First Coffee for 3 June 2006: Lingo Mexico Pulls The Rug Out From Under "Unlimited" Customers, Talisma Checking In, Fame Lost Forever

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 3 June 2006: Lingo Mexico Pulls The Rug Out From Under "Unlimited" Customers, Talisma Checking In, Fame Lost Forever

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Adam Carroll’s “Ol’ Milwaukee’s Best:”

First Coffee always likes getting genuine human user feedback on the products and services mentioned in the column, here’s one from a user of the so-called “Lingo Unlimited plan to Mexico” First Coffee wrote about a while back:

Hi David:
I recently read your article about Lingo Unlimited plan to Mexico but please check the e-mails below to know the rest of the history, first hand. In summary, I used to be a happy customer of such plan, plus I had a number in Monterrey for a total of $42 a month. Given that we come from there, our parents live there, relatives and friends so we used the service pretty much, around one hour a day.

No one has told me if that means “abuse” of an unlimited plan and they didn’t care to keep a happy good captive customer and they gently gave directions to proceed with the cancellation.
Their Customer Care is terrible… first, someone took two days to reply to my e-mail without caring about my comments, except the cancellation request. When I tried to reach someone to get the cancellation done, it took me one call of navigating their IVR system and hearing music for 10 minutes before I hung up.

On my second call, it took 25 minutes! but I was decided to wait as long as necessary. The person who took the call didn’t know anything about these e-mails being sent to customers, he neither cared about any of my complains related to both issues, the time that takes to someone to answer and about the so-called unlimited plan. Again, he proceeded to make the cancellation. I was expecting as many companies do, a speech about the fantastic service I was losing but no.

A friend of mine also received the same e-mail but he decided to change the calling plan. Another friend of mine received a completely different e-mail saying that he was not going to be affected. His usage is pretty much the same as mine and the only difference was that he contracted the service several months before I did.
Anyways, if you have time and interest, it could be good a follow up article about the plan and the company. Well, just my opinion, as you can read, I’m very disappointed of the way this company treats their customers and their lack of a business model to sustain their offers.
Kind regards

Lingo Customer

And the e-mail this customer is speaking about are reproduced here:

Dear [Customer],

Thank you for contacting Lingo Customer Care.

For your security, we are unable to cancel your account by e-mail.  Please call 1-888-LINGO-99 (546-4699) and we will be glad to assist you.  Your account will remain active and you will be responsible for charges until we receive your call.

Lingo Customer Care
Which was in response to this e-mail from the customer:

This is unbelievable! used to be good price option for me but I’ll get back to use the calling cards.

Thanks for your options and schedule to cancel my service on 5/31 WITHOUT applying the termination fee since this is not reasonable. Send me instructions to send you back the’s really a shame!. How come you offer an unlimited service and then you call any amount of usage “abuse”!...I’m not sure about what kind of fraud you may have experienced but prosecute that and do not make other good customers to pay for them.


Which was in response to this e-mail from Lingo, which started it all:

… Unfortunately, due to an unprecedented amount of fraud and abuse on our current Lingo Mexico calling plan, we can no longer continue to offer it as an unlimited rate plan. Effective June 1, 2006, Lingo broadband phone service will be increasing your monthly subscription rate for the Lingo Mexico plan to $99.95 a month, which will include 3,000 minutes for U.S, Mexico and Canada calling.

The Lingo e-mail admits that “this is a significant price increase to your service,” but the words “bait and switch” do not actually appear anywhere in Lingo e-mails.

Company officials give no indication of what sort of “fraud” or “abuse” one can perpetuate with an unlimited calling plan, nor why customers who are obviously not making fraudulent calls have to see their rates go up as well.

And another comment on a recent First Coffee piece:

Hi David,

Hope you are well! I’ve been tracking your recent articles and saw your article today on Parature’s new Capitol College win. FYI – it almost appears that Capitol College switched from Talisma to Parature, as is not the case. In fact, we rarely come up against Parature in our sales efforts.

Talisma has experienced some tremendous traction in the market and momentum is building. The company has more than 700 large enterprise and SME customers, is profitable and seen seven consecutive quarters of revenue growth. Talisma also just came off of a record Q1 in sales with 68 customers and is on track to close more than 80 this quarter.

I know you talked with Dan last fall, but it would be great to update you on some recent company developments. Also have a couple of story ideas to float past you – we can offer up customers to support these trends.

And First Coffee’s mild-mannered alter ego wrote in an article yesterday:

Yipes Enterprise Services, Inc. has announced $17.5 million in funding today, money company officials say will be used to “expand their service footprint in key global markets, including Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America and elsewhere.”

The global Ethernet market is projected to reach $22.5 billion by 2009, and Yipes has been a long-time if not always high-profile participant, one of the self-described “little folks” looking to carve out a niche around the big telcos and mergers.

When the company was founded, writes Ethernet guru Bob Metcalfe (whose kids this reporter’s sisters used to babysit) the founders “had considered calling their start-up Yikes, as in, ‘Yikes, that's fast!’ But then they noticed that by changing the K to a P, their name could contain IP, reminding us that they offer Internet Protocol services.”

It must be reported, however, that it has been established (don’t you just love how whenever journalists screw up they always put it in the passive, as if the mistake happened to them?) that this was a different Bob Metcalfe involved in high-tech who this reporter’s sisters babysat for. Just for the record.

So there goes this reporter’s one claim to fame, it’s back to anonymous schlumphood.

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