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Goodbye SpeakOut
November 16, 2013
6:45 am
mm
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December 1, 2010
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I've been with SpeakOut for quite some time, but I can't support this company any longer. Let me explain why.

tl;dr version: Data on one of our plans was suspiciously used up in a week, and the plan autoswitched to billing at $0.10/mb and drained my account.

More detailed rant below:

My wife and I have had our phones on SpeakOut since 2010. I was excited to see the new data bundles when they were announced, and even though they're not the *best* rates out there, the 500mb (for her) and 1gb (for me) plans looked just right. For the convenience of not switching carriers/porting numbers, I was excited to switch over as soon as I could and give them a try.

I switched my phone first and things worked great. After monitoring my data usage through the web portal over the first few weeks, it looked like things were going to be ok and that I picked the right value plan. I decided to switch my wife's phone over. That's when the problems started. I could monitor usage just fine at first, and given how much I use it (versus how little she does) I was confident things would be fine. Something strange happened, though. We went from being able to see the usage (on both accounts) to not being able to see it at all. When I'd login to the web portal, this is what I'd see:

Usage MeterImage Enlarger

I'm an IT guy, so I expected there was a glitch in their system somewhere. No biggie, I figured. It happens. The real fun started just over a week later when I found that my wife's balance was depleted to $0.10. I called SpeakOut support to find out what was going on - the tech I spoke to heard what I had to say, looked into my account and told me that everything was working as it should be. Pleading with her to look into the details of our accounts, she confirmed that my wife blew through the 500mb usage in the first week, so the plan switched to billing $0.10 per mb when that balance was depleted.

Full disclosure: I have no clue how her phone could possibly use up that data so quickly. It's an iPhone 4S running iOS6. I didn't have the cell usage counter reset (should have) so I can't narrow down if a rogue app was using up data or not. My fault, and I take the blame for that.

When I mentioned to the SpeakOut support tech that I'd likely be switching to another carrier because of this incident, unless SpeakOut did something to rectify the situation, we got into a bit of an argument. I questioned why I should be out any monies when the account online clearly stated that I hadn't used any of my data (or more appropriately that the account tools that would allow me to track my data usage were malfunctioning) and she told me that "because this is a prepaid disposable service, this is the value their customers want them to provide" and that since she "couldn't be sure that I wasn't reading the data usage tool wrong" nothing would be done. Plus, I was told that I could have used *777*1# to check my mins usage and *777*4# to check my data usage (even though I had no idea these existed) that I should have known when my account was drained and it was my responsibility to manage my usage.

After a few minutes of passive aggressive statements on both sides (our phone call was about 30m long) she told me that SpeakOut would be taking no action towards the funds in my account, but would open a ticket to look into the website - I should expect a call from a manager in 24-48h to discuss. No such call has been received, but I logged in last night and can see that the website has been addressed to read our balance properly:

data usageImage Enlarger

The lesson I want to share with you all is that, if you stay with SpeakOut for "value" plans that include data, pay close attention to your data usage. If for any reason you use your data quota before the month is up, SpeakOut will start charging you at the ridiculous rate of $100/gb WITHOUT INFORMING YOU.

Thankfully I wasn't carrying a $100 balance on my account, but I know that many of you are. Buyer beware.

Thanks for all the support on this community over the years, but it's time for me to move on to a real carrier.

November 16, 2013
9:33 am
chimpanzee
vancouver
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it is not unusual to use up 500MB a month. The 'heavy' user in this house can burn through that easily and there is no video or any kind of those involved AFAIK. I have been using UMB for 2+ years and reset that phone every month to get the pattern.

will be move out once it is over as SO is not suitable for her.

However, I don't see anything wrong with SO other than the outrageous overage price(which some other carrier like telus is even worse)

One has always paid attention to usage on metered plan and why I said I prefer their plan to stop once its used up when I first saw it. The alternative is get a plan like the bell 30 days pass which will stop thus no $ surprise

November 17, 2013
8:52 pm
fefrie
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August 13, 2009
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I do not understand why people think that SO is some sort of full service cell phone service provider.

SO is no where near a 'real' carrier.

Pre UMB, SO has always had THE WORST rates for per minute calling. ( or near to it)

I don't think that they were threatened with you leaving.

In fact, I think that they certainly expect a full bleed of UMB people jumping off now that the ride is over.

And so balance is restored to the force.

November 18, 2013
4:32 pm
iamdrumming
Niagara Falls
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October 14, 2008
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fefrie said:

I do not understand why people think that SO is some sort of full service cell phone service provider.

SO is no where near a 'real' carrier.

Pre UMB, SO has always had THE WORST rates for per minute calling. ( or near to it)

I don't think that they were threatened with you leaving.

In fact, I think that they certainly expect a full bleed of UMB people jumping off now that the ride is over.

And so balance is restored to the force.


I can't agree more. SpeakOut has never been a full featured provider, with all the bells and whistles and latest devices. Even before data showed up. Look at the devices they offer now. Just 2! If you need all the goods, do your research and go with one of the higher priced incumbents.

The thing they do have going for them is their 365 day expiry, and low cost top-up amounts. Those 2 things work just fine for me.

November 18, 2013
8:37 pm
fefrie
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I'd bet a dollar that they don't have a customer retentions or 'loyalty' department.

Nor do I think that they care

With the exception of UMB, and Value plans (which were always thinly disguised monthly plans), one would always have to check their usage.

I can't tell you the number of times I've *777'd my phone, and see my balance dramaticly drop with what I would assume would be the most perfunctory of phone calls.

Calling and yelling at CS complaining that your phone has burned through all the data is like complaining to the water company that the tap is leaking and the water bill is outrageous.

If you prefer to take baths instead of showers, be prepared to pay the water bill.

But this is all sorts of whining because people aren't used to limiting themselves.

I'm looking around at a lot of plans and they average around $60 for a voice and 1gb plan.

If you're an 'average' user then expect to pay average cell phone bills in line with standard ARPU's.