Our family went to Europe on a very long family vacation in June 2012. Since we were going for almost 6 weeks, we needed a way to work while on vacation. My husband and I are self-employed and have a business that requires constant use of internet. We didn't want to rely just on hotel WiFi or random stops at coffee shops in Europe so I researched and found Tep Wireless. We ordered and paid for a plan that would give us 100 MB/day for 30 days of rental. The price was reasonable and we speak enough French (first country we visited) to attempt a purchase of internet services in Franch so we trusted Tep to be our solution since we were able to complete the purchase in America and they are a company based out of the UK so there was no language barrier to deal with.
We received our internet MiFi device and all the instructions right on time so that part was very good. When we got to Paris, we couldn't get a GPS unit from our rental car company so we used the MiFi right away for navigation. I made sure to only have 1 device on to connect to the WiFi because I knew I had to manage to 150MB/day data allowance. You also have to enter a password to connect to the MiFi unit so no other devices would be accidentally connected anyway. There is a counter on the MiFi device so I knew exactly how much data I was using. My iPhone was not downloading anything extra because I made sure to turn off automatic updates and things like that.
So after getting lost for an hour, we made it to our hotel. We had just used 15MB or so of data according to the MiFi counter. It was about 8pm at the time which was 11am in California, where I'm from. So I started to do some work using the internet but by 9pm, I lost internet connection. I tried the usual turning unit off and on, turning my laptop off and on and all the other techniques I've been taught over the years since I did get my degree in Computer Science. Nothing work! I contacted Tep via email because I knew they were closed. It was also Saturday night so I knew Tep wouldn't get back to me until Monday. My husband and I had to pay for hotel WiFi for each of our laptops because that was the only way to continue to work. So we paid 30 Euros more than we wanted to after night 1.
On Sunday, I tried the MiFi unit again and we got internet connection again. So we're thinking that we probably won't have to pay another 30 Euros that night. But we were wrong. By around 9pm on Sunday night, the MiFi stopped delivering internet connectivity again. I emailed Tep again with more details on my problem and we paid another 30 Euros for night 2.
By Monday, Tep did get back to me and the customer service person gave me the usual speech of "smartphones will download more background data than you think and your other devices may also be cutting into our 150MB/day allowance per our contract...blah, blah, blah." I explained that I am constantly looking at the MiFi counter and I made sure to turn off the WiFi feature of all our other WiFi devices. Also, you have to enter a password to connect to the MiFi via WiFi so there's no internet connection theft that can occur without my knowledge. Furthermore, wouldn't the MiFi counter say my data usage is much higher than what I think it is if somehow I was getting more data?
So back and forth after a few emails and I finally had to say I have a computer Science degree so I'm not dumb non-computer literate customer. If they are saying that I'm using more data than I think, then the counter on the MiFi unit is malfunctioning so I'll need them to send me a detailed report of my actual data usage. Needless to say, they never did that. I definitely was not using 150MB/day in data.
I made some threats of writing a bad review of their company so then the president of the company contacted me and apologize for me not getting what I paid for. He offered me a replacement unit that would give me 2GB of data allowance for my entire trip. First of all, that logistically didn't work for me because I'm in a foreign country and living out of hotels and moving around every few days because we're on a European vacation and going to 6 countries. Second of all, I told the president of the company that I paid for 150MB/day so for my 30-day contract should give me 150x30 or 4.5GB of data for my entire trip. So if I was getting downgraded to 2GB, am I getting a refund? Well, I wouldn't but if I would get constant internet connection for the rest of my trip, that would be good enough for me because by this time, I had paid for multiple days of internet connection for multiple devices because hotel WiFi is usually setup per device or login and both my husband and I had to work.
I never made the exchange because my trip got busier so I ended up accepting the fact that I got hosed and the MiFi worked spuratically thoroughout the rest of my trip so I shut out this issue from my mind. But a month later after we got home, I found a charge from Fonmingo for $24.75 and after some research I found out that they are the same company as Tep Wireless. So I promptly emailed the President since I had his email from before but it's been over a week and he has not contacted me back. So when will the charges end? I asked the President of the company what the charges were for so I can determine if they are legitimate but they don't think they have to tell me anything. I will just dispute these charges with my credit card company and I noticed that a few other Tep customers had to do the same because they did not get what they paid for with Tep Wireless.
So for all those travelers out there who will need internet while travelling in Europe, look elsewhere! DO NOT USE TEP WIRELESS because you will not get what you paid for and you might get unknown charges later since they already have your credit card. As far as I'm concerned, charging someone's credit card without them knowing what the charge was for is FRAUD and if I had the energy, I would spend more time getting to the bottom of this. But I am a mother of 4-year old twins and I work full-time so this is all the reporting I will be able to do to warn other potential customers.