L->XL Bucket Transition Trap

I'm looking over past forum comments and also the Ting Rate Grid. As many others have noticed, there is clearly a "trap" when transitioning from the L to XL bucket. It is especially glaring for voice minutes but still true for data.

If you use ~1000 minutes, but not much more, there is a steep $17 hit. So that 10 minute overage is costing you $1.70/min!  If you happen to use +1G, again there is a $10 hit. So that 10MB data overage is at $1/MB.

And obviously if you happen to be ~1000 min and 1GB data regularly, you are setting yourself up for a $27 hit even though you may not be using much more than 1000 min or 1GB of data!

Maybe I'm being overly suspicious, but I suspect that this was done by design to trap people to profit from wastage and this transition point "optimizes" the wastage in Ting's favor. Otherwise why the need for such a big jump, especially in voice?

There is really no good reason for the XL Voice bucket other than it being a "wastage trap". For instance, Ting could have simply made the XL Voice Bucket to be 1001-1500 at, say, $26 (and then 1500+ would be at pay per minute), Then the "trap" is now only a $8 hit.

Better yet, instead of re-adjusting the XL bucket (or adding more buckets), why not just get rid of the XL bucket entirely? I mean Ting keeps talking about price simplicity. Well if you got rid of the XL bucket and made it so that overages over bucket L are at a per unit price, you've done a few things:

  1. Simplified the pricing model by eliminating one column in the pricing grid.
  2. Getting rid of the L->XL $17 voice trap and $10 data trap
  3. Because of (2), encourage more people to spend more rather than limit themselves from going over to the XL bucket to avoid the big $27 trap (so Ting might possibly make more money!)

The other thing I would note is this. The XL bucket really shouldn't exist for another reason, which is that it doesn't make sense economically for customers even if they aren't on the low end of the XL bucket. XL for voice, text and data costs $81, well guess what you clearly shouldn't be using Ting because there are much better plans elsewhere for that price! Therefore if you are using XL buckets consistently, then you really shouldn't be using Ting!

In other words, the XL bucket only makes sense as an occasional overage bucket. But in that case, the marginal cost is very steep. So if XL bucket is only meant to be an occasionally overage bucket, it makes more sense to eliminate it and go to price per unit after exceeding the L bucket!

 

 

0

Comments

18 comments
  • Ting is trying to make a viable business by saving money for over 90 percent of users. Users who regularly hit the XL bucket are outside that group. The bucket system provide automatic flexibility for people who occasionally have large usage.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • No Bruce, the XL bucket does not provide flexibility. How does a marginal cost of $17 to go from L to XL in voice minutes provide "flexibility"? How is it flexible that Ting forces you to buy an extra 1000 minutes when you have used 1000 minutes???

    If you are at the L bucket for voice (1000 minutes) and hitting the XL bucket means an extra $17 and you for sure know you won't exceed the L bucket by much, its doesn't provide flexibility at all. You'll make extra effort to stop usage even if it means inconveniencing yourself.

    On the other hand if the XL bucket were either eliminated completely to anything above XL is per minute cost OR XL were changed to be a smaller incremental cost, well in that case, it would be flexible because you aren't being hit with a large $17 increase.

    There is no reason for the XL bucket to exist as configured. Either it should be eliminated entirely OR adjusted so that the incremental cost isn't $17 but, say, $8 going up to 1500 minutes.

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Of course I should point out that there is a reason for this $17 cost to go from L-XL.

    Ting has analyzed the situation and noted that it is profitable to do so because of the large amount of wastage that occurs for people having to be in the XL voice bucket. If you are using just over 1000 minutes, it costs you $17 but they've analyzed and determined that most people don't use anyway near the extra 1100 minutes that XL provides over L. So the marginal cost per minute to be using XL minutes is very high and very profitable.

    If Ting wants to do right, they should either get rid of the XL bucket entirely or change it so that XL buys you an extra 500 minutes at, say, an extra $8 (not an extra 1100 minutes at an extra $17).

    Because for anyone that uses around 1000 minutes and not much more than that, TIng is a very bad deal.

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • I love ting. And you know what if I have to pay an extra $17 for minutes over 1000 so be it. Still beats the $136 I was paying on Verizon. Ting RULES! And if you keep using over the "L" bucket, then adjust your usage :)

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • It's not a "trap." The rates are clear and on the website. I plan on monitoring my usage carefully and not allowing myself to go into too large of a bucket. Being forgetful or careless in your usage means that you have to pay. I don't see how it's a trap, when there are such easy tools to track and limit usage.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Of course its a trap. The fact that it is clear and on the website doesn't make it any less so. The fact that you have to make extra effort to avoid going into it means that it is indeed a trap.

    Yes I understand that you can just monitor usage and not get into the XL bucket. But that's not the point. Ting shouldn't be forcing you to have to do that in the first place!

    Again, it is better for everyone if they eliminated the XL bucket and just go to unit pricing. Or at the very least, tweak the XL bucket to be up to 1500+ at, say $8.

    It would be better for all the customers. I would think it might be better for Ting too. Because while Ting might profit from the $17 wastage trap, they also lose potential money on people that try real hard to avoid it. If it were unit pricing after L, I think the amount of money made on people who no longer avoid XL voice minutes would more than make up for the wastage profit of people buying 1100 min at $17 but using only a fraction of it.

    The fact is that forcing you to buy 1100 min at $17 after exceeding 1000 min is bad policy for customers (and I would argue even for Ting's bottom line). Stop defending bad policy! The only way TIng might change is if enough people tell them they want change not people defending it. Because I have yet to see anyone argue that the XL voice bucket is actually better than unit pricing or an XL bucket that goes only up to 1500 min!

     

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Again, what benefit is there in having the XL voice bucket from the customer's POV over a unit pricing scheme after L (or at least making XL be only up to 1500min)? No one has answered that because that benefit doesn't exist! If there were a vote, I bet overwhelmingly people would prefer not to have to either buy 1100 worth of minutes at $17 knowing they will use only a small fraction of that or have to monitor their usage like a hawk to avoid it. From a customer's POV, everyone would prefer unit pricing or 1500min bucket instead of the current 2100 min XL bucket! So those people need to speak up!

    Now I have touched on the issue that this may be done deliberately because Ting is profiting a lot from the XL voice wastage and changing it would hurt their profits. My only counter is that maybe not because the loss of wastage profits would be made up from people no longer avoiding going over 1000 min so the bottom line would be the same or even better.

     

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Johan, I can see you really believe in your point. But I'll just say that for people like me, who have never used 500 (let alone 1000) minutes in a month, Ting is ideal. I just switched from AT&T, where my 'unlimited' talking and text were basically useless, even though I paid for heavily for them. If I were a heavy data or minutes user, I might agree with you.

    As for: "Yes I understand that you can just monitor usage and not get into the XL bucket. But that's not the point. Ting shouldn't be forcing you to have to do that in the first place!" The whole reason Ting appeals to me is just how easy they make it to monitor usage, to set limits that send me warnings, and to deactivate my minutes (or data, or whatever) at my user-set limit. I don't think Ting could make it any easier for me to stay under my goals. And since I can see up front how much each bucket costs, I know how to set my goals to fit within my budget. I understand that this method of intense monitoring isn't for everyone, but you shouldn't feel slighted when the policies and prices are so clearly laid out--a rarity in the telecom industry. But if the monitoring tools and pricing scheme don't work for you, why not just spend your money elsewhere? There are MVNOs that charge per-unit pricing out there. (My thoughts: for most people who fall into what you are calling a "trap," Ting is STILL cheaper than the alternatives. But that's just conjecture.)

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • "Again, what benefit is there in having the XL voice bucket from the customer's POV over a unit pricing scheme after L (or at least making XL be only up to 1500min)? No one has answered that because that benefit doesn't exist!"

    Yes, there currently is a benefit to having the XL bucket - when you use on the high end of the XL bucket it's cheaper then per unit pricing after L. Using 900 - 2100 minutes is cheaper with the XL bucket then if there was per unit pricing after 1000 minutes.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Oops, I left out the "1" in 1900 and there is no edit option. That last sentence should read:

    Using 1900 - 2100 minutes is cheaper with the XL bucket then if there was per unit pricing after 1000 minutes.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • If there was per unit pricing after 1000 minutes, Ting would need to raise prices for all the other users to adjust their revenue features. Ting is keeping their price low for a majority of their users. If the XL bucket is such a pain, find another carrier. You are not locked in by a contract with Ting, unlike the major carriers.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Actually, it is about building a viable business without locking in the user. Ting has stated many times that they are not looking at adjusting this system, If you see it as a trap, you are free to leave.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • This is probably the last I'll say because I don't want this to get too heated. I just wanted to offer a tip to others (and respond to the following):

    "I think you should be afforded the choice to chose to bump yourself up to the next tier or just pick a tier like 500"

     

    Implicitly, you can do this through the alerts option on your account page. You can disable data (for example) at a certain threshold, until you reactivate it through your account. For me, I set it at 400mb. (This gives me a buffer in case Ting's alerts aren't instant.) So I will not be moved into the next tier without my "permission" so to speak, in the form of reactivating the data. This is what I was talking about Ting making it easy to stay within your goals.

    Other than that, people should choose what makes them happy! That's what I love about the recent growth of MVNOs in the telecom industry. 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • I do not understand the problem.  Are you a Ting customer and trying to get an even lower bill or do you have another service?  I guess what is the major issue?  Do you pay more than you did elsewhere?  People lay an egg when I tell the how much I pay for 2 lines and what I am estimated to pay for 3.  This model benefits more people, even if it doesn't benefit you.  These other companies are starting to offer lower rates because they have felt the heat.  The gig is up.  Their model is working on the premise that many people do not use what they are allowed to.  Some people do not use 2, 3, or 4000mb in a month, but they are still paying the premium for it.  You have more control with Ting than I have ever seen in any phone company.  I was with T-Mobile for 12 years.  I went to PagePlus for one, but that isn't good for more than one line.  Ting is the cheapest in the long run and the control measures are great, but I'm not such a low-rent that I worry about it.  These have been my cheapest bills by far.  I guess this discussion feels like a few people whining for being the perceived 2 percent who do not save money. 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Sorry but it IS a trap and actually makes net10 and Straight Talk better deals if you use only 1100 minutes a month (without using hardly any data or txt) which is VERY BAD for Ting as its really not hard to hit 1200 minutes and one really shouldn't be making the competition a better option.

    Frankly this would all be solved if there was a 1500 option, or the option to buy minutes in 500 minute blocks, but as it is I've already turned off my phone to keep from getting hit by the trap and if this happens again next month I'll have no choice but to go with one of the above where you can get unlimited minutes for less money without contract. I really hope this changes as I really like the idea of only paying for what I actually use but when its 3 days until the end of the billing cycle and the choice is get dinged by $17 or do without a phone for 3 days, well that isn't much of a choice is it?

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Oh and for the record I am a new Ting customer but according to the rate calc if I use just 1100 in minutes, even though I only used 230 txts and 66mb of data for the entire month? When you add in the $6 active phone fee Ting would cost me more than either Net10 or Straight Talk. I really like the phone and have quite a few friends that I could easily refer but the voice trap really has me worried. After all its easy enough to wait until you get home to use the net, and txting is easy enough to avoid, but what good is a phone that you are afraid to talk on?

     

    And I have to agree that those saying "Like it or leave" is acting VERY Cult like, and I would remind them that if Ting is to thrive it needs more than those that use a phone so little that they could probably get by with the free Google Voice app and that more users equal more negotiating power for Ting, more money to improve service and support, and a better service for ALL of us.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • I can assure all of you that when Ting was built, the notion of a pricing trap was no where to be found. In fact, we believe in the opposite in a lot of what the mobile industry has been feeding us. We believe in: fair pricing, no hidden fees, no contracts, great customer service, and transparency. Everyone at Ting works hard to ensure we live up to that standard daily.

    Building a rate and pricing model is a delicate balance. We have to be more affordable than most and save people a ton of money, but still allow the company to grow and keep the lights on. There are also different types of users to be taken into consideration, from light data users, to heavy voice users and everything in-between. Our goal is to save as many different types of users, as much money as we can.

    We encourage everyone to look at the bigger picture. How much are you saving this month? This year? Next year? Are you happy with our customer service? We take our rates very seriously and always listen to your feedback. Any changes to our price model would be met with heavy consideration, after all, we want to make sure it's fair to everyone. Not to say that it'll never happen. In fact, earlier this year we dropped our rates.

    I guess all this is to say, we care about your experience. We're listening.

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • The reason that there are more cell companies than you can count on both hands is because there are more scenarios than me, me, me and what you want. I am not with Tracfone, Net10, StraightTalk or now PagePlus because they do no good for multiple lines. I have 3. The phones are usually bottom tier and they have limited options for the average user. Not everyone likes to root or unlock phones. In a pinch, I can tether a Ting phone. That is a feature that has been shut off to most of the customers that are using an American Movil service, like the ones I mentioned. Do you know which models support which network on the other companies? Will you have GSM or CDMA? I get it. These companies exist because either people do not know all their options, or the scenario best fits them. I personally do know know anyone who puts in enough minutes in one month to send them into territory that makes their bill more than another company. I do not fit into that either. If it doesn't work for you, it may be better to leave and try something else, but weigh the tradeoffs. PagePlus was good for me, but only for one line, unless I didn't want data, then it would have been double what I pay now. We don't all have the same circumstance, so its pointless to argue. Its not really accurate to call it a trap when it doesn't get any more transparent upfront.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink

Please sign in to leave a comment.