NetworkWorld published its findings on the suspicious histories of the men behind new cellphone company Zer01 just two days ago, but they clearly sent someone behind the scenes scrambling. This afternoon they reported that Zer01’s parent company “has stripped its Web site down to only basic information,” and that “new details have also come to light suggesting a past connection between two of the involved companies, despite claims to the contrary.”
ZER01 is a new cellular service launching soon that promises unlimited calling and unlimited, fast data connectivity for $70 a month. There’s another unique twist: you can sell the service to your friends for $10 monthly credits. That’s right, it’s a multi-level marketing mobile virtual network operator—an MLM MVNO. NetworkWorld smelled something fishy, so they researched the companies behind the offering and found that there’s a lot of sketchy looking stuff. We put the highlights of their investigation into a chart.
Dan likes the interface and ease of texting on his Blackberry, but doesn’t need mobile Internet or e-mail. He asked his service provider, Alltel, to switch his service to a Blackberry he already owned, but without a data plan. An employee said that was possible and set it up for him, and Dan texted away happily…until he received his bill, which now contains a hefty data plan charge. Alltel now insists that Dan can’t have a Blackberry on their network without a data plan.
Chris was surprised to find that T-Mobile didn’t cancel his account as promised a few months ago. What’s worse, the note on his account that mentioned his cancellation request was missing, and nobody at customer service would help him. Chri works for a “very large consumer electronics company” that he won’t name (we’re pretty sure it’s Apple) and thinks customer service is important, so he gave up on the CSR angle and instead came to our site to find contact info for T-Mobile executives. One EECB later, Chris is free from T-Mobile and the ETF they tried to apply.
Okay, all you iPhone dorks, Citi’s just released an easy way for you to keep track of your account balances while you’re running around pinching things bigger and smaller with your heavily patented gestures. Don’t worry, ugly phone owners, they’ve got other mobile versions too.
T-Mobile came in first in a J.D. Power and Associates study of cellphone customer care performance, with 755 out of a possible 1,000 points. Actually, though, all the carriers came in above the 700 point range except for Sprint, which was in the 600s. [RCR Wireless]
If you have an account with Mint, and you’ve enabled mobile alerts, you can now text “Bal” or “Balance” to 696-468 (MyMint) and receive a summary of all of your accounts. [Mint]
Sprint has asked some of its employees to consider voluntarily resigning by December 3rd in exchange for a compensation package. Says a spokesperson, “No one is being forced to do anything. There are no forced reductions. There are no layoffs in store. It’s a matter of employees having the option to exercise discretion. No targets have been announced.” IntoMobile says retail store employees and managers are not being included in the offer. Update: We’ve received a little more info from an anonymous tipster about the downsizing, and what it might mean for customers of Sprint.
Nathan’s been having trouble this week buying a prepaid GoPhone from AT&T Mobility’s website. He finally found out the reason: they couldn’t verify his credit history. This is confusing because it’s a prepaid GoPhone and because his credit history is superb. “Cheryl refused to transfer me.
Would you pay $36 a year to access Quicken on your iPhone? What the hell, why not, right? You already paid for the iPhone! That’s probably what Intuit is hoping—and the zillion-dollar iPod accessories market proves there’s a lot of “blue ocean” for businesses that want to fish in Apple waters. It launches the product as a web service on January 8th, 2008, with an iPhone-friendly flavor also available then. There are plans to roll out “tweaked” versions for other mobile devices at an unspecified point in the future.
Wesabe, the popular personal finance website, has unveiled a new mobile version that “lets you check your balances, see recent transactions, and… enter cash transactions, from any mobile browser.” To save time, you only need to enter the most basic information via your phone—you can add the details to the entry later from a standard web browser.
A reader writes in to say he saved $10 on his T-Mobile bill when he called up to ask why there were two different “Total Internet” options on his add-ons list. Were they the same thing? Yes. So he could switch to the cheaper one without penalty and get exactly the same add-on? Sure.
The next issue of Consumer Reports will contain the results of a nationwide customer satisfaction survey for the mobile phone industry. In a surprise to no one who actually has a mobile phone, the cellular industry is “among the lowest-rated services” for consumers, particularly because of termination fees, high prices, and confusing contracts.