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How to save money on mobile service

How to save money on mobile serviceLast week, we posted a poll on the Ting Facebook page asking Ting switchers how much they’re saving on mobile service since switching to Ting. Savings are relative to respondents’ previous mobile carrier bills.

While we’re not going to claim this poll as scientific (accurate to +/- 5%, 19 times out of 20) the results were nonetheless illuminating.

The poll was broken down into eight options:

  • $0 or less than $0
  • $0 – $10
  • $10 – $20
  • $20 – $30
  • $30 – $40
  • $40 – $50
  • $50+
  • Keep your nose out of my personal affairs!

We’re aware of the fact that “mobile that makes sense” means big savings as people start paying for what they use without buying in to unlimited or worrying about overage penalties. After all, it’s not just a pithy slogan. That said, the results of this poll surprised even us a bit with the vast majority, 20 of the 35 respondents, saying they’re saving more than $50 each month with Ting vs their previous mobile carrier.

The results of the Facebook poll:

  • $0 or less than $0: 0
  • $0 – $10: 2
  • $10 – $20: 1
  • $20 – $30: 2
  • $30 – $40: 5
  • $40 – $50: 5
  • $50+: 20
  • Keep your nose out of my personal affairs!: 0

So, in answer to the headline promise: How to save money on mobile service? The answer: for most of us, it’s as simple as paying for what we use.

Grab a couple of recent mobile bills and try our Ting Calculator to find out if Ting can save you money on your mobile service.

SPOILER ALERT: Probably.

Seven Must-Have Apps for Android Users

Many of us here at Ting HQ are Android devotees and more are switching all the time. One recent switcher took to Yammer to ask for some internal app recommendations. After spending 10 minutes pulling together my list of a few favorites, I realized I’d be remiss to not share them here too. So, here it is. My top seven favorite Android apps that, in my humble opinion, are true must-haves for Android users new and old.

Any.DO

You HAVE to get Any.DO. It’s a great to-do manager but the missed call notifications are the real seller. My favorite feature of this app (aside from the aforementioned missed call notifications) is the way it integrates your contacts list. You can add a note to “Call Andrew Moore-Crispin” and if I’m in your address book, Any.DO will add a little call icon that you can tap to make the call.

Business Calendar

Business Calendar beats the stock calendar by a wide margin. It’s free but once you’re hooked, it’s $5 for the full version. It seamlessly pulls in your Google Calendar, including any categories and synced calendars you have set up.

Shush!

Shush! is a great utility; it lets you silence your ringer for a period of time from 15 minutes to 12 hours. No need to open the app, just silence as you normally would and Shush! pops up. You can set the volume your ringer will restore to as well. It’s simple, it does one thing and it does it very well.

Alarm Clock Plus

Alarm Clock Plus is awesome if, like me, you have trouble hauling yourself out of bed in the morning. You can set it to ask you arithmetic questions to force you out. It’s much more customizable than the stock Clock app and the alarm option included there.

Onavo Count

Onavo Count is great if you’re looking to monitor, understand and possibly curtail your mobile data use. It keeps a running tally of your overall data use. You can set a monthly limit and receive alerts when you’re getting close or even shut off the mobile data connection when you hit your limit. The included Widget options are great and notifications alert you to “data hog” apps so you can cut them off at the pass.

OurGroceries

OurGroceries is the best grocery list manager I’ve used. If you need to keep grocery lists (or really, any lists) organized and updated between devices, this is must-have. My fiancee and I use this app to plan a two-pronged grocery store attack. We each take a flank then meet somewhere in the middle to consolidate our haul and head to the checkout. This makes for fewer arguments and a time savings of half.

Zedge

Zedge is great if you want a bunch of custom ringtones and notifications. Special mention to the Loud Alarm and Train Alarm that, in conjunction with Alarm Clock Plus, ensure I get out of bed in the morning… despite my body decrying that sleeping until noon is actually the way it should be.

Do you have any must-have Android apps? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Ting on Republic Wireless

About 99.5% of the US population has still never heard of Ting or Republic Wireless. The other .5% seem to be talking about both of us. I like the conversation a lot and thought I should offer my own thoughts.

I think what Republic Wireless is doing is really smart. We talk a lot with our users about techiques (alerts, features, apps) to lower their monthly bills. One of the best ways is using WiFi (for both Internet use and phone calls) as much as possible whenever it is available. To take such a strong position on that and to build it so completely into the function of the device is really cool. To be able to shout “unlimited everything for $19/month” is absolutely enviable. (I am a marketing guy. I hate it when someone’s tagline is punchier than mine is.)

The way I see it, the choice between Ting and Republic Wireless is really about freedom and accountability (us) versus simplicity and standardization (them). (They talk a lot about freedom. I don’t think they are getting their own benefits quite right. Although, to be fair, it’s quite different if the reference is Verizon and not Ting.)

It might also come down to how stripped down you are willing to take your service.

Ting gives you clarity and control. We treat mobile services (minutes, text messages, megabytes) like the utilities that they are. We want you to use them however and wherever you like. We want to offer you a choice among as many devices as possible to access them. We include rich features and service around them, from tethering and call forwarding to no hold customer support. We give you razor-sharp visibility into your usage throughout the month. We offer advice and ideas on how you can use your mobile services as little and well as possible. But ultimately, we charge you based on what you use, so you are responsible for what you pay.

Republic Wireless takes a more prescriptive approach and offers even greater certainty when it comes to your bill. There is one device. You must have WiFi in your home. When Wifi is available, that will be the only way to make a phone call. But your bill will always be $19/month plus taxes (a fantastic price).

I think this approach creates some significant risks for them and some concerns for their users:

  • They guarantee the rate no matter what blend of activity they see between WiFi and network usage. They might keep costs low enough to profit there. Or they might find themselves with a difficult choice – operate at a loss hoping to find alternative revenue streams or an acquirer or (as we have seen with unlimited data plans) start to impose limits and penalties on people that don’t use the service the way they hoped.

  • Calls on WiFi can still be a bit spotty. When you browse the web, there’s an expectation pages might freeze or load slowly. A phone call is different. Small gaps are unacceptable. They might have reason to believe that technology is there today. We tend to think it isn’t good enough just yet to rely on exclusively.

Again, I admire the leap Republic Wireless is taking. I think they will introduce and inspire some great innovations around ubiquitous WiFi. I am also excited to hear more voices decrying contracts, overages and other nonsense.

We are just taking a different path to get to a similar place (huge savings versus Verizon and AT&T, greater respect for customers). So far, our customers have proven quite capable of keeping their own bills down. Meanwhile, we clear enough with each bill to make significant, on-going investments in our service and our team.

May we and our customers all feast at the table of plenty. I apprehensively await your comments!

A Few Mobile Contract Horror Stories
from Dump Your Contract Month

Over the course of the Ting Dump Your Contract Month sweepstakes, we collected entries and invited the mobile contract-afflicted to share the sweeps with their friends. Despite the fact that doing so would edge the odds ever so slightly further out of their favor, people obliged.

After people entered the sweeps, we offered a text box where they could share their mobile contract horror stories. And there were some pretty horrific stories. Many of the stories that we received were a little too uh… vitriolic to share. We did promise catharsis in the text box beckoning mobile contract horror stories, so I guess people just let loose. We were surprised by the sheer length of some of the stories too. Seems the mobile contract-afflicted have a lot to get of their collective chest.

If you submitted your mobile contract horror story, know that it was read, appreciated and taken to heart. Thanks so much for taking the time. Except that one in all CAPS. What’s up with that?

We’re not going to post the ones that call other mobile service providers out by name. That wouldn’t be very Ting of us. It does narrow the field somewhat though…

Following are a literal few of our favorite horror stories. Thanks again for taking the time to share.

Anonymous
It’s been a long time coming that someone recognized that the carrier should be billing for data and bits plus whatever costs they pay for a phone number at their target margins, not some hodgepodge of costs that have no connection to a user’s real impact on the network! Looking forward to Ting’s success!

Jasen B.
I am currently in a contract with 2 feature phones. I have 1400 minutes and Unlimited text with NO DATA plan. My bill is $136 per month. I keep looking at Ting.com and seeing that I could have phone, text AND data for less than half of what I’m paying now. HELP ME!!!

Nathan J.
I absolutely cannot handle that stuck feeling anymore. I need to feel free again. I also need to stop paying $118 a month just to have a smart phone.

Fun facts from the mobile contract horror stories:

Total word count of all stories submitted: 1,323

Word and punctuation occurrences across all stories:

  • “Contract”: 11
  • Dollar sign ($): 12
  • Exclamation points (!): 32
  • “Help”: Three
  • “bend over”: Just one… but it was a very colorful one.

The Ting Dump Your Contract sweeps ended at 8:59 this morning and we’re no longer paying out early termination fees (ETF). Even factoring in ETFs though, you’ll probably still come out on top with Ting. You can see ETFs by carrier here then grab a couple of your wireless bills and try the Ting Calculator to see how we stack up.

Ting Dump Your Contract Month ends today

Over the course of 30 days of the Ting Dump Your Contract sweepstakes, we’ve helped 30 people get out of their long term mobile contracts by cutting a check to pay off early termination fees.

Now, on the 31st day of the sweeps, we’ve got one final lucky winner to pick from the proverbial hat. Entries for the May 31 draw are open until 8:59am on June 1. We’ll draw the last winner and with that, we’ll close out the Dump Your Contract Month sweeps.

The intent of DYCM was to get mobile users to think about their mobile contracts. The underlying message is that most users would be better off by buying a device outright and paying for just what they use.

As the entries rolled in and as people shared their mobile contract horror stories, we saw a theme emerge; a feeling of helplessness and as a result, some significant bitterness. I’d say we’re not ones to say “I told you so…” but we already kinda did.

Over the course of Dump Your Contract Month, we received over 6,000 entries from nearly 1,600 people. We doled out prizes of between $100 and $300 at an average of about $230 per winner.

We got the conversation started and while the sweeps are nearly over, we hope that conversation will continue. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: mobile contracts can be tempting but they certainly don’t have the average mobile user’s best interests at heart.

The moral of the story: Get your entries in to the Ting Dump Your Contract Month sweepstakes now… and don’t sign a mobile contract. Check out the Ting Calculator to see how much you’d save with Ting’s simple promise of Mobile That Makes Sense.

Ting gets Lifehacker’d

A recent Lifehacker article titled How to Get Out Of Your Cell Phone Contract Without Paying Termination Fees in the Saving Money section mentions Ting and our Dump Your Contract Month sweeps. The article goes on to call out our unique approach to the wireless business.

It’s driving some nice traffic to the Ting site; people looking to save money on mobile phone service by paying for what they use as opposed to paying a premium for unlimited. Presumably, it’s also driving people to the ABC News post about DYCM that’s linked in the story. So, if you found your way here from Lifehacker (or from ABC News): welcome! Get your entry in to the Dump Your Contract Month sweeps while there’s still time.

On a personal note, I’d like to say thanks to Lifehacker. First for including Ting in the roundup of ways to get out of your contract and second for the great Android rooting help and the sweet routers running Tomato firmware I have at home.