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…