FreedomPop quietly moving some free Sprint plans to paid plans, unless opt-out

I originally noticed information about this from Dennis Bournique's PrepaidCompare.net .

The info about this is laid out pretty well here:

The skinny: FreedomPop is sending emails to some customers on their free Sprint plans about an 'offer' to upgrade to a $3.99/mo paid plan-- but it's an opt-out offer. If you don't confirm via your FreedomPop dashboard that you want to remain on the free plan, you'll be "upgraded" to the paid plan automatically.

Not all accounts have received this email-- mine haven't. If yours haven't, it may be rolled out to additional accounts over time. It apparently affects only the Sprint plans, not the LTE SIM plans. (So far.)

This is a pain, since my FP/Sprint devices have become more useful and important to me after they've reduced the effective data availability on the LTE SIMs. (And yes, I think it's probably breaking some rules with the opt-out presentation.......)

Thanks! I am starting to convince myself to shut down the two Sprint devices I have within. We will see how this process evolves.

Some additional info on the matter:

Looks like FP is hoping people don't notice the charges. Anyone getting this should file a chargeback on their credit card. When the card processors call, they'd listen. If the card issuer refuse to help, document the encounter and file a complaint with (FTC?)... I had a claim that the bank refused to help with a few years ago and recently got about $200 repatriation (bank got fined for not following the law).

I only received the email on one account but they tried to update two others without notification. All mine are now downgraded and I’m saving the confirmation emails in case.

Found two and canceled tohe 'free trial', looks like FP forced a $20 deposit one account that had no top-up without permission, the other one that did have top-up did not get additional deposit levied!

Both lines had data usage, while the zero usage were left alone. Downgraded both lines to the free plan and will have to see how to get my unauthorized top-up back.

BTW, checked my email account and also trash and junk, no email from Freedompop whatsoever (I did get email confirming downgrade).

6/5/19 6:03 PM 137434826 Credit - Account Balance US$20.00
6/5/19 12:03 PM 137389279 Why Pay More? Phone 750mb US$0.00

6/5/19 10:12 AM 137376530 Retention 750MB (3G/4G) US$0.00

Post your comments on prepaidphonenews too...

https://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2019/06/freedompop-customers-automatically.html

So looks like if you pre-emptively put a top-up on your account (option of $10 or $20), that may prevent a default top-up of $20 for downgrading...

PEW, I want to make sure I understand....
Are you saying that your account was charged the $20 fee at the time of downgrading back to the free plan?

I've seen a few reports of this on other forums, but most of those did not have complete details, seemed possibly to be comingled with general FreedomPop complaints, etc., so it was hard to give the reports much credence.

You, on the other hand, seem to be an experienced and careful FreedomPop user.

Yep, no notification was given but the acct with $0 top-up was charged $20 top-up when I downgraded. No email was received regarding the change to a paid plan. I did receive email notification when I downgraded back to free plan.

I'm reading through Howard Forums & Reddit threads.....
It seems some have seen the $20 charge, and some haven't.....

So a couple of followup questions if you don't mind, PEW:
Had your account already been billed the $3.99, or did you catch it before the plan change took effect?

And, did you downgrade via the "Change Plan" route in the dashboard, or via the link that was included in the email that you should have received..... (but didn't).......

Just saw this HoFo post, with a response form Freedompop Support that the $20 topup charge can be avoided by downgrading via the link.....
Freedompop "upgrading" free plan to paid plan - CHECK YOUR EMAIL!!!!?p=17077275#post17077275

I have not seen anything, but they sure can try and waste their time on the process. Those two accounts are old, had the automatic top up disabled, and they both have gift cards which have long had their balance used.

Worst case, they will suspend said accounts which I am feeling the itch to do now due to their funny practices. I mean, if they can't keep the business afloat using the free plans, just be upfront and get rid of the freeloaders (myself included).

It was in the "free trial" period of the $3.99 so no charges for the plan.
When I downgraded 2 lines...
the one that has a $5 top-up downgraded fine.
the one that has no top-up got charged $20 top-up. As mentioned in the Howard Forum post, there was NO WARNING that $20 top-up was being added.

Did not know about that special link that avoids top-up... mainly because I did not get the notification email. :frowning:

Looks like FP is daring consumers to file chargebacks.

I don't know for sure that using the link provided in the email would have avoided the $20 charge-- not enough well-notated data points to be sure. Some people think it does.

The unknown factors:

  1. Timing: Did one manage to reject the upgrade before it took place, or (as PEW did) in the 'free trial' peiod, or after a $3.99 charge had actually been made.

  2. Downgrading via dashboard, or downgrading via the (rejection) link.

Yeah, it does sound like they're inviting chargebacks. It's possible that FP is actually inviting this. If you do a chargeback, FP TOS allows them to cancel all of your plans, so they'd manage to dump the free Sprint plan + any free LTE SIM plans they can identify as related. If you're in that situation, and want to keep any related plans, probably better to try the customer 'service' route first.

It's a fine line to walk for FreedomPop-- they want to keep their customer numbers up, and also want to convert them to paying customers.....

I checked my Freedompop Sprint account today. Nothing looks amiss (yet!) -- still on the free plan, top-up disabled, and it shows next plan payment as $0. I haven't received any email from FP either. So do you guys think that I have dodged the bullet for now? Or should I just go ahead and pro-actively cancel the account because I don't really use it much anyway?

If a plan gets loaded, it will cost you $20 in top-up... Probably safer to just cancel.

If you use it.... I'd wait, keep an eye on it, and have a contingency plan in mind.
If you get hit with the "upgrade", you can cancel the line instead of taking the chance on the $20 top-up if you want. Worst risk should be $3.99 if you don't catch it during the free trial period....

You can follow the discussion at the following links to see if more details become clear on whether there's a way to avoid the top-up charge....

Freedompop "upgrading" free plan to paid plan - CHECK YOUR EMAIL!!!!

From reading through those discussions, one warning comes to mind-- some folks were speculating that you could preemptively deal with this by going to the downgrade link that shows in the email, even if you had not received the email and/or your dashboard doesn't show an upcoming charge. From one comment, it's not certain at all that this will work......

Thanks for your thoughts, PEW and KentE! Now there's the new wrinkle with FP and Ting and RedPocket. Wonder how that will affect all of this. I think I'll just watch how this plays out for now.

Now we know why they were moving free plans to paid with no permission.

Wanted to make it look to redpocket that they had more customers.

Shady

@lexusl21 - Interesting point.