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
  • Matt; perhaps I'm being dense.  How does a faster data connection result in more data being consumed than if you were consuming the same data at a lower speed?  If it consumes roughly 10mb to interact with web site X or web app Y; how does doing so at 4GLTE vs 3G change the 10mb interaction?

    Frank:  Good luck, like others have said.  I would determine how much data you're willing to consume (and therefore pay) per month and set your phone to that limit.  I do all of my "heavy data lifting" on wireless.

     

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  • I've found that it takes a little initial tuning to set up safeguards to prevent data over-use, but once I got going it has been super easy.  I'll second what others have said about changing the settings in each app to only sync on wifi.  I think that for 99% of users, there isn't a "need" to be connected all of the time.  I haven't even gotten close to 100MB yet on my plan.  Onavo Count is another good app that tracks usage and can help restrict apps to wifi.  Tasker is absolutely the best if you know how to use it.

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  • @Sagi it's because when you have a faster connection you rethink what you want to do via that connection.  You may not want to upload that photo on 3G EVDO because it's painfully slow but when you can do it over say LTE as fast if not faster than on WiFi the choice changes.  Also doesn't hurt that with GSM 3G you can talk/text and use data simultaneously.

    Example when I'm at a place that has WiFi and need to do some work via my laptop I'm now more apt to use my tethered phone because many times it's faster and more private.

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  • I understand that fear. I think here is something Ting could do to help mitigate the fear. My local utility company offer a budget billing plan. They estimate your usage and charge you a flat-rate no matter what you real usage are. At the end of year, they will calculate how much you actually use vs. you paid. And a refund or extra charge.  Ting could do something similar. Set a monthly rate, e.g. charge me 1G data every month. And at the end of certain period. e.g. 6 month, do a comparison between estimated usage and real usage for the refund or extra charge. So that the accidentally peak usage will not be felt at the bill immediately. With the potential for the spike to be off-set by some savings down the road. it is less likely for the fear to overwhelm you. 

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  • It's already been said:  Ting isn't for everyone.  I have an acquaintance that insists that he NEEDS unlimited.  That he is using data all the time.  If true, he is probably right.

    My wife and I switched to Ting from Verizon.  We were on a Family Share plan with no data (and using feature phones).  After Verizon made it clear they did NOT want as customers anymore, we looked at Ting when a friend mentioned it.  I'm very happy that we did.  Upgrading to smartphones would have cost us $70 more each month just in increased fixed costs for the three devices we use.  Assuming 4000 minutes and 1000 texts, I would need to use over 5GB in data before Verizon would have been cheaper (and that assumes I was on the exact right plan that month).

    After the way my wife and I were treated by their customer service, I am not even that concerned with the savings.  I am VERY happy with how everything has been handled by Ting and I enjoy the easy access to the tools needed to track and control usage.  We are enjoying having made the upgrade.  The savings are just gravy.

    Final note:  I travel a lot to places that don't have a lot of people (and therefore less likely to have cell coverage).  I knew that Verizon had the best coverage (and still does).  I was willing to take that hit while moving to a company that seemed to be actually interested in having me as a customer.  To date, I haven't had an issue getting the service I wanted when I wanted it.  My wife did find a location that was Sprint dead zone, but that is it so far.

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  • Frank, 

     I had something similar happen to me. I simply put an app called Data On/Off on the phone. I keep the data turned off. If you are on wifi it will use it, if not you can't use the mobile data unless you turn it on. I keep the icon for the app on the desktop and no more problems. It actually makes me think about using the data at that time. Can I wait a bit till there is wifi or do i need it now? Anyway it cut my data usage dramatically.

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  • I calculated your "scary month" to be in the $80 range.  This was about what I was paying (including fees) for my unlimited plan with an EVO 4G on Sprint (2 phones = $163 per month).  Now we are less than $48 total for 2 phones.  With that amount of savings, I don't even care if I use a ton of data (although I use wifi whenever possible), I'm still ahead even with buying a  new EVO 4G LTE.  Chock you mistake up to a learning experience and enjoy your savings!  Don't panic at the first problem--you will be sorry in the long run.

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  • but your viewing the competition wrong. you shouldn't be comparing ting to verizon. compare it to virgin mobile, straight talk, hell even republic wireless.

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  • I'd definitely recommend setting up a firewall that can block data usage on 3G/4G for specific apps. A previous poster mentioned Droidwall, Avast Mobile Security is another good program that I've used plenty.

    It's really difficult to get massive surprises when the only things that work on mobile data (without me consciously unblocking them in the firewall) are email, IM, Chrome, and my grocery list app. 

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  • Why I'm considering not coming to Ting now...
    I'm on Verizon which is a wallet killer. Planned on and was excited to switch to Ting next month, then I discovered Virgin Mobile. They have a plan for a Mifi unit for only $20/mo that includes unlimited 4g service. I hooked it up to my van, and now my Nexus 7 is almost 100% covered. I even bought a Bluetooth headset and downloaded the grooveIP app and now use my Nexus 7 as my phone as well... Did I mention all for $20/mo? Only drawback, no 911 service. I will keep my old Samsung Galaxy in the car for that purpose. Don't need service to dial 911. Can anyone tell me why I would want to come to Ting now?

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  • @Jeffrey, I sounds like you shouldn't consider coming to Ting.

    Like a lot of people have said in different post, Ting is great for an average mobile user or if you have multiple people on a plan. If you need/want unlimited data, you are probable better off  finding a deal with a no-contract plan like you did.

    Sounds out like you made out pretty well. This may be a nice add on for other Ting members that have 1 or 2 people on their accounts that need/want a lot of data.

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  • Jeffrey - No, probably not. And really, that's kind of the point: TING ISN'T FOR EVERYONE. I don't know how many times that's been said. It comes down to personal preference between the smaller companies/cheaper alternatives. The cheaper alternatives to the "big three" are all doing the same thing: offering cellular service, data, and texting a lower rate. The others chose to offer similar unlimited data plans because they know those are popular reasons for people always going to the larger services. Ting went the other way, "Why follow that lead, when for the majority of the public, people just don't use that much data?"

    The reason Ting is starting to trump the smaller / cheaper alternatives (Virgin Mobile, Straight Talk, etc) is because of their ability to save even MORE than those plans. With one or two caveats. The first is that if you're a mobile data user without consistent wifi. Mobile data seriously wracks up charges on Ting. The second is that people like consistency. There are only two things consistent with Ting: your bill will be variable and Ting's customer service is above and beyond any and every company I have come into contact thus far. In fact, their customer service is so high that I'm constantly disappointed with the service that my company provides because Ting has set the bar so high.

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  • Jeffrey, you might want to report back on how using GrooveIP goes after a few months. I've been using GrooveIP and Talkatone on my own FIOS connection and at my University for nearly seven months now, and I've needed to fall back to the voice network plenty of times because the lag gets awful on some calls or the other side can't understand me. I've tinkered with settings and had the opportunity to try it on the Droid Bionic, S3, Note 2, Nexus 7, and GNex, but all of them had these problems on occasion 

    Then if you ever happen to sign into the GMail chat client and then forget to sign out (closing the browser doesn't count) your calls will all suddenly be routed to your PC. If you ever decide to install it on a second device, good luck figuring which one will ring (Talkatone claims it can ring multiple devices, unlike GrooveIP, but I've had a number of instances where Talkatone calls did not come through while connected to the server).

    Then there's the days where you look at your phone and suddenly notice that GrooveIP didn't manage to connect despite being on WiFi and all your calls have been routed into the ether for the last few hours.

    Back when I used it on Verizon it would only work acceptably on 4G, so if you wander out of Sprint's 4G coverage you're going to get some icky call quality (unless GrooveIP has improved 3G performance since then). Also, what is VIrgin's policy on data roaming? If you're off Sprint's towers, will you incur data charges?

    Also,I know massive phablets are all the rage nowadays, but I'm guessing you must not ever used the Nexus 7 for calling outside of your van?

    I wholeheartedly adhere to the notion that Ting is not for everyone, and that for whatever reason these things may never be problems for you, but anyone considering using a mobile hotspot as a phone replacement along with GrooveIP should definitely consider these things. I get around these problems by setting my Google Voice number to also ring my cellular #, that way all my calls make it through one way or the other and I can always call someone back on the voice network when GrooveIP is being finicky. 

    Having the privilege to do so sets me back about $40/month for my entire family (4 phones), and it's only that high because I've got one family member on a dumb phone. Data calling can be a great way to save massively on voice usage, but if you need dependable coverage I don't think it cuts the mustard just yet.

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  • @Jeffrey: What plan and device combination did you find, exactly? I know Virgin Mobile has 4G service and hotspots, but I can't find anything that matches the price point and device name you mentioned.

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  • It was actually an unexpected surprise.  I initially bought the Mifi 2200 on clearance at Walmart for $25. Looked up service, said starting at $35/mo for 2GB/mo.  But when I started signing up, I was presented with a "Walmart Special" of $20/mo for 1GB/mo.  The Mifi 2200 does not have 4g, however, so now I have to purchase the Overdrive Pro from Walmart for $119.  

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  • True, call quality isn't the best on 3G, but when I'm in the house (DSL), or at another free hotspot (Panera, Starbucks, etc), have no issues.  So I anticipate having few issues when I'm on 4G.  This is also the super cheap discount option for anyone thinking of this.  I fully expect to have a cell phone as well, and for that I will probably go Ting.  But I just can't pass up this data plan.  I don't use a lot of data, but I like the peace of mind knowing I don't have to worry about it either.  It's funny, tho, I still find myself checking my account regularly to see how much I've used.  We'll see how it goes.  Who knows, if I find that I am using less than 500MB per month anyway, it would still be cheaper to go Ting with the mobile hotspot. 

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  • Let me ask something tho... why does Ting charge for Text Msging, but give away Pic and Vid Msging?  

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  • And I guess I COULD use my transform ultra as my mobile hotspot, which would eliminate the need for a mifi device... saving me $6/mo.  Great, now my mind is going crazy. :)

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  • Haha Jeffrey - that's the thing with Ting in comparison with other characters. A bit of thought you end up with a million possibilities and then your brain goes on overdrive.

    This is a good place to hash it out. I find spreadsheets to be super helpful. :)

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  • Wow!  So much of this stuff is so over my head!  All I can say is I have five family members on Ting, all using the same "dumb" flipphones (the marvelous Sanyo Vero), with "internet" and "data" disabled, and we are just LOVING Ting!  I tell everyone that Ting is the Thing, but I warn them that if they are "streamers" or internet junkies who cannot always find a wifi connection, they are FAR better served using a service offering reasonably priced unlimited plans.  We "flippers" are happy enough to wifi with our tablets and netbooks.  BTW, we all carry our tiny phones around our necks on lanyards ... so very handy, and we never lose 'em or drop 'em.  Not only that, when driving we can just answer a call by opening the phone, tapping the "speaker" button, then closing and dropping the phone ... works like a charm, and calling is just as easy ... open, tap the Speed Dial #, tap "speaker", close and drop.  Simplicity is a wonderful thing!  Thanks to Ting for bringing it to us and for their incredibly friendly and excellent service policies.

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  • Hey Mary,

    I'm so glad to hear that you're having a great experience with Ting. It's what we like to hear (so we know we're doing something right!). The lanyard idea is a great one! At least you know it's in a safe place and you won't lose it! I like your method of using it while driving too. We certainly do not agree with using your phone directly while driving so it's refreshing to hear about your use of Speaker :)

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  • Interesting. I didn't know Virgin Mobile offers unlimited 4G. I'll have to look into it. Signed up on Ting to test it and see if it work for me.  I also have Chit Chat Mobile for a unlimited mobile broadband plan for $50 a month. So far watched a few Netflix movies on it (no I don't have other internet cable service so I depend on wireless for everything). It's really weird to see people afraid of their data usage though it's understandable. It's kind of like when people used to worry about their minutes years ago. Seems for data Chit Chat Mobile is Ting's biggest competition.

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  • It seems Virgin Mobile no longer offers unlimited plans. Probably Chit Chat Mobile and Clearwire are the last providers of unlimited data plans.

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  • Is Clearwire still in business?

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  • Clearwire doesn't sell modems anymore but if you buy a used one like from ebay I think you can use it on Clearwire. They have unlimited wimax 4g for $54.99 a month.

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  • And by unlimited I mean really unlimited like 50 to 100 GB a month.

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  • If you can't manage your device's data properly, then Ting obviously isn't the best choice with metered data usage.  I don't think this situation warranted a forum post about considering leaving ting for that reason.

    I use plenty of apps that have background auto-update/download/upload; none of them (google+ photos, dropbox picture backup, slacker radio refresh, etc.) have data transfer on cell network enabled by default; it's typically a setting that the user has to intentionally enable to xfer data on the cell network for those purposes.

    I've also never had a problem with not getting notifications from ting when I approach a threshold value for minutes/texts/data.

    I'm choking this up to user incompetence; it's not very fair to put ting on blast in a forum post because of that.

    If you do pay attention to your usage and don't assume unlimited data (or anything for that matter), ting will save you money.  My wife and I generally only rack up $44/mo total with ting, and we use the features as we need on our smartphones--maybe we're just not heavy users by comparison, and we are around wifi the majority of a normal day.  But that's back to the caveat that ting isn't for everyone; it's pretty obvious by the pricing structure that it's not an "all you can eat" service for an exorbitant flat-cost each month, so you need to be mindful of your usage.

    I'm very thankful to have an option like ting when it comes to money spent on mobile phone plans.  My only gripe--and it's not a very big one--is that it's on the sprint network.  I say that respectfully (and in my specific case, I have very good coverage--even 4g at this point--everywhere I am during a typical day--only wish there was better coverage in more areas, but that's not ting's fault).  Wonder if ting has plans to expand to other provider networks?  I can't imagine a similar MVNO on, say, AT&T would be as affordable as on Sprint's network.

     

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  • I would tend to agree that overage in data on Ting is due to user incompetence; however, there is always the flip side: an accident that results in pushing not over one bucket, but perhaps two or three. Yes, most apps have a "sync only over wifi" option - I've seen it, I use it, but it is *not* always enabled by default. With the exception of carriers like Ting and Virgin Mobile, the bulk of users don't even think about using wifi so syncing over wifi option being auto enabled would be a nightmare to some and a lot of app creators recognize that.

    This post was in no way blasting Ting; it was a genuine question regarding how to help manage data after two rather large mistakes that resulted in significant data usage.

    One thing the OP failed to realize though, that his "oops" month bill was on par with his old carrier bill which means he isn't LOSING money from switching; he simply isn't saving anything that month. I think that's absolutely brilliant when it comes to Ting. Use it when you need to and pay on "par" with a big-4 carrier. On lesser months, reap the benefits of having the smaller bill because you didn't need the stuff.

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  • Laura, regarding this: "an accident that results in pushing not over one bucket, but perhaps two or three."  That is why the auto-disabling part of alerts is about the greatest thing ever.  EVERY Ting user should go ahead and put some alerts on their data.  One or two about the range you normally use, and then one noticeably higher but before that painful point that will cut off data so you DON'T ever have a crazy big overage.

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  • Rocky, I've never had an issue with going over; but when I joined alerts were still very new and did NOT always work and were not as robust.

    My point was, even with alerts and auto-disabled, you might get surprised if you do any thing in one "large" sitting. Alerts now are much better and much improved (auto disable, text/email notifications, etc), but they still lack the immediate result that most users may expect because your usage on your phone synced to your account is actually on a 2 hour delay. E.G. In OP's case, he wracked in a 2.7GB data usage in one sitting: Something that an alert wouldn't have had time to catch because of that delay.

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