Gavel

NARB Ruling On Mint’s “Unlimited” Plan

It’s almost old news at this point, but last month a self-regulatory body for the advertising industry came out with a ruling against Mint Mobile’s marketing around its “unlimited” plans:

The National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising law body of BBB National Programs, has recommended that Mint Mobile LLC discontinue the use of “UNLIMITED” and “UNLTD” headlines in its advertising or modify them to clearly communicate that its plan does not offer unlimited high-speed data.

Mint’s allegedly “unlimited” plan caps subscribers at 35GB of regular-speed data each month. Subscribers that exceed the 35GB threshold can continue to use data, but they’re throttled to speeds of 128kbps. As I’ve written about before, 128kbps is a sluggish speed that can’t support a lot of common activities.

The recent ruling is unsurprising. The same self-regulatory body ruled against Boost Mobile for a nearly equivalent offense in early 2021. That said, there are two aspects of this story worth highlighting:

  1. AT&T initiated the complaint against Mint. Plenty of carriers offer unlimited plans with similar throttling policies, but it looks like AT&T saw Mint as a particularly threatening competitor.
  2. While Mint has committed to changing its advertisements, I haven’t seen any indication that the carrier will stop calling its 35GB plan an “unlimited” plan. The National Advertising Review Board and the associated National Advertising Division are toothless in some areas of consumer protection.
Winter abstract

Mint Expands Buy 12 Get 12 Promo

Mint Mobile has been running a promotion where customers that buy an eligible device and a year of service can get a second year of service for free. While the promotion has been live for weeks, Mint just adjusted the list of eligible devices. Most notably, devices in the iPhone 13 lineup are now eligible.

Eligible Devices:

  • iPhone 13 (full line)
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone SE (second generation)
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy A12

The deal is only available for new customers. All of the 12-month plans on Mint’s website are eligible. Purchases can be made upfront or with a monthly installment plan. The promotion will run until January 7, 2022.

Winter scene

Mint Mobile Launches Buy 3 Get 3 Promo

Mint Mobile kicked off its holiday promo today. New customers who purchase a three-month plan get three extra months of service for free. The promotion stacks with Mint’s usual introductory offer—new customers can also pay for three months of service at the discounted monthly rate typically reserved for subscribers that pay for twelve months upfront.

Pricing

Mint’s holiday promo is available on all of the carrier’s standard plans. Here are the prices for six months of service (before taxes and fees):

  • 4GB plan – $45
  • 10GB plan – $60
  • 15GB plan – $75
  • Unlimited (35GB) plan – $90

Or in monthly terms:

  • 4GB plan – $7.50 per month
  • 10GB plan – $10 per month
  • 15GB plan – $12.50 per month
  • Unlimited (35GB) plan – $15 per month

Taxes and fees typically add about 10% to the prices listed above. The deal will be available until January 7. You can find additional details about the promo on Mint’s website.

Full Terms

Here are the terms and conditions from Mint:

Free 3-month plan applied as a discount at checkout and customers will receive a 6-month plan in total. Plan activation must occur within 45 days of purchase. Offer limited to four (4) per customer and may not be combined with other offers. Plans renew as a 6-month plan at full price. To qualify for the offer, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and phone number cannot have been associated with a Mint Mobile plan within 90 days of activation. Pricing, promotions, and terms & conditions are subject to change and may be modified or terminated at any time without notice. Not redeemable for cash or credit towards any purchase. Taxes, fees, and shipping extra. Other restrictions may apply.

Added 11/16/2021: Stetson Doggett let me know that Mint has also upgraded its refer-a-friend program during its holiday promo. Mint subscribers that refer a new customer who transfers from AT&T or Verizon may be eligible for a $100 credit.

Mint Mobile Rumored To Be Considering Sale To Altice USA

An article published by the New York Posts relies on an unnamed source to suggest Mint Mobile is looking for a buyer. Mint allegedly hopes to sell for the better part of a billion dollars. Altice USA, the company behind Optimum Mobile, is rumored to be the most likely acquirer:

Mint is shopping itself and could sell for as much as $600 million to $800 million, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. Altice USA, which owns cable, phone, internet, and wireless services, is said to be the lead buyer, although it’s unclear whether it will end up closing a deal.

I believe the rumor is true. I’m not sure it’s good news for Mint customers. There’s a lot to like about Mint’s business model and price structure. Things often change significantly when a carrier is acquired. However, given Mint’s solid growth, it’s possible an acquirer would be content to let Mint continue on its current path.

Actor Ryan Reynolds will make a good chunk of change if a deal goes through. The source behind the New York Post article suggests Reynolds owns 20-25% of the business.

SIM Swapping Issues At Mint Mobile

Yesterday, Mint Mobile’s co-founder, Rizwan Kassim, posted to Reddit acknowledging recent security issues. Here’s the key excerpt:

We’ve been reading your inquiries around the recent security concerns. Despite deeply wanting to respond to your questions, we haven’t been able to due to some pretty rigid compliance regulations around what we can share publicly, especially while we engage with law enforcement.

So what happened? We can’t share much, but in short, Mint Mobile was the victim of a social engineering incident last month that impacted a small number of subscribers. We have been in contact with impacted subscribers and quickly restored their services. We also continue to investigate this incident.

The post is sparse on details, and I don’t entirely accept Mint’s claims about being unable to share further information. However, Mint deserves credit for making the post and pinning it to the top of the r/MintMobile subreddit.

As best as I can tell, something happened almost a month ago that led to Mint subscribers becoming victims of SIM swap attacks. At least two reports surfaced to Reddit. I’m suspicious a significantly larger number of customers were affected, and I’ve asked Mint to clarify.

About a month ago, Mint also had an incident where a large number of subscribers received unexpected password reset notifications. I think that incident was unrelated to the recent SIM swapping, but I’m not sure.

Mint’s Ticking Time Bomb

Mint walked into its latest security troubles. I wrote the bit below over a year ago:

A Reddit user suggests Mint Mobile’s policies may leave subscribers vulnerable to SIM-swap attacks. I haven’t dug into it, but it looks like a real issue.

While searching through old Reddit posts this morning, I realized Mint subscribers were regularly talking about this security issue for at least two years. Lots of Reddit posters have asked Mint to implement two-factor authentication or secure PINs for porting numbers. Here’s one notable example from six months ago:

Mint does NOT have pins to protect against SIM swap attacks, sadly. It’s really their only defect, and it’s a massive one.

Mint really, really, really needs to add the ability to have a user-set PIN (that they store in their system as a hash, so no one inside can ever see the PIN plaintext, just confirm that you have the right one)…It is totally mystifying to me and other security professionals why r/rizwank [Rizwan Kassim, Mint co-founder] is setting himself and the otherwise-great company he created up for massively bad publicity and legal expenses when his users get hacked en masse by eastern european mafiosos. As Mint grows this is inevitable as long as Mint refuses to implement PINs.

For quite a while, Mint has claimed to be interested in adding security features. The latest issues may lead the company to prioritize actually releasing something.

Car side-view mirror looking back on a highway

Mint’s 25 Years For $2,500 Promo In Retrospect

Yesterday, Mint Mobile ran a one-day promotion offering 25 years of service for an upfront payment of $2,500. In my previous blog post, I argued it wasn’t a good deal. I stand by that. However, part of my post didn’t hold up well:

I won’t be surprised if people who buy the 25-year plan eventually get bought out early. I also won’t be surprised if no one buys the plan and we never figure out what might have happened.
I missed the mark. Here’s a tweet from this morning:

I don’t think Mint’s finance guys are actually mad at Ryan Reynolds. If they are mad, Mint might want to find new finance guys.

When I wrote my blog post yesterday, I hadn’t seen a disclosure Mint made acknowledging that the allegedly 25-year plans might involve early terminations and buyouts:

Pricing, terms, and conditions (including all Terms & Conditions listed here) are subject to change and may be modified or terminated at any time without notice, unlike Bobby’s other deal. Mint Mobile reserves the right to buy back The Bobby Bonilla Plan under certain conditions. But we’re mostly just impressed that you’re interested, honestly.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Abstract clock

Prepay For 25 Years of Service With Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile is offering what’s possibly the goofiest one-day promotion I’ve ever seen. Customers can pay $2,500 upfront for 25 years of service. Here’s how Mint explains the deal:

At Mint Mobile, we don’t like contracts. Because most wireless customers don’t like contracts. But today, we’re making a one-time, one-day exception.

Years ago, former pro baseball player Bobby Bonilla signed one of the most famous contracts in sports history, ensuring he would be paid more than $1 million every July 1st for 25 years. So to celebrate Bobby’s big payday, we’ve partnered with him to offer the Bobby Bonilla Plan:

25 years of Mint Mobile premium wireless service for just $100 a year. That’s right, you can lock in Mint Mobile until it’s time to move to Mars.

You can find more information or order the plan on Mint’s website. As best as I can tell, the plan is real. Besides the unusual time commitment and the price tag, the plan looks identical to Mint’s usual plan with 4GB of data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts.

An Awful Deal

25 years for $2,500 works out to roughly $8 per month, about half the usual price of Mint’s 4GB plan. It’s an awful deal though. Every $1,000 invested at 8% interest will be worth close to $5,000 after 25 years.

Perhaps more interestingly, it’s unclear if Mint can honor the plan through the full term. Companies get acquired or go out of business regularly in this industry. Mint probably won’t be around in a few decades. I won’t be surprised if people who buy the 25-year plan eventually get bought out early. I also won’t be surprised if no one buys the plan and we never figure out what might have happened.


Disclosure: Mint is offering me a big commission if I refer a customer to this plan. Seriously though, don’t buy it.

7/2/2021 Update: The promotion is now over. I shared a follow-up post here.

More Data Coming To Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile just announced that it will soon offer more data on some of its plans. The carrier’s prices won’t change.

Right now, Mint offers 3 plans with fixed data allotments (all the plans include unlimited minutes and texts):

  • 3GB per month – As low as $15 per month
  • 8GB per month – As low as $20 per month
  • 12GB per month – As low as $25 per month

Starting January 28, the monthly data allotments will increase between 1GB and 3GB:

  • 4GB per month – As low as $15 per month
  • 10GB per month – As low as $20 per month
  • 15GB per month – As low as $25 per month

I assume the data increase will be available to both new customers and existing customers, but I haven’t confirmed. As far as I know, there will be no changes to Mint’s unlimited plan.

Ryan Reynolds, an owner of Mint, shared a video about the upcoming change:

eSIM abstract

Mint Mobile Officially Launches eSIM

In November, Mint Mobile started offering eSIMs to a small subset of its customers. Earlier this week, Mint opened its eSIM product to all customers with eSIM-compatible iPhones.

Compatible Phones

Mint eSIMs work with all recent iPhone models:

  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE (second generation)
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max

Mint doesn’t support eSIMs for any Android phones yet. Here’s what Mint’s cofounder, Rizwan Kassim, said when asked about eSIMs for Android devices:

There are relatively few Android devices in our base that support eSIM. OS support, app support and documentation are all better starting grounds for iOS as well.

Supporting Android is on the roadmap (Mid-2021), but it’ll be specific per device model and a slower rollout.

Getting an eSIM

Here’s how Kassim explains the process for switching to an eSIM:

Physical SIM to eSIM –

First, make sure you have the most recent update of the app.

Login to the app > tap on “Account” > select “Order Replacement SIM.” You’ll be asked to provide a form of payment for your replacement SIM; but you won’t be charged anything at completion.

Select “Get an eSIM” as your option (please note that this option will only be visible on an eligible device)

Select “This is my new device” and make sure that you are using the device that you want to install eSIM on.

Tap “Checkout”

Once it’s processed, you will be prompted to install your eSIM. Please follow the steps carefully to set your eSIM.

Once it’s installed, you’re done.

Kassim suggested new customers who want an eSIM should select eSIM as a shipping method during checkout. In my testing, I didn’t see an eSIM option. I expect the issue will be resolved soon.


Visit Mint’s website


Mint Mobile Testing Premium “Treatmint” Support Program

A user on Reddit recently shared a glowing review of a premium support program Mint Mobile is testing. Here’s an excerpt:

Just participated in Mint Mobile’s white glove support program called Treatmint.

Totally rocks! live human support seven days a week…Best tech support I have ever received from any carrier. Totally knowledgeable about carriers, devices, LTE bands, settings.

It’s great to see Mint experimenting with potential improvements to the customer support experience. I’d love to have more carriers buck the norms of lousy support, convoluted phone trees, and long hold times.

As best as I can tell, Mint is considering using Treatmint as an add-on service or a perk on premium plans. The idea of allowing subscribers to pay for better support is interesting. There’s an argument that charging for good support is both fair and efficient. Some people rarely call customer support and try their hardest to resolve issues without help. Does it really make sense for these people to subsidize the costs of subscribers that call customer support regularly?

On the flip side, I worry that a premium support program could create perverse incentives. Carriers charging for premium support might let the quality of their regular support decline so that more people pay for premium service.