Monday, October 06, 2014

ptel Real Paygo fatal flaw: it's a prepay plan that runs up overage fees

One of the reasons we use prepaid plans for the kids is that there should be a natural limit on overages. If Apple’s mediocre iPhone Cellular data controls break down, perhaps due to the iOS 7.1.2 cellular data bug [1], our losses are capped.

Not so with ptel Real Paygo, a service I recently compared to H2O mobile. My son’s cellular data was disabled two days ago, and when I inspected his account I found this notice:

Screen Shot 2014 10 06 at 8 56 33 PM

His did make use of that data, perhaps due to an iOS 7.1.2 bug (thanks Apple) [1]. He still shouldn’t have run up an actual overage however. ptel should have run his account to zero and then cut off service. Instead they ran up the equivalent of 3 years of his typical usage - perhaps due to problems in ptels accounting infrastructure (in which case the honorable thing would be for them to “eat” the overages they didn’t block).

I haven’t bothered pursuing this with ptel — I’d been planning to switch my sone back to H2O wireless after H2O provided a profile to enable 4G data services on the AT&T network. So I abandoned the ptel number. He doesn’t get that many phone calls, so reactivating iMessage on these MVNO networks is the primary pain. I’m just glad this didn’t happen to my daughter. Changing her phone number would be a Richter 10 crisis.

I hope H2O doesn’t have the same abominable practice. Google searches didn’t turn up anything about this practice, but I might not have the right search terms.

[1] My son ran through 1.2 GB of Podcast data on his prepaid account. I have screenshot evidence that was set not to use Cellular data, and when I inspected his phone changes to the cellular data controls were restricted. Nonetheless, cellular data access was enabled. I’ll keep an eye out for a class action suit …

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