For folks curious to know why I'm so very selective about what MVNOs I wholly approve of in the guide, I recommend you take a look at the latest failed MVNO trainwreck: PrepaYd Wireless
The thing about it is, there was notice... but instead of doing right by their customers, they threatened lawsuits and didn't notify their customers of the impending shutdown until the day of. For the record, PrepaYd was on the market for less than three years.
When I select MVNOs for actual
recommendation, I try to weigh their history, whether they're over-promising on the services they're providing at the prices listed compared to the competition and wholesale pricing, and if they have any unrealistic or dodgy business practices. PrepaYd didn't make the cut for multiple reasons, and now they're playing the blame game and are no more. Lost numbers, unhappy customers... it's ugly.
Even I have been burned when I'd suggested TalkForGood
last year, but I learned my lesson. It's why I'm so hesitant about Selectel
currently (even though they're on the "honorable mention" list), but they do appear to be genuinely active and expanding, which I hope is good news. They are, however, reaching the same critical cusp with Verizon's MVNO wholesaler program that wound up taking out TFG last year, which is a nine month and 5,000 subscriber deadline
. I do genuinely hope they survive this hurdle, because we need a good, stable Verizon MVNO that isn't owned by Carlos Slim, and I don't see any of the other new Verizon MVNOs standing a snowball's chance in Hades of surviving. As such, anyone with Selectel currently? Keep a very close eye on the company and Prepaid Phone News
moving forward. If you're currently considering Selectel, maybe hold off a month or two before taking the plunge.
When people mention Lycamobile
, the first thing that pops into my mind is their insanely cheap per minute rates... too cheap
, in fact one might be tempted to call it a loss-leader. The second thing that pops into my head are these employee comments over at Glassdoor
. Yes, they may be established globally, but the US MVNO market's an odd duck, and it's hard to survive in the market unless you know what you're doing. Their pricing structure and advertising approach does not instill confidence in them knowing their market, and employee feedback (as sparse as it it) only reinforces that suspicion.
The point is, there is a great deal of research that I put into these companies, far more than most people realize. When I don't recommend or warn someone off of a company, it's for good reason. If a company does heavy datamining, then it demonstrates that they don't particularly care about their actual customers and only see them as a product and will treat them accordingly... without respect. When companies have draconian terms of service agreements with legal threats of massive financial damage without clear thresholds explaining what triggers that clusterjam, they're clearly over-promising on what they're selling, which is the worst sort of "unlimited" mobile provider you could get mixed up with. When you do business with an MVNO that's owned by an entrepreneur that's effectively created overpriced telecom monopolies all throughout Latin America, can you honestly say their American MVNO properties are going to do right by you as a customer? When you take the time to read their terms of service agreements, and listen to other customers who had them, it ceases to look like a good idea to hitch your wagon to them.
I know I've upset a few people over the years in these forums when I've shot back with these problems after they've enthusiastically come in praising these companies and the money they save. I'm genuinely sorry that your feelings were hurt, but I don't just point out these problems to piss people off. I point them out to help keep others from potentially making a mistake that they may pay for down the road... and I point them out to bring those problems to your attention as a customer as well, so that you may be better informed of the shortcomings and can prepare to better handle yourself if (when) things go sideways. Using MVNOs for your cellular provider does carry a slightly higher risk than dealing with the big four, PrepaYd is a good reminder of this fact... but it doesn't have to be skin of the teeth horror stories, either. There are good companies out there. Stable companies.
If you're going to turn to MVNOs to save some money, I want to ensure you actually save some money instead of paying for that savings some other miserable way.