually don't answer them. But even if I do, it would almost never push me over a bucket cliff since, surprise, my primary use of the phone is as a voice communication device.

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  • Nobody should be paying anything for spam no matter how great the Ting business model is for most users.   I think a text buffer to absorb the text spam is something worth considering.  Are you going to have users that only send/received (less than 5) solicited messages per month or so?  Sure.  I don't think that is any great financial loss.

    My suggestion to ensure the spam is covered and eventually lessened:  Create a 5 text buffer (you could even limit it to incoming text only if possible) and encourage users to block known sources of spam.  I think there is a text code you can send to sprint to report text spam.

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  • @Sagi - good point about needing only to have flexibility on incoming text messages. actually, i suspect it is pretty rare that someone receives a FEW legit (non-spam) text messages and doesn't send any. 5 receives and 0 sends in a month is pretty likely all spam so abuse of this would be hard/rare.

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  • Has there been any productivity on the percolating?

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  • Heh.

    We move fast, but not THAT fast. :)

    Changing the plans is something we hope to do VERY rarely, so anything related to the plans requires LOTS of percolating. 

    I appreciate that people are eager though so we won't delay things unduly.

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  • Seriously folks, there are so many easy ways around this. I see no need for Ting to change. Block all text, and give people your Google Voice number, they're free.

    But like I just posted in a previous post, It's crazy that anyone charges for text. A text is about 160 bytes in size, so doing the math, if I were to translate that to megabytes, that's about 650,000 messages per 100 megabytes (I'm being conservative, and considering 140 characters for every text, realistically, it's more like 800,000).

    Ok, so to make it more in terms of the amount of texts we actually use... Let's assume you're a high volume texter, and send 7000 text this month. That's still under a megabyte.

    If you don't want to have to tell everyone to use your GV number, there are apps that let you use your number.

    Companies only charge for text because people are foolish enough to pay for them.

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  • Troy: What you say is true but only to a point. For example: Google Voice can't receive text messages from many services that use shortcodes to send. As such, my emergency alert system at work can't send to my Google Voice number. Therefore I need to keep texting enabled on the account.  As such, I will still get the spam texts that bump me into the S tier.

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  • Brian, what about all the other SMS over data apps? Like Whatsapp? Have you tried any of those? Also, GV does work with some short codes, but I have no idea what the criteria is.

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  • Google Voice doesn't support short code, MMS or SMS transit gateways using an email address.

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  • Robin, as I mentioned in my last post, there are a lot of texting apps. Whatsapp is crazy popular ( http://bit.ly/Pcyrfc ), well over a million reviews!

    Again, I have no idea about short code, but I have never had a need for it (nor MMS, but Whatsapp does support MMS)

    Like I say to my kids, "Don't tell me why you can't do it. Tell me how you're going to do it".

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  • Would really like to see at least 1 text in the XS bucket

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