Why I'm considering leaving Ting...

First, let me say that this is not Ting's fault... but want to get the community's feedback on my position/considerations...

So I signed up for Ting in September, bought a G3 (and a feature phone for my parents), and was off to the races.

I checked my account online regularly, and set up alerts to inform me when data or voice or messages went above certain thresholds... all fine and good.  Even installed tasker to keep the device from syncing over cellular data and only do it over WiFi.

Then in November, I saw that on one day I had data usage - which typically runs in the 6-8 Mb range - had a 300+Mb day... I racked my brain, but could not determine that I had done anything differently than usual... I called Ting and they were unable to help me with why the usage had been so high. I checked the data usage as measured by the device itself and it showed much lower usage and no apps which seemed to be the culprit.  Ting CS graciously credited me down a notch on the plans by giving me a $10 credit.  I figured, "OK, one little bump in the road... no problem."  

Then I noticed my behavior started changing... I waited until I got into wifi to check things like email and fb.  I didn't stream any videos or other things that I was concerned would 'eat' into my bucket of data.  Things I would not have worried about with an unlimited plan (even a throttled one).

And then this past weekend, I made a big boo-boo.  I accidentally uploaded 2.7Gb of photos to Picasa from my device... well, accidentally isn't the right word... but I didn't think about it right away... when I did a minute later, I tried to cancel the upload - obviously I failed.  To make matters worse, I think I actually uploaded 2x because it didn't seem to start the first time I tried.  

So now I am hit with a fairly substantial data bill this month.  And I find myself 'scared' to do things on my sexy new S3.  

So I'm weighing the longer-term pluses and minuses w/respect to staying with Ting.  On the one hand, my bill even this month is likely to be only on par with my previous unlimited plan.  And this is 'probably' a relatively rare occurrence with me.  On the other hand, I truly 'hate' the thought that one little button press (or 2 if i actually did it twice) cost me ~$60 in data charges. And it could happen again, i,e, if my 4 year old figures out my unlock code and spends an hour on YT or something like that.

I'll stress again... none of this is Ting's fault.  I bought into the idea of a 'measured rate' data plan, after all.  But for me, having to think about using the device before I actually use it, combined with the capability of a single action generating massive usage (something that's unlikely to happen with voice calls...) makes me question whether or not I should stay.  'Unlimited' is more powerful a word than I previously thought :).

So that's my story and my situation.  

Thanks,

Frank

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Comments

78 comments
  • It's amazing that you could upload 2.7GB on Sprints network.  Anyway you can only save money using Ting if you can control your usage.

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  • I'm not even a ting customer (yet...yay ETF promotion) but the solution is fairly obvious to me:  Define your upper threshold of pain (how much you're willing to spend on data) and set a "device cap" and alert in the dashboard to prevent usage beyond that threshold. 

    As far as it changing your phone habits....that's a personal decision.  Not sure how someone can help you with that.  Your money.  But technically speaking, there are ways to limit and prevent data usage that could save you a lot of money.

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  • There's a suggestion I have that I wonder why more people don't do.  Use a screen widget to turn your mobile data on and off, and keep it off most of the time.  This makes your mobile data usage a conscious thing that you have to decide to do, rather than the phone possibly running up data bills in the background that you would be worrying about.  Also, having the mobile data and/or wifi radios turned off when you don't need them would be a little bit of battery life savings.  I would also second the suggestion of alerts and cutoffs to let you know what's happening with it.

    However, I won't argue with the idea that for one single phone, if someone wants to be a heavy phone user, especially of mobile data, Ting maybe isn't the best pricing.  Once it gets into sharing multiple phones, though, Ting would beat most other providers.

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  • I hope you don't mind me jumping in. I think Frank does a great job articulating the comfort that unlimited brings as almost a distinct benefit from the financial outcome. I also think this is such a valid, important concern to overcome when evaluating Ting. I'll start with a weird, loosely analogous story:

    My wife and I were living in Manhattan with two kids and contemplating buying a car to get out of town on the weekends. We did some math including insurance, parking and maintenance costs and determined that we could rent a car almost every weekend for a year and still spend less than we would buying our own car. But we still worried (because we are like Frank) that if we made a car a variable cost rather than a fixed sunken cost, too often we would end up choosing to save the money and not enjoy the weekend away. We basically had to remind ourselves that our total costs were inevitably going to be better than what we were willing to pay and promise ourselves to never, ever pass on an opportunity to rent. We did and we did and, of course, we ended up saving quite a bit versus buying (because you really can't go away 52 weekends with two young kids).

    We have tons of evidence that indicates that just about everyone ends up saving money with Ting.

    Check out:

    https://ting.com/blog/validas-study-and-ting-savings/

    Indeed, there will be months where you upload a ton of photos or spend an unusual amount of time working from your car when you would have done better with your unlimited plan. But usage fluctuates greatly from month to month and it seems most people end up wasting more money with unlimited on the light months than they save on the heavy months.

    I truly believe the answer is to take the simplest precautions (get on Wifi when you can) and then enjoy your phone as you normally would. Over the course of a period like 12 months, I think Ting will pay out. (Meanwhile, you'll get to enjoy fascinating stories about car ownership in Manhattan.)

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  • As for Frank's situation, when I setup my account I put hard caps on my devices with alerts and thresholds to simply cutoff data usage. I haven't seen anything like what you have, and I've ensured that most services only use Wifi (play store has this option as well as Picasa Sync).

    I'm actually in quite the opposite scenario. I moved from my Sprint SERO plan to Ting. Unfortunately I'm stuck with a Sprint GS3 and a Ting doner phone (LTE BYOD PLZ). Because of this, I'm forced into only having 3G service on my device. Combine this with Ting's inability to roam on Verizon's network and you have a combination of horrible coverage in the Northern VA / DC area. So, I'm basically limited to using Wifi for any data intensive task. Not because I'm scared of going over some invisible cap I set on myself in order to keep my plan lower than my already low SERO plan, but because it's insanely unbearable to even try to do anything data intensive on a crippled 3G network. It's mostly bothersome when a friend asks me to look something up now and I can't because I know it's going to take a couple minutes just to ensure I have a decent 3G connection. 

    I'm not even worried about data usage. I was always one of the people touting the fact that I was grandfathered into unlimited usage, but after reviewing it, I rarely exceeded 500-600MB per month. So I'm well within my own boundaries, if only I could actually use it.

    This was supposed to be an upgrade for me, but now I'm seriously looking at moving again. Sadly I love Ting and the way they operate. But for my area and device (limited to 3G coverage and even if LTE BYOD was available DC doesn't yet have LTE - this simply isn't panning out so well.

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  • We just have data turned off on the dashboard. Virtually all the time when we need data, we can use wifi. If we really need the data on ( I will when I eventually get my phone - I'll use it for square either directly or as a hotspot for my iPad, which will be cheaper than activating 3G on my ipad), I can turn it on. We can easily live without data for short stretches, like we did in the past.

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  • I understand the fears of the original poster.  I will only say that my usage is variable, thus my bills are variable.  And in the long haul, I save money with Ting.  But yeah, every couple of months or so, I get a stinger of a bill.

     

    But then getting a approx 20-30 bill is pretty sweet, too.  (And yeah, I often wait for wifi at home to do data heavy things, and I make all personal calls on my landline at work--my employer doesn't mind.)

     

    I think if you are willing to be conscious of your usage, then Ting is the way to go.  But I understand that's not everyone's choice.

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  • Jeremy's comment is spot on.  One of the nice features about Android 4.0 (ICS) is the ability to set a warning and hard limit on your monthly data usage, as restrict background data usage for individual apps.  Such features are perfect for a carrier like Ting, and I plan to fully utilize them when I switch over next month.

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  • When I started on Ting I was very careful about my data usage because I was trying to keep costs as low as possible.  I set up alerts and did as much over wifi as possible.  I would get stressed out when I jumped up to another data level.  After a few months of this, I decided to focus on the fact that I was still only paying half of what I was paying on Sprint.  When I keep that in mind, rather than worrying about whether I'm going to pay an extra $10/month for data this month, I feel much happier.

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  • All of the encouragement to use the tools in the dashboard I strongly DITTO..   That is the way to manage your a-la-carte service..  I have shared this service with many others, and the most difficult part to overcome for them is always the tuning of the system..  Sometimes they experienced the same thing as Frank, and were taken back, but as Michael suggests, it is only that month of "trouble" and that can be dealt with for future "mistakes".  Overall, the savings with Ting are way bigger than convenience can replace.  

     

    To echo Tim's point about poor coverage..  I too struggle with that issue. however, I knew it coming into Ting and made the decision to tolerate it, albeit with the hopes that Sprint would provide more coverage in the future..  those hopes remain...   Overall I am VERY satisfied with Ting and the coverage when we travel..   I would suggest to anyone without good coverage at home or office to grab the Sprint Airave that is offered in the devices menu to get excellent signal by utilizing your current internet connection..  It has been excellent for our home office....

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  • I switched from Virgin Mobile to Ting because of the selection of phones and the customer service/ approach ting offers,  but I did have to sacrifice my unlimited data and texting. While ting isnt very much more expensive it is more than my grandfathered $25 a month virgin mobile plan.  I monitor my data usage constantly now so that my plan is comparable to virgin mobile's current plan as far as price.  I dont monitor my texting or minutes but i make sure my data is <100MB and even though im almost always on wifi i still find myself getting very close or over this limit some months.  My goal is to make my bill around $35 each month which is comparable to what virgin mobile plans are currently.  While im sure compared to the major companies Ting is almost always cheaper, I'm afraid this hasn't been my case.  I love ting and the 100MB price differential is my only gripe, but as virgin mobile and companies like it are responding to their lack phone selection I find myself weighing options again.  I want to stay with ting and i will for some time until my phone becomes displaced by newer ones, but that has been my main concern since joining.

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  • I think we have to remember that Ting isn't for every user.  My parents switched to Ting in December on my advice and they only pay $21 plus fees for two phones.  My usage (cell is my only phone which I use for work and I'm on the road at times) and what I pay for what I get doesn't make Ting as attractive.  I am on T-mobile Value and pay $70 a month all in for unlimited everything (and can tether since I use a Nexus 4).  

    I can say from personal experience that a phone with a faster data connection WILL use more date (I could get away with a 2GB plan when I used an HSPA+ 21mbps phone but with the Nexus 4 which accesses HSPA+ 42mbps I hit that cap before my billing cycle ended). It will be interesting to see what happens when Sprint LTE becomes more prevalent and BYOSD of LTE devices goes live in turn having more Ting customers using LTE.

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  • Similar to Michael's car story, we got fed up with paying the cable company for 100s of channels that we never watched.  We switched to Hulu Plus for $8/month instead of cable which was running almost $100 a month.  There are a few shows that we miss but found others that we liked.  The same thing happened with Verizon.  Even though I was grandfathered into their unlimited plan I just couldn't keep paying the $240/month for family plan.  With Ting we only pay $50/month and haven't changed out usage habits very much.  Granted, we're not heavy data users so it works out great for us.  There's always a trade-off.  Even if I had money to burn I don't think I'd switch back to cable or Verizon since I just don't like the way they do business.

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  • Frank, you say that you had set limits on data usage. Were they too high? Did you ignore the error messages?

    "But for me, having to think about using the device before I actually use it .... makes me question whether or not I should stay." Good grief! I hope you're more responsible with your car!!!

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  • What's wrong with thinking before you check email and all that other non-urgent, um ,stuff? Honestly,. I'm astonished at the amount of useless "information" and "entertainment" available! That said, my husband and I are just about always on wifi so our bill under $50 per month (way better than the $140 or so that we were paying), and I see how it could get expensive.

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  • I recently became a member of the Ting family for reasons very similar to Michael's and Steve's stories.  I picked up a EVO 4G off craigslist for $75, hit BYOD and here I am.  I retained my existing account with my current carrier for my iPhone 4s while I test out Ting's capabilities in my area.  So far I have to say that I am 99% certain that I will be ordering an LTE phone from Ting and porting my number.  (Hopefully Sprint will finish the LTE upgrade in my area soon!)

    I did a review of my usage over the last 6 months and while I am grandfathered into an unlimited data plan I found that I rarely if ever went over 1GB.  Prior to 6 months ago I rarely went over 500MB.  I rarely if ever talk on my phone.  I do, however, run through 2000 txts a month.

    Anyway, based on the analysis of my usage I figure on my worse month I will still save $35.  On average I should be able to save roughly $55!

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  • I had something similar happen last weekend too. I started uploading a batch of 85 photos that I had taken earlier in the day at church when I was a home with Wifi. Later on, I picked up my phone and left the house to go to a show. On the way to the show, I checked my phone and realized that Picasa was still uploading.  I couldn't get the Picasa Uploader to pause/stop, so I put the phone on Airplane mode and left it that way till I got back home.

    Do you have Alerts set up? This is how I realized what I was doing with the upload.

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  • Think about the benefits that aren't directly phone related. I have noticed that ever since I switched to ting, I stay off my phone in social settings (restaurants, stores, the park or beach, etc). While waiting for something (our meal or movie to start), I used to have a bad habit of looking at my phone. I no longer do that. My fiance and I actually talk to one another.

    So what started as just a way to save money, has actually turned into a way to break some really bad habits.

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  • I don't mind limiting my data but issues like this are exactly why I rooted my phone, so I could install DroidWall. This app has saved my butt several times now, when I forget I'm on data and try to use a data-heavy app, but since DroidWall is blocking the app from accessing the internet, nothing happens and typically a moment or two later I realize why it's not working and am grateful I had DroidWall to prevent me from accidentally racking up a ton of data charges!

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  • All,

    Thanks for all the kind (and constructive) comments.  I do have alerts (not caps) on my Ting account.  But I have set up now device limits which, while they may not mirror network usage, will be close enough.  This should keep me in check so another omigod-i-just-used-3Gb-of-data doesn't happen.  

    Will stick with it using Michael's rationale and some stricter monitoring of data usage from my device.  

    Again, thanks to all.

    Frank

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  • Frank

    You should also check your apps settings pages. Many or most have a setting for "only on WIFI. I don't use Picasa so I can't speak to that app specifically but I suspect that Picasa would be one of those apps with that setting.

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  • Not too long ago, I wrote an article "Why Ting? The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome" which you can find here:  http://ltrevisan.tumblr.com/post/37795803730/why-ting-the-good-the-bad-and-the-awesome. But if you don't want to sit and read that long thing, the general premise is that Ting is great for those of us who only rarely use even half of the data throttle amount in the unlimited plans. Otherwise, Ting is hit and miss depending on how many users and what kind of usage you are looking at.

    It's really trying to shed the mindset that you CAN'T push yourself into the next bucket. Or that it's a catastrophic event if you do end up going into the next bucket.

    In Frank's case, where he normally uses no more than 6-8 MB means that he's a very light data user to begin with or has access to wifi. Uploading 2.7GB of photos on Picasa is a rather silly use case. Especially since Picasa has an option to upload over wifi only: problem solved. Same with other high data apps that are in regular use such as Play Store.

    And in the other case with the random 300+ MB that had no obvious cause, Ting actually sat there and helped you with your issue - even reimbursed the $10 (*gasp*) that you had to pay for the next bucket. Whereas unlimited you wouldn't have to worry about those random spikes, is it really worth the $10 one month to the ghastly amount just to have ease of mind? $10 is about the cost of a movie ticket here. Also, $10 data credit means you jumped from 100MB (S) to 500MB (M) - I think that's relatively minor cost considering; not many stay under 100MB unless they have access to wifi 90% of the time. 

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  • I use the settings method to turn my mobile data off frequently. But it's kind of a slow process. Rocky mentioned a screen widget for turning it on & off. Can someone tell me where to find that please? I'd be very grateful for the shortcut! Thanks.

    Rochelle

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  • Rochelle - on most Android phones, if you long-press on one of your home screens a window will pop up with a few options. One of which is to "Add Widgets" - search for the "Power Control" widget which has 5 buttons to control wifi, data, airplane mode, bluetooth, etc. The newer phones have options to only put a single button for each that you'll have to look for.

    Hope that helps!

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  • FYI: I do not have Picasa loaded on my phone. I use the "share" option in the photo Gallery to perform manual uploads on some photos from time to time. 

    Maybe Frank D. is in the same boat?

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  • Laura, thanks for the quick response.  I have the one you mention, but it doesn't mention data.... only wi-fi, bluetooth, gps, sync, brightness, screen timeout, tips & settings.  Also have on the dasboard one that has wi-fi, bluetooth gps, siltent mode & 4G. But again, not data specifically. I have a Galaxy II.

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  • Rochelle - Data Enablr might do what you want:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.farproc.data.enabler&hl=en

    I believe with your SII if you just hold down your power button (as if to turn off), there is an option to turn off data. But don't quote me on that one!

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  • Laura, thanks so much! The power button option isn't there. But I just looked at the Data Enabler you linked to & it looks like what I need. I appreciate your help.

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  • The simple fact is "Ting isn't for everyone"

    That said, if you are worried about going over on something, your dashboard has the tools to notify you and if you wish, shut off said service.  

    Personally I spend most of my time around a secure wifi network, and so my phone is set to be connected to it, following a month where I had around 3-6mb per day being used I also added an app to keep my wifi alive, figuring that the phone was going to sleep and shutting it off and then notifications were being sent over my data.

    I am also running widgetsoid, which gives me options on my pull down menu to turn on/off  wifi, bluetooth, gps, data e.t.c...

    If you have a phone running android 4.x you can also install an app that will compress your data for you, sadly I do not have one of these as it is beyond my budget, perhaps ting will add some phones running ICS/JB in a lower price bracket at some point... *nudge nudge*

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  • what the problem really comes down to is that the price per gb is just too high. sure you can say well im always at home or in the office with wifi and im sharing with someone so i really only need a few 100 mbs to tide me over.

    But in reality unlike the price per min or price per text which is on par or less than most other carriers, when it comes to it data on ting isnt really a bargin (unless you want a smartphone without a data plan (which most carriers wont allow). because thats really what were talking about here minimizing the CELLULAR data use on our phones.

    Dont get me wrong i love ting for feature phones, i think the model is great and works well for businesses but when it comes to data i have found that for both business and personal im better off elsewhere.

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