Some Sprint customers seeing overage charges due to Google Voice integration

Summary:Some Sprint customers using integration with Google Voice offered by the carrier are seeing unexpected hits on their mobile-to-mobile minutes, sometimes resulting in overage charges.

Sprint sent a ripple through the mobile phone world recently by teaming up with Google to allow customers to integrate phones with the Google Voice (GV) service. Google Voice is the free service that assigns a phone number to an account that is not tied to phone service, allowing the number to be used with any phone by having calls forwarded by Google to the configured phone. This works for both voice calls and SMS messages sent to the Google Voice number. Users can also set up multiple phones (and numbers) to work with Google Voice by having calls sent to a specific phone, mobile or landline, based on the user's configuration.

The recent deal between Sprint and Google allows customers to tightly integrate Sprint mobile phones with Google Voice. A simple one-time setup can let Sprint mobile phone customers get their Google Voice calls on the Sprint phone without further action. Outgoing calls can be placed with the Caller ID showing either the Sprint phone number (Option 1) or the Google Voice number (Option 2) as desired.

Customers are beginning to appear on both the Google Voice and Sprint support forums reporting on an unexpected phenomenon after integrating the two services. Sprint customers who chose Option 2 when setting up the integration with Google Voice are seeing unexpected hits on their mobile-to-mobile minutes, sometimes resulting in overage charges by Sprint. According to Sprint representatives chiming in on the forums, when a customer makes a call after activating GV integration using Option 2, each phone call shows the GV phone number as the call originator as expected. What customers don't realize is that national carriers show GV phones to be landlines, no matter what the actual source is for the call, and thus recipients of such calls treat them as landline calls.

Sprint customers calling other Sprint customers get free mobile minutes for such calls, but not the recipient once the GV Option 2 integration has been activated. Some customers complaining in the forums incurred overage charges even while all calls went to other Sprint phones on their own bill, as even Sprint classes the calls as landline calls for the recipient.

According to Sprint in the forum, this activity is as expected and the carrier has no plans to change anything.

Sorry to disappoint but I'm told that there are no plans to change this for option 2.  The Google Voice number is not a mobile number and is relegated to landline rating rules.  This is a reason to leverage the Sprint wireless number as your primary number (option 1).

Sprint customers using this method of integration with Google Voice, having all calls show as from the GV number, should be aware of this limitation and plan accordingly. It impacts how carriers receiving such calls handle them, and can even cost you extra money if you frequently call other family members on your own Sprint plan.

Thanks to Patrick Hefner for the tip

Topics: Google, Hardware, Mobility, Telcos

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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