Ting’s Pay-For-What-You-Use cell service review

ting-1The major cellular providers continue to force their customers into bigger, bolder, more expensive plans that many folks do not need. I admit that I moved our family to Verizon’s Family Share Plan, where we pay a premium price for unlimited talk, text, and 6GB of data. However, there are many people that are not power or even marginal users. There are those who do not spend 1000’s of minutes talking, constantly texting, or streaming the latest viral YouTube videos. For those who do not want to pay $100+ per month to have a smartphone on a major carrier, there are other options. Ting is a small cellular provider who wants to provide you with the option of paying for what you use in a smart, easy to use/manage, customer-friendly way. I have been and will continue reviewing their service for a couple of months to see how they compare to the Big Boys on the block.

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Ting has provided me with a Samsung Galaxy S III and several months worth of service for this review. My review will focus on their business model, customer service, and cellular quality. My review will not discuss the device or Android experience unless it enhances my commentary.

Picking a Cellphone:

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Like most other cell services, the first step is to select a cellphone. Until recently, you had to purchase a phone directly from Ting to use their service, but they have worked out a solution that allows you to be able to “bring your own (selected Sprint) phone“. Ting is limited to Android smartphones only; that is correct – no iPhones, BlackBerrys, or Windows 8. But there are rumors that Ting will someday enable iPhones and potentially Windows 8 on their service/network.

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Even without the other major OSs, Ting’s smartphone selection is surprisingly worthy and includes several top-end Android phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S III and Note II.  Ting also has a full spectrum of phones from a $50 dollar flip phone to many $100 – $400 Android devices as well. You are purchasing these Sprint phones at the non-subsidized price, so you have no long-term commitment/contract with Ting, a definite perk for many. In additions to phones, Ting also has the  Huawei Express Mobile Hotspot, Sprint Home Connect, and Sprint Airave devices.

Ting’s Service:

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Ting’s business model and promise is that you only have to pay for what you use. Their premise is that most cellphone users are forced to eat at the all-you-can-eat buffet when folks only need a $1.49 powerbar. Their tiered, ala cart service enables you to pick how many minutes, texts, and gigabits you actually need. If you use less in any or all of their services (voice/text/data), they will drop you down to the tier that you used – without penalty.  If you go over in any or all of the categories, they will bump you up to the higher tier for that month – without penalty. Crazy I know.

Ting phones and service are not sold in brick-and-mortar stores. The only place you can currently sign up for service and purchase a phone is ting.com. But Ting does its best to make the process quick and easy; it took me little to no time to sign up and get operational.  If you have an issue or question, Ting offers free geek-support through its highly trained operators who actually answer the phone when you call.

Here is Ting explaining their pricing structure in a video:

Ting makes it extremely easy to monitor and manage your usage via your web-based dashboard.

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Features (aka Why Choose Ting….):

Coverage & Call Quality:

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Ting’s coverage area and call quality are 100% dependent on the Sprint network. Ting is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) which piggybacks its service off Sprint, so you’ll get coverage anywhere that Sprint has signal. Which for some is a completely fine and is not an issue. For those of us in the greater Seattle area, Sprint coverage is marginal at best. At the time of writing this review, Sprint did not have 4G/LTE in Seattle or its outlying areas. This is a major negative for me; I have great Verizon LTE coverage nearly everywhere I go around the Puget Sound, and it is VERY rough going back to 3G. Signal strength in the cities and downtown areas is good/great, but there are many locations off the beaten path that have lousy coverage.

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Sadly, I only get 0-1 bars (maybe two on a good day) at my home, where I regularly get 4-5 bars on my Verizon iPhone 5. Obviously, if you have good/great Sprint coverage in your area, then this should not be an issue for you.

Great Customer Service:

ting_operatorTing believes in no-hold customer support, and that is a great and extremely refreshing thing. The company has human operators that answer the phone Monday through Friday, 8am – 8pm ET. They do not have phone-trees or voicemail; the phone continues to ring until one of their technical experts is available to assist you. Over the course of two months, I have contacted them several times by phone and email. They picked up and responded very quickly and were helpful each and every time. For those moments you need assistance while they are not available, Ting has a relatively robust Help & Support page.

As Promised:

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Ting, as promised, reduced and refunded a portion of my first month’s bill based on usage, dropping me from the ‘medium’ tiers I had signed up for to the ‘small’ tier, saving me $18 the first month. My grand total was $18.83. Based on my typical (Verizon iPhone) usage I see my bill being $30/month, averaged out annually, a substantial savings over what I pay monthly to Verizon.  Unfortunately, Sprint’s coverage and lack of LTE in our area are deal-killers for me, thus making Ting not an option.

Who Might Want To Give Ting a Try:

I hate to admit it, but I dislike having to think about limits, overages, or how close I am to an arbitrary tier, even if there is no penalty for having to bump up to the next level of service. I really do prefer unlimited plans.  I like not having to worry about number of minutes, texts, or megabytes I have used over the course of a month. So, my family and I are not likely candidates for Ting’s “pay-for-what-you-use” cellular service (even though it would most likely save us money). That being said, there are many who may want to give it a try as a cost effective alternative to the classical cell-provider. The bottom line is that if you are shopping for the best deal, you are going to have to put in the time to research your options, profile your cell-habits/usage, carrier coverage zones/quality, and do a hardcore analysis of what is best for you. Ting’s business model is sound and logical, and if you are in an area where Sprint coverage meets your needs, definitely worth considering.

 

Product Information

Price:Pay-For-What-You-Use
Manufacturer:Ting
Pros:
  • - Pay-For-What-You-Use service/cost
  • - Good selection of Android smartphones
  • - Clear/understandable billing
  • - Can now BYOD (bring your own device)
  • - Stellar customer service (no hold, voicemail, phone-tree)
  • - Great web-based management tool
  • - Could potentially (greatly) reduce your cellphone bill
Cons:
  • - Dependent on Sprint coverage
  • - Android OS only
Posted in: Android related, Reviews, Wireless

19 comments… add one

  • Rob Tillotson January 11, 2013, 11:24 am

    One thing you might notice from the coverage map is that unlike the other Sprint MVNOs, Ting allows (voice and text) roaming off of Sprint’s network. This is a rather large difference from Virgin, Boost, etc. which can only use Sprint’s own network, and might be enough all by itself to make Ting a better option for some people.

  • Betty Widerski January 11, 2013, 2:22 pm

    @Rob thanks for that observation – I was just wondering how the coverage compares to Virgin, as I’m thinking this may be the plan for my hardly-uses-the-phone partner.

  • Henry Spencer January 12, 2013, 8:19 pm

    Too bad it’s not GSM. I have my father on my AT&T family plan, and he rarely uses more than 2-3 minutes a month. I might have to figure out if it’s worth getting him another phone.

  • Mina January 19, 2013, 10:08 pm

    @Henry, I have a T-Mobile pay as you go. Once you sink $100 into the minutes, all your other minutes last a year instead of 90 days. So for your father, you could re-up him with $10 which only buys you 30 minutes, but those minutes last an entire year. I like it, but thinking of switching to Ting since I would like to have some data with my phone service.

  • Sandy January 22, 2013, 11:45 am

    We are the perfect customers for Ting’s service since we had plain old feature phones. I resisted getting new phones because we have access to all the Internet we need at the office and in the house. Convenience of having it on the street didn’t seem to meet the extra cost. We bought to refurbished phones to try it out. No fees if we didn’t like it sold the deal. First month on Ting the charge for medium level service with two phones cost us just $49.23 including the taxes and we had plenty of unused min/texts/mb left over. The other company was charging $101 for hundreds of minutes and texts we would never use in the most minimal plan I could find.

  • Sam January 29, 2013, 3:01 pm

    If anyone is considering switching to Ting, they should know that there is a $25 credit awarded to new customers. See https://vtimr33.ting.com

  • James April 20, 2013, 1:20 am

    Here’s a new $25 credit that my friend emailed me. By using this link you can get either $25 off your phone or a free $25 service credit: https://zaiqi71tn72.ting.com/

  • Nire April 25, 2013, 8:00 pm

    For those who mentioned AT&T and GSM phones, there is PureTalkUSA. They have an unlimited talk/text +1G data for $43.95. They obviously have smaller plans as well but if AT&T has better service, this may work for you. There are no hidden fees and what no additional costs beyond what your plan cost is. Its a no contract company and I have not had any issues with them.

  • Jay April 30, 2013, 5:06 am

    SPECIAL OFFER from ting.com… they will pay your termination fee, give you a free samsung s3 phone and give you 250 credit. Expires end of May 2013.

    http://www.formstack.com/forms/?1452222-OP8U6yxKvQ

  • Bill Nordberg May 30, 2013, 2:09 pm

    I switched over our phones from Sprint to Ting and will save a ton of money even with early termination fees. I’m really pleased with Ting’s transparent and fair billing that scales to your usage in every category. It is a definite benefit for my wife and I, since most of our data usage is routed to wifi when at home or at work anyway.

    There are some misleading/out-of-date tips about porting Sprint phones on Ting’s help forums. It is now a single step to port an active Sprint phone directly to Ting and could not have been easier!

    I followed another reviewer’s referral link and saved $25 on first month of service with no activation fee for our two phones (or you can have it credited to a phone purchase). So fair is fair – I am adding my referral link to the dialog: https://zjmdca1fa73.ting.com/

  • Freedom June 8, 2013, 11:10 am

    I’ve been using Ting for almost a year now and I really like their service. I really like that you basically pay for what you use and don’t have a lot of extra fees tacked on.

  • monkey1980 August 28, 2013, 6:47 pm

    I love ting, my bill is never over $25. I love that you only get charged for what you use.
    You can use this link to get $25 off
    https://ting.com/r/z85sol1lgs3

  • Rick October 1, 2013, 1:13 pm

    I have been trying the service for several weeks now and I am not too happy with it. I am located in Riverside County and travel to San Bernardino County frequently and the service is just okay. I have experienced multiple dropped calls and the internet wireless service is hit and missed. Nevertheless, there is a significant difference in cost. At this time, I find myself looking for another provide. I have contacted Ting, but all they can do is sent a notice to Sprint, since it is their towers. I guess that since the service is very affordable, you are expected to tolerate poor quality, or not.

  • tj mitch October 20, 2013, 3:28 pm

    I recently signed up for Ting cell phone service and then quickly realized I would have saved $25 if I had signed up through a referral link. If you’re thinking of switching to Ting click through this link and save some money. https://zbq0ep1b1e4.ting.com/

  • B December 31, 2013, 7:48 pm

    I just signed up with Ting, for ONE BIG REASON! They now allow you to bring a Sprint IPHONE to their service. I just recently terminated my contract, and my phone was released, clean ESN and all that, and BOOM. 2 mins after using the signup, and NO up front charges, here was my new working Iphone on Ting! I’ve checked my past bills and used Ting’s handy data calculator to see how much my savings will be, and it looks promising for future months. The way they have it set up now, is that you start at the 0/0/0 “Bucket”, $6 for the monthly charge to have a device on Ting, and go UP from there, each time you go above one bucket, you end up in the next one for Voice/Text/Data. I like that as you can see where you’re at before ever paying. I can’t say for sure til I’ve gotten a bill or 2, but so far, so good, service wise it’s like I never stopped using my Iphone. If I don’t care for Ting, eventually I can just take this Iphone somewhere else, since there’s no contract. Trying to port over my Boost Mobile number but having issues there, although that is a Boost problem, not a Ting one. I may just keep the new Ting number and forget the old. All in all, so far, I’m happy with what I have.

  • Patti January 25, 2014, 11:10 pm

    I’m super surprised that no one has mentioned Solavei in the comments. if you are looking for a great deal on your service, how about FREE? Solavei is partnered with T-Mobile with plans as low as $29 but they pay you every month for everyone you refer. Husband and I switched from ATT in Sept 2012 & referred enough people to get our bill down to ZERO and even make a little money on the side. They also have marketplace rewards for all of their members so I save on more than just cell. Over 350,000 people have signed up since it started in 2012 so they have a decent track record. Worth looking into if you are shopping for a new carrier. No activation fee. No contract. 14 day money back. You can get more information at http://www.justpayzero.com

  • Sam January 28, 2014, 3:49 pm

    Ting simply isn’t for the power user. I wish I could take advantage of the deals, but it looks like I’d be paying double what I usually pay through AT&T. 80 bucks for the amount of minutes and 3GB’s data? Bleh…

  • Mike April 9, 2014, 1:46 pm

    If you are on Virgin or Metro PCS DO NOT USE TING!

    In fact I would not recommend it for anyone. I switched to Ting and my bill went up!

    After six months on the service I went back to Metro (and Ting even billed me again AFTER I ported my number off of their service!)

    Stay away…

  • George Klingler December 10, 2014, 4:18 pm

    I retired and lost my company Sprint phone so I signed up with Ting. I ordered a ZTE fury phone since it was the cheapest on Ting’s site, the phone died the first sunday and I was able to contact their help desk that day and they had a new ordered for me that day, later on that day I was able to get the phone working and contacted Ting to stop the order for the new phone, I wasn’t able to stop the order but they just had me return the new one when it arrived (at no cost to me) I have had Ting for two months and the only problem I have is when roaming on verizon network I never get coverage (I used to get coverage when I was on sprint). As for Ting’s help desk, it is the best help desk I have ever dealt with.

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