Trust me, this is coming from a Google fanboy.

In 2016, I had had enough with my iPhone, and after reading about the innovations of Google’s Project Fi decided to jump ship, order a Google Pixel and sign up for the “Project Fi” mobile plan, now just known as Google Fi. For years, I’ve been an all too happy customer, taking it with me on frequent journeys around the world – I am a travel blogger after all – and I haven’t had a bad word to say – but now, I’m absolutely furious. Google Fi shut down our account for being abroad, and Google refused to hear reason when a very logical one was given.

Spoiler alert: my wife cannot medically travel.

I rave about the Google Pixel to anyone who will listen, commend the modern approach to the Fi mobile plan and even just bought a Pixel Slate to slip even further into the abyss of their ecosystem. Take all my data and make my life simpler, please.

It’s been widely reported that Google Fi began shutting down accounts in the last two months of people who haven’t been primarily in the United States recently, stating that the service is intended for users based in the USA. Fair play, that’s always how it’s been and I certainly wouldn’t want to break the rules. Sure enough, the message came…

“In 30 days, we’ll need to suspend your international roaming data capabilities unless you start using Fi in the US again. Fi’s terms of service require you to use our service primarily from a US address, but it looks like you’ve been using Fi abroad for over 5 months.”

When we received this notice, it was only on my wife’s phone – not mine. I am constantly in the USA, and my wife generally is too, but she’s got a pretty good excuse “why” she hasn’t been with me in the last few months. She’s 8 3/4 months pregnant.

No airline will allow you to fly at that stage, not even one, and furthermore, we suffered an incredible sadness last year during pregnancy, so it’s been medically advised not to travel any long distances this time around. Basically, she’s been entirely medically unable to take a long haul flight for over 6 months, and I thought that if willing to provide doctors notes, medical records and anything else of use – which we were willing – that Google Fi would see logic.

Why shutdown a bonafide $200+ a month account, which just switched to the Unlimited plan, when there’s a legitimate medical reason to justify the recent lack of presence in the USA?

I called Google Fi at the number listed on the correspondence and was told a flat “no”. No exceptions, except active duty military or US State Department, no exceptions. In my mind, I thought I’d offered a fair compromise to the agent: our baby is due any day, so how about we agree on a date where the phone service must revert back to New York? Rather than this hard January 17th date, give us until mid March, when the baby would be ok to fly? No, no exceptions.

I can understand Google wanting to portray a hard line of not bending rules, but when someone is medically unable to travel and that can easily be documented, it seems absolutely ridiculous. Further, I offered a show of good faith, stating that we’d be happy to comply or get canned if we did not meet a near term deadline. More annoyingly, after much prodding, the agent said that someone would be in touch before any final decision was made. So much for that, I guess.

While many have always portrayed Google as a megalomaniacal company with no ability to hear, listen or respond, I never felt that way. I’ve always felt like I could get in touch and have any issues resolved with ease, not that I ever had many issues to deal with. I now am left really frustrated, stuck with a Google phone intended for the Fi plan and without service.

On that note, we probably need to go get some ASAP, because at 8 and 3/4 months pregnant my wife kinda needs to be able to reach people. You certainly wouldn’t want your phone to stop working without notice at that stage in life…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Join the Conversation

159 Comments

  1. Have her mail her phone to you. Turn it on and leave it on. She can get a cheap prepaid for a few months.
    Google is evil, by the way.

      1. Ignore my previous comment. My parents had Total Wireless and the phone didn’t even work over in Europe. I bought a $10 international card that didn’t work. He had to buy a prepaid phone from over there. But Google Fi Network is based in US. But uses Sprint and US Cellular and a third company for the service towers. I never read the TOS but you can always pause the phone service and download a app called TextNow and use Wi-Fi or Data and then keep your plan going. Just but who is the signed up for Google Fi in the first place? If your the account holder you might want to check your email only because Google Fi Network emailed me about my debit card being declined because the bill was $850. But they did keep trying and when they emailed me it sent me a message your card was declined no reason given call your bank. But Google Fi has been good to me so far. But you can use the phone with any network. Look up if it’s GSM unlocked if it is you can
        use it anywhere. .

      2. I’ve been relying on Fi since the year it launched and am deep into their ecosystem too. I do not however travel (I still have all $1000 from the November 2019 travel credit promo). If I were to travel across the border I’d certainly be checking with Google first. What you are expecting is simply unreasonable. It would’ve been nice for Google to offer more options, but they had no obligation to.

    1. Well, I’m active duty military and have been living overseas with Fi for two years – one more to go. Hope this isn’t true. We love the service and travel frequently ourselves.

  2. The phone’s “international data roaming capabilities” have been suspended, e.g., voice and text still function but data roaming is disabled. Presumably, WiFi is also functioning normally.

  3. But you were cheating the whole time.

    By the sound of this, you’re not based in the US. Frequent travel to the US is not the same as being based in the US, and you pretty much admitted that to them. If you and your wife were based in the US, that’s where your doctors would be and that’s where she’d have the baby.

    So you’re not asking them to bend the rules a little… You told them that you’re willfully violating their terms of service, and you don’t care, and it’s their fault. How’s that supposed to work for you?

    Google is not obligated to provide you service. You lied to them to create the account. Lose the sense of entitlement… It’s based on a fraud.

    1. I’m a United States citizen, born in New York with residence in New York, where I spend most of my time. I get all my mail in New York, my credit cards are all from US banks, I know that coffee is – quafee – and I support the Mets, Islanders and Giants at every chance I get. I even like Apple Pie. Just because my wife is an immigrant and we visit where she is from does not mean we are anything but bonafide customers.
      We always have been.

      Our Google maps history could even tell you that…

      You are making stern assumptions about medical conditions you likely have no first hand knowledge or experience of, and that is why the internet is not a nice place.

      1. Not a single thing you just said matters. It’s not about who you are, it’s about where you physically and geographically use the phone. You’re using it out of the country…period. Breach of contract. This isn’t a story it’s someone whining.

        1. Gosh you’re all s bunch of unfeeling internet trolls! His wife is literally about to give birth following some really rough circumstances and you’re all unloading on him as if he was just some whiner complaining his cell phone bill. I think the article speaks to something much deeper, the surprising inflexibility of a company he’s always trusted and the destabilizing effect it’s had during a pivitol point in his family’s life. Have a heart and back off.

        2. $200 a month for FI? For 2 phones? I’m $165 for 4 phones family plan on ATT. Perhaps the international roaming was better under Fi?

          Either way, I tried Fi at one point but it never worked out on $$$ based on my family data usage.

    2. I also will add that you are spreading slander when you say that we “lied to create an account”. That’s simply false and entirely incorrect. I hope you never have to experience or deal with medical complications in your life, and even more, if you do, I hope some prick on the internet doesn’t make baseless accusations about what you can and cannot do when experiencing them.

      1. Nope. Gotta support Google on this one.
        You do come across as whining here. You are not owed anything here. You breached a contract, one that you loved until you were called on violating it and had it terminated.

        Having said that, congratulations on your upcoming little one.

        1. Yeah I gotta side with google. I was astounded when you expected Google to bend the rules just for you. That’s just wow. They have clearly posted rules especially on travel. You dropped the ball dude. Unless you have a copy of a chat where you specifically informed them of your travel. Which you probably didn’t because they would have told you then. I mean if I was going abroad the FIRST thing I would do is talk to my carrier. And having a pregnant wife isn’t an excuse for anything. Like the world has to accommodate you cause of pregnancy. Come on now.
          Stop this madness….

          1. Show me where these clearly stated rules are. My phone just got shut off after traveling for five weeks. They have sent me the terms and conditions. In fact I’ve asked five reps in the past 24 hours about what the rules are and they all said they don’t know. Much like you I presume.

    3. I don’t think you understand what “based in” means. It’s likely referring to residency. There’s a legal definition of residency and it does not depend on how frequently you travel abroad or where you deliver your baby. I appreciate the critical eye, but you’re just flat wrong about this being a fraud or anything close to it. If his wife is legally a resident of New York State and the primary reason she’s unable to comply with their terms of service is because she’s pregnant, then it seems like a case of discrimination based on pregnancy status and I think he would be wise to contact an attorney

      1. Ugh just no. I do agree with Gilbert on this and think extraordinary cases can be given exceptions. Especially in the case of a long time customer with multiple accounts. But getting lawyers involved in this and calling it discrimination is just plain wrong.

        This is the same type of policy as countries have for permanent resident cards. Being a resident requires you to be in country x amount of time out of x. Google requires the same. The GPS has to be active in the USA x amount of time out of x. I believe it is 6 months out of a 12 month period. And just like with residency requirements it is up to the issuing party rather exceptions will be made.

        So please don’t bring lawyers into what basically amounts to questionable customer service and not law breaking or discrimination.

    4. Did you even read the article, or are you just making this comment to feel good about yourself?

      Read the article before making dumb comments. Also, Google advertises the plan towards world travelers. Why would anyone assume they wouldn’t be able to travel the world using a Google fi phone?

  4. Wow! I’m a Google guy myself so it’s hard to hear that you got Googled:?) sorry I had to (lol)
    Not cool of Google to do that, and it sucks when you’re on the up & up and get taken down. You are being a good sport and sound honest abut the issue, unlike others that complain and pass blame.

    On lighter note, I think God Save The Points baby edition should carry the name of the Airline , Hotel, and City of conception lol. Imagine Qatar Marriott Istanbul Ott lol

    Congrats to the pair of you!

          1. Dude stop taking everything so personally. Everyone here is not out to get you. Just breathe, relax and enjoy life. If you set out to find demons, you will find them. On the internet that’s very easy.

      1. Gilbert, I think you are confusing all of us Boomers with your standard run-of-the-mill Republican. Quite a few of us care about the environment, social equality, justice, and fairness in government. I imagine more than a few of us are even climate scientists.

        1. Sigh

          Honestly, the “Okay Boomer” thing isn’t actually an attack. It’s a repost to years, no DECADES of millennials being called lazy, oversensitive, uninspired, over-reactive, self absorbed, social justice warriors… etc. Right off the bat you’ll notice a bunch of those accusations are somewhat contradictory. And you might also think it’s really mean and disrespectful of “the youth” to respond this way, and yeah it’s disrespectful but…

          I am a millennial. I’m also closer to middle age than to college, or even my masters which I took a few years after college before I even started. Friends only a year older than me have kids graduating from high school this year. And for a solid 20 years I have heard nonstop (not from my family, mostly and thankfully) about “mellinials this”, “mellinials that”. Rarely is it positive and when it is… it’s still a bit backhanded. “Look at all the things that one person accomplished, aren’t they special and unique and I wish all millennials were as good as that person”.

          Is the failed economy, or the environmental catastrophies of plastic and global warming the fault of boomers? Certainly not all boomers. Silent Spring was acted on by boomers. CFC’s were almost eliminated by boomers (they are coming back, but credit where it’s due). Styrofoam and plastic bag bans exist where they do largely due to boomers. I marched with Boomers against the Iraq war under GW.

          But two decades of bullying by total strangers bent on “I got mine” politics has left it’s toll. When some “smart mouth kid” chuckles demeaningly and says “okay boomer”, especially in response to a proxy or direct attack on melinials as a stereotyped group, “my” generation isn’t going to get offended on behalf of our elders; not until we hear an apology for all that bullying and abuse.

          And if you think “hey, I’m not that guy, I don’t deserve it”, I say this: “Exactly.” And if you think “good luck, that apology is never coming”, also: “Exactly.” You’ve had ample time to stand up against age discrimination from your peers, to shut down the negative connotation of social justice warriors, to tell your peers to stop taking the efforts of the youth to improve our lives as a personal attack. Yeah, we DON’T appreciate all the work you’ve done for us. Maybe we should, but we’ve had some well timed punches to the gut that make us slow to recognize that the world is, in many ways, the best it’s ever been, including an almost-majority of Americans supporting a platform of wishing we could reverse all the progress “the youth” and our allies have supported. “Okay Boomer” is a retort to all that.

      2. As a millennial I’m more upset about those who sold our freedom to massive government bureaucracy and the police state, and destroyed our peaceful western countries with non western immigration that brings violence, low standards, and cultural regression.

        1. Yeah. No one invited your white assed forefathers to rape, kill and enslave people in other countries.

          You don’t get a choice in this matter anymore. Or you can pay restitution for all the looting and raping your white assed grandfather’s did and then we can talk about how immigration is hurting you

    1. Personally, as customers, we should comment on the “customer” side, not the Google side. As a standard customer, it is impossible for us to review and understand all the complicated rules when we sign up the service.

      Google advertised its service for “international travellers” and proudly listed the number of roaming countries, so it is fair enough for us to assume that “using Google fi abroad” is encouraged by Google. Now Google said “no” to that assuming. Although Google is not doing anything wrong in the law, but at least something “not very pretty”.

  5. The solution to this is simple…. medical reason or not. Suspend her account until she has the baby and moves back home and get a burner phone.

    They told you active military people defending out country can’t do it… So what makes you the big exception? Why are you flbbergasted?

    It’s a cut and dry situation. You’re making a story where one doesn’t exist…

    I do hope everything works out well with the pregnancy and you have a happy healthy family.

    1. Frumpy, active duty and military are able. I fully support this and do not consider this issue on any equal level, at all.
      I do however think that someone medically unable to travel during a very limited window should not be punished.

      Your thoughts are exactly what has happened. Plan paused, burner phone activated and making due until the option of travel is possible.

      I think Google saw too many 100101000101 people here and their inability to see people as actual humans was unfortunate. That said, I get it. I just find it absolutely ridiculous.

      1. Gilbert is simply telling his story so I don’t understand the generational attacks. It’s good information to know and if i traveled as much as he does, Google fi is a no brainier, regardless how addicted I was to apple (I’m not). I always use fi when I travel and my wife with her blessed iPhone always tags to mi Pixels hotspot. No more violence kids.

        1. I have been going back and forth with Fi support for three days now. Congrats on the little one and sending your family the best.
          Also I agree with Dick. The first round of reps are just secretaries. No authority to do anything but say ‘Sorry, we can’t do that’. Anytime I call customer support I immediately ask for a supervisor. It may seem like a dick move but i’m not explaining myself anymore than i have to, especially when I know the first person can’t help me. I’m pretty tech savvy and I wouldn’t be calling in the first place if it was a first rep issue lol.
          Anyway. Hope everything works out.

    2. Actually, a burner phone isn’t even necessary. Just a burner SIM card.

      BTW, I sympathize. This sort of inflexibility is extremely annoying in a megacorporation – especially one that is in the business of making your life easier (in exchange for making money off of knowing everything about you).

  6. Found this email address for the CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) – mailto:sundar@google.com – given the fact that you (rightly) talk about google flights a lot in your posts then I’d try an email to him. Have done this before when I’ve had disputes with other companies and it’s usually worked in my favour. Best of luck to you and your wife and keep up the good work!

      1. Hi Gilbert. From the amount you pay I’m going to assume you’re on the family plan. Since only her line is but cut off for roaming and your line is not. There is a easy solution, just put her under your number by giving her a data only sim from your account. You can terminate her line and transfer her line to google voice. You’re allowed 4 free data sim per phone number. You can request the free data sim from your google fi account. Make sure you activate the data sim in the US and then mail the sim to her. She can share your data plan while still receive/make calls from her google voice account.

        1. Google offers the perks and prices they do with the given policies like not using it overseas continually more than 6 months. They are losing money on your account paying the local providers. So they can either continue to lose money, raise everyone’s rates to cover it or you just follow their rules. Get a cheap sim card, problem solved.

          You got your wife pregnant overseas, not an emergency. You had control over that and it sounds like you knew you would have a delicate pregnancy too. Google or other Google users dont need to foot the bill.

  7. May I suggest you port your number (s) to Google Voice for a one time fee of $20 for each number. Then, open a T-Mobile Simple Choice North America Mobile Internet plan (2GB high-speed is $10 per month, 6GB high-speed is $25 per month, etc). Place the T-Mobile Mobile Internet SIM into any cellular device and use Google Voice for all calls, texts, and voicemails and the T-Mobile data SIM will work in almost any country, free of charge, to get basic data services, and you can buy high-speed data passes as needed for overseas travel as well.

    Data speeds outside the United States, Canada, and Mexico are limited to 2G data speeds, but these speeds are adequate for basic web browsing and communication. The great thing about Google Voice is when you are connected to WiFi on your device, you can talk, text, and receive voicemails. Under this setup, your phone would work in almost any country around the globe for talk, text, voicemail, and data services.

    My whole family uses this setup which saves us hundreds of dollars a year over a “traditional phone plan.” The only caveat is when you need to dial for emergency services, make sure you use the native dialer on the phone to dial 911. The Google Voice app would be used in lieu of the native dialer on the phone for all calls, texts, and voicemails.

    The T-Mobile Simple Choice North America 2GB plan includes Music Freedom, so all music streaming does not count against the high-speed data allotment in all of North America, even if the high-speed data is exhausted. After the high-speed data is exhausted, data speeds are reduced to 128kbps for everything except music.

    The T-Mobile Simple Choice North America 6GB plan includes Music Freedom as well as Binge On and Data Stash. Binge On lets you stream unlimited video from many top providers without using the high-speed data bucket and any unused data at the end of the billing cycle gets stashed, up to 20GB, in a rolling 12 month period.

    Again, while this set-up is not conventional, it has been one of the cheapest and most reliable services I have used over the years. Just make sure you bring the data SIM back to the US every so often. And you can swap the data SIM with your wife’s data SIM (if you both go this route) and her phone would still work with her same number, and vise versa.

    Sorry for my novella, lol. Good luck and I hope all goes well with the rest of the pregnancy, and birth!

  8. Saw many of the same comments in the same vein as, God made no rock He couldn’t move. Just because it’s easy to use Fi overseas doesn’t mean it’s economical for the provider or that abusing the privilege won’t result in a price increase for the rest of us. What I’d prefer you write about is the failure of Docs to print the last version of a revised document. The first time and not after going into and backing out of print preview up to 9 times.

    1. I wasnt even referring to him. J was referring to all the millennial companies and their shitty policies. Uber, airbnb, and put google fi in the same category.

      But the idiot has such low self esteem, and takes everything so personally. What a drama queen. I would have guessed he was gay from all the online drama.

  9. Yeah, sorry, no sympathy here. They don’t have to do anything. A deal is a deal. Your exception is as good as a hundred thousand others, which is why the rules are so cut and dried. No “punishment” here. Move on.

  10. I completely understand your frustrations. I’m a loyal Google guy and they have “Googled” me. I just bought the 4XL and after 2 weeks and less than 100 hours talk time the camera, flashlight, and other things have stopped working on my phone. They just want to sent me a referbed phone. $1000 bucks for it and breaks in 2 weeks they can’t replace it with a new one. Sucks but they are getting it back as I had to buy a new one. It thanks for the great articles. Congratulations on the kiddo hope everything goes well with you and your family. C

  11. From Google’s point of view, how are they to separate your case from someone pretending the same scenario? Unlike service status which i imagine is fairly easy to validate.

    Surely you have learned by now that many seemingly unreasonable restrictions come from the fact some people cheat and in doing so make it harder for everyone. Don’t blame Google that because people would be willing to use your same story to cheat that they can’t be making exceptions for the best sounding excuses.

      1. Again, expecting Google support to now be trained to follow medical records, ultrasounds, etc. is pretty silly. As important and meaningful as they are to you, it means nothing to someone on the other side of the phone and it’s pretty entitled to expect that it should. To you it means making an exception for a pregnancy with medical complications. To everyone else, including Google, it’s making an exception to anyone that comes up with a compelling story.

  12. Actually, you don’t need to have her mail in her phone or anything like that. Buy / borrow a cheap unlocked phone, get a Fi SIM at Best buy and activate it here. The other device will automatically be deactivated. You can seamlessly switch it between devices…

  13. Your comments to Joe have made me unsubscribe from your blog. You need to be a lot more professional. I cannot believe you responded to Joe twice in the tone that you did. You sound childish when you could have let it go. Grow up, kid.

    I bet you don’t publish this comment…

  14. I’ve always been a fan of Google until recently. Everytime I have to deal with them now I get corporate answers that help nobody and make me feel unimportant. For example, my Pixel 3 on Fi recently stopped connecting to cell signals. Instead of sending me a replacement, they send my case to a specialist who took 4 days to decide it was broken and send a replacement. From beginning to end, I’ve been almost 2 weeks without a good phone. I’m going back to Verizon now; devil I know.

  15. Whiner. You broke the TOS and if you know 6 months earlier your wife couldn’t leave maybe you should plan. Basically woe is me for not getting special treatment because my dumb ass couldn’t plan properly is what I read. Not even getting into the fact she could just send you the phone in the USA and have it turned on idle there. But no, why plan ahead, why do a simple mailing of the sim and or phone when you can post and bitch?

    This story is worse than the ads on the terrible site

  16. Fi phones are not carrier locked. Regardless of what happens to your wife’s Fi account, you aren’t “stuck” with the phone. It can be used with your new carrier–and without carrier bloat at that.

  17. You didn’t mention how long she has been out of the country. It takes a few months before the numbers catch up to show she is not using Fi in the US for the majority of her time.

    Was your original plan just to visit her home country before giving birth or actually plan on giving birth there? If you were planning on leaving before, this wouldn’t be an issue to begin with no? If you were planning on her giving birth there, then you knowingly risk the shutdown.

    Compassion is one thing, but compassion for something that could have been avoided in the first place isn’t very high on most people’s list.

    1. Reading his responses I’m not sure it was just where she planned to give birth.

      They clearly had complications with a prior pregnancy (mentioned in the post). Many such complications, especially when you have experienced it previously, lead to stricter restrictions.

      They may have been just visiting her family briefly, but she developed the complication again and was put on bed rest or no travel. My sister had a complication while travelling abroad early in pregnancy and had to stay put in a foreign country for longer than expected. That’s hard enough without service providers making it even harder.

      Bottom line – medical indications should always be an exception. If he has doctor’s saying she needs to be on bed rest because of a complex pregnancy, that documentation should be sufficient.

  18. If your wife is legally a resident of New York State and Google has a physical presence in New York, then I would contact an attorney and see if you have a case for discrimination based on medical status or pregnancy status. Google is a big company without ears and the only thing they’ll listen to is a judge in a courtroom. As a Google Fi customer myself I hope you do it for all of us who would never want this type of thing to happen to us

  19. Sorry,, but I don’t think becaus your wife decided to have her baby in her home country that you are exempt from the requirements for the Google FI account. Google sounds like they are being perfectly reasonable to me. Also the text of the suspension didn’t read that the phone itself would be suspended, just that the international data roaming would be suspended, which makes perfect sense to me given that you are using the FI service in a manner for which it wasn’t intended. Much ado about nothing. By the way I only read your whine post because Google news popped this up on my Pixel for some reason.

  20. I appreciate you sharing this. I’m sorry you’re in that situation. Hopefully this post will get enough attention asap that Google will correct the situation. At the very least, hopefully it will help other digital nomads.

    I’m not sure which country you’re currently in, but it’s not easy to mail phones internationally. Some countries won’t let a cell phone through customs, I e. Colombia.

    I was there for three months. This is the first I’ve heard of the 5 month rule. I use Google Fi, too.

  21. If you are using a Pixel, is it one with dual SIM capability? I know my pixel 3 has that. You could always seitch to a “local” SIM while she is abroad… just an idea. Anyhow, good luck with the baby!

      1. Exactly what I was looking for in the comments – glad it’s your comment. Google Fi is a very cheap alternative to the few carriers in the US who have killed competition and driven up the price, but most European plans are far cheaper per GB. I use the Voice app with my Google number when I’m outside US to call and text and just have a local SIM for the data or use WiFi. It costs about $10 for 5GB per month. Besides that, I have access to local businesses or residents for much cheaper rates.

        Outside Europe might not be as cheap. I’m usually on short turist plans when I travel, and they cost almost nothing.

        Best of luck with your solution.

  22. Agreed. Every worthwhile travel blogger has gotten their share of internet negativity and trolls. Please don’t throw petrol on the fire by spreading more negativity. My parents are wonderful boomers who support many community causes. My children are millenials who are trying to find their way in this big and sometimes angry world. I wish bloggers like you didn’t get so many angry/mean/rude comments, but seems like that’s just part and parcel of being a successful blogger.

  23. Cut me some slack, or let it add to my credence, I’m a GenX mom. The core of the matter isn’t Google, it’s how our culture (especially these days) views security, with a destruction focus. This isn’t necessarily normal, and it’s not smart. Google is responding to EU, US federal, and possibly other international concerns by shutting down things that could go awry, rather than developing a more robust system. Military and State Department? What more do you need to tamp things down that feel out of control? Build resilience in a nation: make diverse babies and support their moms. We don’t do that.

    As far as cultures go, ours is one paranoid, violent, derangement. Get ready for something of an uphill batttle in your parenting, not in the middle of your nights, but in your quest for solid and affordable education, medical coverage, childcrare that doesn’t plunk infants in front of broadcast TV, changing tables in men’s restrooms…. This is just your first taste of our self-created baby-unfriendliness.

    CONGRATS! Every fighting minute is worth it. I have to be honest, though, if you sent to be with your wife overseas, like, for 18 years, you probably wouldn’t regret it.

  24. I signed up for Fi knowing I’d be living overseas. Yes, my permanent address, credit cards etc are all US based.
    I was assured by Google that it wouldn’t be a problem. I asked multiple times because I previously had the same issue with Tmobile when my wife was terminally ill and I took her to her home country where I cared for her until her death.
    Guess I’ll preemptively cancel my service. I’d hoped to keep my number for business purposes but things like this are making it clearer that those things don’t matter all that much.
    Good luck with the new addition and with whomever you choose for service.

  25. Sorry guy, bite the bullet and pay the $200 surcharge one month for your wife! It sounds like you’re bending the rules a bit but she needs her phone for your child’s birth! Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  26. I recently had very similar experience with Google Fi support (flat no; doesn’t matter what you’re saying; still no; fuck you too; anything else I can help you with?) but on different occasion (shipping issues).
    Being myself a Project Fi and Nexus funboy for ast 4+ years I was very unpleasantly surprised how tone-deaf and blank the support turns as soon as things go not as planned. And almost nothing you can do, just suck it and get over.
    But there is a way. There is a guy on Reddit who provides “VIP service” and forwards cases to either special team or just a higher tier of support. Helped me to resolve my case, hope will help you too!
    P.S.
    Fuck everyone in the comments here who’s shitting on you and the situation your family got into.
    P.P.S.
    Fuck boomers especially hard. You ruined this planet, severity affected our generation, and don’t basically give a shit about that. Can’t wait you all die out and go to fucking hell.

  27. Yeah there are a number of things I could think of to avoid this. I’m kind of on Google’s side here with the military being the only exception…….

    Like take the phone back with you use it and send it back to her, like yeah that’s the most ridiculous solution to think of but if you’re trying to play the system it’s not always convient….. Five months seems like plenty of time to come up with something. I mean switch phones for a visit…… I understand why your mad but it’s too first world problem to sympathize with you bro.

    Congrats on the baby

      1. Same issue as you. Add an additional line to a new gsuite/Gmail account. Use Hangouts with 2 accounts to receive SMS from both numbers even when using the email of new number which gives you data.

  28. It’s possible there are legal issues for the company when they have users that aren’t in the US.

    It could also be costing them more money than you are paying each month, in which case it makes sense that they would cancel it. I guess a 3-month notice would be nicer than a 30-day notice though.

  29. Firstly, I express my condolences and sympathy to you and your wife for the sadness you experienced during a previous pregnancy.

    Secondly, congratulations and best wishes for continued health and happiness with your wife’s current pregnancy.

    I don’t need or intent to attack you, personally, based on anything other than the sentiments and facts you outlined in this story. However, I do take issue with and detest the mentality that a story like yours is based in and reinforces or encourages others to take. That would be the position of seeing yourself as a sympathetic victim who has been unjustly wronged or treated unfairly.

    You and your wife have known for several months – possibly as long as eight months that she is pregnant and you’ve known, or should have known, since at least 2016 when you signed up for Google Fi that the service is primarily intended for domestic use within the United States – with the included international roaming being intended for short term trips. If you chose not to read the full terms & conditions/limitations of use of the Google Fi service, or rolled the dice on how long you could exploit their service on the cheap, that is a failure of your obligations and responsibility.

    What is not fair or reasonable is for you to expect that any company should make a special exception to their policies, which you’ve previously accepted and agreed to by the continued use of their service.

    Your lack of better planning or availing yourself of appropriate alternative international service offerings, with months of notice, to mitigate the disruption of communication services for your wife does not create any legal duty or moral obligation for Google Fi to continue to pay their roaming partners for your excessive and expensive international usage on your account.

    You’re costing them far more in expenses than they receive from your account in revenue. It’s business plain and simple. If you aren’t a profit generating customer, you aren’t a customer – you’re a financial liability.

    Stop blaming anyone other than yourself for the circumstances that are entirely of your own creation and control.

    1. Anthony,

      We don’t know their whole story (nor do we deserve to).

      Yes they have known about the pregnancy for awhile (most likely). However, travel is generally safe early on in pregnancy unless a complication develops. They may have been travelling to her home country to visit family early in the pregnancy, developed an UNEXPECTED complication that then led to bed rest and no flying.

      E.g. my sister was visiting me and my wife in the UK at 18 weeks a few years ago and had bleeding and insufficiency. She was put on bed rest in the UK and would have been there until the delivery. Her doctors said it wasn’t safe to fly. How could she have planned for that? Not travel at all? Hard for international couples.

  30. The title “absolutely ridiculous” is a bit misleading. You’re in violation of the Google Fi TOS and they didn’t give you an exception. While I would love big companies like Google to put in the resources to investigate and be able to provide exceptions in extreme cases like yours, it’s just not feasible to have that process in place without it being openly exploited and fiscally unwise.

    There are many different avenues you could have pursued, it sounding like you had plenty of time previous to the shut-off. It appears more like a conscious decision to roll the dice with the TOS violation and lost. Unfortunate, but not absolutely ridiculous.

    Hope all goes well with your family and I wish you the best of luck.

  31. Hi Gilbert,

    Been using Google Fi since Oct 2016, after I switched there from T-Mobile. I spend about 250 days a year on the road, haven’t had issues with T-Mobile in 7 years prior.

    Had the same thing happened to my brother & me, and we will be bidding a fair adieu to Google. For US number, T-Mobile, for Singapore number Singtel (brilliant roaming packages), for UAE number Du Telco and that’s it.

    Looking at the bright side, I will no longer be disappointed with Pixel phones and finally get something better. Using a Pixel 3 XL next to iPhone Xs Max was plain embarrassing, really.

  32. Is it possible to spoof your GPS location for a bit on the phone? I have heard that can be done, but I don’t know anything about it.
    Would that help if you can do that? It would save mailing expenses and save the phone service.

  33. First I do think your situation is ridiculous and I have been with fi since beta. You could have paused her service and just gotten a local carrier sim, but you already know that, and dealt with Google later. This comes across as a bit of a self serving world traveling blog star rant. It doesn’t sound like you pursued this very aggressively, and I know it’s not you job and takes a lot of time, but it would have played better.

  34. I’ve been a big Google fan & FI customer for years. Last year I finally broke down & bought a Pixel which after 6 months had many issues with it. I agree with how terrible their customer service has become, if the plan itself wasn’t such a good deal, I would’ve left. Still considering it, but it’s sad how that part of their company has changed. Congrats on your baby!

  35. Thank you Gilbert for the reminder.

    Google is a business. Making money is what businesses do. When Google started it seemed less evil than it’s competitors but slowly Google’s soul has been bathing with greed. I’m loosing faith. I still buy shoes from Toms because in the past they would donate a pair to someone who could not afford to buy one. Now the company is changing hands and with it its business plan. So I am getting ready to move on.

    As a Google Fi subscriber, I too been noticing their customer service deteriorate into something uncompassionate and cold with a corporate vibe. Google feels more evil now.

    Thank you for confirming what so many others have experienced and I had dismissed. Now it is time to make the move and journey to a new promise. I will start by changing to a religion where the word evil is never mentioned and where there is more room for people than money. Maybe, I should just careless about my phone and bring focus to the gods of lesser things.

    Thanks again Gilbert for helping me remember what I had forgotten.

  36. I have been a Google Fi customer for a few years now. I am active duty military and I was been stationed in Japan for 3 years with google fi then project fi working perfectly. Just recently I go the same notice. I am now stationed in Guam, which is part of the US, but even after confirming my military status my SIM card and access were disabled. I was talked with tech support for over a month and have had to sign up with a more expensive local service. The only solution I was eventually given was go backs to the US.

  37. Google Fi is evil, thank you for writing about your horror story with them. Recently, I had an issue with them and attempted to speak with a supervisor about it three times. Each time I was told one would call me. They never did. Worst customer service experience I have ever received. I’ve never owned an iPhone and was a Google fan boy for over a decade. No longer though, I joined a service called Visible and I am actively switching away from everything Google.

  38. I guess, this particular issue has been resolved in some way, but for all the other folks who had been hit with Fi shutdown while abroad (like myself) here’s my advice: there’s currently plenty of alternatives providing equal or similar data service, often at better price considering the 20 c/min or sms rate of Google Fi abroad and $20 flat monthly fee for calls and texts that no one is using abroad.
    The ones I’m personally using are Flexiroam and Surfroam, both with long-lasting PAYG data packages (1 year no problem) and eSIMs perfect for Pixel 3.
    Not an add and no affiliation, just trying to help out.

  39. Great article, I had no idea Google even mentioned things like spending the majority of your time outside the U.S. as a breach of contract…. Given your current situation personally I would just pay off your two Pixel 3 of 4s assuming that’s what you guys are financing and head over to T-Mobile for their basic unlimited for two plan about $90 a month plus taxes that also works overseas but not as great as Fi does and than have your T-Mobile numbers registered on the “e-sim” so you could keep a U.S. based primary number for say calls and texts and then simply buy a local prepaid sim abroad for data…Best of luck to you and your wife and congratulations on the little one coming soon!

  40. First of all, I hope for the best with your wife and baby.

    Second, I enjoy Google and use all their services, but have always assumed there was one shot at using their stuff correctly, and it was always at their discretion. Fi scares me, because it’s awesome and will probably go away. Voice is being killed off, slowly and inhumanely. Hangouts is being hung out to dry. They don’t understand customer service.

    Like everyone else here, I always thought you were British, Gilbert. But I’m glad to hear you’re a New Yorker! Let’s go Mets!

  41. Cancel service and in that process choose to port your/her number to Google voice. Set up gv on the phone as a WiFi phone service so you can still get the calls and texts and voice messages for that number.
    Then plop in a local sim card to get data.
    When you wife and baby return fill time to the US, reactivate fi and port in the number from Google voice.
    Problem solved.
    I’ve done this several times, it works. I used to activate fi only when I traveled, so went back and forth between Google voice and fi many times.
    I have a close friend who’s living in New Zealand for a couple years and travels back to the US once a quarter, who does this too. He does the opposite actually: activates fi when he returns to the US.
    Hope this helps

  42. Make a big stink on Twitter and blog irately and get them to humbly humble themselves before your social media might. Abuse your privilege, oh powerful one.

    In all seriousness though, being someone who travels and does actual work in foreign countries for a living I had read those parts of the terms closely. For awhile I had two phones for this purpose and used fi WiFi calling when abroad. When I needed data I fired up the phone sim’d for the locality I was in. When the 4 xl came out, I snapped one up and dual sim’d it.

    I’m not one to defend ridiculous TOS that most people never read, but I’m also not one to take chances with my comms during international travel. I empathize with your situation, but you also created it by not exercising due diligence, and now you’re here, abusing your privilege. And for fark’s sake, please stop using your wife’s incapacity as emotional leverage on Google. I feel for HER, but it sounds like a classic con artist line, and you’re not likely to succeed at social engineering even a Google call center employee.

    Now, here’s what you can do that will help everyone:
    – vote for candidates that will regulate/nationalize phone service as an essential industry
    – vote for candidates that will make phone and internet service a human right
    – vote for candidates that support net neutrality
    – vote for candidates that will remove Ajit Pai and other bureaucrats owned by the phone industry establishment from their positions

    Please note that if you prefer to vote straight ticket either way, you had a hand in creating this situation.

  43. I myself haven’t used this yet, but Red Pocket Mobile has a very cheap 30-day add-on for global roaming ($9 or $14, depending). This is in addition to the monthly rates (also quite cheap). They’re an MVNO for all 4 of the major U.S. networks. As an example, I’m paying just $8/month for their 500/500/500 domestic plan. (I don’t use much data.) I was able to get this price by prepaying for 12 months, with a SIM kit that Red Pocket sells on eBay.
    I’m not affiliated with the company; this is just a “PSA” for those who might be interested.

  44. I traveled last December to three countries , Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines and Google service will give you a welcome message saying you are covered. Nothing to change, so it’s a good service on my part. Also tried the local SIM card just in case, it worked well too. So no complain here.

  45. Well this is unfortunate. While we are US citizens, we will be traveling abroad for up to a year in 2020. We moved everything to Google FI well over a year ago knowing this as the service seemed perfect for frequent travelers.

    I don’t recall reading anything about certain time limits you can be outside the US in order to maintain service. Guess I need to go back and read through the contract again and possibly find a different carrier.

    I’ve had a positive experience with Google FI so far so I hope there won’t be a need to change carriers due to my travel plans. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  46. Google needs to be more upfront about this clause “can’t use phone internationally for more than 5 months” instead of hiding it in terms and conditions contract.

    Because what everyone sees on homepage while buying is “we support 180+ countries with as same as home country plan”

    This is definitely deceiving, legal case and a lawyer is a must in your situation.

    I am cringing reading all these comments saying Google is right, like WTH, does everyone reads term’s and conditions to the finest details?? No, but they are talking as they gave exams on term’s and conditions. Sick.

    I hope you have good outcome from this

    Congrats on the baby

  47. I WAS GONNA GET google fi for international use only. Why would i pay such a high price for Unlimited data. then extra for a data only sim that cannot work international. What about people who financed their phone. You still pay for the phone with no service.

  48. Wtf? They said they’re going to suspend the DATA part of the plan and they also gave you 30 DAYS. Your wife can still get ahold of you without DATA. And if she’s really “8 3/4 months pregnant”, then you’d be well within the 30 day limit to continue using data. Even the data isn’t a big deal, as there is wifi EVERYWHERE. Wtf are you complaining about? You can’t talk to your wife on the phone because you’re more comfortable using data to communicate? I think you’re horribly misguided and a great example of a rather entitled millennial. I’m also a millenial btw, I’m just one of the ones that doesn’t make the rest of us look like entitled little pricks with no self awareness.

  49. Congrats on the baby.

    Ok. Sorry, but you’re wrong. You know how this works. It costs money roaming overseas, and it’s not designed to be used more over seas than in the states. Having worked in the mobile industry for years, this is standard. If you exceed the allowance set forth by your provider, they can suspend service or even terminate your account.

    Now, to be fair, FI should really work at it’s fine print, as I cannot find this on the site.

  50. Congratulations on your growing family! Focus on that. All this is insignificant compared to what you are about to go through.

    I’ve been a Fi customer since 2015 and have had issues myself, mostly dealing with them not honoring an insurance claim for several weeks because of an error on their part leaving me phoneless, but all in all very happy with the service.

    Gotta say I side with them on this. Your wife is about to have a baby. WTF are you doing replying to all these comments? How can your wife say she is based in the US when she is having a baby overseas? Quick gestation huh? Plenty of no cellular data work arounds, use them. Get a burner and turn that phone off, phone swap by mail, etc. Suck it up and pay whatever you need to so your wife can call who she needs…baby bills will be more. So many solutions listed above and all you do is whine. Aren’t there more important things to focus on right now? If I was your wife I’d be pissed you are putting energy into a GD phone bill instead of her right now. Stop using her inability to travel as your sympathy card for your small nearly non existent first world problem.

    Hope you don’t reply to this thread ever again. Or if you do, just say thanks for the tips, but I’m about to have a baby. Anything else would be egotistical drivel.

  51. I’m not sure why this is unexpected. If your wife became pregnant why wouldn’t she come back home to the USA, if that’s where your home is. I understand not being able to travel as far along as she is now, but c’mon she’s been there 5 months. She had to have known she was pregnant when she went overseas, so she had to have planned on staying for a while. At that point you should have gotten a new plan. This plan is made for people who travel, your wife is residing in another country. You tried to game the system and you got caught. Just my opinion.

  52. My BF works abroad and travels around Asia 6-10 months out of the year. We added him to my Google Fi bc it was easier for him to just step in/out of countries and be able to text me or use data to check his emails when he lands without having to track down a Starbucks in the middle of the night just to try to get WiFi. He activated his Fi Feb 2019 was in Japan and Singapore from Mar to Dec. I, the main Fi account holder, have been in the US the entire year. He received an email on Dec 3rd stating he had breached the contract and unless he used his Fi account in the US, Int’l roaming data will be suspended. No “deadline” date or 72hrs etc. Just a generic come back or we’ll cut it off. They cut off data less than 30 hrs after the email. We didn’t even get a chance to call Google to inquire about the issue. My BF had a flight booked to arrive back to the US on Dec 17th and we asked if they can make an exception until he arrives home. Now I understand that we breached the contract by using majority of the service outside the country. It’s just frustrating for user that it took them 9 months to do this without prior warning. Another representative said that it became a policy that they were going to crack down on this on December 3rd, 2019. So regardless if you’ve been out of the country for 9 months or for 2 years as some Fi users can attest… Google just decided they wanted to crack down on the international data roaming. Which is also fine. It’s their company, their rules, they can change or decide to enforce whenever they want… Now, like others have said, the phone and traditional text messages still works, just no international data.

  53. Love it. You’re wanting special treatment. Did you tell them you’re a blogger? Money says you did.

    And as you carry your snowflake butt the safe place so you’re not offended please stop using any of the inventions that those of us in the prior more productive more mentally stable generations gave you little wilters. Sorry. I’m sure you’ll need some therapy after this and you not getting your way. Ok Snowflake.

  54. Google is turning slowly to a POS company like Comcast with their customer service. Most recently, I lost about $900 in what was supposed to be a rebate for buying and activating me phones during a monthly promotion. After 3 months of battle I have up. All Google said was that they are sorry their representative have me incorrect information about the promotion, but the could offer me a $10 credit. I was a fan boy for years ( I had a Gmail account before it was beta) but no more. I’m slowly transitioning out.

  55. Just port your number to voip.ms, get a local SIM, and use the Android SIP dialer for a while. When you’re back in the US pretty the number back. You’ll have zero disruption, save a little money – and the whole process would take you less time than it too to write this article.

    1. That’s a back to square one type of solution. Getting a US phone number is easy. Problem is 2 fold… she loses her actual phone number and SMS which is likely tied to lots of online accounts, banking, etc and a local SIM doesn’t fix multi-country international data roaming.

  56. It’s quite astounding how much trolling there is for a total shit move by Google. Google FI was marketed as an international phone. Used it for years as such and looks like they are now hitting the kill switch based on a semantical legal loop-hole.
    The data costs are terrible.
    The international minutes cost is terrible.
    The only draw of the plan was the whole international data roaming without getting SIMs in every country.
    For those saying he shouldn’t get “special” treatment… He’s paying $200 a month for something that has actually removed THE most critical feature. He’s merely asking to retain the exact same service for the exact same price and will comply with the change in the near future. Basically 30 days notice was an insufficient notice which it is.

  57. Gilbert, I’ve just started with Google Fi, chiefly because of its international capabilities. Work as an itinerant law professor and teacher trainer takes me out of the US 2 to 4 months at a time each year. From your experience with Google, how long out of the US is too long?

    1. From what I understand it’s all quite silly. If my wife’s phone had been back in the US in December, even for a day it would’ve likely been avoided. Had there been notice at the time, perhaps I would’ve just done that because I was there for most of the month. I think under 5 months is ok, but most know more than I do on here. I have found it an excellent companion abroad, so hope you don’t have any issues.

  58. Google’s hands are legally tied. They have contractual obligations to other companies, countries, and have to follow the domestic and foriegn laws. Your doctor’s note is meaningless here. You think Google doesn’t want your money? Wants to stop service and not have you as a customer, even abroad? No. There are other forces at play here. This is a problem caused by the telecommunications companies and the strong legal foothold they have. Find and attack the source of the problem. It’s not Google. Keep digging.

  59. I’m going to do what any self pitying snowflake would do when faced with something they don’t like or makes them stop and have to gut through something. Specifically cancel my sub to this blog. Gilbert is a hateful spoiled brat person and attracts similar snowflakes to this blog. Read the damned contract next time and realize it’s not about you despite the idiots here in your echo chamber.

    1. I shouldn’t even entertain an idiot like you but since I have no service I’ve got nothing else to do. Google Fi shut down my service after being in New Zealand for five weeks. When I asked why they said because of their terms and conditions which they sent to me. Nowhere in there does it mention how much data can be used or how many days you can be away.

  60. I have not dealt with the travel thing on Google Fi but I must tell you this experience. My Pixel 3 XL was on Device Protection plan and it got shattered as a result I filed a claim. They wanted an authorization hold on my credit card and that is totally acceptable. Then I asked, “Will I receive a new replacement device as the existing device is for sure unrepairable”. They said no, it will be refurbished.
    I compromised on this thing. I got my phone and then 6 days ago I purchased my new Pixel 4. Unfortunately, it was defective and luckily I am within 14 days of the replacement period. I didn’t enroll for device protection. I asked the Google Fi Support, ” This time will my replacement phone be new as I just got this phone 6 days ago (Jan 15, 2020) and its not working properly” Google Fi support said, “No, you will receive a refurbished phone”.
    How can this be acceptable? Isn’t this unfair?
    I know its different than your case but just sharing my problem.

    1. That is how every company does it – insurance or OEM. Apple replaced a phone with a ‘new’ one when they damaged it replacing the battery. The one they gave me was refurb since the new battery acted very much ‘used’ in how it decremented in power during usage. By month 6 it was worse than the one I had had ‘replaced’ and of course they only have a ’90 day warranty’ (because….I am sure…I was given refurbished equipment). But they will argue they ‘certified’ it as good as ‘new’ in the store (which is BS).

  61. Order ‘replacement’ SIM from Google in US, have someone in US activate the new SIM, ship the new SIM to your wife. She might be offline a few days but I’d assume if you are that invested in the Google ecosystem, you both have Gvoice numbers people can use for a few days.

    This might be able to be done using eSIMs as well and shorten the window of offline time to hours versus days. YMMV depending on model of Pixel and how eSIMs work on them (I’ve not played with them yet).

  62. I received the same notification today. Luckily I flew through the USA today and used my phone while in LAX. According to Google Support, as soon as you connect into the USA, the data reset. The customer support agent was 100% sure of this.

    So in summary, you need to spend 1 hour per 6 months inside the USA. Personally I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Later this year I am travelling about 5 months in South America, and was going to return home to our place in Mexico. Now I’ll make a quick trip to the US to reset the data limit again… and boom, 6 more months!

    1. That’s not true. I just bought a Pixel 4XL and switched from Verizon to Google Fi in January. I’ve been in New Zealand for five weeks now and they just shut mine off. No warning, nothing. They said they will not be turning on my international roaming again.

  63. I received the notification in September, 2019 that my international data would be cut off in 30 days after staying in Canada for 6 months. They did cut off my data in about a month. In Jan, 2020, I went home to the US. I called Fi while I was there to ask if my international data would work the next time I travelled internationally. I was assured that it would. I went back to Canada, and have no data. I have contacted Fi 10 times to find out what I need to do to get data back, for example, how long do I need to stay in the US? They have no answers. I don’t think that there is any process or mechanism to get data turned back on once they have shut it off. If anyone has been successful, please report back.

  64. Google Fi just did the same to me. I’ve been traveling in New Zealand for five weeks and my mobile shut off. I called and they said I am not in the United States and they are permanently shutting down my mobile data. They will not be turning it back on ever. I’m supposed to travel to 8 countries in the next six weeks. I received no warning that my service was about to be shut off forever. Using Verizon I paid $10/day for unlimited data, text, and calling. The big pro with Google fi was the fact that I didn’t have to do that anymore. I talked to five reps at Google and asked them why my service was shut off and they responded with because it’s in our terms and conditions. I tried to be specific, asking them what the limitations are so others won’t be randomly shut off and they said it’s in their terms and conditions. I had no idea I couldn’t use my phone outside of the country for five weeks and now I a stuck. I’m going to have to use sim cards in every country making my brand new phone useless when it comes to Google Fi. It makes no sense

  65. Please read Google Fi’s terms of service. Go to https://fi.google.com/tos/

    “The Services are offered only to residents of the United States. The Services must be PRIMARILY USED IN THE UNITED STATES and ARE NOT INTENDED FOR EXTENDED INTERNATIONAL USE.”

    You, sir, stated that “my wife GENERALLY is too” therefore YOU are already not within the TOS. There is an exceptions to military servicemen & women and government employees that have an official function to be outside of the United States. You, sir, and your wife doesn’t sound like you are neither. Thus, no valid reason for the exception.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *