Recently TPG came up with a mobile plan for seniors aged above 60 years old.
With 20 GB data at 4G speed, 300 min local talk time and 30 local SMS at $5 per month, it is easily the most attractive seniors plan in the market.
When I caught the TPG advertisement on TV the other day, I also asked my mum and dad who all along have been using prepaid cards, to sign up for the plan.
Unfortunately when something seems too good to be true, it really is. The nightmare began almost immediately.
Apparently voice calls on TPG mobile network can only be made using Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capable mobile phones supported by their network.
And the list of mobile phones currently supported is quite pathetic as shown in the following screenshot from the TPG website.
If your mobile phone is not supported like my dad's and mum's Redmi 7A and 8A, you have to download a separate 'TPG 4G voice' app in order to make and answer calls.
This is told to us by the representative at the TPG booth.
Actually this small inconvenience is fine. Except that the app doesn't work at all.
When we tried to call my dad's phone, the phone rang but the locked screen remains blank as a black screen with no indication of a call coming in except for the ring tone.
There is no answer and reject call buttons to do the necessary action.
It's the same when we tried to call him again after he unlocked his phone.
There is simply no way or option to pick up the call even after we opened up the 'TPG 4G voice' app.
I accompanied my dad to the TPG booth today to seek advice over this matter.
The TPG customer service staff who attended to us sent me a .apk file for the app to download and try again tonight after 8 pm.
He couldn't answer nor seem to be interested when I asked him what is the difference between this .apk file and the one downloadable from the Play Store.
I have no idea why this has to be done after 8 pm but I just tried and that did not solve the issue.
However what's worth mentioning is his attitude which is something of an irony since he mentioned that he is customer service, not IT personnel.
When we were talking to him over this issue this afternoon, he has this habit of turning away or walking away in the midst of our conversation and left us standing there waiting for his reply.
Anyway just as I was about to give up and decide to go for a refund tomorrow, I managed to find a solution to this problem.
And it's a real simple, one-liner solution!
Credits to the original author and docdroid website. Full document is here.
I just followed the above step of dialling *#*#86583#*#* and my dad's phone is able to work again, albeit with the green and red buttons being replaced by the words 'answer' and 'decline' and another icon depending on whether it's the locked screen or home screen when the call is coming in.
Do note that this is specifically for Xiaomi phone models.
For other phone makes, you can probably get some results by googling 'How to enable VOLTE on xxx' with xxx referring to your phone model.
While I'm glad the above issue has been resolved, that is only one part of the problems.
Another major issue with TPG is the lousy reception.
There are times where I couldn't get through to my dad's phone even though I am calling while standing beside him.
My phone can be showing 4G+ but his would be showing zero reception in terms of the reception bars on the top right corner of the phone screen.
This is one area which I feel TPG has to improve greatly and swiftly if they are serious in capturing their market share.
In summary, here's my thought about the TPG Seniors Go Digital Mobile Plan.
1) $5 per month* plan is not a contract. One can cancel it anytime.
* $5 per month is a promotional price till 31st July 2021 after which it will be $10 per month.
1) As above. Very user-unfriendly product for the seniors and even non-seniors who are supposed to be familiar with technology.
2) Poor customer service experience.
3) Reception is poor in some places.
Lastly, would I recommend this plan to anyone?
A definite No, if I didn't discovered the above remedy method.
But now, maybe.
However if the reception continues to be so poor, I rather not waste further time nor money on TPG.
After all what use would it be if my dad or mum is uncontactable during times of need?