Why we are leaving Ting.
I think Ting is a fine service. I love the pricing model and the customer service but with regret it has come time to move on. Before I get into what Ting is lacking that has lead met to this move let me start with how I came to join Ting.
Two years ago my wife and I were with MetroPCS. We were paying $90/mo for the 2 lines with unlimited services. Overall we were happy with it. Customer service was weak but the service was decent (this was before being bought by T-mobile) but our phones sucked (they were a pair Galaxy Indulges). The biggest negative I had with MetroPCS was that in my work building there was practically no service in the area I worked. This got me to looking around to see if I could find a better service at the same price – which is when I started hearing about Ting. So I investigated and figured out that it would be approximately $30 to $40 a month cheaper. I also thought that the service would have to be better being backed by Sprint and sealing the deal is we could buy the Galaxy S3 before they would come to MetroPCS. So we made the switch to Ting.
I was happy. It was cheaper and I found the network service acceptable, although perhaps not as good as I would have liked. My wife though who actually uses the phone for talking much more frequently than I did was not as enamored as I have been. She complained about dropped calls and poor connections particularly around home. She had trouble receiving texts (this may have more to do with Google Voice than Ting but something might have to do with the network, plus as far as she was concerned it was Ting ). I have to note that I also felt some frustration particularly with data services in buildings. We probably would have switched a year ago but I bought a Obihai device which solved calls at home but she still complained of other problems and it would have cost us $1400 to replace the phones (granted we didn’t need top tier phones but that is what we err I wanted) and any other service would be more expensive. So we stayed and while I do think the network has improved it hasn't been enough and it looks like we will have to buy new phones to fully take advantage of the upgrades.
So that brings us to today. After the latest round with my wife the stars have finally aligned to provide an optimal time to switch. First I got an invite for the OnePlus One which has been my latest technolust obsession. Combine this with a Nexus 5 for my wife and we could replace our 2 year old S3’s (which to be still work great and don’t need to be replaced) for a reasonable $700 and the fact is that the competition has come down in price. Before I took a job (which I am leaving this month) that provided a cell phone for me we were paying on average $60 to $65 a month to Ting (although it was nice when my referral links on Lifehacker was clicked, I can’t count on those). Two years ago this was a significant saving over the $90/mo we were paying. Today we can switch to Cricket (backed by AT&T) or MetroPCS (backed by T-Mobile) and pay $70/mo for unlimited min/text/1GB per line of high-speed data. So outside of customer service Ting has lost its advantages.
In my opinion Ting has two weaknesses currently:
1) The Sprint network. While not horrible in my area – the old MetroPCS network was actually better (I cannot comment on it under T-mobile). It may be improving but it is still far behind and I’m convinced it can't catch up (this is of course a bit YMMV depending on where you live – my guess my region isn’t the worse but not the best). The data connection in particular is spotty especially indoors. It makes enjoying it difficult. As mentioned my wife hasn’t been impressed with voice side either.
The second issue with Sprint network is that it is CDMA. One the justifications I found for switching is the fact that now that I have GSM phones I can move to the service that I a feel provides the best value at any given time without having to reinvest in new hardware. This was a selling point to me.
Ultimately I believe that Ting needs to partner with AT&T/T-mobile and replace or supplement Sprint (ala StraightTalk) to improve network performance, phone selection, and make it easier for people to switch to Ting. I am aware that of course it is their relationship with Sprint that allows them to provide one of their strongest selling point – the pricing model. That brings me to the second weakness:
2) Pricing. Two years ago I believe that Ting was the best value for what we used. Times change and the competition has evolved (I think Ting can take a bow for being a catalyst for this). Other MVNO’s have better networks backing them and provide competitive pricing. Even the big 4 are having to adjust and compete. However this means that what was Ting’s strength is at best neutralized and at worse a weakness for anyone using more than the lower tiers.
While it would be nice if they would lower their per unit pricing at the very least it would be helpful if they would provide more tiers. One of the pain points for me was that my wife and I would use a little more than 500MB a month (and just a bit more than the grace allotment) and it kinda stung to pay for that 1GB tier. By switching we get 1GB of data per line. It wouldn’t of been so bad if Ting had a half or even quarter tier. Another alternative could be to rollover unused allotments (even though this would be against their no “gimmicks” policy). In the end, their pricing needs to change for it to continue to being a selling point. While metered usage makes sense when it results in a lower bill - if you can get unlimited for the same or less, why wouldn't you?
Anyway, despite its flaws and that Ting is no longer the best value for my family I still love Ting and would recommend it to anyone for whom it makes sense. Two years ago Ting was innovative and the best bang for the buck. I hope they can change and adjust with times and that I’ll be able to at some point return to Ting.