Why we are leaving Ting

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.     

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Comments

9 comments
  • Hi Frank - Thanks for your feedback, we are always looking for ways to improve, and who knows what the future may bring! 

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  • Hey Frank, Thanks again for the great feedback. It is comments like these that really help us to grow. There are no official plans to make changes to our tiers or carrier but most of the changes we do make come from users past and present like yourself.

    We don't want to offer per unit pricing, but we do plan on staying competitive and keeping true to our pay-for-what-you-use roots. Our services are under constant review and we make changes where and when we can and we are excited for the future of Ting

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  • "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. "

    These are the only issues I have with Ting. Their stellar customer service, to me, makes up for these issues. The pricing isn't bad either, but honestly even if Ting was as expensive (for me) as the various prepaid carriers, I'd still stick with them.

    I can't say I'll always be a Ting customer, but I know that for the foreseeable future I'll be here. 

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  • @ Sam C  September 25, 2014 18:38

    Actually you already do offer per unit pricing. When you exceed any of the XL buckets, usage is priced per unit.

    Here is the problem with the buckets as currently structured.  It is the high marginal cost of going from one bucket to the next. It is especially true of L to XL voice minutes. If you just go over 1000 minutes but barely, it costs an extra $17. So if you're someone that is always hovering around 1000 minutes, you have to be constantly watching the meter because you don't want to pay an extra $17 for a 10 minute call. That becomes a big source of inconvenience.

    What would be better is this:

    Keep the X, S and M buckets and then go to per unit pricing beyond M. Get rid of the L and XL buckets. That way the biggest jump is the S to M data jump ($3  to $12). Or even if you just got rid of the L bucket it would still be an improvement. In that case, the biggest jump is M to L voice ($9 to $18).

    Another option would be to keep all the buckets but realign them to be spread more evenly. For instance the voice minutes buckets go from $3 to $9 to $18 to $35. Instead, you could do $9, $17, $26, $35 and adjust the minutes accordingly so that the biggest jump is no more than $9.

     

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  • We used to be on a Sprint 700-shared minutes plan that cost us about $80 per month for two phones.  Neither my wife nor I text nor use data, but at the time, that was the cheapest plan we could find for both phones.  We'd had our sons on our plan, but after they went off on their own plans, it left just our two phones (and we were several years past our contract time, so we could switch anytime we wanted).  We noticed that we never even came close to 700 minutes per month, but couldn't drop to anything lower because it didn't exist.  When my brother told me about Ting and I checked their pricing model, we switched immediately.  Over the past year or so, our bill has dropped to less than $20 per month for both phones.  The pricing model, coverage, and service work just fine for us.  Will it still when I switch to a more modern (but old by today's standards) HTC EVO 4G LTE and start using text and data?  Time will tell, but I can't see it ever getting back up to what Sprint was charging us.

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  • Unfortunately I too have decided to move our service away from Ting. I have only good things to say to anyone about the service Ting provides, the Customer Support as well as the pricing model. Howver, I cannot look past the catastrophic Sprint network any more. We moved around 3 months back to a new apartment about 15 miles away from the old one. The older place was supposedly a 4G LTE high-strength zone but we never got more than 3G, and not very fast 3G at that. Not really deal-breaking for the price.

    At the new place, which is also best-strength 4G LTE supposedly, we now have 1 bar of 3G. We can only talk without dropping calls constantly while smushed against a window, and even then get garbled voice and the occasional drop. The less said about up/down speeds the better. My wife changed jobs and now cannot answer phone calls at work or use any data at all.

     

    I'm sold on Ting as a service, it is just bad news that it comes piggybacked on the Sprint network. I really want to see Ting succeed and hope you guys can jump onto Verizon's network or something like that.

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  • Sprint has a hard time inside my house so I rely on wifi a lot and I switched to another Sprint mvno since I might as well save more money.  Ting is a truly unique service, it's like a pig with lipstick.  MVNO's that do "pay as you go" in general target value conscience customers/light users (I always hate when my siblings call me stingy), so Tings program with buckets definitely rides the line on what people are willing to pay for.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipstick_on_a_pig

     

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  • Stepping back in to say that I'm going to pull one of my lines (my main line) out of Ting for one reason alone: Lack of a great Windows Phone 8.1 device on Ting. A buddy is giving me a GSM Lumia 925, and the temptation to use it as my daily driver is just too much to overcome. Limping along on Android for the past month has forever ruined me on that platform. I know Ting is getting the Lumia 635 in a couple of months, but from what I've read it's simply not enough phone for my needs. Given the issues I had with the HTC 8XT (and in fairness, probably due to my particular device and not the model in general), I've decided I can deal with a prepaid GSM carrier's service to have a phone I enjoy using.

    All that said, my tablet and my wife's phone are staying with Ting for the long haul, and the moment Ting gets a flagship Windows phone I'll be back in a flash on my main line. Ting's support and unique approach to customer service simply cannot be matched by ANY carrier, prepaid or not. Even T-Mobile, with their stellar support and cheap plans, are a distant second. 

    I'm going to stay active in the Ting Help forums, and I've got plenty of phones on standby to help with any future network testing. Long live Ting!

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  • I am glad that i read this first before simply leaving ting. I do want to support them and let them have a chance to work on competing. I will withdraw my main number and leave the kids on here and watch for improvements and a better competitive pay tier system.

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