We have made a change to Ting today that is simultaneously huge and completely insignificant.
From now on, Ting customers will no longer pick plans for voice, text and data. You will simply pay for what you ended up using. I think an example is the easiest way to explain this clearly.
Before today, you might have picked, for example, the Medium plan for everything. At the beginning of the pay period, you would pay us $9 for voice, $5 for texts and $13 for data. Then say, for example, you actually used Large for voice, Medium for text and Small for data. We would reconcile at the end of the pay period. So you would owe us $9 for voice and we would owe you $10 for data. So you would pay $27 upfront and then we would give you back $1. Then you would pay us $27 again for the next pay period.
Now, in that same example, you will pay nothing upfront and would simply pay $26 at the end of the pay period for your actual usage (L for voice, M for text and S for data).
There is no change to the $6 monthly fee per active device or any of the surcharges.
For anyone paying very close attention we have marked this monumental occasion by changing “Plans” to “Rates” in our top nav.
Why do I call this insignificant? Because in the end, there is absolutely no change to what you are paying. In fact, if you have been picking XS for all your plans, this is exactly the same. You were way ahead of us.
So why are we doing this? I can think of three good reasons:
The whole “pick a plan” and “reconcile” approach was unnecessarily confusing. We found ourselves spending way too much time explaining it to people who were considering Ting and people who were looking at their bill. We spent way too much time saying things like “well, you pick a plan but it doesn’t really matter what you pick.” We thought we were rightly conforming to an industry convention (plans) and that people would find it comforting. It sounded sort of exciting when people talked about how Ting “credits you back” at the end of the month. But we realized that we could strip away a whole layer of process, for you and us, and lose nothing.
It just looked and smelled too much like the sort of games the whole industry plays with rollover this and “unlimited but not really” that. In this case, again, there wasn’t anything hidden up our sleeve. The numbers ended up right where they belonged. But you have made your way to Ting through a maze of telco smoke and mirrors. We would hate for even a moment to look like we’re doing the same stuff.
We were holding your money all month. Why not let you hold your money? To me, it’s just like taxes. When I get a big refund, my first thought is, “Hey, I got a big refund!.” My second thought is, “Hey, why was I overpaying taxes all year long?!” Now, to be clear, once you get going, your cashflow likely won’t be different. If you tended to exceed your chosen plan, then you owed us money at the end of the month. If you fell short of your chosen plan, we owed you money. Regardless, you’ll still be paying every month and your total over any aggregate of months will be exactly the same. But in principle, it makes so much more sense for you to keep your money and pay us when you know exactly how much you bought.
So, nothing then. Today, announcing nothing! Come and get it.
Now there is a bit of weirdness in the first month as we roll this out. Stick with me here. If you are an active Ting customer, you are in the middle of a payment period. You have already paid us for your chosen plan at the beginning of your period. So, on your next bill, we will simply reconcile with you for that period. That means you could owe us a bit or we could owe you a bit. But, as per the new system, you will not be charged for the upcoming period. Now you will wait and pay next month for what you used. So, that just means you will likely have a next bill that is somewhere between negative and small. (Remember don’t freak out and start spending money. You haven’t actually anything here!)
For what it’s worth, that also means we’re pushing a lot of our revenue back a month. We’ll catch up, but I still think it’s a nice indication how important this sort of thing is to us.
I hope this is all clear to people. If you have questions, please let us know. Ultimately, I hope you appreciate this change as just another effort to bring simplicity, honesty and clarity to mobile.
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