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I’ve finished my first full billing cycle with Ting, and I couldn’t be happier with them. One month with a non-traditional cell provider has me convinced these guys (and companies like them) are going to break the Big 3’s stranglehold on our mobile devices.
I want to cover the three basic aspects of cell service and tell you how I think Ting is winning (for me) at all of them.
As a Sprint MVNO, Ting is simply using Sprint’s network to deliver its service. I was already with Sprint, so I’ve noticed no change at all in call quality or data speed. Both are as good as when I was paying $155/mo instead of $45/mo.
When I signed up for Ting and bought my two new Android devices, I somehow managed to skip a step that would have qualified me for a $25 discount. After completing the registration process, I submitted a support ticket asking if they’d apply the $25 to my account. Less than 12 hours later I got a reply that said they’d be happy to. Now, I’m not saying this is crazy, over the top customer service. What they did was fair and reasonable, and prompt. When was the last time you used the words fair, reasonable, and prompt to describe your cell phone provider?
When you have an issue requiring more immediate attention, just pick up the phone and call them. Prepare to have your mind blown: the phone will ring (maybe a good number of times, so be patient), and then….a human being will answer the phone and ask how he or she can help you.
What?? No confusing, convoluted phone tree? No “press this for billing” or “press that for technical support?” Nope. Phone rings, english-speaking human answers it, english-speaking human solves your problem. The end. I had some issues activating my new phones (read: I didn’t look at the instructions), so I called Ting support. I can’t remember the name of the guy who answered, but he hung out with me on the phone for about 15 minutes while I walked through the activation process. The experience was just…pleasant.
If Ting can preserve this kind of customer service experience as they grow, I think they’re going to rule the world.
My monthly bill with Sprint (two iPhones, 1,500 shared anytime minutes, unlimited mobile to mobile, unlimited texts, unlimited data) was $154.87. Problem is, I didn’t need all those minutes, texts, or data.
Because Ting is set up as a “pay-for-what-you-use” service, this is how my first bill broke down:
|Data (in Megabytes)||72||$3.00|
|Taxes and Gov. Fees||$6.67|
$110.20 per month less than my old Sprint bill. Over $1,300 per year in savings.
The best part is I think I can get the bill down another $9 per month without affecting my convenience/quality of life.
How do I know that? Because Ting has combined their slick “pay-per-use” pricing with total transparency. Check it out –
When I log into my Ting account, the first thing I see is my Dashboard:
It tells me when my billing cycle ends and what my current charges are. Under each service category, it shows me my highest ever usage and my average (which are the same because I just started with Ting a month ago). Later in the month it will also estimate my bill based on my usage trends for that month.
As a budgeter, I understand how awareness improves behavior. Ting’s transparency with billing and usage make it easy to improve my behavior and save money.
Clicking on ‘View Details’ under minutes, texts, or data shows which device is responsible for what percentage of use. Turns out my wife accounted for 70% of our minutes usage, while I made up 90% of the data use.
According to Ting’s bill estimation tool:
…my bill would be $29 + taxes and govt fees, or about $35 total. And all I have to do is keep my minutes and text usage in the same range, while reducing talk time from 633 minutes to 499 minutes. Will we do it? I don’t know. But I love knowing that we have the ability to determine our cell phone bill.
I can even set alerts in my Ting account to let me know when any aspect of my usage exceeds certain thresholds.
…which means I don’t have to babysit the account to protect myself from wasteful usage. If I had teenagers who really needed to be kept in check, I could even tell Ting to disable their device if they exceeded the usage limit I set (muahahaha).
Getting out of my Sprint contract cost me $234 and change, which is a bummer. Also, Ting doesn’t (yet) have an agreement in place with Sprint and Apple that would allow them to offer the iPhone. Not only did that mean I couldn’t use my iPhone anymore, I had to buy two Android devices to get going with the service.
By the way, that’s one thing I would have done differently: the devices. I bought the cheapest phones Ting offers (LG Optimus something or other), and my wife hates it because the keyboard is basically unusable. Now, this isn’t Ting’s fault. I should have shelled out the extra couple hundred bucks to get her a better device (they offer a great selection, including – I think – some cheaper refurbished phones). Buying Kate a nicer phone (like a Samsung Galaxy) would have made the transition much easier for her, and would only have extended my break-even date on the move by a couple of months.
(Ting is apparently in negotiations with both Apple and Sprint to be able to offer the iPhone. I can’t wait. When Ting gets iPhone, I’m pretty sure they’ll conquer the world.)
Speaking of my break-even point, I’m sure many of you won’t want to move to Ting because of cancellation fees with your current provider. Make sure you do the math, because I bet you’d break even within a reasonable period of time, and then it’s all gravy.
My cost to make the switch was $234 (cancellation fee) + $343 (device cost after $25 account credit from Ting) = $577. It will take me a little over five months to break even on the move.
Making the move to Ting will be easiest and cheapest for those of you who are already on Sprint using a Ting-approved device. But no matter what phone you’re using or who which of the Big 3 you’re currently chained to, look hard at your options. There’s really no reason to break the bank on your phone bill anymore.
By the way, filled with referral links. If you happen to click one of those links and end up signing up with Ting, you’ll receive $25 in account credit, and YNAB will receive a little referral commission. Thanks in advance. 🙂
Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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