Ting customers unaffected by Heartbleed

heartbleedTing was not affected by Heartbleed. Ting uses a different version of SSL than the one that was recently discovered to be vulnerable (OpenSSL).

We originally took the view that no news was good news and decided not to add our voice to the din. The thought was that affected sites should have the loudest voice as they communicate with their customers with important steps to take to protect themselves. This was the wrong approach and we apologize. We should have communicated right away that Ting customers would be unaffected by Heartbleed.

While you should change sensitive passwords regularly and always use password best practices, there is no action required for your Ting account to remain secure at this time.

Mashable has a great list of popular sites affected by Heartbleed. If you see a site you have an account with, be sure to check said site’s official communications to find out the best course of action. You can also check out heartbleed.com for all the gory details of this pervasive and potentially nasty bug.

Ting Personal Shopper turns 1!

It’s been almost a year since we unofficially launched our Personal Shopper program! To those who aren’t familiar, the Ting Personal Shoppers take the hassle out of finding a used device to use on Ting. They’ll scour the used device listings to find the perfect phone for you based on your price, model and feature requirements.

Chi, who manages Customer Service Operations here at Ting, describes the impact of the program:

“The program is a great first interaction with our great support team: People are amazed at how personal the interactions can be, as our Personal Shoppers really work with each customer to find the phone that’s right for them. The feedback that we hear most often is how quick the response time is, and how nice it was to sit back and relax while we take care of the legwork.

Here are some of the stats from the program after one year:

Personal Shopper copy

 

What’s next? Well, the Personal Shopper program will continue to exist alongside a new, automated version we’re working on! If you’d like to utilize the Ting Personal Shoppers to find your next device, head over to Ting used devices page and click on the Personal Shopper icon.

Get-Started

 

 

Case study: The Doe Fund and Ting

header_document_library3

PrintThe Doe Fund is a nonprofit organization headquartered in New York, NY. They also happen to be among the Ting customers with the most active devices on their account.

In their own words: For more than two decades, The Doe Fund has provided a proven, effective and sustainable solution to homelessness and criminal recidivism. Built on the premise that “work works,” its cornerstone program, Ready, Willing & Able offers paid job opportunities in tandem with an individualized service package, including transitional housing, occupational training, comprehensive social support, job readiness and placement assistance, and life-long graduate resources. The Community Improvement Project, its most visible initiative, employs program participants at above minimum wage to clean 150 miles of New York City streets daily. To date, more than 5,500 individuals have graduated from the program to lead independent, productive, law-abiding and drug-free lives.


The Doe Fund’s operations span several offices, and include a 400-person staff (63% of whom are program graduates) and a fleet of nearly 100 vehicles that keep the Community Improvement Project moving.

Ryan Hoenle, Director of Information Technology for The Doe Fund discovered Ting while researching options beyond the major cell phone service providers. Now, vehicles in The Doe Fund’s fleet and individuals in their workforce who constantly need to stay in contact are sporting Ting devices.

We had a chance to catch up with Hoenle, to chat and to ask a few burning questions.

The Doe Fund and Ting

While The Doe Fund used mobile devices previously, the pricing structure on Ting means that now, an increased number of more capable devices can be active in the field at a much lower cost. With the sheer number of phones on The Doe Fund’s Ting account, they’d end up paying thousands of dollars a month before anyone even made a phone call with a typical business mobile plan.

“As a non-profit organization, keeping operating costs low means The Doe Fund can provide comprehensive services to even more Ready, Willing & Able participants, helping them on their paths to self-sufficiency,” Hoenle said.

With traditional mobile phone plans, The Doe Fund wasn’t able to outfit the entire fleet with a dedicated device cost effectively.

“At $25 a line for the guy out there that’s only using (his phone) for PTT (push to talk, which works much like a walkie­-talkie over the cell network), that adds up very quickly when you have a number of vehicles and multiple drivers per vehicle.” Hoenle said.

“You get into these cost saving measures where you go ‘he’ll have this phone and this guy’ll have it between this hour and that hour’ and it becomes quite complicated … because devices are not assigned to one person.

“Because of the way Ting is able to just charge us $6 for the lines, we can do some interesting stuff,” Hoenle said. “For example, we have quite a few vehicles and (now we can) have a phone dedicated to each vehicle.”

RWA-Yankees-31

Using the Push To Talk (PTT) app Zello on its smartphones, the Doe Fund is able to get past the fact that PTT isn’t supported natively on Ting.

“Ting, in concert with Zello, allows us to go from that mixed, not everyone can contact everybody else, $25 a line per month PTT scenario to a scenario where everyone has a smartphone and everyone who needs it can have PTT, all at a very good price point.”

Ting’s bring your own device policy also allowed Hoenle and his team to activate devices the organization already owned, and supplement them with phones purchased used or new in bulk, and therefore relatively inexpensively.

“The thing that I had not anticipated at all was the positive reception that we’re receiving from our new Ting users and from our drivers,” Hoenle said. “Many of the people who are our drivers and who work in our facilities came through our program. They may not have used a smartphone before and previously only had a feature phone, if they had a phone at all. Now, we’re giving them all these smartphones. We are trusting them with something and they are getting additional responsibility.”

“I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective,” he said. “I’m more concerned with capability and what our budget looks like but they’re really responding very positively to these phones.”

Ting’s unique approach means an unlimited number of devices on one account sharing pooled usage and only paying for the individual minutes, messages and megabytes of data you actually use beyond the XL levels. As there are no contracts, no bundled plans and no hidden gotchas, Ting is arguably the most flexible and universal cell phone service around.

We’re proud to provide non-profits like The Doe Fund and businesses small and large our brand of unencumbered mobile service.

Login and Pay with Amazon… We’re giving away five Amazon Fire TVs!

Amazon Payments comes to Ting!We’re stoked to announce that you can now use Login with Amazon to sign in to or sign up for Ting! While you’re at it, you can also use Pay with Amazon to buy a new device. And, if you’re as excited about all of this as we are, you can now even use Amazon Payments to cover your monthly Ting bill.

One of the reasons that we’re especially aflutter about all of this is that Ting is the first mobile service to launch with Login and Pay with Amazon. I’m pretty sure we won’t be the last, but we’re going to bask in our early adopter sunlight (or Seattle fog, as it were) for now…

But, what does it all mean, you ask? For starters, if you use Login with Amazon you won’t have to remember another password just for Ting anymore. (And you’ll be able to use your same Amazon login across a growing number of sites… Shoes or deals, anyone?) If you’re buying a fancy new phone, you already know Ting has awesome customer service and a rock solid return policy. But you’ll also now have the added protection of the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee, which we think is a great way for folks to feel even more comfortable getting to know Ting. And, you’ll never have to enter or update your credit or debit card number again… Just fix it over at Amazon Payments and you’re good to go. How easy is that?! Plus, if you happen to want to pay your Ting bill with a JCB or Diner’s Club card, you can use those cards — in addition to Discover, American Express, Visa, and MasterCard — directly through Amazon Payments.

Which brings me to… Amazon Fire TV! Five lucky Tingfolk who have enabled Login with Amazon, bought a device or SIM card using Pay with Amazon, or signed up for Amazon Payments to cover their Ting bill before next Friday, April 11, 2014 at midnight (Pacific time, in honor of our Seattleite friends) will be randomly picked to receive a killer new Amazon Fire TV from Ting. (Although we’d love for you to, you don’t need to actually activate Ting service or buy anything right away. Just using Login with Amazon to create a Ting account and providing a phone number so we can reach you if you win is all you need to do to get on the list.)

If you’re already a Ting customer, all of these options are open to you, as well. Just head over to your account to enable Amazon Payments. If you’d like to give Login with Amazon a try, just signout of your Ting account and then click the Login with Amazon button the next time you sign in. (Just be sure you’re using the same email address with both Amazon and Ting.) You’ll be asked to confirm your old Ting password once, but then you’ll be good to go. And check out this Ting Help article for all the gripping details.

And let me just go on record as saying that I, for one, welcome our new Oiorpata overlords.

Quick update! Congrats to our winners… Kelv from Provo, Utah; Christy from Portland, Oregon; Irene from St. Martin Parish, Louisiana; Gregory from Gig Harbor, Washington; and Hally from Essex Junction, Vermont.

Personal Shopper feedback and HTC One giveaway!

HTC-One

Congratulations to our lucky winner, Tyler P!

 

Why is Ting so cheap?

We’re not going to lie to you. We respect you too much for that.

This post is here so that people using the search term “why is Ting so cheap?” get the whole story and details on “why is Ting so cheap” from us rather than getting half the story elsewhere.

Ting is indeed “cheap,” relative to what other carriers charge. The word “cheap” has negative connotations so we prefer to call ourselves inexpensive and our customers smart. Our no-hold customer service policy where you call and a real, live person picks up the phone ready to help isn’t what you’d expect from a “cheap” carrier. That said, we’ll stick with “why is Ting so cheap” for this discussion. If only because that’s probably the search term that brought you here.

We’d love if you’d read on and let us explain how Ting is inexpensive as opposed to cheap too.

That said…

Why is Ting so cheap?

adoreting-slider (cropped)With Ting, the average monthly cost per device is $21 and the average Ting bill is $31.50. Ting service is on the Nationwide Sprint* network and so offers the latest tri-band LTE, well over 300 LTE sites, 4G WiMAX and nationwide 3G.

We offer voice roaming (including text messages) on the Verizon network at no extra charge should you find yourself in one of the few places the Sprint network doesn’t reach.

More though, the way we approach mobile is fundamentally different. It all boils down to this: We think people are smarter than the mobile service status quo gives them credit for.

Pay for what you use

Screenshot 2014-01-30 13.39.32Rather than lock you into a plan, Ting instead offers simple and easy to understand rates. You start out the month with a flat $6 per active device on your account. As (or if) you use minutes, messages and megabytes of data, you move through the small, medium and large service levels until you reach XL. If your account goes beyond XL for minutes, messages or megabytes, you pay a very reasonable 1.9¢ per voice minute, ¼¢ per text message and 1½¢ per megabyte of data.

Without changing your mobile habits at all, chances are Ting will save you money. Taking a simple step like using Wi-Fi at home and / or in the office though, you can save even more.

Compare that with a bundled mobile plan where you’re really picking the plan that fits the least poorly of the lot.

Stuff that should be included is included

Other cell phone service providers want to charge a per-device fee for things like tethering, three-way calling, voicemail, caller ID and so on. With Ting, these things are included at no extra charge.

It just makes sense.

Tools that put customers in control

Screenshot 2014-01-09 14.52.08If there was an award for the cleanest and most powerful customer control panel, we’re pretty confident The Ting account dashboard would take the prize.

We don’t hide any capabilities and we put the power in our customers hands.

Want to set a hard cap on a device under your account so that data is disabled once it reaches a threshold you choose? No problem. Want to turn tethering on or off for a device on your account? Go ahead. You can activate and deactivate devices, turn services like international calling, picture and video messaging and many more on or off in your dashboard.

With Ting, you’re in the driver’s seat.

No “free” phones

ETFpicOther carriers offer $0 or otherwise heavily subsidized phones in exchange for you signing a contract. They recoup the money they fronted you (and then some) in the form of inflated service costs and recovery fees.

That’s not our MO.

With Ting, you can get a new device or buy refurbished from us. We sell devices at or at very near our own cost. Therefore, we don’t need to recoup that money elsewhere and we can instead focus on and invest in customer service.

We partnered with Glyde to offer reasonably priced, Ting-ready used devices. Our Ting Personal Shopper service can also help you find the perfect phone to bring to Ting from a used online marketplace like eBay. These offerings are on the used devices page too.

Sustainable business

We earn a fair and sustainable margin on the service we sell. We don’t load you down with confusing bundled plans and we don’t saddle you with 1,000 voice minutes just because you want a gig of data. Similarly, we don’t charge recovery fees or try to squeak extra line items past you.

We’d rather be clear and upfront about our offerings because we believe that people are smart enough to make the decision that’s right for them. So far, so good on that front!

No hidden BS

You know what they say about death and taxes. We can’t help you with the former… but we can promise we won’t add to the pain of the latter by charging recovery or disbursement fees.

With Ting, the tax you pay is the tax we’re legally required to collect and remit on your behalf. No more, no less.

We’ll never tack on extra fees or ding you for something as simple as turning on tethering or activating your voicemail.

Cheap vs. inexpensive

Now, for the all-important differentiation between “cheap” and “inexpensive.”

Cheap is cutting customer service to the bone and / or outsourcing.

Cheap is offering only a couple of undesirable devices and asking customers to settle in exchange for a low monthly cell phone bill.

Cheap is telling people how to use their cell phones and then penalizing them if they don’t do things your way.

Cheap is running a crappy Compuserve-era web site.

These, and the many other examples we could rhetorically provide, is why we prefer to say Ting offers inexpensive cell phone service to smart people as opposed to cheap cell phone service.

We have slashed our data pricing

This week marks the two year anniversary of our launch. We are celebrating by slashing prices, particularly on heavy data usage. (If that’s about all you need to hear from me, check out the new Rates page now.)

This is not a promotion, these are just our new rates. Current customers do not need to weigh a move to a new plan. New customers do not need to come from any particular provider or sign up for a particular plan. You don’t need to buy a device or make any commitment. We are simply dropping our prices.

We have a very simple business model. We invest heavily in engineering and customer support. We spend comparatively little on marketing. We take nothing on devices. We take a fair margin on service. We offer the best prices and the best experience we possibly can. We hope that you stick around and tell your friends.

We also listen. You repeatedly told us that our Achilles’ heel was our pricing on high data usage.

After two years of fantastic growth, we are now in a position to offer even better prices. We cannot think of a better way to spend our “winnings” than pouring them right back into our customers.

There had been talk in the forums about shifting or adding levels. We decided that felt, well, shifty (or addy). It’s so much purer to just drop prices across the board.

new rates

The highlights:

  • Every data graduation beyond the $3 ‘Small’ is cheaper.
  • We’ve dropped the XXL level across the board so pure per-unit pricing kicks in sooner.
  • Perhaps most importantly for our heavy data users and business customers, we have dropped the per-unit pricing on megabytes beyond 2,000 from 2.25 cents to just 1.5 cents. That means a gig (or gigabyte or GB) of data is $15 beyond the XL level.
  • Finally, just to make sure that jump from XL to unit pricing is a win for everyone, we dropped the pricing on minutes beyond 2,000 from 2 cents to 1.9 cents, raised the ceiling on the XL minutes bucket to 2,100 and raised the ceiling on the XL messages bucket to 4,800. Do the math, I promise it works.

 

If you are already a Ting customer, you will begin enjoying the new rates in your next billing period (the one that starts after today). So, to be clear, the billing period you are in the middle of right now will still be on the old rates.

If you are just considering Ting, now would be a great time to re-calculate your potential savings.

Ho-Ho-Holiday Hours

Hello from Customer Service!

The holidays are fast approaching, so we wanted to let you know what our Support hours will be for all of the days of merriment:

Tuesday, December 24th:  8am – 5pm ET (early close)
Wednesday, December 25th:  Closed
Thursday, Dec 26th:  8am – 11pm ET – (regular hours resume through December 30th)

Tuesday, December 31st:  8am – 5pm ET (early close)
Wednesday, January 1st:  Closed
Thursday, January 2nd:  8am – 11pm ET – (regular hours resume)

You might be saying yourself “well other carriers stay open 365 days a year–366 in a leap year even; why doesn’t Ting?”

It’s simple:  we really like our staff here. And we want them to have some time to spend with their families and friends over the holiday season just like everyone else. It’s one of the ways that we strive to keep them happy; and it works a lot better than the time we gave each of them a puppy.

We realize this might get in the way of some troubleshooting or activation help a few of you might need, so we’ve got some great articles online to get you through. If you need help with getting a device activated on your account, this article will walk you through that process. Completing a BYOD? This article will point you to the information you need for your device. Looking for some specific troubleshooting? Just do a quick search of the help center.

You can absolutely still get in touch with us on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and we’ll get back to you lickety-split on the 26th and 2nd.

Wishing you all the turkey and chocolate consumption you can handle,

Ting Team

Five Golden Ticket winners, one to go…

Update: The sixth Golden Ticket was found! Congrats to Judith K. of Washington and all our winners.

As a reminder, we recently stuffed three of our sweet, new reusable Ting shipping portfolios with Golden Tickets. We also sent three digital Golden Tickets to random “bring your own devicers”. All Golden Ticket winners received $400 in Ting credit which, based on the average Ting bill, should offer about a year of free service.

blog_GoldenTicket-1So far, 5 out of 6 tickets have been found:

Stephen S. (North Carolina)
Jeff F. (California)
Sandy C. (West Virginia)
Ray T. (Ohio)
Catherine L. (Florida)

One of the best things about running goofy contests like this is that we end up meeting a few more of our customers. We get to hear about why they came to Ting and how things are going so far.

Jeff F. in California had a great story. He decided to come to Ting to save some money and bought the cheapest smartphone he could find on our site, the Refurbished LG Optimus S. Just as he did that, a friend offered him an eligible HTC EVO. He gladly accepted but was kind of bummed that he wasted the cash on the LG Optimus S. Then it arrived with a $400 credit! Best return on any investment he ever made.

When I spoke to Jeff, he was having some trouble canceling his account with Virgin and bringing his phone number over to Ting. He was concerned that he might have messed up the timing and lost his number forever. I said, “No problem, Jeff, call our Support team, we’ll walk you through the whole thing and make sure everything is fine.” He said, “Ugh, I’ll call, but I just know I’ll be left on hold for six hours.” I love it when people say stuff like that! Man, it’s so easy to be shockingly good in this industry. I talked to him the next morning. He had been lucky enough to get Kenisha on the phone. (I would say Kenisha is the best Customer Rep we have at Ting, tied with about 30 other Customer Reps.) He and his phone number are with Ting and doing great.

sandy (reduced)

I was also delighted to meet Sandy C. from West Virginia. Sandy and her family use very little data and were wasting money with plans that essentially force people to buy fixed amounts of voice, data and text that they don’t need. She admitted that our coverage is not ideal for her out there. But being able to pay for just what she uses was worth a bit of a sacrifice. And she is rightfully hopeful that it will get better.

Funny story. I was talking to Sandy on her Ting phone and we were having an awful time hearing each other. I’m screaming, “Congratulations Sandy!!!! How are you enjoying Ting so far??!!” After a about thirty seconds of this, I said, “Wow, Sandy, this is terrible, I don’t want you to live like this!!! If we don’t  have the coverage you need…” Just then, Sandy’s voice came through clear as bell and said, “Sorry about that, I was just looking for something in the basement.” I cracked up. So not that great, but not that bad.

I asked Sandy to send me a cute photo of herself and the Golden Ticket. She sent this photo and explained, “You asked for a cute picture of me and the ticket. Well I don’t do cute so much, but I included my goat Violet to add some humor anyway. The goats appreciate the win too, cookies for everyone!

Catherine gushed for about 10 minutes about how wonderful we are. I laughed about that. I figure you can suck pretty badly and then give someone $400 and there’s still a good chance they’ll gush about how wonderful you are. She said had just worked a 24 hour shift in the Intensive Care Unit and we made her day. I laughed again. That shouldn’t be a tough day to make. But we made her happy. That makes me happy.

One bit of data: 3 out of the 5 winners so far have never won anything their lives.

So, Stephen, Jeff, Sandy, Ray and Catherine have all claimed their prizes. Stephen, Ray and Catherine got the digital tickets. Jeff and Sandy got two out of the three actual tickets. One actual ticket is still at large. I love the drama, since history would suggest that the last one to find the Golden Ticket wins the whole Ting factory!