FreedomPop and UNREAL Mobile Screw Over Their Customers
I was notified in July 2019 that my FreedomPop number has been ported to Ting, which is also on the Sprint network (meaning my devices will work as FreedomPop was a Sprint MVNO). This was the first time I had ever heard about FreedomPop discontinuing service.
I should note that I had been a very happy FreedomPop user for almost 5 years. I started with a broadband hotspot, and later added a phone. I was paying something like $20/month for the hotspot plan, including data rollover. Once I had accumulated about 20GB, I went back to the free plan, but continued to pay for rollover so I could keep the data I had paid for and accumulated. Needless to say that I’m pretty irritated, even pissed off about them shuttering their service.
They offer the following options on Ting, which do NOT include any hotspot plans. Also, when you read the details, they state that there’s a “price guarantee until 2020”, which is essentially useless. In addition, there is NO ROLLOVER of the data that I have paid for and accumulated. Legally I should either be provided access to this prepaid balance, or be refunded. However, good luck getting through to anyone. When I reached out to FreedomPop, they pointed me to Ting. When I reached out to Ting, they pointed me to FreedomPop. I expect only a class action lawsuit would get any relevant attention.
Option 1: $6 unlimited talk and text + $4/GB
Option 2: $20 unlimited talk and text + 20GB data + first month free
Even more frustrating is the fact that as the owner/founder of this website, I give unbiased thoughts, opinions, and advice about anything relating to prepaid wireless and prepaid broadband. In particular, I have been recommending FreedomPop for years, and not because they pay me to do so, but rather from first hand experience. Their free offer was very respectible, and their paid plans (which I used) were also very competitive. I’ve stated for the last decade that MVNOs have always struggled, and that most of them end up disappearing. That said, I felt confident that FreedomPop was here to stay, as they had been expanding, including into Walmart. I was truly optimistic that they weren’t a fly-by-night operation like so many MVNOs that have come and gone over the years.
however, always stated that in the world of prepaid, having an unlocked phone helps to ensure you can easily switch, and usually even keep your phone number. In addition, I have recommended services like Google Voice to ensure that you own your phone number, and never have to deal with the pain of changing numbers. What burns here, however, is all of the data I had paid for and accummulated with FreedomPop. They really do owe me hundreds of dollars.
I still do think that established MVNOs can offer fantastic value, and even Ting has some good deals. However, this does reinforce this cautionary tale that they can evaporate in a moment’s notice, so buyer beware!
Before the notification of termination, I had never heard of UNREAL Mobile, and I now understand that it’s spinoff of FreedomPop intended to compete at the more premium end, with the hopes of luring customers away from Sprint and T-Mobile with their looming merger. What I don’t understand is that their plans reallly just look like FreedomPop’s paid plans; just sans the free plan. Launching and maintaining a new brand, as I’ve noted previously, is just so dumb/expensive/meaningless.
I learned that in June 2019, FreedomPop, part of STS Media, sold its busiess to Red Pocket Mobile (another useless meaningless MVNO that I’m surprised still exists!). STS is looking to invest in its assets, and to find a partner to acquire Boost Mobile, which Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to sell if their merger is approved. Also note that STS sold FreedomPop’s CDMA business to Ting. What’s interesting is that much of the purchase price is based on the value of each subscriber, which ranges from $37.50 to $75. I don’t know what percentage of acquired customers are predicted to actually stay. I, for one, will be cancelling my services.
Given how competitive the large carriers have been with their own prepaid brands, the value of MVNOs for customers has been diminishing. That said, even large carriers can sell off their brands, or shutter them at any time. It really is the wild wild west out there! So, be prepared, get Google Voice (or similar service) setup, and don’t invest too much money in any kind of prepaid balance or rollover type services!
Please share your experience with FreedomPop or UNREAL Mobile, or your thoughts in general below.