Is Ting Too Expensive For Me?

I have been with Ting quite a long time now, but I'm wondering if I should be moving on.  I have 4 lines with them, and have been running between $130 and $170 a month.  Of the 4 phones, 3 of them hardly get any use at all, and the total voice/text/data we use don't seem outrageous to me.   (We certainly use WiFi as available, and our total data is under 4 GB in any case.)

 

Yet, considering this use is mostly from only 1 of the 4 phones (and the others might grow) I wonder whether we would just be better off with another "unlimited" service.  We also do a reasonable amount of family calls, and I realize Ting charges us for minutes on both ends.

 

Here's a recent bill -- some figures fudged slightly (within a few cents) in order to partially anonymize it.

 


Plan Data Usage XL             2000 Mb                       $29.00

Above Plan Data Usage          1602 Mb                       $24.02

Plan SMS Usage L               1214 messages                  $8.00

Plan Minutes Usage XL          2100 minutes                  $35.00

Above Plan Minutes Usage       254                            $4.80

Line Fee                       ABC/xxxxxxxxxx               $6.00 Jan 10 - Feb 09

Line Fee                       DEF/xxxxxxxxxx               $6.00 Jan 10 - Feb 09

Line Fee                       GHI/xxxxxxxxx                $6.00 Jan 10 - Feb 09

Line Fee                       JKL/xxxxxxxxxx               $6.00 Jan 10 - Feb 09

And here were the taxes we collected for Uncle Sam...

 Local Transit Tax                                          $0.23

 Sales Tax                                                  $5.27

Excise Tax (Wireless)                                         $1.19

 Franchise 184                                              $0.23

 MCTD 184a                                                  $0.08

 MCTD 186c                                                  $0.36

Excise Tax                                                    $1.50

Fed USF Cellular                                              $2.86

Public Safety Communications Surcharge                        $4.80

E911 Tax (Wireless)                                           $1.20

FCC Regulatory Fee (Wireless)                                 $0.06

Total comes to:                                             $142.79

 

I'm not exactly.... complaining.  The pricing isn't unfair.  But I can't help thinking that some set of "unlimited" plans, at least for the top 1 or 2 consumers in our household, might be better overall.

 

What do you guys think?

 

(This is aside from Sprint's HORRIBLE TERRIBLE AWFUL data service in the NY metro region.  I intend to start moving to GSM, and was hoping to stick with Ting to do it.)

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Comments

20 comments
  • I'm curious, what is it you do while not on WiFi that uses nearly 4GB on horrible terrible awful data service?

    I'm not being snarky, I genuinely think that's the thing to sort out. If you're using that amount now, then you'll likely use more on a network with faster data coverage in your area. Since there aren't really any unlimited data plans left (if they're not capped, they throttle), the fine print on your other options is basically going to be the deciding factor on whether it'll be worth moving away from Ting.

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  • Thanks for the feedback.

     

    For the adults, web browsing.  For the younger people, Youtubing or Vines.  You know, what young people use mobile phones for.  Mobile smart phones are a fact of life, and access to these services should not be a luxury.  And yet it is sometimes priced like one.

     

    I've been using "unlimited" with appropriate quotation marks.  I'm aware that most $40-$50 "unlimited" plans limit to 2 GB or 4 GB before throttling or overaging  - but that's PER PHONE on other companies' plans.  I'm not even using 4 GB across all 4 phones.  I have not extensively priced out the options at other companies -- maybe our plans there would run closer to, or over, $200 instead of the roughly $150 we pay now.  But we sure as hell would be getting a LOT more data (and voice minutes) for the trouble.

     

    You're also absolutely right about possible increased data usage -- that's exactly why I mentioned how little most of us actually use the phones right now on CDMA Sprint.

     

    So again, is Ting too expensive for me?   Should a family with $160 Ting bills be looking elsewhere?

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  • Here's what TMobile has to say...  they're still offering an "unlimited 4G LTE Family Plan".  It looks as if for $180 ($100 plus $40 x 2) I'd never have to worry about data or voice creeping up again (in the foreseeable future).  Any idea what this number would look like after taxes and fees?

     

    On tethering alone they'd be giving me 20 GB -- at Ting's rate of ~$15/GB that would cost me $300 just for the data!

     

    Please tell me why this is wrong -- I still like Ting and would prefer not to change providers.

     

    "T-Mobile is introducing America’s Best Unlimited 4G LTE Family Plan. Get 2 lines with unlimited 4G LTE data for $100 per month. No strings attached, no specific phone purchase required. And the plan comes with all of our existing Simple Choice benefits - we are not stripping out any features to justify this amazing price. Every line includes 5GB of tethering, unlimited international texting, unlimited data and text in over 120 countries and destinations, Rhapsody un-Radio, Wi-Fi Calling and unlimited in-flight texting with Gogo®…all at no extra charge for qualifying postpaid Simple Choice customers."

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  • Wait a sec, wait a sec, it gets even better.  For only $100 for all 4 phones, I can get a plan that STILL gives me more data than I'm getting from Ting for $150 ??  (It goes down in the second  year to 4 GB shared instead of 10 GB total.... and at 4GB is STILL more than I'm getting at Ting for $150.)

     

    Again, what am I reading wrong, and how can Ting compete with this?  They would have to at LEAST halve their data rates to stay in the same ballpark.

     

    4 Lines Plan

    $ 100 per month

    Plus taxes, fees and monthly device payment

    Line 1 / $50 per month

    • Unlimited talk, text, and data while on our network
    • Up to 2.5GB of 4G LTE data (Speeds reduced after 2.5GB)

    Line 2 / $30 per month

    • Unlimited talk, text, and data while on our network
    • Up to 2.5GB of 4G LTE data (Speeds reduced after 2.5GB)

    Line 3 / $10 per month

    • Unlimited talk, text, and data while on our network
    • Up to 2.5GB of 4G LTE data (Speeds reduced after 2.5GB)

    Line 4 / $10 per month

    • Unlimited talk, text, and data while on our network
    • Up to 2.5GB of 4G LTE data (Speeds reduced after 2.5GB)
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  • I haven't analyzed those plans in detail, so I'm taking the numbers at face value.

    For the unlimited plan, I'll point out that you're asking a financial question but basing your valuation on a psychological argument, not a rational one. (Which is fine as long as you're aware of it.) Your Ting bill without tax is $124.82, so we'll use that as a monthly average. You're willing to pay $180 per month. That extra $55 on Ting would get you another 3.6GB of data on its own. Or extrapolating current usage linearly, you'd end up with a total of 5.5GB, 4800 SMS, and 3400 minutes. And only on months where you actually used that much.

    The psychological argument is that you're worried about usage increasing, but that's leading you down the road of paying more now. The rational argument is to not worry and simply reevaluate when your average usage on Ting actually gets that high, which saves you money in the meantime.

    The metered 4-line plan you found is not 4GB shared, it's 1GB per line. You didn't break down your bill on a per-phone basis, so you'll have to do that to figure out if one or more lines will need more than 1GB to get the freedom you're after. And it doesn't actually avoid your concern about watching usage, in this case to avoid throttling.

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  • Ting has always said they might not be the best option for high volume users (particularly high data users).  As you consider switching, make sure you have a firm grasp on how how taxes and fees and other bottom line items get added to each bill.  The big providers are notorious for including user fees and other charges in the tax section so they can advertise lower prices.  Ting does not do that.  My own "taxes" were more than cut in half when I switched to Ting.  It's hard to get an apples to apples comparison but that's what you need to do. Make T-Mobile, Sprint or whichever company you compare give you the total bill for your billing address inclusive of all taxes and fees before you make a decision.

    I'd rather pay more to stay on Ting rather than have to deal with any of the big 4.

    DC

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  • " Of the 4 phones, 3 of them hardly get any use at all..."

    Before going all in with Ting [FOR LIFE!], I played around with having phones on different carriers. This strategy sometimes beats the family plan concept if the differential usage is great.  Example: Heavy user on unlimited T-mob plan; other three on Ting. Three phones on Ting with 500 min 1,000 text and 100 Mb is $35/mo. This could also save you buying three phones if data is not an issue for them (even in the big apple) and they can stay on CDMA.  If you subtract out the heavy user(s), what would a bill look like for the others on Ting? (or even Kajeet)

    "Plus taxes, fees and monthly device payment"

    What does that add up to with T-mobile?

    Here's the data usage paradox for bad signal: If you are having poor connection, but keep trying to access the data or reload pages you could be using more than you think. 10 attempts to get one page to work might use more than one successful one. I would also double check that Wifi angle. Hypothetically, if you have a teenager who was home or near WiFi the whole day and used a mess load of data maybe WiFi was not turned on.

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  • When you said 3 of the phones hardly get any use at all, that jumped out to me as well, as Joshua noted.  Now sometimes that works well with hiding those lesser phones' usages in with the big one, so it's just not much more than one phone.  However, sometimes it works the other way.  If one of the phones is running up a huge bill, sometimes you can get a big savings from splitting that one off and putting it on a price-capped separate unlimited type plan, and then the remaining ones work out pretty cheaply with Ting.  That is what we have done.  My wife is a really really big user of her phone for all types of usage.  So we have her on a StraightTalk plan that is $45 a month.  Then, myself and my daughter have our phones on Ting, and we're about $40 or less for the two of us.  This evaluation is about finding the right tool for the job.  With the bill data you're showing, it's not listing the usage per phone that is what needs to be evaluated to decide how to handle it.

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  • Your comment that 3 of the phones barely get any use made me think the same as what others are saying, which is that device probably shouldn't be on Ting. Here is a list of Sprint MVNOs:

    http://www.bestmvno.com/sprint-mvnos.html

    Most will allow you to bring your phone to them, with the main exception being Virgin Mobile USA. My suggestion is that you consider Republic Wireless for your high usage device. Assuming that your 3 devices collectively fit into the S tier, you would be paying $27 + "extras" at Ting and $25 (most likely + "extras" too) at Republic Wireless, which is $52 + extras, or a reduction somewhere between $70 and $90 dollars.

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  • To be clear, I meant that the 4th device shouldn't be on Ting. You would be better off with the other 3 on Ting.

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  • Scratch the Republic Wireless suggestion. They don't let you Bring Your Own Device. The next best for unlimited service would be net 10 wireless, which appears to allow you to BYOD and charges $40 a month before taxes and fees for unlimited data, which is throttled after 500MB:

    http://www.net10wireless.com/

    If getting a new phone is an option, look at Lycamobile:

    http://www.lycamobile.us/en/national-plans

    They are charging $23 for unlimited service, but it is throttled after 100MB and there is no roaming unless you pay for a pricer plan.

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  • Compared to Net10 throttling after 500MB, StraightTalk goes up to 2GB before they throttle.

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  • You should definitely be moving on.  I'd consider Cricket (if you want AT&T coverage).  You can get 4 phones (actually 5 if you need an extra one) for $100 per month, and each phone would get more data than you're using now on all of your phones.  If you want T-Mobile network, consider Metro PCS, which I believe has the same deal.

    Stay away from Tracfone/Net10/Straight Talk and any of the American Movil brands (Page Plus, Total Wireless, etc) unless you want to spend weeks on hold with incompetent customer service agents when something goes wrong - which it will.

    Stay away from Republic Wireless and RingPlus, as they route calls over VOIP and have been known to have outages and issues unique to their structure.

    Alternatively, you might keep your lesser used phones on Ting and put the one phone that gets used a lot on Cricket or MetroPCS.  There's probably also another Sprint MVNO with a decent unlimited plan that you might switch your heavy use phone to, but I don't know of any right now.

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  • Also, be careful when switching to other Sprint MVNOs.  Most of them don't allow any roaming, even for voice.  If you're sure you don't need it, then BYOPing your current Ting phone might be an option.  The best deal I can find with that option right now if Total Wireless, which is an American Movil brand, charging $35.00 per month for unlimited talk and text and 2.5GB of data.  But, be warned - American Movil SUCKS...

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  • @ the OP

    You might consider Consumer Cellular. 3500min/UT/4GB (3G/4G/4G LTE) anything over 4GB is 1.5c MB all shared between devices $80 ($76 AARP) + $30(28.5 AARP) for 3 additional devices + tax which should be about the same as Ting is charging. 3G/4G/4G LTE Minutes between devices on the same account are free, so you may be able to pair your minutes down to 1500? AT&T service walks all over Sprint, especially data speeds, where I live here on the West Coast.

    Includes both Voice and Data roaming , where there are roaming partners. You will have to get new phones of course and they do allow BYOD.

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  • I ended up switching from Ting a few months ago" by moving to Cricket Wireless and have been overall happier for it (they are an AT&T subsidary running on AT&T's network).  They have a group save discount that offers increasing discounts for the more lines you add up to 5 lines.  They have 3 price plans and the budget and mid-plan seem ideal for your situation.  On the budget plan it starts at$40/mo for unlimited talk/text  and 2.5gb of high speed data (per line, speeds are capped at 8Mb/s which should be fast enough for anything you need to, if you go over it is unlimited but speeds are severely reduced although still usable except for maybe streaming - there is also an option to buy additional data if you really need to).  The mid-plan starts at $50/mo includes 5gb of high speed data (plus 40/hrs of music streaming- not sure how it works though, and some international features). So if every line gets the same plan you are looking at between  $100 and $140/mo (note taxes and fees are included - you also have the option to add a 5th line for effectively free or $10).  By mixing and matching which plan fits which person best you can fall in between the two.

    You should of course check out your options, but between lowering your bill (or at the very least locking in a fixed cost) and being able to move to the AT&T Network, I would say it is the move to make.  The only thing that would hold me back from doing so is having to buy new phones.  However if your good with that, I would do it.

    (For what it is worth I love Ting but Sprint is their greatest weakness, and the where the pricing model was once a strength - it is now at best competitive and at worst a weakness.  I hope pairing up with T-mobile will address some of this for them........but honestly unless they change the pricing model, Ting is only a benefit to people with a low use pattern). 

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  • I started switching away from Ting recently after the FEC fiasco lead me to start shopping around and conclude that my bills were too high. My last bill was $75 for 3 lines. I am porting my numbers to Google Voice so that the numbers assigned to my phones no longer matter. The GSM phones are going to Truphone for incoming voice (free) + Google Voice for SMS (free) + outgoing voice via click2call (free) + a FreedomPop MiFi for data (first 500MB free; 2 cents per megabyte afterward). Truphone requires that there be a billable expense every 6 months, so a minute amount of usage will be fine to maintain the lines. This cost for each phone $80 for the MiFi, $20 for the Google number port and $29.99 for the Truphone SIM. There is no wifi calling, no SIM native LTE and no Google voicemail integration via conditional call forwarding. However, there is 3G data from T-Mobile and 2G data roaming to AT&T if I need them. International roaming is relatively low cost with rates identical to those in the U.S. In 7 other countries and better than Ting rates in the rest. The phone support picks up within a few rings and seems to be available 24x7. However, there are fewer knobs than what Ting provides on its website.

    The lone CDMA phone just went to RingPlus yesterday at a cost of $1.20 a month after taxes (for those in NYS) and before overages. Any usage exceeding 10 minutes and 10 text messages is billed at 5 cents a unit after taxes (for those in NYS). Roaming costs extra. Voicemail integration into Google Voice not only is non-existent, but it's voicemail cannot be disabled and it leverages a feature that Google voice does not support to play the voicemail greeting as a cost saving measure. Google voice will treat it as a ring tone and it must be padded to 25 seconds to keep ringplus' voicemail from answering instead of Google Voice when the phone is not connected to a cellular tower. There is an annoying radio in place of the ring tone that cannot be turned off when dialing out, but it can be circumvented with The Google Voice app's click2call. Their support is nothing like Ting's.

    I expect one GSM phone to cost less than $1 a month, my personal GSM phone to cost less than $5 a month and the CDMA phone to cost less than $5 a month (mainly because it is not being paired with a hotspot). This would keep costs below Ting's $6 active line fee.

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  • Obviously the vastly high data usage will continue to be an issue for as long as you remain with Ting - but, as others have mentioned, there are ways to deal with this. Wi-Fi is available in a lot of places nowadays, and I wonder if there are some places that the high data was used that could have gone through Wi-Fi instead. Just something I would recommend looking into. You may be able to get cheaper prices elsewhere, but Ting's customer service is better than any other carrier that I've used.

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  • Ting's support is excellent. Last month, I filed a support ticket thanking them for being excellent and the support agent sent me a hand-written post card saying that it made her day. I never had support from any other company sent me a post card in response to a support ticket, although Ting was the first company I encountered whose support merited a support ticket thanking them for being excellent.

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  • 3 GB is "vastly high". You're funny, Ryan.

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