Posted 10/15/2013 at 9:11 AM
Posted 4 years ago
I really had high expectations for FreedomPop’s new free mobile phone service.
I wanted this new service to work out well.
Unfortunately, I should have lowered my expectations.
How much lower?
Try basement level.
What follows is my complete review of FreedomPop’s new free mobile phone service.
When I first visited the FreedomPop website, I was asked for my location, in order for FreedomPop to determine whether I was located within their coverage area.
FreedomPop reported that my location was within their coverage zone and I could continue to purchase my phone and service.
The rest of the order process went rather well.
I chose the free option with the visual voice mail add-on for $2.50 per month. The phone is an HTC EVO with the Android operating system for $99 — no other phones were offered to me.
After completing my order, I received the usual welcome email messages, and account confirmation notifications.
I was told that I would receive my phone within 7 to 10 business days.
I received the phone about 10 days later.
After opening the box, I activated the phone (a simple process) and placed a test call to my wife who was sitting 3 feet away from me.
She answered the call and I saw her lips moving, but I could only make out every fifth word or so; while she had the same difficulty hearing me clearly.
At this point, without hesitation, I phoned (from my landline) FreedomPop’s support line.
Nick in FreedomPop Customer Support promptly took my call, and asked me what issue I was experiencing.
I told him that the voice quality of the call was terrible; breaking up, and unintelligible.
Nick said “you might want to connect with Wi-Fi, since I’m not in the 4G coverage area, and the 3G service doesn’t work too good”
So what Nick is telling me is that FreedomPop doesn’t support their 3G network, and I’ll be better off using my own Wi-Fi network, since I’m not in the coverage zone for their 4G network.
Ok. Got it.
So I switch to my Wi-Fi network, make another test call, this time to a different number.
Same result. Same crappy connection, same broken up audio.
I tell this to Nick, who has nothing more to say.
And guess what?
During the whole time I’m on the phone with Nick, his connection keeps breaking up.
It turns out that the FreedomPop Customer Support team uses Skype for calling.
Their own phone audio connections are just as bad as the FreedomPop phone connection.
But wait — there’s more.
You’re probably wondering: “How’s the battery power?”
How about 100% to 0% in 1 hour and 40 minutes flat. No kidding. And that’s on standby!
Super annoying is a popup on the screen every 30 seconds, reminding you that “your FreedomPop phone has been activated.”
I tried to disable that with no luck.
The phone’s speaker default is either speakerphone, or just a loud setting.
The text on the screen of the phone uses an extra tiny font size, making it all but invisible without the use of a magnifying glass.
The one decent feature seemed to be the text messaging. That worked fine.
The phone also comes loaded with a bunch of apps.
That wasn’t enough for me.
I decided to ask FreedomPop for a refund.
I figured I’d be in for a rough ride — they don’t seem to have a refund policy posted anywhere on their website.
Once again, I phoned FreedomPop Customer Support, this time speaking with Robert.
I told him of my issues with the phone and the service and asked him for a refund.
He explained that he would refund me the shipping fee and afterward, they would refund the money paid for the phone.
However, he added that I would be responsible for the return shipping fee. He also told me that the phone refund wouldn’t happen until they received the phone back from the shipper.
I told him there’s no way I’m paying for the return shipping fee, and I explained to him that I’d be willing to have FreedomPop mail me a prepaid shipping label, and I’d pack up the phone and call in a Fedex or UPS pickup. I also explained to him that once the phone was picked up by the shipper, that’s when I would expect my refund.
We went back and forth about this for around 15 minutes.
Finally, he relented and agreed to refund the complete amount for both the phone and the shipping fee, and promised they’d send a prepaid shipping label, and I could call in a pickup.
So there you have it. My review of FreedomPop’s new free mobile phone service.
A few more tidbits you might want to think about before you decide to try FreedomPop’s new free mobile phone service for yourself:
1. FreedomPop originally told me I was within their coverage area. Partly true, partly false. Yes, I’m within their 3G coverage area, but their 3G service doesn’t really work. Neither does Wi-Fi. So, basically the phone was useless since I’m not located in their 4G coverage zone.
2. The HTC EVO phone that comes with the deal is refurbished. At no point during the purchase process was this clearly explained. I’m sure it’s buried somewhere in the legalese of their online agreement, but it would be nice if they were clear and open about this.
3. For the free phone option, you’ll have to pay $2.50 per month additional for the visual voice mail, if you want that feature. Good-bye “free.”
I’d enjoy reading about other peoples experiences with FreedomPop’s new free mobile phone service. Tell me in the comments if you’re satisfied with your phone and service. Especially those of you located within FreedomPop’s 4G coverage zone.