One of our favorite internet service providers unexpectedly announced that it is going out of business on November 30.
While low-income ISPs come and go, this announcement was especially surprising to 4GCommunity’s customers because the organization offered low-cost internet service in exchange for a year’s payment upfront. When 4G shuts its doors, any customer who made a payment in the last year may lose all or part of that money.
4GCommunity.org posted the following announcement on its website, which is now virtually inactive except for this landing page:
Dear 4GCommunity.org Members,
We are saddened to inform you that due to circumstances beyond the organization’s control the Internet connectivity benefit of membership will be ceasing no later than November 30, 2017. It may be sooner, so please begin looking for other Internet connectivity options right away.
The member online support center will remain a resource through this time next year. Member and support team volunteers will be providing their general assistance with questions about basic home computing, networking, and related technologies. It can be accessed through the Support Center page of the website.
4GCommunity customers reacted with all the anger you might expect. Here are comments from a few of our readers:
I am in the same boat. Just paid $430 upfront fee to sign up, and then just a few weeks later we get this “we are closing down” notification. “So what about a prorated refund?” And I just get a copy of the terms and conditions which of course says they can terminate any time for any cause and don’t have to give a refund.
I agree they pose as this honorable “help the underdog” organization. Are they really just a bunch of shysters at 4G? At least some further explanation of what’s going on would be good. Is this some corporate screw over engineered by Sprint?
Thanks for the update. When they stopped accepting new members, that was a bad sign that things were not going to stay stable. It seemed almost as an alternative to PCs For People’s plans since they both use Sprint, and I looked at it as a possible back up plan. Glad that I did not become a member and spend all the costs of joining. Already have useless WIMAX routers from Clear and Freedom Pop after Sprint stopped that service previously and I had enrolled a little over a year. Karma offered unlimited internet service only to cancel out the service. So beware of possible changes for any unlimited plans like increase in costs or plan cancellation.
It goes on to say that their support center will remain open until this time next year….but absolutely no mention of the money we paid one year in advance for service, in addition to the “membership” fee & cost of the pocket WiFi which which will now be useless. Their Facebook page- deleted & gone. Contact information on the website…gone. I submitted my questions thru the member support center page, and 24 hrs later no reply. I am so upset & disappointed with this non- profit who spoke of helping to make sure everyone had access to Internet, being kind to people &”paying it forward,” but yet they have essentiallly stolen my, as well as how many other people’s, money with absolutely no explanation other than the “circumstances beyond our control.”
I do hope they do the right thing by the people who trusted them. Hard lesson learned, but hopefully something better will come along! Good Luck everyone!
Have 4GCommunity’s customers been abandoned?
What happens next for 4GCommunity customers? Well, unfortunately, no one really knows. Clearly, they need to find new internet service providers.
You can find a complete list of all low-income internet service providers here.
We highly recommend PCs for People, another internet service provider that, like 4GCommunity, operates on Sprint’s national cell network. We’ve communicated with PCs for People and they tell us that unlike 4G, they are moving ahead full speed and expanding their services.
But what about refunds for those 4GCommunity customers who paid in advance for a service plan that extends beyond the November 30 closure? Unfortunately, the best we can say at this point is, no one knows. We’ve reached out to 4GCommunity, but have not yet received a response to our queries.
However, a close reading of 4GCommunity’s Terms & Conditions does not make the situation look hopeful:
You understand your support and membership in the organization is not a guarantee of any particular benefit for any duration of time. You understand you are supporting an organization mission. You understand we reserve the right to cancel any Internet connectivity Service as a member benefit at any time without notice, for any reason. You understand that your membership charges may not be refunded or prorated if the Internet connectivity benefit is terminated or modified regardless of reason at any time.
Of course, that quote was buried deep in the T&C’s and, human nature being what it is, no one actually reads the small print before they click on “Accept.” And no one ever enrolls in a program offered by a community-minded organization thinking that they may get burned by that organization.
There’s not much 4GCommunity customers can do at this point except wait for the organization to announce its intentions regarding refunds.
However, if you enrolled in the 4GCommunity.org program within the last month or two, you might want to consider disputing your payment with your credit card company.
Good luck to all of you.
We’ll continue pursuing this story and update you with any news.