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Ting Customer Q&A – James Foster

James Foster

Ting customer since: Feb 2012
Previous carrier: Verizon
Monthly savings with Ting: $70/mo

Where did you first hear about Ting?:

I was sitting down with my wife, debating between taking Verizon’s lowest family plan, and giving Sprint a try. While she was fiddling with plan pricing, I was browsing Slashdot (like always). They had a feature about a new wireless company started by Tucows (a name I remembered from the good ol’ days before the .com crash). After looking into Ting a little bit, we made the obvious decision to switch.

What was it about Ting that resonated with you and made you want to switch?:

Being a technology enthusiast, I have an endless number of rants on the stupidity of America’s wireless carrier situation. While I understand that putting up the infrastructure for these things is expensive, the prices these guys charge are absolutely ridiculous. When I first looked at Ting’s pricing structure and easily understood “however many devices you want, man” attitude, I was basically sold. I don’t mind paying a bit more for my device if I’m allowed to do whatever I want with it and pay a fair price to use all its features.

Were you in contact with a mobile carrier before you made the move to Ting? How long was left? What did that translate to in early termination fees?:

Our Verizon contract had just ended and we were no longer going to get a discount due to my wife switching jobs. We were going to be paying over $120 a month for dumbphones. If I had known about Ting earlier, I can guarantee I would’ve terminated.

What kind of savings are you seeing with Ting, month over month?:

Our old Verizon bill was about $105 a month for two terrible feature phones. My screen was broken, and my wife’s phone had many glitches. Our Ting bill, for 2 very capable smartphones, averages about $35 a month. We once had to pay $45 because I accidentally used a bunch of extra data that month. No tears were shed from that incident.

How many phones and/or data services do you have on your Ting plan?:

Two LG Optimus S’s. We love them both.

When you explain Ting to your friends, family and/or random passers by, what do you say?:

“Ting is a company comprised entirely of real people. When you call their single phone number, a pleasant-voiced human answers the phone. When you look into their forums to get an idea of their culture, they have a section on Android Hacking. When you actually use your phone, you are charged in a way that resembles what you’d charge your friends if you ran a wireless company. Ting is an almost blinding ray of sanity and choice in dark realm of mediocrity.”

Are you happy you made the move to Ting? Care to elaborate?:

I could not possibly be happier. I have a tinker-friendly phone running a custom operating system and a bill most would think is being subsidized by the government. My wife and I had a baby only moments before losing both of our jobs. We have literally been running on fumes every month. Ting has been one of the brightest patches of this troubling phase in our lives. With the bills being so low and the service so reliable, I have never once had to worry about whether or not I’ll have a phone number potential employers can reach me. Not to mention the fact that they’re Android phones, so I’m never more than two taps away from a fun game to help relax. My only fear is that (god forbid) Ting will assimilate so many happy customers that Sprint will get mad and quash them.

What should we be doing better?:

I really only have one tiny, insignificant issue with Ting. When are you guys going to make an android app/widget that lets us monitor our account’s usage across devices? If you get that implemented, I would literally be in wireless heaven.

Samsung Galaxy SIII giveway winner:
Christopher Blunden

We promised refunds from among the first 200 pre-orders of the Samsung Galaxy SIII when we first made it available on Ting. The response was a huge spike in device sales and proof positive that we’d put a challenging device period behind us.

Recently we had a chat with Bill Butt about his win. Now it’s Christopher Blunden’s turn to speak his piece.

Thanks for taking the time, Christopher. We appreciate it and we’re glad you’re loving the SIII and Ting service so far. We also appreciate your restraint in not plugging your own web site. Heck, you didn’t even mention it. Allow us:
If you’re looking for a voice-over artist or a pro PowerPoint presentation, check out PresentationLab.

Where did you first hear about Ting? Why did you choose to make the switch?

I have an Internet radio and earphone by the bed I use to listen Leo Laporte’s day-later podcasts of This Week in Tech (TWIT) various shows. What he said made sense. “When it comes to billing plans for smart devices, these folks at Ting got it right.” (ed: This is just one of the reasons we love Leo and his TWIT network.)

Prior to this, I always bragged about having the “smartest” data plan, then pulled out my Motorola v557 flip phone with the retired Cingular logo stamped on the bottom and said, “Zero, I have none.”

I had looked at plan upgrades for a long time through phone company competitors and at Costco, and realized after about a year with Ting, the ongoing savings kick in. I waited several months until you offered the phone I wanted, the SIII, and combined with a $50 promo savings you honored, I finally went ahead.

Did you run the numbers on how long it would take to save the equivalent of the SIII purchase price before buying?

Yes, and even with bundling plan offers, it still made better sense to me to invest in Ting.

How long would it have taken?

I have access to a wired desktop and a wireless laptop I use all day for work, so calculating my potential data usage using a mobile smart device in answer to your question is inexact. Being a baby-boomer in my “extremely late 40’s” I’ve always used computers daily since the pre-DOS CP/M days. I recently read that using a smart phone as a telephone is less than 5% of actual usage, and that most usage is as a mobile computing device. While engaging in one of my work skills (doing voice-overs for App developers) I’ve discovered new uses for these devices that never existed. I know I’ll be applying some of these Apps to my benefit. I also realized Ting was the most economical way for me to learn to use the device in new ways as a mobile computer at my own pace in wireless settings and to then apply that learning when on the go.

How is the Galaxy SIII working out for you so far?

It’s like walking into a Disneyland for the first time. I’ve had an iPod Touch 4 (64 GB) for two years (what Steve Jobs called, “The iPhone without the phone” which has always amazed me, but decided to enter Androidland to compare. Check back in 6 months.

What are you going to do with your new found fortune?

[Christopher] Upgrade the internet speed for my desktop.

How do you explain Ting to your friends and family?

The data plan where you only pay for what you use. And they actually answer their phone.

Samsung Galaxy SIII giveaway winner:
Bill Butt

When we first added the Samsung Galaxy SIII to the Ting lineup and offered it up for pre-order, we said we’d give away two Galaxy SIIIs across from among the first 200 pre-orders across all color and capacity variations. Well, we did just that; the first name drawn was William Butt, Bill to his friends. Since we’re all friends here, Bill it is.

We asked Bill if he’d be willing to do a quick Q&A with us. He obliged because he’s a nice guy.

Where did you first hear about Ting? Why did you choose to make the switch?

I was looking for a really good way to drastically cut my cell phone bill. My son, who follows all things tech, suggested that I look into Ting. I would say that I switched for two reasons: 1) to save money and 2) it made sense. I read the Ting blog from beginning to end (ed: That’s what I like to hear!), ran the numbers, and I saw that Ting is a different kind of phone company. In a two year time period I will cut my cell phone bill to a quarter of what it was even with buying the phone outright.

Did you run the numbers on how long it would take to save the equivalent of the SIII purchase price before buying? How long would it have taken?

The difference between my old provider using their lease to own (ed: Love this. A great way to look at subsidized devices and contracts.) and Ting’s owning the phone outright from day one was only $350. That is two or three months of savings to pay for the phone on an individual case. My apple to apple comparison of my old provider and Ting is something like going from $183/month before taxes to $45/ month using two years of cell phone usage. Stretch that out over two years, and you are talking some serious saving coming my way by changing to Ting.

How is the Galaxy SIII working out for you so far?

The Galaxy SIII is great. It’s light years ahead of my old phone that is only 2½ years old. The phone has lots of pros. There are too many to list here without any obvious cons. Folks just have to get one of these phones and unleash it on the Ting network. They will never be sorry. Plus, it is a bonus when the wife likes her new Samsung Galaxy SIII too.

What are you going to do with your new found fortune?

Pay the cable bill, would Ting be thinking about entering the cable TV Market? My cable company does not think like Ting does. Their bills are like my old cell phone provider, bad.

How do you explain Ting to your friends and family?

My change to Ting gives me more services for less money; you cannot beat that.

Thanks for taking the time, Bill. We appreciate it.

BYOD update, new devices coming soon to Ting and a shipping update

Device Update: September 27, 2012

A couple of members of the Ting team will be heading out to Sprint HQ on Sunday evening, returning late Wednesday. They’ll return with a boatload of information on BYOD, on the device lineup available to us going forward and much more. In other words, we’ll have a BYOD update very soon. The information that we have thus far follows.

BYO(Sprint)D

Bring your own (Sprint) device is coming ever closer. We’ve been working hard on our end to make sure that as soon as Sprint is ready to go, all we’ll need to do is make the appropriate backend connections and BYOD on Ting will be a reality.

We’ll have more detail in a dedicated BYOD blog post but there’s one tidbit we can share now: We’re working on an app that will make the BYOD process incredibly simple and elegant for Android users. Our app will make a Sprint network-capable Android device into a Ting device with a few button presses. We can’t wait to show it off… but we’re going to have to. Beta testers will get first crack at BYOD on Ting and at using the Android app. It’s not too late to sign up for a possible spot in the Ting BYOD beta.

BYO(other)D

We’ve made no secret of how excited we are to be able to offer BYO(Sprint)D. For one, it lets existing Ting customers bring over a previous Sprint device that might otherwise just have sat in a drawer collecting dust. Moreover, it lowers the “barrier for entry” significantly; no more will you have to purchase a device from Ting in order to be a Ting customer.

We’ll also make no secret of the fact that we don’t want BYOD to stop with Sprint and Sprint-capable devices. We’d love to be able to offer BYOD on any device from any carrier. As it stands, there’s the little issue of network frequency limiting which devices could conceivably come to Ting.

While it won’t be as fast moving as our BYO(S)D initiative, we’d love your insight into which devices from other providers you’d like to be able to bring to Ting. Please take a moment to fill out our BYO(O)D form.

Devices coming soon

While “hero” devices like the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the Motorola Photon Q and the HTC EVO 4G LTE tend to get all the attention, they’re only a small part of a device lineup. While it’s nice to have a sweet smartphone in your pocket or purse, not everyone needs or wants to have the latest and greatest.

This week’s device update is mostly focussed on the lower end of the device chain; inexpensive entry-level Android devices and feature phones.

Feature phones

Samsung Array (M390)

We’ll be adding a QWERTY slider feature phone to our lineup in the next couple of weeks. The Samsung Array (M390) is a solid slider, ideal for the heavy texting set. It’s exactly the type of device that we’ve received numerous requests for and it fills a gap in the current Ting lineup.

Our cost on the Array has yet to be determined. As we sell devices at or slightly below our own cost, that means the Ting sale price for the Array has likewise yet to be determined. We’ll update as soon as we have that information. It’ll definitely be south of $150. More detail on the Samsung Array (M390)

Accessible flip phone

Accessible in this case means ideal for those with poor eyesight or hearing. Accessible devices generally offer larger keypads with very clearly marked numbers, larger on-screen fonts and louder speakers / earpieces.

The roadmap suggests we’ll have an accessible flip feature phone available to us in mid to late October. Currently, it’s listed as the Samsung M400 which somehow doesn’t sound right. We expect to have more detail after our marathon meetings with Sprint next week.

Older cell phone users don’t tend to be glued to their phones like we young whippersnappers so after the standard $6/mo. per device, there’s a good chance that their monthly usage will effectively be free if added to an existing plan. We’ve received requests for some kind of accessible flip feature phone so this device or something like it is one we’ve been looking to add for a while now.

Smartphones

Alcatel OneTouch Flex

The OneTouch Flex is an interesting device. It’s a candybar smartphone with full QWERTY keyboard a la BlackBerry. OS wise though, it runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). “OneTouch” is actually a bit of a misnomer given that you can navigate around the device in a couple of different ways (granted, “CoupleOfDifferentTouch” doesn’t have quite the same ring.) The 2.8-inch screen is of the capacitive touch variety and the full QWERTY keyboard also has four cursor keys which might come in handy if your flesh lacks the capacitance required to use a touch screen… in which case you’re probably not in the land of the living. Sadly, that also means you’re not really in our target demographic.

We expect to add have this device available in mid-October. While the exact price has yet to be determined, we expect it to come in at around the $100 mark.

Shipping

Motorola Photon Q

Motorola Photon Q devices are nearing our warehouse and will leaving as quickly as they arrive; late today and tomorrow. Watch you inbox for a shipping notification.

HTC EVO 4G LTE

Both color variations of the HTC EVO 4G LTE are approaching our warehouse and will begin shipping as early as tomorrow and through early next week.

LG Optimus Elite

Black Optimus Elite devices are also shipping tomorrow and early next week. White Optimus Elites are constrained until November. As such, we’ve removed them from our devices page for the time being.

LG Viper

LG Viper pre-orders will begin shipping late this week and early next. There’s also a planned over the air (OTA) maintenance release which will upgrade the Viper to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and default the network mode to LTE.

The Viper is an LTE-capable device. Currently though, the network mode is defaulted to 3G CDMA before shipment. If you’re in an LTE area you can change the default to LTE in the Network Mode settings menu while you await the OTA release. If you’re not in an LTE area, you can follow the same steps to select CDMA (3G) only after the OTA update such that your device isn’t always looking for the LTE network.

Samsung Galaxy SIII MMS fix

There was an issue with multimedia messaging (MMS, sending pictures, videos and audio clips attached to text messages) on the Galaxy SIII. An OTA update to fix the problem has been released and should be fully rolled out to all SIIIs in the next few weeks.

LG Optimus Elite MMS fix

We’re waiting on word of a fix for an MMS issue on the LG Optimus Elite. We’ve communicated with all Ting Optimus Elite owners. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is actively testing a fix for this issue. Unfortunately there is no work-around at this time. We’ll keep you posted.

Google Play store 25¢ sale

The Google Play store is celebrating a pretty momentous milestone: 25 billion total downloads since its launch as the erstwhile Android Market in October of 2008. In that time, Google Play has grown from having a handful of apps to now playing host to 675,000.

To mark this occasion, the Play Store is offering up some top tier apps and games, each available for 25¢ with a different crop each day for five days, starting today.

As the Android Official Blog puts it: “We’ll also be offering some special collections like 25 movies you must own, 25 banned books, 25 albums that changed the world and our 25 top selling magazines, all at special prices.”

The 25 billion downloads app sale hit the Google Play Store briefly then disappeared almost as quickly. When the sale is back online, it will appear in the top featured tile in the Google Play store homescreen. Check it out and score some sweet app deals.

[Via the Android Official Blog]

Ting Customer Q&A – Anne Tennies

Anne Tennies

Ting customer since: Feb 2012
Previous carrier: Verizon
Monthly Savings with Ting: About $24/mo.

What was it about Ting that resonated with you and made you want to switch?:

The pricing structure seemed very reasonable. I was resisting going to a smart phone, partly because of the extra $30/month. With Ting, we figured we’d save money even with the extra smartphone, and didn’t have to pay for 3 billion minutes or 5000 texts when we don’t use that much.

Were you in contact with a mobile carrier before you made the move to Ting? How long was left? What did that translate to in early termination fees?:

My contract had ended, but my husband had a few months yet, so I switched right away and added him the day his contract expired. I think when we checked it would have cost ~$250 in early termination fees, so he stuck it out.

What kind of savings are you seeing with Ting, month over month?:

We had been on my parents’ family plan and paid $65/month for 1 feature phone and 1 smart phone, each with a texting package ($5 per phone). With that plan, we had 550 minutes shared between 4 of us, plus free mobile-to-mobile. Since we’ve both been with Ting, we usually pay $41/month for 2 smart phones, but if we travel or for some reason use more data or minutes, it only adds a few bucks to the bill.

How many phones and/or data services do you have on your Ting plan?:

2 phones

When you explain Ting to your friends, family and/or random passers by, what do you say?:

Ting has the crazy idea that you should only pay for the minutes/data/texts that you actually use. You prepay for the month predicting your usage, and you’ll get a charge or credit on the next bill if you used more or less than you thought you would. Fantastic customer service, and when you call, somebody actually answers the phone. I warn them about the lack of data roaming, since we live in a rural area with spotty coverage, and then I send them a link to the site, encouraging hem to try the calculators, and (since the referral program has been around) offer a code to save some money if they’re interesting switching. I’ve also gone to a couple people’s homes so they could see the signal strength.

Are you happy you made the move to Ting? Care to elaborate?:

Very! Besides saving bunches of money, I’m really happy to have a smartphone. I don’t use much data, but a couple of the apps I use have changed my life. (With LoseIt I lost 20 pounds this summer, and OurGroceries has kept me from losing my mind)

What should we be doing better?:

If you could negotiate data roaming, that would make a huge difference for a lot of people in my community. We’re in a college town of approx. 20K people and Sprint has coverage in town, but 15 minutes in almost any direction and we’re roaming. That’s been a dealbreaker for some people. Otherwise you just need to get the word out better. I think some people get nervous about switching to something they’ve only heard of from one person by word-of-mouth.