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kctopitz (Offline)
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Default An open letter to Mobal - 11-03-2016, 17:29

I'm sharing this letter I've written to Mobal. If they reply by email and address my questions, I'll post the reply here.

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Dear Mobal,

I've had an account with you since 2007, when I purchased one of your Mobal SIMs. I'll say right now, I don't think you've made much, if any, money off of me since then, simply because your rates have always been too high -- something I knew when I bought the SIM, but I bought one anyway because I thought it would be wise to have as an emergency backup in case one of my other SIMs didn't get a signal or didn't have credit to make an important call.

When I travel, I've historically relied on local prepaid SIM cards. The past few years, however, I've been getting cosy with a couple of your competitors: Truphone and Piranha Mobile. In fact, this past month, I've used both while traveling in Central America and Mexico, and when I return to the US, I'll be using one of them as my primary number. Both have proven to be useful, and with very reasonable rates (depending on the country).

However, just recently I've found myself at a remote location where only one network provider has coverage, meaning one of the above SIM cards (Piranha) doesn't work, and the other (Truphone) works but has very expensive data rates ($4.50/MB). We could call it fate, then, that I just happened to receive an automated email from Mobal notifying me that the credit card I have on file is about to expire.

Checking on the Mobal website, I found rates that were, well, still expensive for calling ($.99/min) but comparatively reasonable data rates ($.39/MB). Having my Mobal SIM with me, I saw that and thought to myself, "I might actually use that." I logged in to my account to update my credit card info, only to see a link for "My Call Rates". Checking this, I saw a very different set of rates: $3/min for a call to the US, $1.75/min for an incoming call, and no mention of data. I wrote to Mobal support and today received a response explaining that the first set of rates I saw was for Mobal's new service, and if I'd like to get those rates I would need to purchase a new SIM card at a cost of $9.

Now, as a customer, and as someone who grew up learning the ins and outs of running a small business, I have some questions:

1. As far as I can tell, the "new" Mobal SIM card was released in 2014. Why, as an existing customer, am I just hearing about it now? As someone who follows the international SIM card market, I think I would remember receiving an email about a new Mobal SIM product that offered data -- and I would have asked the next question much sooner.

2. Why are you charging existing customers $9 to upgrade to your new service, a service which is only barely keeping up with (and still quite a ways behind) the competition? I understand that this new service requires sending someone a new SIM card -- and that doesn't matter. When Truphone improved their rates, they didn't ask me to buy a new SIM to be able to use them. When Truphone changed the type of SIM cards they use, they sent me a new one for free. That's just good customer service. Heck, that's just smart, because...

3. Do you realize that if you had simply shipped me your "new" SIM card, it would be in my hands right now, and I could be using it (for data access), racking up charges and giving you money? Instead, here I am asking myself questions, like...

4. Why should I continue to do business with you?
   
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Default 11-03-2016, 21:09

Here's the reply from Mobal support. I've chosen to redact portions where they mention or push other Mobal products so I don't unwittingly make this thread into a mouthpiece for their marketing department.

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Thank you for your email

I'm sorry to hear of your frustrations, please see the below answers to the questions you asked.

1. In 2014 we launched a new [ -- redacted -- ] service, this service is a different type of service from the one that you purchased, this service offers different coverage, rates and also comes with a US and UK cell phone numbers. Our New service also has some countries which use a call back dialing method instead of direct dial, the older International service you have offers direct dialing in all countries covered. In regards to calling rates we have always encouraged current customers to check their rates through their MyAccount - for one simple reason, to ensure that they are looking at the correct rates for the service they have purchased - our rates have changed on occasion throughout the years.

I have also checked your Email address and your Emails address does not appear to be included in our Marketing lists, this would be due to you de-selecting this option when ordering (This is why you do not receive marketing information from us)

2. As our [ -- redacted: same service as above -- ] service is a completely new and separate service, we do not offer a free upgrade, this is a new product and not an upgrade to the existing product and therefore no promotion is offered. This new product is also sold for $9.00 including a free standard Fed-Ex shipment which is also a very low cost to the purchaser.

3. According to your account which you have had with us since 2007 you have never used our service for calls or data before so therefore I'm unable to agree with you here.

4. If you wish to use data we have launched a new [ -- redacted: different service -- ] (Which is a new product separate from all other products so therefore we are not offering it as a free upgrade) this SIM card gives you [ -- redacted: tries to sell me on different service -- ]

If you have anymore questions please do not hesitate to contact me back.

Kindest Regards
[ -- name redacted -- ]
Mobal Care Supervisor
My follow-up notes:

Regarding his comments on #3, I was the first to point out that I haven't used their service since purchasing the SIM, and did so in the 2nd sentence of the my letter. I find it remarkable that he knows if I had been issued a new SIM (with new rates), I wouldn't be using it. I guess he thinks I'd rather pay $4.50/MB with my Truphone SIM than $.39/MB. It's also needs to be pointed out that the old SIM doesn't even allow data (or if it does, the rate info for it isn't listed), so it's not like I could have ever used it.

Regarding his comments on #4, the fact that he answered my question "Why should I continue to do business with you?" with a sales pitch, says a lot.
   
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