Tiffany’s Google Fi warning. Time to retreat?


Earlier today, Tiffany at One Mile at a Time posted “Why I Can No Longer Recommend Google Fi.”  In that post, Tiffany described a number of issues with her latest Pixel phone and with Fi support.  None of those issues were deal breakers though.  The deal breaking humongous issue was with Google Pay.  And it made me nervous…

When Google ran a one day spectacular sale on new Fi phones back in November, Tiffany’s husband bought a Pixel 3.  For an unrelated reason, Chase declined the initial transaction and that led to a series of events that resulted in a nightmare outcome: Google froze his Google Pay account.  With Google Pay frozen, he was unable to pay his monthly Fi bill and so now his phone service is frozen too and they won’t even let him port his number to another service.

Why this scares me

Years ago, Google Pay was called Google Wallet and there was a time when they allowed person to person payments, by credit card, for free.  This was awesome because I could use a credit card to pay a friend lots of money.  And he could use a credit card to pay another friend lots of money.  And she could use her credit card to pay me lots of money.  And we all earned tons of points and miles in the process.  Everybody was happy, except for Google.

Then Google froze our Wallet accounts.

I’m not complaining.  I was clearly taking advantage of Google Wallet services in a way that was not intended.  They had every right to shut me down.

With Google Wallet frozen, I couldn’t use the Google Play store or any other pay services from Google.  It wasn’t a big deal, but at times it was inconvenient.

A few years later I found a way to appeal the decision and my account was re-instated.  I wish I could remember the details about how I submitted the appeal so that I could tell Tiffany.  I think it may have been through Google Play (not “Pay”) support that I found the option to appeal.

Even though the circumstances of our account freezes were completely different, Tiffany’s husband’s experience makes me nervous.  Google Fi is great because it’s far cheaper than most alternatives for high speed international roaming.  But, you know what?  I’d rather pay more with another service than have even the very small possibility of losing service due to Google’s overzealous Google Pay security team.

I’m staying with Fi… for now

As I reported before, I bought the $999 Pixel 3 XL during the fantastic one day sale (see: iPhone withdrawal symptoms when switching to Android Pixel).  In order to get the promised gift card of equal value, I need to keep my phone and Fi service until approximately mid-April.  At that point I’ll probably sell the Pixel 3 and buy a different phone.

But will I then ditch Fi phone service as well? 

I don’t know.  In general, for me, service has been very good.  Plus, I have a number of international trips planned (or soon to be planned) where Fi service will be very helpful.  Most likely what I’ll do is keep Fi for a while, but also keep my eye out for “switch to T-mobile” deals.  T-mobile offers free international low-speed data with most of their phone plans and one can optionally buy a day pass for faster service as needed.

I don’t have any reason to think that Google will ever freeze my Google Pay account again.  That said, as long as I have Fi phone service, I’ll be a little bit nervous.  Is cheap high speed data worth it?  What do you think?

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