** Please note that since this post was written, Truphone support has been amazing, and completely resolved the issue!
Before my trip to Europe, I decided to look for a good VoIP app for my iPhone. It bugs me that Skype wasn't (and still isn't) available for it, as that would be the perfect solution. Since then Fring has been released, which I have yet to really try out. But at the time, only Truphone was available, so I thought I'd give it a shot. At first I was quite excited about the app. The pricing looked awesome:
- Calls to a number of European countries for around $0.05/minute
- Calls within USA and Canada for only $0.015/minute!!
All that you had to do was pre-pay to buy time. The quality was decent, and it was moderately easy to find WiFi hotspots all around Europe (at some McDonald's you can buy anything at all and you get their WiFi for free).
As far as my trip to Europe was concerned, this saved me a lot of money. I had to make a few calls to Canada and some to Switzerland while in Italy or Greece. This literally cost me pennies, which was nice. I wholeheartedly recommend the service if you make regular long-distance calls from your mobile, and have regular access to WiFi (such as in a home office).
The other really nice thing about the service is that when you call people, it shows your cell phone number in the call display! This is much better than Skype, whose numbers often look fake, and get ignored as telemarketers.
The interface is very easy to use – you scroll through your contacts and make calls almost identically to how you would with the native iPhone phone feature.
However, there was one MASSIVE downside to their service, or rather, to their rates. In order to qualify for the USA/Canada pricing, you had to pre-pay $15. I had no problem with this, as it bought me 1000 minutes, which would have cost me $400 on my regular cell plan. I was quite happy to be able to save all that money. But the truth is, I didn't.
I'd had the plan for almost a month, and I got the following notice:
Your American Tru Saver bundle is about to expire. Buy a new bundle now for more minutes and to keep your remaining 953 minutes for next month.
Are you kidding?! I'd used 47 minutes that month, and it was going to expire if I didn't buy more? The whole purpose of me buyig it was to save money, not spend more each month!
So I sent them the following:
Why on earth would 1000 minutes expire after one month? I'm sorry, but that takes this from being a great service to a virtually useless waste of time. You're forcing me to spend $15 per month, when I wouldn't even have spent that much on long distance anyways.
This is ridiculous.
I was hoping that this would get them to seriously consider that their prcing plans may not work for the average North American, and it was time to re-strategize. But, two weeks later I received the reply:
We are sorry for our delay in getting back to you!
We appreciate you taking the time to submit feedback on our first bundle
offer. We are sorry to hear that our bundle is not suited for your usage.
If you have any further queries please reply to this email for assistance.
The Truphone Support Team
Wow. That's pathetic. The extent to which they gave consideration to my email was exactly… none at all.
So here's what it came down to: I paid $15 for 47 min. That's $0.32/minute. I saved a whopping $0.08/minute overall, or about $3.76 in one month. Was it worth it? Not at all.
So, to sum it all up: Truphone is a great idea, and a great product. I would love to see it work over 3G, but it's not likely. The standard pricing is decent, but if you're going to for for the North American Tru Saver bundle, make sure you're going to use those minutes!