5% allowance

i just called support and was told that the 5% allowance is for the tier that you come from and not the one that your moving to...   that seems kinda messed up to me. i only went over by a small amount 16 texts from s to m. and was charged for 884 texts i didnt use. granted its only 2 dollars but still if it was x to xxl it could add up to a big jump. perhaps you should check into this. by my quick calculation, i went over by 1.7% of the next tier not 5%. i just think it could really upset some customers to see what seems like a bait and switch in your billing.

 

matt richards

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Comments

18 comments
  • Hi Matt,

    I think this is a two part answer:

    Part #1: Our plans are designed around usage ranges. If you're in a particular range, there's a price associated with it. If you think that it in order to get value from your Ting plan you have to use every single text message within the range you're in, you'll spend forever and a day fretting about your usage.

    One of the reasons we don't have penalties or surcharges for exceeding your plan is because we don't want our customers to fret about their usage!

    Part #2: When a customer's usage put themselves into a higher plan (or 'range', or 'bucket'), it was a bit frustrating for customers... especially if they went over by 1 text message. The 5% grace is really just us making sure that a customer really is in the next plan before putting them there.

    It's best to think about your plan as the really big country breakfast special at your favorite diner. Two pancakes, three eggs, a big piece of ham, toast, coffee, hash browns, and sausages. You don't have to eat it all in order to have a satisfying breakfast, and you won't be charged less if you aren't able to finish.

    I hope this sheds a little bit of light on the grace period. We really do appreciate having you as a customer and for your suggestions.

    -Ben

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  • i see your points Ben. i completely agree that its a great thing. i was more stating that the 5% should be clearly stated somewhere in the billing. example: if your usage is 105 messages or under, you will be billed for the S messaging plan for $3. if your usage is 106 to (enter top of next 5% for M) you will be billed for the M messaging plan at $5. and so on. i suppose my complaint is with the lack of conveyed information of the 5% grace benefit. yes, i misunderstood it, but why? lack of info. just another thought if you asked customers i bet most would be in the same boat i was, not fully understanding how it worked. it is a great benefit, and it would be good for you guys to put it out there more as such. anyhow thanks for the reply.

     

    happy Ting customer,

    matt

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  • Matthew:

    This may be what your looking for https://ting.com/plans

    Plans describe the tier at 100 messages. Over that puts you in the next tier.

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  • Yeah, sometimes the grace period works out oddly for us; we originally didn't plan on talking about it. We implemented the 5% grace as something that we hoped would just pleasantly surprised customers. We figured some customers would notice, and others wouldn't. Those who did we figured would think "hey, these Ting guys are really nice for doing that!" 

    Since offering it, we've had some odd behaviours from customers and they started thinking about it in a way that lost the intent of our original gesture.

    For example, a customer was unhappy that he went over his plan (*including* the 5%) grace by one message. Turns out that he just flat out started adding 5% to whatever plan he was in and then was bummed when he exceeded his new 'imaginary bucket'.

    Anyhoo... your points are well taken... and our goal is never to confuse, which is why we'll consider adding more clarity around the 5% grace.

    Thanks Matt,

    -Ben 

     

    PS: glad to hear you're happy! Write us anytime. :)

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  • About the "odd behaviors", I KNEW that was going to happen with some people.  They will be mad as soon as they are over their plan no matter what it is, and if they have access to more, they'll take that for granted and still be mad when they go over it.  I think you're totally right for not advertising the 5% grace and letting it be a pleasant surprise situation.  It does more to build goodwill that way.  If people are a bit more conditioned to think of the advertised numbers of the buckets, then it keeps the grace factor as a nice extra psychologically instead of the abrupt transition from "I deserve all of this" to "That's not fair".

     

    I hadn't really thought about the confusion aspect of whether to take that number as "+5% of the smaller" or "up to 5% of the bigger".  I saw it explained directly by a Ting staffer in the forums, so it was clear when I first heard about it.  Also, I just think the concept makes more sense as allowing someone to go a little over the plan they paid for without penalty, rather than "We'll let you start using part of this new bigger plan you haven't paid for."  Actually expressing those two modes of thinking in words I think makes it fairly common sense which bucket it refers to.

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  • Just to expand on what Ben said, we had a lot of internal discussion around the 5% grace concept. 

    The Small Minutes bucket goes from 1 minute to 100 minutes. We realized that some people would be really bummed out if they went a minute or two over that bucket so we decided to have an "Easter Egg" where if you were a few minutes over we'd say, "hey, no sweat, don't worry about it" and not charge you.

    The fear was that people would start taking that for granted and therefore we'd just shift the problem down the road by 5%.

    And that's exactly what's (starting) to happen. :)

    Once we acknowledged publicly that we did this, people came to EXPECT it. In effect that means that for those people the bucket is from 1 minute to 105 minutes. And now people might be bummed out if they are a minute or two over THAT amount.

    You see the problem here.

    As long as we have buckets (and we have no plans of changing that) there has to be a point where we switch from one bucket to another. 

    While we can't unknow things I'd encourage people to think of the buckets as being the published ranges and any "grace" as being a nice added bonus.

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  • fellow ting customers;

    i do understand the plans here at ting. i NOW understand the grace allowance. my original issue was, i had my first child monday the 7th. this caused a spike in my usage. my bill is calculated on the 8th. i tried to keep some of my usage (texts) down cause im usually close to the 100 mark anyway. i went over by 16. i thought at first im cool cause i get 5% grace of 1000 texts from the M text plan. i was wrong. its the plan that your exceeding that the 5% is calculated from. so what i thought would be a 20 message grace, was really a 5 message grace. thus putting me into the M text plan. i never plan on using the 5% as part of my allotted usage, and recommend you dont either. as ben and ken have said its for that one or two (enter usage type here) that would put you over to the next plan.

    i see now that reading my first post, i come off wrong. i never meant to sound ungrateful. lost sleep and crying baby can cause your mind not to think things through fully before acting on them. 

    maybe ill do the calculations and post somewhere what all the 5% levels are. but i think that most would as stated before then begin to count on that as part of their usage. so ill probably just keep those calculations to myself. it is simple math afterall, once you have the right numbers to work with, as i do now.

    matthew

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  • *50 message grace from M plan*

     

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  • Congratulations Matthew! 

    Not exactly sure why you're apologizing but when it DOES come to apologizing, newborns are a great excuse. :)

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  • If people are concerned about their limits why not set an alert for 5 or 10% under their expected usage. That way as you get close you will at least be warned. For single user accounts it is possible to disable a service when it hits a limit say when there is a bigger bucket leap. That unfortunately doesn't work at the account level which could be helpful to those who really need to budget their use. 

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  • Maybe a way to prevent grace allowances from becoming de-facto tiers would be to have allowances that apply a few times, but if someone is constantly hitting the allowance, eventually stop giving it to them. IE: maybe I am always in the middle of a certain bucket every month, but one month I hit the 5% allowance (or maybe even 5%+1 text). Give me the break that month. But, if I hit it every single month, then eventually say "hey, you're just constantly in this bucket, we have to start charging you for it" (I'm sure your marketing geniuses would come up with better wording) and stop giving the allowance. 

     

    Basically a rule "you get X grace periods in a rolling Y timeframe". Don't publish it, and just let them be a friendly surprise again

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  • @Zarthan We allow customers to set their own alerts both at the account level and at the device level. A drop down menu is available which defaults to "My Account," however, active phone numbers may also be selected for a more specific approach.

    @Joseph, we don't publish it. We feel it's a nice surprise as well.

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  • I'd like to point out one really obnoxious aspect of the buckets and 5% grace being calculated on the bucket you are leaving: the XS bucket has no grace. This means if on the very last day of the month you receive one text message, you pay $3 for that text message. Sure, I've now turned off text messaging... but a similar thing happens with calls too.

    Even worse I've now twice in a row gotten a call near the end of the month and accidentally slid the answer slider the wrong way to answer the call instead of reject it, hit hang up right away, and then gotten billed $3 for essentially 1.5 seconds of useless call. 

    Making the XS bucket = 0-5 minutes would go a long way towards not making your customers who use their phone mainly for data feel like they're getting charged $3 for fumbling with their phone during an incoming call.

     

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  • I think people have a tendency to get hung up on this too much.  The way Ting is set up, it's going to attract responsible budget-minded users who are going to watch their usage closely and I guess it's bound to happen.  I get the "if only I had used one less minute" feeling when I go just over a limit, but I just remind myself of how much I'm saving each month with this system.

    Ting could increase the base fee per device to say $12 and offer the S tier for minutes and messages for "free".  If they still get complaints, they could slide that up to $25 per device per month and offer the M tier for "free".  Take this to it's logical conclusion and you will be paying $80 per line for a "free" 500 minutes, 2000 messages, and 2GB of data.  Oh wait, now we are no longer paying as you go. I used to be with Verizon and was in their 2GB, unlimited texting, 500 minute "bucket" for $80 per month.  If I only sent 1 text per month and used 50 MB of data I was "wasting" way more than $3.

    Ting could go the other route and offer per minute, per message, per byte pricing too.  The reason for not doing this was answered here: https://ting.com/blog/ask-an-exec-episode-2-with-elliot-noss-why-it-sucks-to-pay-per-bite-byte/  They want to offer a service that is a compromise between feeling like you're burning money each time you text or call someone and not being way over sold on usage you don't need.  They are also a company and need to make some money to feed their families.

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  • I'm late to the discussion but wanted to add my opinion. Don't change a thing! I love the published buckets with the 5% grace. I honestly think it's the best possible solution. Of course there will always be people who just add the 5% in there head and are mad when they go over, but that's just the way it is. Someone is always going to be unhappy, but I think the 5% grace over the published rates is the perfect sweet spot.

    And I love it despite the fact I just missed the 5% grace on my data this month (9% over) :)

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  • Never too late, Toby! It all adds to the discussion and we really appreciate your opinion on this. 

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  • I just noticed this and thought it was interesting.  Wasn't sure why I had 102 messages and still the Small tier.

    I had actually ruminated on this problem a bit and came up with interesting solutions.  As Ben said, just moving the goal post creates odd behaviors as people recognize the hard-limit and start reacting to it.

    One thought was a half-rollover monthly:  you would carry over 50% of your remaining usage into the next month only.  For example:  If you used 200 minutes, you'd get billed Medium, and roll 150 minutes over.  In the next month, if you used 200 minutes, you'd get billed fol 200 - 150, 50 minutes and Small.

    This is automatically hard to abuse, because the more you use, the less a chance you have to carry over anything useful.  For example:  if you use 300 minutes, you're only going to carry over 100 minutes; you can knock yourself down to the Small tier the following month by using only a maximum of 200 minutes, and then the following month you have no carry over (you get knocked down a tier, you're technically over usage, thus 0 carry-over).

    This sort of scheme is complex.  It has the following interesting attributes over an allowance:

    • It addresses in-between usage patterns by an in-between pricing tier;
    • It responds to overusage by giving the customer a chance to reduce usage and claim a deduction, rather than cutting off hard into the next tier the moment you overstep.

    While this is all interesting in terms of accounting, marketing, and some sense of fairness (which is a factually-meaningless term, but one we like to use to describe things that lean in someone's favor somewhere), we all know the rules, and it's on us if we cross those lines.

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  • Thank you John, that was well thought out pricing structure and roll over proposal
    Our motto is "mobile makes sense" and that has to resonate to all areas of the business especially pricing. Mobile pricing is a funny thing. The incumbents have been beating each other up for years with all kinds of marketing plans and promotions. It's a spaghetti minefield of plans and grandfather plans and retention plans.....

    Our pricing hopes to achieve a harmony between simplicity (can your grandmother understand in 30 seconds?) versus savings (is your grandmother actually saving money?).  We're greedy, we want both. Grandma should be able to easily understand her bill at the end of the month and enjoy the spoils of her savings.

    We also want to be upfront about our costs without  any fluff or backdoor schemes to recoup costs.

    I can't say we won't ever adopt a rollover solution in the future, but it would take considerable amount of thought to change our current stance. 

    Thanks for the suggestion! Love hearing stuff like this

     

     

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