Some Sprint customers seeing overage charges due to Google Voice integration

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.

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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

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11 comments
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  • RE: Some Sprint customers seeing overage charges due to Google Voice integration

    Holy Crap James, this is the first article I am glad to see here as we just switched to the Nexus on Sprint and I almost set this up last night!
    slickjim
  • Hmmm

    Does this mean that anyone who uses Google Voice on their smartphone, even on other carrier, would register charges to a Sprint user? What I mean is, it sounds like if I were using GV as my number on, say, Verizon, it would cause the same drain on minutes.
    msanto00
  • RE: Some Sprint customers seeing overage charges due to Google Voice integration

    Too bad, I just wanted to do it on my EVO 4G. I think I am not going to do that.
    Ram U
  • Message has been deleted.

    montie bird
  • RE: Some Sprint customers seeing overage charges due to Google Voice integration

    All the more reason not to downgrade my service plan, I have Sprint's Simply Everything Unlimited plan ($99 + $10/data + taxes per month). I can call any landline for however long I want with no penalties, and texts/web/data are all unlimited also. Last billing period had just over 3500 minutes to landlines, that'd be one heck of an ouch on the the Simply Unlimited Mobile plan at $69/month.
    l_creech
  • Hello... that's what apps are for ...

    We've had a family plan on Verizon for over a year now and use the apps like "Voice Plus" to make sure calls with the family are made with the native mobile phone number, the rest on Google Voice. Here's a link:

    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.bbrother.googlevoicebyname

    It does take some configuring & testing out, but it works like a charm.
    HeyRico
  • GV treated as a Blood Tax on Family Shared Plans

    I find it interesting that its only being written about *now* regarding how the Sprint Family Plan treats Google Voice as a "wired" phone number.

    When I switched my wife over to Sprint a *while* back, I was immediately struck by the use of "Shared" minutes in Sprint's marketing spin for the "Family Plan". Shared, what happened to "all you can eat" I asked ? The explanation didn't explain anything but I asked about how would Google Voice calls be treated to which I was told Google Voice is treated as a wired call and so eats up your "shared" minutes (interestingly it took the store 20 minutes to find that answer ... again this was several months ago). I use my Google Voice number A LOT for receiving and making phone calls on my HTC EVO. I mitigate the blood-tax Sprint now unfairly treats the Family Plan with in relation to Google Voice by making and receiving as many phone calls I can to/from my Google Voice number using my computer. So far I've never exceeded the shared minutes.

    But I do think that Sprint does unfairly tax the family plan in relation to GV. If there are two GV numbers for two separate phones on a Sprint Family Plan, I have no doubts the shared minutes will likely be exceeded every month.
    sw-mobboy
  • RE: Some Sprint customers seeing overage charges due to Google Voice integr

    The easy fix: just keep your Google Voice number and Sprint number separate--don't "merge" your Sprint number with Google Voice (i.e. keep 2 separate numbers)
    johnyah
  • Possible solution - Spoofcard

    Someone would have to test this to make sure it works, but if you combined option 2 with Spoofcard (or a similar service), which makes your phone appear to come from any other phone number, you might be able to get the best of all worlds. I've used this to call automated services (that are set up recognize only one number) from a work phone where my direct line in is one number, but the line out is always normally the main office line. These services aren't free, but I'm guessing it's less than the overage charges.
    coachandrew
  • RE: Some Sprint customers seeing overage charges due to Google Voice integration

    This is exactly the kind of stuff you get with Google. And these guys think they can play in the corporate market with ChromeOS. lol!
    Rob.sharp
    • re

      @rob.sharp@... This is a carrier decision, not a Google decision. The carriers either can't or don't want to make an exception for the google voice forwarding service.
      Gritztastic