Freedom Talk – Data SIM Review – [UPDATE]

Update – 14 April 2012

From the comments and my own investigation, it appears that the issues are between Freedom Talk and Three and A1 Tech Store are one of a number of suppliers left in the lurch.

One thing that does appear to be clear, they are paying out on refunds for failed SIM’s which, although it’s a bad situation, is as much as you could hope for. So good for them in that respect.

As for Freedom Talk and Three, they appear to be blaming each other on an integration issue with regards the customer databases. That is that Freedom Talk provided Three with a list of activated SIM’s and Three are saying they didn’t (or didn’t do it correctly). So now they are working to reconcile the data.

But Three isn’t the greatest company in the world when it comes to customer service and you should be aware that the 72 hour support turn around is THEIRS and not Freedom Talks.

Having had to deal with Three in the past on a technical issue, I do have some sympathy. Hopefully it will all get sorted quickly.

But it has to be said, Freedom Talks price per GB does seem to be too low for sustained growth. Fingers crossed eh?

Important Update – 10 April 2012

Since publishing this review in January I’ve received a number of comments from people who are having issues with their Freedom Talk SIM’s and the A1 Tech Store are not able (or willing) to resolve the matter.

As the number has hit a significant number, I’m therefore going to remove my recommendation for this provider.

You might want to consider Giff Gaff who are offering 3GB for £12.50 (and it doesn’t expire at the end of the month).

Three offer a PAYG option of 3GB for £20 or 12GB for £70.

But bizarrely they also offer 1 month contracts for 10GB from £15. If anyone can figure who makes up Three’s prices and how they come up with the figures, let me know. It makes NO sense.

Other options for road warriors is to stay at a hotel that offers free unlimited WiFi. For the last few months I’ve been staying at Days Inn hotels around Bristol and I can confirm that not only is the WiFi free, it’s also fast, unlimited and pretty good. Admittedly, not helpful if you’re not near one; but something to take into account should you have the option.

Introduction

About a month ago I purchased a Freedom Talk Data SIM from a re-seller on eBay. Since then I’ve been testing and playing with it, using it in various locations and testing it’s speed. So here’s my review.

Freedom Who!?

Freedom Talk is one of the UK’s latest MVMO. Yeah, I’d not heard the term either. But to explain, a MVMO is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator. In other words, it’s a pseudo mobile telephone network. So the company operates the billing and customer service, whilst piggy backing their “network” onto a larger provider.

Now you might find that a very odd idea and perhaps a little dodgy, but when you look at a list of names of people operating as a MVMO, you might change your mind. Here’s a list from Prepaid MVMO online with some familiar names;

Virgin Mobile opened in October 2000 and has 4.1 million customers who are blissfully unaware they are actually using a combination of Orange and T-Mobile (now the same company) mobile network infrastructure.

BT Mobile customers as similarly unaware they are connecting to Vodafone.

Whilst 3G Amazon Kindle users are getting their data only services via Vodafone (which explains a lot!).

Talk Talk operates on Vodafone.

Tesco Mobile on O2.

ASDA mobile opted for Vodafone.

Janet 3G, which will probably mean nothing to anybody outside academia, operates on the 3 network.

.. and the list goes on.

Freedom Talk operate their voice and data services via 3.  Which clearly gives them a decent discount that they can then pass onto their customers. Which is nice.

What do you get for £12.95?

Pretty much what you’d expect. A SIM card in a box with some basic instructions. I also bought a cheap 3 USB modem, which is what you see in the picture.

Picture of a Freedom Talk Data SIM and 3 USB Modem
Freedom Talk Data SIM and 3 USB Modem

The card itself is authorised the minute you connect to the network (it IS pre-paid after all) and you get 3GB a month per month for 3 months or to put it another way, you get 9GB of data spread over 3 months. After which, the card expires and you either get a new one or… don’t as case might be.

If you want to see how that fares against other providers, I suggest you go back to my previous post on UK Mobile Broadband. It’s an outrageously low price, and I’ve held back reviewing it because I was skeptical it was actually true.

I should point out that I purchase my card from eBay seller A1TechStore who seems to have an unlimited number available. Which might be just as well, because I need to get another one before the month is out.

So how well does it perform?

Well, it’s basically 3 mobile broadband. So it’s not that bad… with some caveats. Firstly, you need to be in a reasonably built up area. Don’t expect to get great access half-way up a Welsh mountain. But if you can get 3G or HSDPA access, you are laughing.

On average I’m getting around a very useful 70kbps down and about 15kbps up, which is nothing to be sneezed at, trust me. I’ve had “faster” mobile broadband solutions that struggled to get 10kbps down and about 0.7kbps up. That was the performance of my old iPhone 3G tethered on O2 in rural Buckinghamshire.

Any issues?

Oddly yes. On day two of using the SIM the USB Modem wouldn’t connect at all, despite having signal. Then at midnight the 3Connect software blurted out a message about an update (which ran) and then it worked fine. But here’s the odd thing. It didn’t update the version of the 3Connect software and I’m at a loss to explain why a test 3 data card worked fine.

Clearly 3 had done something on their network, but I’m at a loss to explain what.

I guess the point I’m making is that this could have effected other, perhaps older 3 SIMs and wasn’t a reflection of the actually Freedom Talk SIM itself. I’ve not had a single issue since. My motivation, incidentally, of mentioning this is in case you have a similar issue. Leave the thing switched on and in the machine… you never know.

What devices does it support?

Well, the Freedom Talk SIM is a full sized SIM. So it’s supported by all USB Modems, the original iPad and many other similar devices. If you want to use the SIM in an iPad 2 you will need to use a cutting device to get it down to MicroSIM size. But that’s at your own risk!

You could contact A1 Tech and ask if there’s an option for a MicroSIM. That or get a tool of eBay, I think they are pretty cheap.

Either way.

Verdict

Despite my usual skepticism, this turned out to be on the level and an excellent solution to medium/heavy mobile data users who don’t want to spend a lot of cash. At £13 every 3 months it’s very cheap compared to the alternatives and only FON proves to be cheaper (at £34 forever). Of course, if you can’t get access to FON, this is a perfect alternative.

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50 comments

  1. Excellent Post 🙂

    I too ordered one of these SIM’s from that ebay seller.

    Very impressed with the service so far. I was a bit suprised that my allowance wasn’t hit this month but like you said it’s spread over the 3 months if not all used sooner.

    What’s this FON service all about? I buy a FON router then can connect to Free WIFI? Are these like the BT OpenZone Free Wifi hotspots?

    • FON operates in the UK with BT as a partner, which gives FON members free and unlimited access to BT Openzone, BT broadband customers*, FON members and even BT phone boxes that operate BT Wifi from them.

      You purchase a £35 WiFi router that connects (and is isolate from) your own internet connection and then agree to share a small percentage of your broadband to fellow FON users. But also, you can sell connections to other users and get the revenue.

      If your away from home for more than a month and can connect to a FON connection, it’s a bit of a no brainer.

      * BT Customers can elect to share their BT connection with others, in return they get extended free access to BT Openzones etc.

  2. Hi Robert,

    Nice Review, thank you.

    Just to let you know Freedom Talk’s Portal is now live, and can be accessed using the myfreedom button their website.

    Regards,

    Raj
    MD A1techstore LTD

    • Hi , first I phoned freedom talk , who said customer services would phone me back ,no joy .
      Then emailed A1techstore , they said,
      ” 3 are having a problem with there database link between them & freedomtalk , we have seen a very small number of simcards affected .
      Can you give us the telephone number of the sim card ? so we can raise a ticket on your behalf ”

      Regards

      a1techstore

      Which I did
      That was last week & still no service , I think it’s a deffinate rip off & just went over 45 days dispute time so I paid £28.88 for arround 6 weeks .

  3. I bought ,the 6 month freedom talk sim £ 28.88 from A1techstore – on ebay , it lasted 6 weeks then nothing so buyers beware !

    • A worrying turn of events to say the least.

      Did you contact A1techstore? If so, can you tell me what they said so we can share that information with anybody who reads this post. Thanks

      • Hi – any reason why my recent response to John Lane, confirming that my 6 month sim deal also stopped working after 6 weeks, was deleted?

        It might be significant tthat the sims seem to work just long enough to put the buyer outside the ebay dispute period.

    • +1 I also bought the 6 month ‘Freedom Talk’ deal from A1techstore.

      I purchased it at the end of Feb 2012 – it’s now April, and I get ‘no network’ A genuine ‘3’ sim works – but no the Freedom sim.

      Contact with A1Tech and Freedom has not resolved the issue – it’s hard not to think ‘scam’

      My next contact wil be ebay/Paypal for a refund.

      Bottom line? – Freedom Talk ain’t what they seem, in my experience.

      • Apologies, Robert.

        This deal is smelling fishier by the minute. A1tech’s email bounces, the price for the 6 month deal is now £128.99 (up £100) and neither they nor ‘Freedom Talk are responding to calls or mails about the lost service.

        If it’s a scam, it’s cleverly executed – my sim (like John’s above) stopped working just outside the ebay dispute period -;)

        It’s small amount of money – even less on a pro-rata refund basis – but A1techstore told me in February that tthey had sold 3,500 sims.

        If every customer ends up ,say, £20 out of pocket – that’s a 70K bonus for the scammers. Not too shabby.

  4. I’ve dealt with A1 Techstore previously and always found them to be helpful. I queried the price of the SIM card once and was told that it was £100+ because they didn’t have any in stock at the time and it was to discourage people from buying them.

    I bought a 3 month freedom talk sim card from them last year and had no problems. I’ve recently bought another for a relative and it’s lasted less than a week! I’ve made several calls to Freedom Talk with them promising to get back to me but they haven’t. I’ve sent a message to A1 Techstore but haven’t yet received a reply. At least the purchase is still within the ebay dispute time period so, hopefully, I’ll be able to get my money back.

    If I don’t get a reply from either A1 or Freedom Talk tomorrow, and the internet isn’t reconnected, I’ll file an ebay dispute.

    • I’d certainly advise filing a dispute – you still have plenty of time to do so, however.

      I have no idea whether the problems are down to technical difficulties (that old, well loved favourite excuse) or whether Freedom Talk simply haven’t paid 3 for their use of the network.

      Either way, I won’t be bothering with a Freedom Talk sim again.

      The best deal I can find on Ebay is £4.47 for 1 gig/1 month. That’s more expensive than FT – but, hopefully it will actually work 😉

      I suppose, in the end, you get what you pay for (or, in this case, don’t get)

      • I hadn’t thought of Freedom Talk not paying 3 for using their network!

        They had ‘technical difficulties’ back in January but I talked to a guy at Freedom Talk and it was sorted out within an hour of me talking to him. This time when I’ve been ringing, it’s been a woman that’s answered and she says that she’s just the receptionist and is passing messages on (or not as they haven’t bothered to phone me back)

        I’ve emailed a1 techstore and I know he’s opened the email so I’ll see what tomorrow brings.

  5. SIMS stopped working

    Dida Moble who seem on the same arrangement as Freedom Talk 3GB/month for 6 months have also seen many of the data connections cut off. http://goo.gl/ur1Ss . This seems a industry wide issue somehow and the more who report it to OFCOM the more likely their wils take an interest as they cannot deal with individual complaints.

  6. I tried again today – also got ‘the girl’, who read from the script and informed me that their ‘customer services team’ were unavailable (surpris, surprise…)

    Still no connection – I’d lay money that they’ve gone belly up.

    I’m quite irate about this – as I said, it’s a relatively small amount of money, but I don’t like being swindled.

    I’d like to know the exact involvement of A1techstore with Freedom Talk – are they, for instance, the same company in all but name?

    Some digging is required, I think….

  7. I bought a 3 month 9Gb sim just before Christmas from A1Techstore. It worked fine from the off except for an issue a bit later, which A1Tech solved w ithin a day. My original Sim is now out of juice and is over three months old. I got in touch with A1Tech through eBay. They replied straight away. They gave me the URL for Freedom Talk and I registered. I then got a pretty comprehensive report on my Sim, showing it needing topping up.

    I clicked the “topup” link but the site responded that this was yet to be implemented, and was coming soon.

    I thought the A1Tech service pretty good myself, and I therefore purchased a second Sim in due course, but when I put it in the modem it reported no network. Having asked them about this, A1Tech asked for the phone number and ID, and now say that Freedom Talk and 3 are dilatory re: updating the database, but they will reimburse me if that suits me. That’s it so far but I just want the thing to work again. By the way these Sims don’t roam as far as I am aware. Stephen

    • Update: I have been internet free for 24 hours, but I got two emails from FreedomTalk, both similar. I would recommend registering with the site and raising a ticket with them.

      Reply from FreedomTalk below seems to indicate a genuine attempt at fixing things. 3 Network is as far as I can tell, a rude, uncaring outfit with the world’s ugliest logo, and interested only in the amount of money they can wring out of the consumer. So, if they are the dodgy link in the chain it does not surprise me at all. Here’s the reply:-

      “Thank you for creating a support ticket with our technical team.

      We have looked further into your case and it seems there is a technical fault on your sim, we are working frantically to get this issue resolved as it has effected some customers on the network.

      We are aware of the issue and working closely with the service provider of the data to get this resolved.

      Our estimated time to get this resolved is: 72 Hours

      If your issue persists beyond that time, please reply to this ticket and we will do the best we can to ensure your particular sim card is either replaced or your issue is expedited.

      Freedom Talk is a fairly new company and our customers are of paramount importance to us, please rest assured, we are doing all we can to get this resolved.

      We appreciate your custom and patience during this time.

      If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us,

      Thank You
      Freedom Talk
      Kind regards

      Adam Smith”
      Customer Services Ext: 5255

      • Yes, they sent me the same (exactly the same) email – and, like you, they sent it twice.

        The second one arrived 24 hours after the first one – still the same ’72 hours’ to fix things.

        Doubtless there wil be another one tomorrow – and it will still be a 72 hour fix.

        Personally, I don’t believe a word they say – but, then, I’m cynical 😉

  8. a1 techstore got back to me saying that he’d refund the cost of the card less the data used if I returned the cards to him. He apologised for not replying sooner but said that he’d been swamped with enquiries.

    As I’ve said before, I’ve always found him helpful and I think the problem lies with Freedom Talk not a1 techstore.

  9. Update:

    I have received an almost full refund from A1techstore – which is very fair of them.

    It’s a pity that the deal didn’t work out – but, as I’d be the first to slate A1tech if they hadn’t refunded, it’s incumbent on me to recognise the fact that they have acted decently and properly.

  10. Hi All, it’s 14/4/2012.

    I too have bought data-sim cards from FreedomTalk and DidaMobile. There seem to be two distinct problems with them a) sometimes the gigabytes aren’t credited to the card and b) sometimes the card can’t get a connection.

    I bought 3 3-month cards from FT before christmas and had problems which now seem minor. I could always get a connection but sometimes had to nudge them to get my 3GB loaded. I got my full value from 2 and only 2 months from the third but reckon I did pretty well. I praise a1 techstore to the skies for all his help, he even went so far as to phone me during the weekend. I remember suggesting to him that the company was a bit dodgy but he reassured me that they were bona fide

    I also bought a long-term card from DidaMobile which worked fine for a couple of months and then I couldn’t get a connection. I contacted them and suggested that the phone-number had been unregistered and two days later it was back on line. Unfortunately, it lasted for a couple of weeks and then went off line again and this time they sent the message saying it would take too long to fix and suggested I ask for a partial refund. I’ve raised this with LittleCube on ebay but that was only 3 days ago.

    I also bought a long-term card from FreedomTalk and this too has stopped connecting. I have the email from FT saying they are working on it and to contact them again if it isn’t working again in two days time.

    • Post Script two months later. I emailed DidaMobile and asked whether there was hope of the problem being fixed. They said my card was active and the period has been extended to 45 days. I can’t check the extension, that part of their site is down, but yes … the card is working!!!!

  11. I share the same story with those above. Bought SIM on eBay through a1techstore, lasted over a month then suddenly stopped working.

    Contacted both A1techstore and Freedomtalk. Was told the service would be working within a couple of days. This wasn’t true.

    Freedomtalk made an excuse that my SIM was damaged. But as we know, it is rather their service that is damaged.

    Anyway, I’m supposed to be getting a partial refund once I return my SIM back to A1Techsore, and would advise any potential buyer to stay away from FREEDOMTALK data SIM service.

  12. Do not deal with Freedomtalk,i’ve had less than a months worth of data out of a six month deal,I’ve emailed them and had no reply,phoned them and had the usual flannel about 72 hours,crap service and crap company,deal with three direct,they won’t bump you..

  13. Exactly the same story as everyone else, Paid for six months upfront and got a month. Nothing but excuses and lies.

    I have asked A1Techstore for a pro-rata refund or an alternate product and been ignored. It is interesting to note that despite them defending freedomtalk, they no longer sell their product.

    What if this is nothing but a scam. Start a company build up confidence in the product and then sell something that they know from the start is only going to last a month but sell it on the basis that it will last for six. The network provider accepts the cards on to its network for one month and the customer thinks everything is sweet. However one month later the card stops working, the customer is fed a load of excuses and told to be patient. In the meantime other customers are sold the same product on the same basis and so the company claims this issue is only affecting some customers (for obvious reasons). The reality is what appeared to be a bargain price for six months service proves to be very expensive one month scam.

    The above is only a hypothesis but as it stands can anyone prove it wrong? The only question left to be answered is the complicity of A1Techstore are they victims of the scam or part of it.

    • My advice is forget litigation. Tort it isn’t, it’s Contract. It is no scam that I can tell. Ring A1T and speak to Raj, I have found him very accommodating, my first sim stopped in the first two weeks, but within 24hours was back online and didn’t run out until several days after the three months were up. The second sim which I bought in January or February from A1T, was put into the Mifi in early April, didn’t work, and the Technical Assistance at Freedom Talk checked it for me and said it should have been connected before 31st March, which I was news to me. Raj said return it we’ll change it for you. He did. So, if it is a scam it’s a poor attempt. Stephen

  14. my sim died just after one month. Freedom talk are full of bull, customer service is none existant. Fkers

  15. My 6 month SIM died on day one of month 3.
    But, A1techstore have done the honorable thing and I’ve just received a refund for the 4 months outstanding.
    Just a shame that it didn’t work out though…..

    Good Luck alll!

  16. hi john from wales here i bought a freedom talk 3 18gb 6 month sim in january 2012 and had nothing but problems with this company.know my sim has stopped working over a month ago+freedom talk are ignoring all e-mails i send to them to resolve the matter.i will never purchase anything to do with this company again and others beware.

  17. It has taken me over an hour to get to a point where I can post a reply. The blog is just one long scroll, and to get to the bottom is just murder. That said here’s what I wanted to say.

    I just hope this gets through, because the blog itself is unusable, as it will not “stand still”. I am ordering my data sims fro Amazon.co.uk now. Kosher 3 Network items and the price is good, so’s delivery. Raj was good has his word with my last isssue and replaced my dodgy sim for a proper 3 version, instantly and no postage or anything else to pay. Also ring him, he is very human on the telephone.

    Stephen Kirby
    [Removed direct email address so Stephen won’t get SPAMMED]

    • Hello Stephen, I’m sorry my personal blog is getting a little long on the comments (even longer now I’ve allowed yours)

      I’ll get WordPress to change how they present comments right away 😉

      • Robert, There is nothing wrong with your blog…. it takes me 2 seconds to scroll from the top of the page to the bottom. This blog is perfectly usable!!!

      • Good for you, but here in Safari on my Macbook Air it is hopeless. Just made a screencast which if you want to see, check it here at Vimeo. I am not making this up, and I rather resent the implication. Don’t worry though, you won’t hear from me again.
        Vimeo posting
        https://vimeo.com/43668938

        Ready to view approx 40 minutes time

      • I’m using Safari [5.17] No problem view this blog. But I can’t view the video you post on Vimeo though. One Clicks ‘Play’ but doesn’t the video doesn’t ‘Play’…

      • I checked Vimeo, and there seems to be something wrong, sorry. I have made it over again, it’s publishing as I write. Will post the url as soon as I can and usually it’s available in 45 mins or so from publishing. Pleased to hear your sim is OK.

  18. Do you believe in MIRACLES?
    I posted on here several weeks back stating that my FreedomTalk Data SIM stopped working just over a month. I called A1Tech and they were willing to give me a refund if I mailed the SIM card back them.

    Well, I procrastinated for a few weeks and decided today was the day I’d send them back the SIM card and finally get my refund. Before mailing it back, I decided to turn on my modem one last time to see if it worked. To my surprise, It’s WORKING!

    So until it stops working again, it looks like I won’t be mailing back the SIM card just yet.

  19. Just trying it on a different browser, and the scrolling is no problem this time, so it is a Safari issue. I’ll file a bug with Apple. I would prefer the blog to be paged though if that is possible. Stephen

  20. 3 attempts now but seems to work finally

    I put the others into DropBox just in case:
    [video src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/qo4oj6k9g25wcnv/Blogging.mp4" /]
    [video src="https://www.dropbox.com/s/vzcj439b6uhildn/Screencast.mp4" /]

    FIN

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