Scratch Wireless is discontinuing its signature free cellular texting service. Scratch was unique in offering unlimited free texting on the Sprint network along with unlimited free talk and text on WiFi. If you wanted cellular voice or data you had to pay for it. Voice was $6.99 for 100 minutes good for 30 days or $14.99/30 days for unlimited. One day of unlimited voice was also available for $1.99.
Apparently giving users free cellular texting and hoping that they would pay for calling and data didn't work out. Current Scratch users reported on Howard Forums that they received an email from Scratch today saying that their free service would end Nov 15. Going forward all customers will have to pay a minimum $9.99 for unlimited voice service on WiFi and cellular. The $9.99 doesn't include cellular texting which will now only be available as part of one of Scratch's pricey data bundles, which are:
- $7.99 - 200 MB data and unlimited text messaging
- $14.99 - 500 MB data and unlimited text messaging
- $24.99 - 1 GB data and unlimited text messaging
I can appreciate that it's difficult for a freeium service to survive. But $25 to $40 per GB of use it or lose it data is absurdly expensive. Requiring the purchase of both voice and overpriced data to be able to send texts is unlikely to sit well with with current Scratch customers who are used to getting it for free.
Not only is Scratch unlikely to retain many of their current users with this price hike but the company's only phone, the $99.99 Coolpad Arise has been out of stock on the Scratch website for at least a month. Scratch doesn't support BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) so they have no way of adding new customers. I'm have to wonder how long this company can survive with no way to acquire customers.
Sources: Howard Forums.com and Fierce Wireless