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Scratch Wireless Abandons Freemuim Pricing Model

WiFi-first, freemium Sprint MVNO 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
The Scratch Wireless website hasn't been updated with the new prices yet but Scratch CEO Alan Berry confirmed them to Fierce Wireless. Berry blamed the price hike on increasing fees including state e911 fees and the Federal Universal Service Fee. The email to users also mentioned the costs of providing cellular texting, which seems like it would be a significant expense.

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

13 comments:

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  1. Tried to cancel service but they refuse to release my ESN - instead tells me to have it ported to another service. I just want the ESN released so I can consider selling it. Horrible company!!!

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    1. port to ringplus free plan and later cancel the plan if u dont want to keep it

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    2. I second that. Refusing to release the ESN is ridiculous. But I recommend using the RingPlus way out.

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    3. You could port to ring.to for free.

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    4. Hello I have a free minute plan from ring plus with a LG dumb phone or flip and I'm gonna upgrade it to 1500 minute and text 500 mb plan, and I have a scratch wireless cool pad phone so is it possible to cancel my scratch wireless service and port it to my existing number aka LG dumb phone number? Thanks!

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  2. I suspected something like this was coming. I was a former scratch wireless customer until last month right before they stopped allowing ports. They had a great concept but I guess it didn't work out. I predict they wont last much longer since their new pricing isn't at all competitive. Too bad. I liked them.

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  3. This is a great idea. OMG! Seriously, I have been doing this with google voice for 6+ years. I can't believe this company is still in business.

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    1. Google voice doesn't give you free texting on cellular. Thats what I meant by a great idea. As far as i know, that was a unique feature to Scratch Wireless. Now that that's gone, there doesn't seem to be much that makes them stand out.

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  4. hey KV, i wasn't slamming you. Sorry if it seemed that way. I was slamming scratch for offewring such a rediculous service. Comcast is allowing you free wifi if you are a subscriber. This means when you go by anyones house and they have xfinity, you can surf the internet for free. I use google voice because I don't need to be that connected. There will be lots of product offererings in the near future now that ProjectFi is out there.

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    1. I dig it! Thanks Chad :)

      Anyone know how much longer google voice will remain free? I'm worried as soon as I get a number from them they too will eliminate their freemium model.

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  5. My scratch phone was a backup so I haven't used it much. I tried to use it the other day and had NO SERVICE. I went on their site and found my voice pass had expired. I was enrolled in AUTORENEW so my monthly voice pass should not have expired. My credit card did not change or expire. I tried to purchase a new voice pass online and was told that my purchase could not be processed. I looked around the site and found that they no longer had a credit card on file for me. I entered a valid card and was told that the information could not be processed. I tried a second valid card with the same result. Is this company still in business? I sent several queries to their support link but no response.

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  6. http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2016/04/scratch-wireless-puts-its-services-on.html

    Dale

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