Home - , , , , - FreedomPop Now Requiring a $5 Balance to Downgrade to the Free Plan

FreedomPop Now Requiring a $5 Balance to Downgrade to the Free Plan

FreedomPop is a freemium MVNO that offers free data-only plans that include 200 to 1000 MB of free data month. Of course data isn't really free and FreedomPop has to pay for it somehow. FreedomPop has a number of ways of charging its customers. These include paid plans with more data, overage charges for customers who exceed their plan's data limits, automatic $15 top ups when you come within 100 MB of your data limit and extra cost services like data rollover.

Another way FreedomPop gets revenue is by automatically enrolling new customers in "free" trials of a $19.99 paid plan and a $10.99 bundle of extra cost services. The  trials are only free for the first month. FreedomPop doesn't make the trial nature of the extra cost plan and services very clear and downgrading to a free plan and cancelling the promotional services is not the most intuitive process. I've documented the plan downgrade and service canceling process in my FreedomPop Prepaid Operator profile. Savvy FreedomPop customers know how to downgrade and avoid the charges, but I suspect many new users don't and get hit with with them.

This week FreedomPop added a new wrinkle to the plan downgrade process. In order to downgrade to the free plan the customer must now have a $5 or greater account balance. New customers start out with a zero balance and when they try to downgrade they are prompted to authorize a $5 top up. The top up gets added to the account balance and can be used to pay for overages. Having a $5 balance was also already a requirement to be able to turn off automatic top-ups, which is something I recommend doing. If you add $5 to turn off automatic top ups you will not be asked to add a second $5 to downgrade your plan.

Beware that account balances expire approximately every 30 days. Expired balances can be restored using the reactivation link on the Credit Balance tab of your Billing Overview page.

The bottom line is that it now costs $5 more than before to get started with FreedomPop's free service. However, a year or so ago Freedom charged $20 for a CDMA activation or GSM SIM. Now activations and SIMs are 99¢. $5.99 plus 30 minutes of your time (to disable services and auto top ups, downgrade to the free plan and set up some Freedom Friends) is a pretty good deal for 700 to 1000 MB on free data every month.

On the other hand, this is the third revenue generating or cost cutting change from FreedomPop this month, First they started throttling free Sprint based accounts to 1 mbps, they came a requirement users of their AT&T based service use FreedomPop's VoIP app, which displays ads, to make a call at least every 60 days and now they are collecting an extra $5 from every new free plan user. While none of these changes are particularly onerous,  they do suggest that FreedomPop is actively looking for more ways to monetize the service. I suspect will see more of these sort of changes.

Source: FreedomPop via HowardForums

55 comments:

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  1. They might as well come out with just paid plans that are price conscious and eliminate all that free junk.

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    1. That would require them to be honest , and that's not in the FreedomPop business plan.

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    2. It's beginning to look like this to me. FreedomPop ()

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    3. I've saved almost $300 over the past nine months with FreedomPop's free plan compared to my previous T-Mobile plan, so I'm pretty happy with "all that free junk."

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  2. "Beware that account balances expire approximately every 30 days. Expired balances can be restored using the reactivation link on the Credit Balance tab of your Billing Overview page."

    WOW, maybe it was a mistake signing up with them. They seem to be going down the RingPlus path, with semi-forced min balance top ups, etc..

    After Ptel going out of business, RingPlus, and now FP headaches, I am starting to think most these MVNOs are not worth the hassle. If FP doesn't work, I think I will just bit the bullet and go with a company owned one like Metro or Cricket. I'm just getting sick of moving my service once a year.

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    1. Duhh, There is nothing free forever, period. Just have to live with the trade off.

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    2. cellnuvo is an option and it's free. Sprint native coverage is not bad in Florida

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    3. You pay, dowgrade and turn off autopay. if you lose the $5 and leave it too long you cannot activate then there is no need to pay again. So it is a one off fee. Most should pay anyway to turn off autopay if they are sensible

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  3. I mean, if you just use this service as a back up and not as a main number I suppose its ok. If you are willing to go through hoops and loops to get some free service, it may or may not be worth your time.

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  4. If you're a cheapskate it's best to buy a preloaded H2O sim with $30 plan every month for about $15 and use google voice.

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    1. that's the best advice

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  5. Its not worth it to me any more. When my account stops working, its over for me. Bummer. This was only ever a backup for me, but it really saved me this summer while travelling around shaddy cove oregon and my roaming verizon boom main phone had no signal.

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  6. They also don't take prepaid debit cards,

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  7. FP still exists? LOL Some sucker will pay it.

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    1. Yeah, $25 a month for 500mb of data, a total ripoff.

      I thought RingPlus was rather fishy, but no way were they ever trying to rob me like Freedompop was.

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  8. If they dump their free plans and switch to low cost low data plans like 100MB/month for $1/month without the overages, I would use them. Otherwise they are not worth the trouble.

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  9. "On the other hand, this is the third revenue reducing or cost cutting change from FreedomPop this month"
    @Dennis
    You mean revenue generating or........?

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  10. "Beware that account balances expire approximately every 30 days."

    It is one thing to expire an account balance for one that goes dormant, but I think this practice is extremely questionable for an active account.
    There is no good reason I or anyone else should have to reactivate an account balance every 30 days and FP subscribers should file an FCC complaint to look into this practice.

    Question; If you have a current balance and have not disabled auto top up and your current account balance happens to be expired, will you be charged a top up on top of your expired balance if your usage would require FP to pull from your balance?

    The CC on my account expired a long time ago and I have no balance, so I take it my account would be frozen if my usage were to trigger a auto top up until the next renewal date?

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    1. Yes, this is what happened to one of my accounts. Had an expired credit card and something happened on one of my devices that caused me to use up all my data. That account is now locked until I give them a new current billing option.

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    2. If you "deactivate" an account can you reactivate it later, or should you just let it ride as is and leave it alone and active even if you're just going to stick it in a drawer?

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    3. Just go to the citi credit card online and generate virtual card number with $1 on it. Use the number for update billing info

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  11. I've been using FP GSM as my main service for about a year, if they change to $10/mo or go under, I'll transfer to TF. I'd stick with then at $5/mo but not much more.

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    1. Got got by on no voice,VoIP , under 1gig month of data for a year?

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  12. The beginning of the end of FreeDumbpop!

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  13. The $5 fee for downgrade had been implemented for many months already. This is old news.

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    1. No, the $5 balance requirement for downgrading started this week. You might be thinking of the $5 requirement for turning off auto pay that started nearly a year ago.

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    2. I can verify what Dennis said.

      However, soon after getting my FreedomPop account, which was advertised as free, I went through the process of trying to evade their tricks/deception/lies to actually get the free account I signed up for that they were advertised.

      2 or 3 times! Yes, they foisted their scam on me more than once: after I went through and properly clicked the hidden links to get what I signed up for and saved it, they undid my work and reset it so I was to be paying $25+ a month for the tiny amount of data on the free account I had signed up for.

      What a scam. I do hope they get sued and pay back anyone who was tricked into paying money for a free account.

      Delete
    3. Oh, right. Thanks for the correction. This is horrible, so $5 to downgrade then $5 to turn of auto top-up? Yikes, 100% inflation.

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    4. No, it's $5 total to downgrade to the free plan and disable auto top up.

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  14. Sounds like that startup money is running low and they need to pull a RingPlus. Countdown to shutdown?

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  15. I'll play devil advocate. Since you should pay the $5 to turn off autopay any way, you can do two things at once now: turn off auto-pay and downgrade to free service. Will they go out of business? Who knows! But this is still a FREE att gsm service! Great for poor people, cheapskates, backup phone, kids, emergency cell for victims, recent immigrants without work, etc. I'm sick of all the gripes!

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    Replies
    1. Most of those groups already get free stuff, and lots more than 200-500 MB of data only.

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  16. FreedomPop may or may not be going out of business. We won't know until it happens but I'm not entirely convinced that any of the three policy changes over the past month tell us anything other than FreedomPop is trying to make money from fees and extra cost services. This is nothing new for Freedompop, they aren't even the only ones that do this. As Dennis points out, the $5 downgrade fee is far better than the $20 activation fee FreedomPop charged for most of its existence, so revenue from new customers has actually gone down. The 1Mbps throttle on their Sprint service is the most annoying change but is just another way to get people to pay a fee for faster data speeds since FreedomPop introduced the new fast data "service" at the same time as the throttle. The VoIP app requirement on the AT&T service coincides with the addition of ads to the VoIP app which didn't have them before. Like the new fast data extra cost service on the Sprint service, the ads in the VoIP app and the requirement to use the app on the AT&T service is a new way to make money. On the other hand, the $5 downgrade fee doesn't recover the lose of the $20 activation fee but it allows FreedomPop to attract new customers who, like me, would never pay the $20 activation fee.

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  17. One benefit of this new $5 downgrade fee is that free plan users now get to use their entire 700MB (AT&T) or 1GB (Sprint) data allotment instead of having to keep 100MB of your data allotment in reserve in order to avoid the $15 auto top up. Of course, you still have to remember to turn off auto top up.

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    1. Actually because of this $5 downgrade fee, you no longer have to pay $15 to disable auto topup. Before this you had to manually add money and the lowest option was $10 for a while but bumped up to $15. Now with this fee you just pay the $5 to downgrade, and since the minimum to disable auto topup is $5 you can do that using the balance added from the aformentioned $5 fee.

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    2. If it wasn't run as a scam, none of those hoops would be necessary.

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    3. Don't use the word "scam". That one troll will return, call you names and want proof that it's a scam.

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    4. Well, I argue that the FP business model is a "scam" since they advertise the free service but have all kinds of tricks on the web site to discourage you from getting it: including changing it back to $25 a month once you have spent all the time getting rid of the bogus inflated charges.

      I've never seen any other carrier like this: other carriers do stuff like this occasionally, and it is usually an honest mistake. In contrast, it's rare when FP isn't trying to trick you. So, yes, I call that a "scam". I think I have a good case here.

      In contrast, the cry-wolf scam troll constantly calls people scammers merely for signing up for clearly advertised plans from carriers, and actually using them.

      Delete
  18. This is so Office Space. If they want $5 from you for signing up a "free" plan, why not just price it $5 instead of trying to do a BAIT AND SWITCH.

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    Replies
    1. Again, why not? Because honesty is not in the FreedomPop business plan at this time.

      Delete
  19. It technically still is free. The five dollars cost to downgrade is a fee, not a recurring charge. If you're "angry" and "upset" that a free plan isn't truly free, what you should be complaining about is the cost of the SIM. You can't get around that fee, either.

    Since it's clear your parent(s) never told you: nothing in life is free. Nothing. Never was. Never will be.

    So if it helps, think of the $5.99 charge as an activation fee. Feel better now? Good.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "Since it's clear your parent(s) never told you: nothing in life is free. Nothing. Never was. Never will be."

      That doesn't excuse FP for advertising something for a specific price and running a scam to trick you into paying $24.99 more than the advertised price.

      You are bending over backwards to make excuses for a crooked company.

      Delete
    2. "It technically still is free. The five dollars cost..."

      What part of "free" do you not understand? Nothing, apparently, because the definition does not include a "five dollar cost".

      If you don't believe me, I will give you a FREE 2017 Lexus once you pay me a $44,000 fee.

      Delete
    3. ""Since it's clear your parent(s) never told you: nothing in life is free. Nothing. Never was. Never will be."

      If so, my parents would have been lying. There are plenty of free things around. However, the parents in that situation aren't the only ones lying. Those businesses who say something is free and charge for it are also lying.

      Delete
  20. I hope they never go out of business. I've been using the free GSM SIM for over a year now!

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    1. I hope they pay a stiff fine to anyone who clicked to sign up for a free plan but ended up tricked into paying for something they didn't sign up for. Every single person.

      But I hope they never go out of business, too!

      Delete
  21. Thanks for the heads-up. I'm never clear on some of the weird "account maintenance" they do, also. Some of my accounts get a $0.01 cent charge randomly; and one of my accounts gets a $0.99 cent charge. I asked about the 99 cent charge and they said it was a periodic check of my credit card. Why not do a .01 cent charge if it's just a check??

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  22. FreedomPop is now selling Lifeline government phone service. They're promoting it via email.

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  23. FreedomPop charged my credit card a 1c Account Maintenance fee on both my LTE SIM accounts. They charged my GSM global SIM account 1c last month. Is this a new fee?

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    Replies
    1. They've been doing that for a while on some, but not all, accounts. Supposedly it's to test if your card is valid and able to be charged. As long as it's only a penny, I wouldn't worry about it.

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  24. FreedomPop charged me for what I ordered, which is fine. I did not know about the $5 fee, so I cancelled both SIMs and closed the account out. They went as far as charging me for both SIMs again almost a month later and when I contacted them, they told me that they didn't charge my card the first time. Meanwhile, they did. Smh, I won't ever use FreedomPop ever again, even if it is a last resort. I would rather be without cell service any given day of the week, than have to deal with them charging for items they already got paid for.

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