Ting shipping prices

If you are buying a device on Ting, you might notice that we have just changed our shipping prices:

  • Standard went from Free to $4
  • 3 day went from $10 to $9
  • 2 day went from $20 to $19

As always, I want to address this head on. And as always, I am grateful to have the kind of relationship with our customers that allows us to address these things head on.

First, it’s a test. A smart business should always be testing to make data-driven decision on prices, product features, messages and other aspects of the offering. We want to see how price on shipping affects demand for devices and, ultimately, sign-ups. By far, the most important thing to us is acquiring and retaining customers. If we are sacrificing too much by recovering some costs, we will quickly revisit this.

But business (and, particularly, our business) is not just about getting as much as you possibly can. It’s about staying true to your brand, your promise and your relationships. So then, I ask myself, “Does charging for shipping violate Ting principles?”

I don’t believe it does at all. I think Ting is about fair, not free. In fact, in so many ways, we have rejected the typical “free this” and “unlimited that” that can create disharmony between provider and customer. We are about finding that perfect middle ground where you get the best overall value in the industry and we have a healthy, sustainable business. We actually avoid temptation to give too much in one place (because it’s highly visible or seemingly heroic) and then compensate for it somewhere else.

I think we were potentially unnecessarily generous when we launched the service with free shipping. As you know, we do not make money when we sell devices. We also have a bunch of other costs from readying the device for use all the way to activation. And of course, we pay for shipping. I think the hole is just a bit deeper than it should be for us financially right now before we even get to the first bill. Also, I think that people are not and should not be shocked to pay a bit for shipping. Things that have a cost generally have a price. 

By the way, our offering is also very different than it was when we launched with free shipping. At that time, the only way you could use Ting was by buying a device from us. We regretted that. Now you can buy eligible devices (and likely pay to have them shipped to you) from countless secondary marketplaces. As a result, the average cost of getting started with Ting continues to go down while the quality of our service continues to go up.

We are still setting the price of standard shipping way below our cost. I think it’s fair. But I will wait to see the data and hear from our customers.

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Comments

27 comments
  • Overall I don't see a problem with charging for shipping but I just ran head on into one problem your current system.

    My wife's phone died today and we decided to buy her a new Nexus 5. I ordered it from Google just as I had with mine and then (after reactivating one of my old phones to get her something to use again) went to order a SIM for it. The price of the SIM has gone up from $10 to $14 which is annoying but I would assume that Sprint is the driver behind that. But then the price on the shipping plain old sucks.

    $4 for FedEx home that delivers in 10 days? And if I want it to be guaranteed to be here by time the phone arrives it will be $9. Yuck!

    Now your shipping prices don't look quite so bad for shipping phones. They weigh something and probably get insured, but the SIM card can be put in an envelope and sent first class mail.

    So flat-rate shipping when there is a "free" option is not too bad. You are just wrapping the cost up in other prices. But if you are going to try to get out of the "free" trap, you also need to charge actual cost and give shipping options that make sense for what you are shipping.

    What bugs me the most about this is a SIM is cheap by design. I can see charging something for it so people don't waist them, but $19 with shipping is just overkill.

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  • Mike, I really appreciate your feedback. Believe it or not, our shipping cost is actually higher than $4 on both SIMs and devices. However, you are right that shipping the devices cost more. You are right that our $14 is meant to cover costs on the Sprint side, our logistics to get them from Sprint and get them ready to send and some waste. Most importantly, you are right that, in the end, $18 for a SIM card through standard shipping is just too much.

    I think we can revisit the price on those SIMs. We will do that. Meanwhile, give me your email address and I will give you a bit of Ting credit to compensate for the gap versus your expectation. Thanks again for flagging this.

     

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  • @Michael Goldstein: I didn't see any way to send my email address to you in a private message, so I opened a request (#416222) with my email address in it.

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  • Heya, right now I'm a little bummed because I just ordered my Nexus 5 from the google play store, and a iphone 5 from Glyde (needed that white!). So I need two different sim cards, and because you don't have a shopping card, that's $36 for standard shipping for 2 sims, and at 10 business days, I have to cross my fingers that they get here before my current Verizon month expires.  I'd be ok paying for the faster shipping if that $9 covered both sims, but I'd have to spend 9 each. Again, that's a bummer. If you can help me out at all processing the order (or putting it together in such a way that I only need to pay 1 shipping cost), that would great. 

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  • Mike, I got it and took care of it (adjusting for the shipping and the unexpected rise in price). Obviously, I have to be careful not to make a pricing decision like this and then start crediting everyone who disagrees with it. I do generally stand by it for all the reasons above. But I also agree that the total price on the SIM card in particular now generally feels high for what you're getting. I also really appreciate the great civil discourse. We're more likely to reconsider a policy (and think about an appropriate reconciliation) based on feedback like yours than a vicious rant. Thanks again.

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  • Avi, it's a great point. I would think we should be able to get those into one envelope and save you money. (Warning, I have a bad habit of thinking some things are simple and then finding out from Dev or Support that they are hard.) Can you please quickly submit this to Support? Feel free to copy my response in there. I would do it for you but I don't have your account information.

    If your shipment goes out before we address this, I'll make it right.

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  • @Michael _totally _get it. You walk in wanting to rejigger your whole ecommerce system and I'm sure your team won't be super happy. My ticket is #416238. I'll follow up with you there.

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  • @Michael - The entire reason I posted this is because I knew you guys would respond to the criticism. You are correct the root problem is the total cost (including shipping) of the SIM, and I'm sure you guys are going to look into ways to bring the cost down (not just burry it).

    You also shocked the crap out of my wife. She thought I was waisting my time posting this. A response in an hour from a VP is awesome.

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  • Guys, we just brought down the SIM card price from $14 to $9. We reviewed our costs for the first time in a while and realized our price hadn't kept up with some savings we managed to realize on our end. We also check to see that people who buy SIM cards from us are, in fact, activating them with us and that seems to be good. Disclaimer, it's all testable and subject to this analysis changing. But I appreciate your feedback and I think this feels more right for a little piece of cardboard.

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  • This is why I love Ting. I can't think of many other companies (let alone a phone company) where I could post on their forums at 8PM about a pricing gripe, and have a response by 9PM form somebody who will be actively fixing the problem by 2PM the next day.

    Suggestion if you are having problems with people ordering SIMs from Ting just to resell: bundle them with a Ting account credit. I would have had no problem paying $25 for the SIM if it came with a $16 service credit. And if that keeps you from loosing money on SIM cards that other people are buying just to resell, maybe the service credit could approach the SIM price.

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  • Hi Mike and Avi,

    We located both of your support requests and already replied to them. Feel free to respond to those emails at any time and communicate from there as well  :)

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  • Personally, I am not a fan. Standard shipping should be free, guaranteed. We are customers who are planning to commit to a phone company, not just random people buying a product. If you truly value our long-term relationship, I would really appreciate free shipping. It would give me greater incentive to purchase new phones and greater incentive to order Ting gift cards for friends. 

     

    Also find it immensely frustrating that Ting has no shipping cart. I had to purchase each item individually - makes no sense! Had to pay the $4 standard shipping twice!

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  • On a side note, I really really appreciate that Ting makes these changes a discussion with customers. It means a lot to me that these changes are not being made in some authoritarian-like manner and that customer service is always immensely helpful :)

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  • Thanks "Triple A." Here's the tricky thing about our business. Because we make it so easy to come and go, we have a lot of folks who come to the service and leave within a month or two (often mysteriously, even after investing in a device). So if we invest too much in freebies at the beginning of the relationship, we very likely won't get it back. I don't deny that means that you are subsidizing the those guys a bit. But the simplest way to cover ourselves on the short-term relationships and reward the long-term relationships (like you), is to charge a bit for things like this upfront but then keep our rates really, really low, which will ultimately be worth so much more to you month after month. That was exactly our thinking when we lowered our rates pro-actively earlier this year.

    On getting charged twice for devices getting sent to the same address, you are just flat out right. I didn't actually understand that this is what happened to people until just recently. We will work on fixing it. Meanwhile, give me the email address on your account and I'll credit you $4. I'll also instruct customer support to credit folks appropriately in these cases until we come up with a proper fix.

    Thanks again. These discussions are so shockingly civilized and fruitful.

     

     

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  • New customer here with 2 lines so far.  One big problem with your shipping is that I picked the 9$ 3 day delivery for a sim card.  It was shipped out around 3 pm and got to the fedex distribution center by the next morning at 7:30am.  The tracking said "package not due for delivery on the morning scan 8:22am the day after I ordered it...really fast getting to Detroit.  Then I called fedex and they told me that due to the method of shipping you at Ting chose, The package would sit for another two days so it would get here in 3 days and not before.  This is really a poor business model for fedex.  The fedex rep. told me it was due to the shipping method the "seller" chose.  Why is this the protocol for delivery methods?  Can u change what you select from fedex so they will deliver it as soon as they have it at the local dist. center?  Pretty ridiculous that I could not even have it sent to a fedex pick up/drop off facility for the general public.  So I paid 18 dollars for a sim card to sit at the fedex facility 2 miles from my house, because of the shipping option Ting has chosen.  That is the information from fedex.  Please figure out how this can be changed.  I don't need to explain any more about why this is s moronic policy.  What about during winter when it cannot always be easy to know when a storm will blow through.  For example, say this scenario played out in the middle of January and I live outside Detroit.  The package was there in the morning and could have been delivered to me, but they sit on it for two more days due to some dumb ass policy, being run by the sellers.  Then on the day it is supposed to be delivered we get a major storm that shuts the area down for days.  Now they cannot deliver it and they did not deliver it on the previous 2 days when the weather was fine.  Is this going to take the media outlets to change the way this works?  That's fine with me, as I have caused a lot of headaches for many companies that screw around with peoples trust and money.   ATTENTION EVERYONE:  IF YOU ORDER 3 DAY SHIPPING, THEN YOU WILL NOT GET YOUR PACKAGE UNTIL THE THIRD DAY FROM SHIPPING, AND NO EARLIER.  FedEx has said this is due to the seller choosing a certain type of shipping that does not allow then to deliver the package any earlier and you will not be able to pick it up from anywhere.  Even if it is in walking distance from your house.  Not until the shipping options or shipping providers are changed by Ting.  Hopefully you will address this issue. 

     

    Thank you in advance,

     

    It really can be an emergency when one is without a phone for days and you know that it is only 5 minutes away, but you cannot do anything about it, even after paying for expedited shipping, due to the sellers shipping choices.  UPS might be a better solution.  You will realize this after a bunch more complaints.  

     

    Have a good one.  

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  • Wow I ordered my sim card on 14th had it in hand on 16th   Standard shipping, was shipped via USPS. 

    Ordered my Nexus 5 from Google Play on 14th also.  Figured I would be waiting on sim card since it said standard shipping was 7 to 10 business days.  Both arrived on 16th just a few hours apart.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • @John

    I had this exact same problem earlier this year when I ordered my SIM card from Ting.  I wasn't even allowed to pick up the package from the distribution center.  I had some conversations with Ting and they said they would work on finding a solution.  But, that said, this seems to be primarily a Fed-Ex issue.  I've had this problem with them before with packages that didn't come from Ting so I don't buy them placing the blame entirely on Ting.  The main thing Ting could do differently is offer next day delivery which is what Fed-Ex wants.  Fed-Ex wants you to pay extra for faster shipping even if it is not needed.  Amazon is playing this game as well.  I always order everything through Amazon using free shipping which is advertised as 5 - 8 days.  I'm so close to a distribution warehouse that my packages were sometimes arriving the next day.  Recently Amazon stopped this practice of shipping and/or delivering early.  Now it's always a minimum of 5 days before I receive something ordered via "free" shipping.  Personally, I think these types of shipping policies are ludicrous.  If I order something and receive it before the expected delivery date, that makes me more likely to choose that company again.

    Maybe Ting needs to reconsider using Fed-Ex.

    DC

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  • Both FedEx and UPS have apparently become more aggressive about holding packages based on service method.  We've been testing using Priority Mail for some SIM card shipments for a little while now.  One of the big advantages we've seen is that the USPS doesn't tend to sit on their Priority Mail packages if they're not "due" for delivery...  If it gets there in a day, they deliver it in a day.  If it gets there in two days, they deliver it two days.

    FedEx has been pretty good for device shipments.  I don't think they've ever lost one of our packages, and they're generally quick.  That being said, we've been moving all of our device fulfillment to our Ting office in Starkville, Mississippi, which gives us a lot more flexibility in terms of testing fulfillment, packaging, and shipping options.

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  • Justin,

    Ting should be a *little* more flexible in its shipping prices. $4 to ship a SIM is ridiculous!!

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  • Hey Bruce,

    Part of the balancing act is how much of the cost can we absorb.  We now sell thousands and thousands of SIM cards each month.  Even losing "just" several dollars on each SIM card adds up.  Buying a Sprint SIM card at Best Buy, for instance, costs $25.  T-Mobile and Cricket are both $10 from their online store, but they require you also prepay for your service (kind of like the idea from Mike Jones above).  We're a fair bit smaller than AT&T and T-Mobile, so getting down to $13 (plus tax) all-in involved our vp for marketing and our finance folks jousting in the boardroom.

    All that being said, our cost for every SIM has gone up $3 since we made that decision to cut the price to $13, but we've managed to hold the line on pricing by going with the faster (and, blessedly, slightly cheaper) Priority Mail option.  In a perfect world, I'd actually give them away.  There are a lot of factors that make that not quite feasible, unfortunately.

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  • Thanks for the transparency Justen!

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  • Thanks, Justen.

    You could save even more money by using USPS First Class (less than $1). 

    Just a thought...

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  • That's not a bad idea, Bruce.  Tracking would add a bit more, but at least offering folks the option is — you might say — Ting like.  ;)  Let me dig a little bit more on the possibility + ramifications.

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  • The dilemma is this, when to cover your shipping expenses and whatever other fixed costs - by building those costs into the price of the physical goods sold - and when not to.

    It's a friggin shell game.  Honestly, you need to be attractive on pricing without giving away the store - so to speak.  That said, if you keep tweaking the pricing approach, you are bound

    to upset some of the customer base; potential AND existing.

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  • So this post is two years old and it doesn't seem like anything has changed.

    My wife's phone got damp over the weekend and doesn't seem to be coming back from the dead, so I ordered her a new one yesterday morning (Wed.) and paid $9 for 3 day delivery. I got notice that it had 'shipped' at 10:57 AM (CST) and when I checked the tracking it said it wouldn't be here until Monday. That straight up sucks. When I ordered I thought 3 days would be Friday or Saturday at the latest.

    If you don't make any money on the devices you sell, then maybe stop selling them. Send people to Glyde or Amazon or whatever, or partner with someone who can provide reasonable service. Two day shipping is the standard in my mind. Everything I order from Amazon shows up usually before I'm looking for it, but my wife needs a phone now and I had to tell her she has to wait not just the three days that I paid extra to get, but 2 more days on top. And the cheapest option is 5 - 10 days?? What year is this?

    I've been with Ting for a while now and have really had no complaints. The service has been terrific. We've had some configuration issues with sending MMS messages and such, but everyone we've interacted with has been terrific. So the fact that shipping is still the mess that it is 2 years after people started complaining about is disheartening.

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  • Hey Tom, 

    I definitely understand your frustration with this, and I'd love to clarify the 3-business day shipping for you. Since the order was placed on Wednesday via FedEx (who do not ship on weekends, as you can see on your tracking label) that means the 3 days would include Thursday, Friday and Monday.

    So, I can definitely understand how placing an order on Wednesday and expecting to receive it the following Monday seems like a lot more than "express 3 day shipping", but if you remove the weekend from that, it really is 3 business days. 

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  • I am in fear of the trend,,,ting really appealed to me because the ala carte approach and low rates are enticing.  I see the rates and fees are inching up. I was out of a phone for 10 days while they activated a phone on my account,.  There should be a cost for using a low cost budget minded company. I hope it doesn't turn like other great ventures where they slowly forget what draw there base over to there service and become as water down version of the big guys.......

     

    will see for now ,,,,, the cost and reward is too attractive to move on and try another competitor.

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