Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Great Google Fi Lie

Years ago, while still roaming America in the RV, we switched our phone service to Google Fi. They promised seamless international coverage if we paid for the top tier pricing, Unlimited Plus plan. It's in the name.

Unlimited Plus? Nah, not really. Not for long anyways.

And seamless it was. All the way through the USA, and for brief forays into Canada here and there. Then in late 2020 and 2021 I heard nightmare stories of sailors who were unceremoniously cut off while stranded in places like Grenada as a result of the pandemic.

As if the pandemic wasn't isolating enough already.

As our Caribbean cruising plans started taking shape, I called Google Fi. All those sailors that were cut off - I didn't want to be one of them. I COULDN'T be one of them - I still work for a living after all. I was assured that because we have the Unlimited Plus plan that wouldn't happen to us. Those other poor souls must have had an inferior plan. All we needed to do was continue paying the top tier rate and everything would be fine.

Fast forward. We sailed away from Florida two months ago, all throughout the Bahamas and recently landed in the Dominican Republic. Our coverage has in fact been seamless. On the horizon is Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and ultimately Curacao for hurricane season. Then last night we got the dreaded "your data roaming is being cancelled in 30 days unless you go back to the USA" letter.

I called Google Fi. Surely there must be a mistake. I had taken steps to avoid this scenario after all. Nope. It's their policy to allow you 90 days of international roaming at a time before you must ping a USA cell tower. Regardless of which plan you are on. The rep actually told me "sorry if you misunderstood". !!!???!!

Misunderstood? I WAS LIED TO.

Anyhoo. I already run my workday on Starlink, and as long as Starlink is on we have unlimited high speed data. Google Fi will continue to operate for international text and telephone (at $0.20 a minute for phone calls), but for data I'll need to find wifi elsewhere. Many folks add a second SIM card for data in whatever country they are in so there's that new hassle and expense coming soon. The truth is that I'm addicted to Google Maps and use it to navigate all these places we don't know. Which is everywhere nowadays. Hence the purchase of the international plan.

Google Fi buyer beware. Unlimited is NOT unlimited. And if you misunderstood the meaning of "Unlimited Plus", well... too bad.


  1. Thanks for the info.

  2. It's a love hate relationship with all technology. Hope this works out for you.

  3. Just one more complication of cruising full time. When we were doing it, Fi didn't exist, and we bought SIM cards wherever we went. Now that we've swallowed the anchor and become "normal" travelers, Google Fi is awesome.

  4. Man that is so eff'ed up AND TYPICAL of how they do us these days! Gone is any honesty and, certainly, customer service!!!!

  5. We bought a little mini mobile hotspot and use it for all of our phones using wifi calling, whats app, surf, maps, nav, apps and streaming. Many countries offer $10.00/mo unlimited data.

  6. since P.R. is a US territory would that be considered pinging off a US tower?? I know whenever we visit there or US Virgin Islands our service is like we're back in the good ole US of A. just curious..

    Yes... I've learned during my travels that unlimited does NOT mean "unlimited" :(

    Hope you get it all resolved.

  7. I just got that message they were cutting my data after just being out of the country for 30 days. I also have the most expensive FI plan. I complained to customer service and they said that was the policy