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Back in February, we started an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) experiment with our new phones. We haven’t used the major cell carriers for the last five years and at one point, all four members of our family were on different MVNO plans! For this experiment, I decided to try Google’s Project Fi and my husband started service with Republic Wireless (RW). Our plan was to track data usage, coverage issues, customer service situations, and the overall cost.
After getting both of our phone numbers ported to our new providers, things were pretty quiet. Both companies had great customer support during the porting process and we had no issues with billing. Our phones pretty much worked as they should and we had coverage almost everywhere we went. We understand that when we use an MVNO, there are some trade-offs for the low prices. A minor service issue or a lack of coverage in an area is to be expected at times.
RW was $8 – $10 cheaper than Fi each month for unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of data (even though Fi refunds for unused data.) We didn’t get to use Fi’s international features which may really make the extra money worth it. Overall, Republic Wireless was winning us both over and I decided after four months to leave Fi and take advantage of a special deal being offered by RW.
I ordered a SIM card but the next day, my husband’s phone stopped calling out on RW. We did everything we could over the next few days but we were unable to fix the issue. So we dropped his RW service and I never started mine. It was June by this point and I wrote about Ending the Four Month Experiment. I went into a detailed explanation of the technical problem with his phone and with customer service in that post. I shared positives about our experience with RW too. My intent was not to bash, but to inform others about our specific experience.
We ended up moving his service back to Airvoice Wireless and I stayed on Fi. I was disappointed in RW but things happen and we were ready to move forward.
A few weeks later, I received an email from the VP of Member Experiences at RW. He apologized for what had happened with my husband’s phone and for the customer service experience we had. He had reviewed our help tickets and said we were right to “call them out” on the problem. He also asked if I’d be willing to talk about our experience to provide them with more feedback to try to improve their customer experience.
I agreed and spent about 15 minutes chatting with the folks at RW. It was a great conversation. They shared what happened on their end with my husband’s phone and service. It was definitely their problem and they didn’t make excuses. They shared a number of things that they were trying to improve customer service issues and asked my opinions. They also wanted to talk about our overall RW experience to see if there was anything else they could improve on. They were engaging, funny, and appreciative of my time. I felt very good about the conversation and the direction RW was heading in terms of serving their customers.
But with selling our house, renovating our lake house and getting the kids off to college – I wasn’t ready to make another phone change this summer. The folks at RW said that they hoped we’d come back some day – and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if we would or when.
Over the next month, I noticed my “phone experiment” blog posts being viewed numerous times each day. (For non-bloggers, we can see all kinds of cool statistics on the “back” side of the blog!) As more people learn about MNVO’s, they want to read more about what to expect. I did a search of the terms “Project Fi and Republic Wireless” and realized that my two posts were coming up as the 2nd and 3rd hits on page one of a Google search.
I thought back to my conversation with the folks at RW and my husband commented a few times during the summer that using RW and their App was easy and that he wished that issue had never happened. He had been a happy RW customer.
I was respectful to RW in my post that explained our phone problem and I shared positive things about their service, but I kept thinking that people may be avoiding RW after reading what I wrote. By this time, over 1000 people had viewed the posts (just checked and it is almost 2,000 views now). Maybe that wasn’t a big deal, but I decided to reach back out to the folks at RW.
They had contacted me and asked for feedback. And this was before those posts had ranked on a Google search. They could have just ignored the fact we left or used a simple survey about our experience.
If they were able to make some of the important changes they had discussed with me, maybe it was time to save some money and give them another chance. Fi was costing us extra money and our phone on Airvoice cost more too. And it couldn’t be used as a portable hotspot. RW had exactly what we wanted.
The folks at RW responded to my email and shared a number of things they’ve implemented. Here are just some of the recent improvements they shared with me – taken directly from an email:
- Knowledgebase – We have changed the platform and the process, which will allow knowledge to be both more current and more accurate.
- Ticket wizard – This allows us to get many of the questions answered that are typically asked early on during the interaction. It reduces the number of times our members (customers) have to go back and forth with us during an interaction.
- New and improved forums – Our Community has a new platform and it allows for better peer-to-peer interactions.
- New phones! We have kept up our promise and continued to roll out new phones.
- We have launched our Anywhereproduct, which allows our members to text both on the phone and on other devices. This has been very well received by our members and there has been much excitement around it.
- We have an entire re-design of our website, which I encourage you to check out here.
That’s a pretty impressive list! They said that they are hopeful that these changes will improve the customer experience and that they are continuing to innovate and learn. They also said that there are many changes to come.
So we decided to take another chance and we BOTH switched to Republic Wireless in the last two weeks. Porting was very easy and we had updates throughout the process. I had one question and found an on-line chat service at RW too. The question was answered within a minute! I know that may not always be the case, but it was certainly a great way to start out our experience back with RW.
And our bill for the month is now less than $50 for the two of us (unlimited talk, text and 1 GB of data each) and last month our bill was about $64 for the same level of service.
Maybe you don’t think that $14 a month is worth it for all the hassle of changing providers (even though changing is actually very easy), but that wasn’t the only thing that mattered to us.
Seeking feedback is incredibly important too. And it’s not just about Republic Wireless or any other business who wants you as a customer. We should all seek feedback about things we can improve on. It’s not easy to open up yourself to criticism or to hear about your areas of weakness. But those are the areas where you can also experience the most growth.
I could have written a very negative review of RW, but we chose to be honest. We did have a challenging issue, but we also had a very good experience most of the time we were with them. Highlighting just the negative in a review doesn’t help others make a smart decision.
We’ve had a great couple of weeks back with RW (and I used my phone as a hotspot for my laptop a few times already too!) We’ll need that a lot when we head to Colorado to camp and to hang out at Mr. Money Mustache’s Headquarters for the Pop-Up Business School conference next week! And we’ll also need it when we move out of our house next month. Our lake house won’t be ready and we won’t have wi-fi available for at least a few months. More on that soon!
If you want to give RW a look, here is my affiliate link. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but it helps support this site. I only include links to sites where I’ll spend my money too.
What are your thoughts on giving RW a second chance? Who do you use for your phone service and are you happy? I love that we can shop for cell service so easily now and that we won’t lose our phone numbers! If you haven’t given a thought to changing carriers – you definitely should! It looks confusing at first, but there are MVNO’s that fit almost everyone’s needs. Take a look!