A thank-you, a good-bye and a not-so-dirty little not-so secret.
First, a thank-you. Thank you, Ting, for taking us Ring Plus refugees in when Ring went mammaries-skyward about a year ago. Learning that my carrier was falling out was stressful enough, but if a sketchy carrier had won the Ring Refugee Raffle it would have added agita to injury. That's why I was relieved when it turned out that Ting was coming to our rescue. Ting was one of the top finalists when I was looking for a new carrier in June 2016 and finally chose Ring Plus.
Not only did Ting come to our rescue, they gave a $35 account credit to start us off! Based on my usage after Ting took over, that credit was good for almost two full months of service. That really eased the pain of being forced to a new carrier.
Of course, Ting didn't do this just from the goodness of their hearts, though I'm sure they would have because they seem like good people. Of course they were going to increase their customer base, thus improve their bottom line. But they also didn't have to offer the initial account credit, either. Like I said, good people.
Unfortunately, Ting's rate/service structure just isn't my cup of tea. That's why I'm saying good-bye.
The reason? Well, despite all of Ting's benefits, there's just one thing they don't provide that Ring Plus did: namely, unlimited. Ring Plus was my first experience with a carrier where I didn't have to watch minute, text & data consumption, worrying I would go over and pay more. Previously I had always had pre-paid accounts where I had to watch consumption like a hawk. So with Ring I got unlimited, and I liked it!
Well, so much for Ring Plus. As great as Ting is, now I'm back to watching consumption, trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep my bill within my budget.
Yes, Ting has account management features such as setting hard limits, but they're not always reliable. That's not necessarily Ting's fault, it's just a result of the intrinsic delays in the system between when you use something, when Sprint reports that usage to Ting, and when Ting's system can integrate that information into your account.
Now, the the data usage monitor on my phone was usually pretty close to Ting's tally, but the difference increased as the billing cycle neared its end. Sometimes the final tallies were DOZENS of megabytes apart. At the end of one cycle, my phone said I used 470 megabytes and Ting said I used 512! Fortunately, Ting's grace margin saved me from paying for the Large tier that month.
I haven't started with my next carrier yet, but there are several that offer unlimited minutes & text with a modest amount of high-speed data, throttled afterward, at decent pricing. Meaning no minute/megabyte counting.
And finally, the not-so-dirty little not-so secret.
Ting's whole rate/usage structure is based on "pay only for what you use." To that end, their rate chart is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. Use 1-100 minutes, you're in the "Small" tier. Use 100-500 minutes, you're in the "Medium" tier. Don't use minutes? Then you pay nothing for minutes! No muss, no fuss, easy-peasy.
The problem is, there's a completely different way of looking at that. Paying $3 for 1-100 minutes ACTUALLY means you pay $3 for the first minute, and the next 99 are free. Think about it -- regardless of whether you used 1 minute or 86 minutes, it was that first minute that triggered the $3 charge. On the upside, your next 99 minutes are free.
But then if you use all of that and cross into the "Medium" zone, your 101st minute costs $6! (100-500 minute Medium tier: $9, minus the $3 you already paid for Small) But, for agreeing to that deal your next 399 minutes are free. So in order to not have paid exorbitant amounts for the first minute/text/BYTE in each tier, you have to use more to average-out the per-unit cost.
But be careful, because if you didn't mean to cross the line from Small to Medium and ended up using 101 minutes, you really DID pay $6 for that 101st minute! This happened to me several times over my year with Ting. Minutes & data, mostly. Texting is actually the cheapest product at Ting; to me, $5 for up to 1,000 texts is a bargain.
To Ting's great credit, they don't deny this alternative perspective on their rate structure. They actually acknowledge it. From the Timg Community Forum main page, go into the "Ask Ting" section and look for two posts: One titled "Price of text message", dated Feb. 7, and one titled "Ting's slogan about 'pay only for what you use' is a little misleading", dated Jan. 4. The posters, to varying degrees, bring up this issue. A Ting representative replied and acknowledged this alternative view. That's why it's not so secret.
I will also give Ting the benefit of the doubt and say that I don't believe that, when they came up with their unique rate structure, their intention was to gouge people for their 101st minutes, 101st megabytes, etc. That's why I don't believe it's that dirty. But if you don't watch your consumption, it will come up and bite you eventually.
Please understand, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the way Ting does business. Far from it. Ting's rate/service structure is probably the most unique and transparent in the industry. They obviously wanted to set themselves apart from the way other carriers bill and provide service, and they succeeded. So, with caveats, for someone who needs to keep their mobile bill in-budget and doesn't mind watching consumption, you can hardly go wrong with Ting.
The bottom line is, I'm sick of watching consumption, I tasted unlimited, I liked it, and I'm going out and finding it again. I stayed with Ting for about a year; hopefully they recouped their initial account credit.
With thanks and best wishes for everyone at Ting,