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Thread: Ever heard of "Plintron"? ("Mobile Virtual Network Enabler" for Red Pocket, Lyca)

  1. #1
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    Ever heard of "Plintron"? ("Mobile Virtual Network Enabler" for Red Pocket, Lyca)

    Tl;dr: I wonder now if all the problems I have always had with Red Pocket's back end systems and tech support are actually down to a global (huge) "MVNE" called Plintron.

    It took me a month to solve a phantom voicemail notification problem with my Red Pocket T-Mobile number. None of the standard "solutions" worked (this is a common problem) such as calling your number, leaving a voicemail, then deleting it or clearing data for the Android dialer app. The ultimate solution for this problem is for the carrier to "zap" the voicemail to reset it. If I were a direct T-Mobile customer this problem could have been solved immediately. As it was, it took three weeks of dealing with RP to resolve it and I came up with the solution myself.

    We all know that RP customer service is not particularly tech savvy and I'm willing to cut them a lot of slack since they support four networks and an infinite number of phones. But the way support is structured, they are set up to fail. After many many exchanges with RP they finally told me that they can only communicate with T-Mobile by email. T-Mobile was telling them that "there was nothing wrong with my voicemail so it must be the phone." What I wanted was for them to send the reset signal to my account so that the next time I called voicemail I was asked to set it up as a new customer. They never did that although they claimed to have reset vm more than once. If I was never asked to configure voicemail as a new customer, they couldn't have reset it.

    They asked me for lots and lots and lots of information which being a good sport I provided to them. It was apparent immediately that the problem was with the network and not my primary phone because when I put the sim into a different T-Mobile phone for the first time, the vm notification appeared on first boot. But to be fair I even went so far as to do a factory reset, which was pointless because it was never the phone's fault. Finally I asked them to turn off the T-Mobile voicemail altogether. Imagine my suprise when the phantom notification persisted even after that.

    RP's only solution was to switch my number to AT&T. Although I was pretty sure that would solve the problem, I really didn't want to do that. As it happens I had an unactivated GSMT sim that they had sent me, because you need an updated T-Mobile sim for RP to enable wifi calling, which is only done on request. I never used the sim because I don't like to take chances with RP changing things.

    But since I had the sim I asked RP to switch the account over to it. And voila, just as I suspected my month long nightmare was over.

    When the phone booted with the new sim for the first time I was suprised to see it identified as "Plintron," where all my previous RP sims had identified themselves as "Red Pocket." Googling Plintron it seems that as an MVNE they handle a wide variety of tasks for MVNOs who don't have the infrastructure to handle them for themselves: "Typically this includes SIM provisioning and configuration, customer billing, customer relationship management, and value-added service platforms."

    So this brings me to the point of this post. I think it's possible that "Red Pocket" is only a front facing marketing business. Everything that frustrates us about RP, from porting, activation, account information and tech support may well be down to Plintron and not what we think of as Red Pocket. I had a strong feeling that RP support was actually based in India and so what? But now I think that when you speak to "RP" you are actually speaking to Plintron, which is headquartered in Chennai.

    What this means is that you as a customer are *really* at arm's length from both the underlying carrier and the company that "services" you. Red Pocket seems to be not much more than someone you pay. While everyone is super polite and tries to be responsive no one is "hands on" the way a post-paid carrier would be and no one really has a stake in keeping you as a customer. And to make matters worse, many of the problems we experience are caused by "RP's" flaky back office systems and poor tech support communication/knowledgeability.

    I just this month started my third annual (Ebay) contract with RP, but I will strongly consider switching after this. One more issue that takes weeks to resolve will be the straw that break's the camel's back. Sigh.

  2. #2
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    First glad you're sorted.
    Second it sounds like Plintron does just what you say it does & no more.
    Seems to me RP has direct relationships with the big 4 & farms out a lot to Plintron.
    But I'm surmising.
    If my actions include deeds of philanthropy in charity and acts of loving kindness I am living in my Faith.

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  3. #3
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    I was going to reply to your (philovance) "Their back end systems have and still been a mess." comment in the thread
    https://www.howardforums.com/showthr...ngers-crossed) but this is a better thread for that.

    Most of my posts on Hofo have been about my almost year-long efforts to get Red Pocket's Family Plan, which is based on a supposed monthly Auto-Refill, to work properly.

    Earlier this month, they seemed to finally get it working, and I posted so.

    But, a week or so later, while were expecting home delivery of some appliances, a number called my wife's phone, but didn't leave a voicemail. Then the same number called my phone, and did leave a voicemail, about the delivery set for the next day.

    I checked, and found her voicemail was turned off. (We are on Verizon, via RPM's CDMA sims, have been on VoLTE for quite a long time now.) I chatted with RPM's tech support, who turned it back on, and had to set it up all over gain from scratch. Then a few days ago, I found both of our voicemails turned off, and again contacted RPM to get them turned on again, which at least this time everything was still intact. I pointed out that we didn't ask for voicemail to be turned off, nor were we alerted to the fact it had been turned of, and chalked it all to what someone else here has posited that they want to be just some "loser MVNO".

    In the past dealings with RPM, I did encounter this front end that the CSRs do have some control over, and the back end, which they have to fill out trouble tickets for, with that response in 24-48 hours, which really means that you have to contact them in 48 hours to find out why nothing has happened.

    What has been puzzling me for the last year, where I've spent more time communicating with RPM than actually using my phone, is that the whole e-commerce thing of offering a service on a web site, then delivering that service at the price agreed, is not a new thing. So why should it be such a struggle for RPM?

    You may have found the underlying reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zapjb View Post
    First glad you're sorted.
    Second it sounds like Plintron does just what you say it does & no more.
    Seems to me RP has direct relationships with the big 4 & farms out a lot to Plintron.
    But I'm surmising.
    It could be the opposite: Plintron is a *much* bigger company than RP. It's possible that P. buys massive amounts of carrier time and resells it to MVNOs.

    Interesting that the new sim identifies the carrier as Plintron. T-Mobile is nowhere to be found. Whereas my FreedomPop sim lists AT&T as the carrier.

    I'm beginning to think that we *never* interact with "Red Pocket," only with Plintron people assigned to the RP account. Be that as it may they often fail on both fronts: their "bookkeeping," as evidenced by the many glitches on the website (which should be under their control) and their troubleshooting of carrier problems, which is apparently completely beyond their control.

    After more research I'm pretty sure that it is Plintron that is buying carrier time "wholesale" and reselling it to RP. I have read that the MNO's (Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) won't even speak to MVNO staff. Their customer is (in this case) the MVNA (Aggregator). So I don't think "RP has direct relationships with the big 4" at all.


    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6003 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by philovance; 11-30-2019 at 12:03 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rd10221 View Post
    I was going to reply to your (philovance) "Their back end systems have and still been a mess." comment in the thread
    https://www.howardforums.com/showthr...ngers-crossed) but this is a better thread for that.

    Most of my posts on Hofo have been about my almost year-long efforts to get Red Pocket's Family Plan, which is based on a supposed monthly Auto-Refill, to work properly.

    Earlier this month, they seemed to finally get it working, and I posted so.

    But, a week or so later, while were expecting home delivery of some appliances, a number called my wife's phone, but didn't leave a voicemail. Then the same number called my phone, and did leave a voicemail, about the delivery set for the next day.

    I checked, and found her voicemail was turned off. (We are on Verizon, via RPM's CDMA sims, have been on VoLTE for quite a long time now.) I chatted with RPM's tech support, who turned it back on, and had to set it up all over gain from scratch. Then a few days ago, I found both of our voicemails turned off, and again contacted RPM to get them turned on again, which at least this time everything was still intact. I pointed out that we didn't ask for voicemail to be turned off, nor were we alerted to the fact it had been turned of, and chalked it all to what someone else here has posited that they want to be just some "loser MVNO".

    In the past dealings with RPM, I did encounter this front end that the CSRs do have some control over, and the back end, which they have to fill out trouble tickets for, with that response in 24-48 hours, which really means that you have to contact them in 48 hours to find out why nothing has happened.

    What has been puzzling me for the last year, where I've spent more time communicating with RPM than actually using my phone, is that the whole e-commerce thing of offering a service on a web site, then delivering that service at the price agreed, is not a new thing. So why should it be such a struggle for RPM?

    You may have found the underlying reason.
    I'm leaving the carrier vm turned off and using YouMail, which does a good job of spam blocking along with multiple notifications and visual vm (not available from RP/T-Mobile). Free account is adequate.

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6003 using Tapatalk

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    Here's a graphic that makes it clear that once you've paid Red Pocket, your entire experience is controlled by Plintron. A big big company. So there really isn't the excuse that RP is a low margin startup. Everything but sales and marketing is contracted out. Given how horizontally integrated Plintron is, it's amazing how haphazard the user experience is.



    Sent from my ASUS_P00J using Tapatalk
    Last edited by philovance; 11-30-2019 at 12:04 PM.

  7. #7
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    Wow just wow.

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    I think something like this is actually the case for many mvno's.
    Not always as extreme but basically similar.
    They use these MVNE's. Activations, ports, problems have to go through the MVNE, even where the MVNO does have its own staff.
    The MVNO staff is often/usually not allowed to talk to the carrier directly.
    Of course this seriously degrades support and access to carrier features. The MVNE usually provides a one-size-fits-all set of carrier features that is all the MVNO can use.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by comintel View Post
    I think something like this is actually the case for many mvno's.
    Not always as extreme but basically similar.
    They use these MVNE's. Activations, ports, problems have to go through the MVNE, even where the MVNO does have its own staff.
    The MVNO staff is often/usually not allowed to talk to the carrier directly.
    Of course this seriously degrades support and access to carrier features. The MVNE usually provides a one-size-fits-all set of carrier features that is all the MVNO can use.
    I think this is right. Given the MVNO's dependence on the MVNE/MVNA I'm *almost* (not quite) inclined to give Red Pocket "itself" (whatever that may be, other than a website and a listing on ebay) a pass. But what I don't understand is how Plintron, which is apparently the largest global MVNE, can do such a poor job with back end systems and carrier issues as they do, given that they are "all about digital." It's understandable that customer service might not be on the American Express level, but so many of the problems I've had (wrong renewal dates, premature end of plans, carrier issues with voicemail, website customer page omitting option to buy topups, etc.) are system issues that should only rarely require customer service intervention. If Plintron ran their business like any other company that does business on line in terms of efficiency I could put up with customer service that has no tech competence.

    Here's an example of how wacky Plintron (whom I assume I was speaking to) is: after three weeks getting nowhere I wrote to the CEO of Red Pocket. He was very responsive and the amount of attention I got escalated immediately, if to no effect.

    After another week I emailed him again and asked if someone who knew what they were doing could call me on the phone and take responsibility for follow up. Sure enough, someone attempted to call me in the afternoon New York time, but since they were calling from a "Private Number," YouMail and Nomorobo blocked them. At 9:30 in the evening I got a call that identified itself as Red Pocket. I wasn't thrilled to be dealing with this just before bedtime, but what the hell, it might be my only chance so I answered the call.

    But I couldn't understand a word the person said and the call was abruptly cut off before we even agreed about what the problem was. They called back and again the call was cut off with a minute or two. And again, a third time. By the time a fourth person called me who I could understand on a stable connection it was already after 10PM (they knew I was in NYC; I'd told them repeatedly).

    When I asked why they couldn't manage to keep a customer on the line long enough to have a conversation, I was told they were using a VOIP app!! I love the idea of Google Voice, but damned if I'm going to have a business discussion over wifi. I've never had the kind of problems with Skype calls that Red Pocket put me through. So they need to get their money back on that VOIP app and maybe start using Skype .

    And this was when they told me they couldn't do anything more with T-Mobile and would I like to switch to AT&T? It was just dumb luck I happened to have an unactivated GSMT SIM which was a solution I'd suggested two weeks in.

    A hell of a way to run a railroad, as the saying goes.

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