P’tel is Closing

ATTENTION P’TEL/GIV CUSTOMERS!

Some of you may know already, and some of you this news might not apply to you currently, but it still might apply to someone you know. I recommended P’tel to a lot of people over the years, and the current news is sad and a little unexpected, but the news needs to be spread as P’tel is swamped as it is. The more who know and can pass on the info to others, the better, and the info needs to be consolidated down into a single location.

On January 20th, P’tel announced to their dealers and began the process of informing their customers that after fifteen years of business, P’tel and Giv Mobile will be shutting down on January 31 and that January 26th should be the safe guaranteed number port-out date. It’s short notice, it’s unexpected notice given there were no early warning signs, but it’s notice all the same. I’m trying to help get people out as best as possible given I helped get them in, and for what it’s worth my own family is in process of dealing with this first hand and porting out as well.

For anyone who has P’tel/Giv and are looking to switch to one of the other carriers from the communications guide and are wanting to keep your number, it is important to port out sooner than later as P’tel is running on a skeleton crew currently. This means obtaining SIM cards locally as opposed to getting them shipped. Fortunately, I can provide the most useful information to help most people port out now. Here’s the pertinent details…

Treat January 26th as your safe number port out deadline, so the sooner you port, the better.

UPDATE (01/24): P’tel has been able to extend the port-out cutoff date to February 5th. I still advise porting out sooner than later, but it’s not going to be quite the mad dash that it was originally.

Account information:

Your current P’tel account number is your ten digit phone number (ex: 8185551212)
The PIN associated with your account will be 0000

You can obtain SIM cards for the following carriers from the guide at these locations:

Consumer Cellular SIM cards are available at most Sears locations.
H2O Wireless SIM cards are available at most Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations.
Airvoice Wireless can activate new, unactivated AT&T SIM cards in a pinch (though they prefer not to), which can be obtained from any location that sells AT&T phone service.
Puretalk USA SIM cards are available at select K-Mart and Sears locations in addition to phones at both Sears and K-Mart.
Ting GSM SIM cards are starting to become available at select Staples and Kroger locations (not listed online yet, call or visit stores directly).

SIM cards for major carriers not listed in the guide such as Tracfone, NET10, StraightTalk, Cricket, MetroPCS, etc., can be found at nearly any brick and mortar store that carries cellphones. Tracfone, NET10 and StraightTalk historically have a higher reported failure rate with number porting (both in and out) than most other carriers. This isn’t to say it can’t be done, but there may be a higher risk of number loss if your number is really important to you. This is reported only for the sake of general awareness.

It’s sad news, and not a good sign long term for the independent MVNO industry when one of the longest surviving brands shuts its doors. If you remain with the smaller independent carriers, be alert, pay attention to MVNO industry news, and keep an escape plan with SIM card handy. Unfortunately, without wholesale wireless regulation, the major carriers are now undercutting their own wholesale customers to increase profits and bring back lost postpaid customers with in-house prepaid services offered through older purchased network brands such as Cricket Wireless (owned by AT&T) and MetroPCS (owned by T-Mobile). This strategy is working. That means there might be more surprises in the future from other long time and seemingly stable independent MVNOs, and as the network operators gain back direct billing control over customers, price increases might not be far behind.

Be well, all of you. May the ports that need to be done go smoothly for one and all.

Finally, to all of the fine folks there at P’tel, the past five years have been a pleasure. You were well run and a class act. Thank you all for the money you’ve helped myself and countless others save, the kind and helpful customer service, and everything else. To Sharon Lee especially, I want to thank her again personally and publicly for all that she and P’tel/Giv Mobile did for the people out in the Bethel Acres, Oklahoma area in 2013 after the Shawnee tornado. You helped rebuild families. Our sympathies and prayers go out to all of you there as you move on, and we hope you find new employment soon. May your paths ahead be filled with peace.

3 thoughts on “P’tel is Closing

  1. Hey Daley, just wanted to say thanks for introducing me to the MVNO industry (via your first interview on the radical personal finance podcast with Joshua). I switched to P’tel from Verizon 6 months ago and slashed my bill by 40 bucks. In my opinion, P’tel is/was a wonderful company, but I’m still a bit amazed they could only afford their customers 9 days to switch carriers given their long tenure as a communications alternative. I’ve switched to MetroPCS for some stability given the number porting time crunch, but I’ll keep Ultra Mobile in mind for the future. I’m curious Daley, what communications solutions have you chosen for you and your family?

    • Regarding the nine days statement regarding P’tel… first, it’s not unheard of for quick wind-downs when MVNOs hit a financial wall. Second, P’tel has apparently been able to swing an extension with T-Mobile through February 5th for number porting since the initial public announcement, giving customers a full two weeks to port out after going live with an official public statement. That’s really quite good given the circumstances. Most no-name, pop-up, indie MVNOs? When they close shop, they’re usually gone like a fart in the wind without so much as a notice.

      Regarding our overall setup, I outline what we use in the guide intro, but it’s gone a bit dated at this point as January’s been a huge month of change for us. We’re no longer with Cox for internet, and using TOAST.net’s 6Mbps VDSL service. Now that P’tel is disappearing on us, we’re moving to Ting for the time. We’re also considering migrating VoIP providers soon, but I won’t disclose to whom yet. A new billing normal is still in the air, but it should still be under the $70/month baseline.

  2. “Not a good sign long term for the independent MVNO industry when one of the longest surviving brands shuts its doors.” Ain’t that the truth? After reading Daley’s Guide in 2013, I chose Airvoice Wireless and have been quite pleased with their customer service; but apparently their profit margin is so thin they can only afford a web site that looks like it was cobbled together by a high schooler following a book he found at a garage sale. I make my living through my phone number, so I’ll certainly be following Daley’s advice about having an escape plan in place.

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