Black Wireless & Mango Mobile Fail To Deliver

Earlier this year, two brands owned by the operator Red Pocket, Black Wireless and Mango Mobile, began offering what looked like a great deal…While the offer looked amazing, I didn’t bother writing about it. I’d previously had bad experiences with the carriers’ parent company, Red Pocket, and this recent offer looked sketchy.

That’s how I opened a retrospective post about a seemingly too-good-to-be-true plan that Black Wireless and Mango Mobile were offering. In the post, I explained why I found the carriers’ promotional deal sketchy:

  • The descriptions of the offer were confusing and possibly contradictory.
  • While Black Wireless typically offered service over AT&T’s network, the promotion was for service over T-Mobile’s network. Black Wireless was doing a terrible job of conveying that information to potential customers.
  • I couldn’t understand how Mango Mobile and Black Wireless would be able to profitably sell cheap plans with data allotments so much higher than those offered by other carriers piggybacking on the same networks.

I ended my post by suggesting that I may have been too skeptical:

I was suspicious the promotion would end up as a fiasco that looked bad for Red Pocket. However, it looks like the company has sorted things out.

New developments

It turns out my skepticism was warranted. Subscribers that took advantage of the deal are having their plans canceled. Here’s the start of a message Black Wireless sent subscribers on the plan:[1]

Hello, this is Black Wireless. Unfortunately, we have forfeited our contract with our vendor for T-Mobile services due to business reasons. Your service will stop by April the 10th, thus we contacted you to see whether you wish to continue the service with us and in this case we will add a web credit on your online Black Wireless account so you can use the credit to purchase a new plan with a SIM.

“Due to business reasons” is an awfully vague explanation.[2] While I’m not certain what happened, I’m suspicious Black Wireless and Mango Mobile were improperly reselling T-Mobile business lines to non-business consumers.[3]

Damage Control

A Reddit poster associated with Black Wireless commented in a thread about the new developments.

We apologize for any inconvenience…We are providing several options for the customers affected, which include switching to our legacy Black Wireless plans and/or refunds for the balance of the time (remaining months) after the period ending April 10th. Black Wireless has been in the telecom business since 1997 and the wireless business since 2011 and we are here to assist you to make this as seamless as possible. Black Wireless is based out of New York. Thank you for your time and be safe during this trying time.

It was good to see Black Wireless joining the conversation, but the comment frustrated me. A bunch of statements in the comment are misleading or only half true.

The people who eventually created Black Wireless existed in 1997, but Black Wireless did not exist yet. Further, Red Pocket took the reigns of Black Wireless in the last several years. While Black Wireless may technically be based out of New York, I feel like the commenter was trying to mislead people about how closely the company is tied to the U.S. I’m pretty sure the company Red Pocket offloads most of its operations to is based out of Chennai.[4]

In a second comment, the individual associated with Black Wireless gave some level-headed insights:

We did not lose any contract, but merely the plan we had with the underlying carrier due to unforeseen circumstances. We could only do our best at this point to assist our customers in order to make sure they get the service they require or if desired a refund. In this MVNO environment you must understand there are certain criteria we must adhere to and terms we cannot state in order to stay within our business requirements and guidelines with the underlying carrier and contracts/agreements.

If we take the comment at face value, it contradicts what Black Wireless told subscribers via text message: “Unfortunately, we have forfeited our contract with our vendor for T-Mobile services due to business reasons.”

While I’ve found the handling of the whole situation unprofessional, it looks like the companies involved are taking the right steps to offer refunds to affected customers.

Footnotes

  1. Hat tip to the Reddit user that shared the message.
  2. I’m guessing the vague description was used to avoid explicitly acknowledging that the carrier was at-fault, but there might be something more complicated going on.
  3. Other companies reselling wireless services have got in trouble for this before. See this Reddit comment for evidence suggesting business lines were being resold by Black Wireless.
  4. I think Red Pocket offers most of its services through the MVNE Plintron. I believe Plintron has its HQ in Chennai, India. I don’t know if Plintron was used extensively for the problematic plan that’s the subject of this post.

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