About Hum by Verizon

Smart phones. Tablets. TVs. Watches. Home automation.

Today, we’re more connected than ever to the world around us. But despite the fact that we spend an average of 4.3 years behind the wheel over our lifetime, most of us aren’t very “connected” to our cars.

But Hum by Verizon is out to change the situation. This “smart upgrade” simply plugs into your car’s OBD-II port and turns it “into a smarter, safer, more connected car.” How?

Mainly by providing vehicle diagnostics (i.e. preventing breakdowns) and giving you access to a faster roadside and emergency assistance. And all of this happens through Hum’s Android and iOS apps.

Pretty cool, right? Now, just about anyone can drive smarter and safer. But the big questions are: How much value will Verizon’s Hum provide? Is it worth the money? Are there better options out there?

Here, we’ll provide a brief overview of Hum and walk you through some important considerations to keep in mind. Ultimately, everyone’s needs are different, so we’ll lay out the information and leave the final decision up to you.

First up: Just what is a “smart” device, anyway?

What Makes a “Smart” Vehicle?

When it comes to electronics, the word “smart” might make you think about some artificial intelligence or futuristic technology. But the reality is a “smart” device is just “an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.”

This means that many products you use every day are considered smart; obviously your phone and computer, but also home automation (lighting, heating, and cooling, security, etc.), TVs, home appliances, and even cookware! And now, with devices like Hum, you can make your car smart, too!

But exactly how do Hum’s smart features work? And more importantly, how do they benefit you and your family? Let’s take a look.

A Brief Rundown of Hum’s Key Features

Verizon’s Hum system is comprised of three main parts:

  • OBD Reader – This small device plugs into your car’s OBD-II (On-board Diagnostic) port, which is what most mechanics use to run diagnostics on your car. Most vehicles 1996 and newer will work with Hum’s OBD reader but make sure to double check compatibility before placing your order.
  • Speaker – Hum’s Bluetooth speaker clips directly to your visor and communicates between the OBD reader and your app. The speaker also allows you to talk hands-free when driving and provides “one-button access” to help in the event of an emergency.
  • App – Available for Android and iOS devices, the Hum app provides access to diagnostics, reminders, and more.

Taken together, what benefits will all of Hum’s technology provide? As we mentioned above, most of it relates to diagnostics and emergency assistance:

Vehicle Health & Maintenance Reminders

Verizon equipped Hum with easy-to-understand diagnostic updates, such as when a light appears on your dashboard, which are sent to your account on the Hum website (you can also receive diagnostic information via text, mail, or on the Hum app). According to the company, this can “help you catch minor car problems before they become major ones — so you save money and avoid serious breakdowns.”

And if you learn that your vehicle needs work, you can use Hum’s mechanic's hotline to obtain advice and repair estimates from certified, independent mechanics.

Also, Hum’s maintenance reminders can help you remember important events, like oil changes and tire rotation, via text or email.

Roadside & Emergency Assistance

Using GPS, Hum gives you access to pinpoint roadside assistance provided by Signature Motor Club, Inc., who can quickly reach you in the event of an emergency.

Speaking of which, Hum will automatically call for emergency assistance if you’ve been involved in a collision. Or, you can just press the button on your visor speaker for quick access to emergency services.

Important note: According to the Hum website, roadside service is limited to up to 4 “events” per year. For clarification, we contacted customer service and learned that this is per vehicle, not per account. Also, there are some important restrictions that might differ from your current roadside service provider (for example, they won’t change a flat tire for you).

Other Hum Benefits

In addition to diagnostics and roadside assistance, Hum also can send your car’s location to local law enforcement if it’s stolen, as well as locate your parked car and send reminders to pay the parking meter.

You’ll also gain access to service and travel discounts at “thousands of service centers, hotels, and car rental locations.”

These are some great features, right? Is there anything else out there that can compete?

How Does Hum by Verizon Stack Up Against the Competition?

OnStar & RemoteLink

What it is: The granddaddy of vehicle connectivity, OnStar has been around since 1996 and is built directly into many General Motors vehicles (i.e. it’s permanent hardware that can’t be removed).

How it compares: Perhaps the biggest distinction is that OnStar’s hardware is permanent, while the Hum system is removable. So if you don’t have a GM vehicle, or if you do, but it doesn’t feature OnStar connectivity, you’re out of luck.

From a services standpoint, OnStar offers roadside and emergency assistance, security, mobile connectivity, an interactive app, and diagnostics. However, unlike Hum, OnStar also provides turn-by-turn navigation, and can even work as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Also, OnStar’s security features are more robust, including remote ignition block and stolen vehicle slowdown.

What it costs: As far as price, OnStar customers will pay a lot more than with Hum (we’ll talk specifically about Hum’s cost in the next section), depending on the package you choose. And if you want Wi-Fi access, you’ll have to pay even more for a data plan.

Automatic App & Adapter

What it is: From a hardware perspective, the Automatic Adapter is similar to Hum’s OBD-II’s connectivity, which gathers information about driving habits and can provide you with insightful diagnostics. This information is sent via Bluetooth to your phone, and can also be viewed on your online dashboard.

How it compares: As with Hum, Automatic can diagnose minor problems, such as a check engine light, locate your parked car, provide emergency assistance, and connect to your phone via an Android or iOS app.

However, Automatic’s emergency services are only provided in the event of a collision, so there’s no formal roadside assistance. You also won’t gain access to a mechanics hotline, and because there’s no speaker (it’s an ODB-II device only), meaning no hands-free talking.

But you will get real-time feedback that can help you improve your driving habits and save gas, a web dashboard with other data such as trips, trends, and more. You’ll also gain access to many other third-party apps outside of Automatic that can further expand the possibilities.

What it costs: Automatic customers will pay only a one-time fee of $99 for the dongle and app, but there are no ongoing costs after that.

Vinli Connected Car System

What it is: By acting as a 4g LTE WiFi hotspot, Vinli is an OBD-II dongle that provides access to thousands of third-party apps that can improve your driving, help you maintain your vehicle, keep you safe, and even keep you entertained. Vinli is another newcomer to the car connectivity marketplace, as their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign recently ended in August.

How it compares: Instead of offering built-in services like OnStar and Automatic, Vinli provides access to specialized apps (much more than Automatic), which then provide benefits. Unfortunately, Vinli doesn’t offer any information about these apps on their website, without first opening an account.

On the upside, though, if any third-party developer can create an app for Vinli, the possibilities might seem endless. This alone could keep Vinli useful for a long time to come.

What it costs: How much you’ll pay for each Vinli device depends on the number you buy (one, two, or four), although there are no monthly fees. As with OnStar though, you will need to sign up for a data plan to gain internet access.

Other OBD-II Dongles

Although the above products are arguably Hum’s biggest competition, they’re by no means your only options.

To see what we mean, type “OBD-II dongle” into your favorite search engine, and you’ll be met with thousands of results. These devices are even so common that you’ll probably find a couple of options at local automotive stores.

Granted, most of these are for diagnostics only, and rarely feature apps, Bluetooth connectivity, or Wi-Fi access. But on the flip side, many can be purchased for $30 or less.

Compared to all these other options, how much will you pay for Hum?

Hum by Verizon: Upfront & Subscription Costs

When you sign a 2-year contract with Verizon, your Hum system (OBD reader, speaker, and app, which Verizon values at $120) are included at no additional cost. You’ll also receive your first month of service free, which rolls to $14.99 per month after that. Up to 3 additional cars can be added to your account for $12.99 per month, each.

According to Hum’s Terms of Service (TOS), you’ll have 14 days to decide whether or not it’s right for you, although you’ll need to return your equipment within 30 days of requesting cancellation.

Note: One previous Hum customer wrote in to tell us that Verizon will not take back the equipment under any circumstances. Per the Terms, though, you’ll have to return, “within the applicable return period, any equipment you purchased from us in connection with your acceptance of this Agreement.”

Outside of the first 14 days, you could be charged an early termination fee of up to $120. Here’s how the Terms explains it:

“If you cancel Service after the 14 day cancellation period, or we cancel it in accordance with this Agreement, during your Subscription Commitment, you will have to pay an ETF. The ETF for a two year Subscription Commitment equals $120 and will be reduced by $0.1664 for each day of the Subscription Commitment that you fulfill (i.e., a reduction of approximately $5 per month).”

If you’d like to request a return or have questions, Hum’s customer service department can be reached at 800-906-2501.

Now, what’s everyone saying about Hum? Are they happy with the services? Do they think the monthly cost is worth it?

Hum by Verizon User Reviews

PC Magazine received a hands-on demonstration of Hum’s capabilities back in August, although this was only related to its diagnostic feature. The author mentioned that from an aesthetics standpoint, Hum’s visor-mounted speaker was very similar to the OnStar system, but noted that it “is much more focused on maintenance and roadside assistance, with very little emphasis on general information or entertainment arrangements, like OnStar's concierge service.”

Ultimately, they concluded, “It's not as feature-filled as OnStar, but it doesn't try to be, and it could be an economical alternative to the more prominent service for users who simply want assistance, maintenance, and security without the extra convenience features.”

Similarly (although it doesn’t appear that they tested an actual unit), Digital Trends noted: “The hardware is free, but Verizon requires those interested to pony up $15 each month. That’ll add up to $180 per year, which can’t currently be part of an existing Verizon plan. Sure, you’ll have a top-notch call center to reach out to, but how often would they need to be contacted for customers to justify the price?” Remember this, because we’ll come back around to it in a second.

Outside of these, most of the other reviews we encountered during our research parroted Verizon’s press release from August but didn’t provide any additional insight.

But what about Hum’s emergency services? This is provided by a third-party company named Signature Motor Club, Inc., which is the same one that provides roadside assistance to AARP members.

Signature’s online customer reputation seemed mixed, with dozens of complaints on Consumer Affairs, most of which appears to reference poor service. Granted, this number could be considered low based on the number of customers enrolled in Signature’s services.

Alright! So far, we’ve covered a lot of ground about Verizon’s Hum dongle, including its features, pricing, competition, and customer reputation. Now, let’s bring it home and help you decide if it’s right for you.

How Can You Decide If Hum by Verizon Is Right for You?

As with most products (but perhaps especially with electronics and other gadgets), the right ODB-II system for you depends on your specific needs. So when you’re comparing Hum against the competition, here are some important questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you more interested in low (or no) upfront costs, or avoiding recurring monthly fees?
  • Is Wi-Fi access important to you? If it is, remember that this will add to your monthly costs, even if the system itself doesn’t come with any recurring fees.
  • Are you OK with being limited to the company’s app, or do you want the freedom to explore other third-party apps?
  • What’s your ultimate goal? Are you more focused on entertainment, or on diagnostics and safety?
  • If you’re interested in diagnostics, will you realistically put this information to use (such as changing your driving habits to save gas, actively using the information to prevent more expensive repairs, etc.)?
  • If you’re interested in safety, how many times have you used roadside assistance in the past? If it’s rarely (or never), the lower costs associated with other roadside/emergency assistance programs might provide a better value.

Ultimately, only you can answer these questions. But based on everything we’ve provided here, you can now make an informed decision about whether or not Hum by Verizon is right for you! And if you need to contact the company directly for even more information, we found their staff to be pleasant and knowledgeable.

What did you think about Verizon’s Hum system? What did you purchase it for? And did it deliver? Tell us about it by leaving a review below!

Image: hum.com

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43 Customer Reviews for Hum by Verizon

Average Customer Rating: 1.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 3 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 4 1 star:  35
Bottom Line: 7% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 43
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    They tell you one thing and do something else

    • Parishville, New York,
    • Jul 21, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Well, I told them I get paid at the end of the month and to charge me then, and they said they would. Well, low and behold, I get charges on the 17th. That's not the end of the month. I called to cancel and find out there is an early cancellation fee. Please stay away from this company; they will screw you bad!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Hum causes problem of your car

    • Tustin, CA,
    • Jul 21, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    My daughter's car had the Hum device to detect any car problem, and for sure after a year she got an error code from Hum. We took it to the BMW repair shop and was told that the Hum device caused a battery voltage low, which costs $181 to have it recharged. I called Verizon to cancel the subscription. I told them about the error code, and their reaction is they never heard of that error code from Hum. So, I got upset and asked if he knows better than the mechanic.

    Anyway, I was determined to cancel the subscription but was told that I will get charged for the early termination fee of $60. I don't think that it is fair at all since the device had created the problem and the reason that I am canceling it. Why would I continue having it plugged in if it will be the source of more future issues? DO NOT buy the Hum!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Don't get a Hum device

    • Alabama,
    • Jun 7, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    My experience with the Hum by Verizon has been less than helpful if you have a mechanical issue. The service provider technician has little ability to diagnose, and on the two occasions I needed assistance, they were less than helpful and provided no valuable input. They didn't try to get me in contact with a professional technician. The system didn't alert me to a problem at all. It is like a circus sideshow and a waste of time. You get more information from a Fitbit.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Verizon Hum not worth it

    • Richmond, VA,
    • May 18, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I wish I could give it ZERO stars. I drive an older vehicle and thought the Hum would be a great idea. I installed the Hum in January of 2016. Since then, it has NOT ONCE let me know of a pending mechanical failure. In fact, my vehicle has broken down more since installation than it did before! The Hum app tells me the vehicle is working fine even though it's not. The only time Hum notifies me is when my mechanic unplugs it to connect my vehicle to his computer!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 8 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Shame on me for trusting Verizon. ZERO stars.

    I purchased Hum in February of 2017 because the sales person was remarkable and highly recommended the product. He couldn't speak enough about the product and the discounts afforded through the program.

    Frustrated with the lack of promised discounts, particularly surrounding travel (salesperson said he saved hundreds!), I spoke to a new rep regarding cancellation and learned of the cancellation fees. I decided I would keep it for the safety and security features, then cancel as soon as I'd broken even financially.

    BUT, I was in my first car accident ever this week and was terrified, and guess what Hum did? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It's a false sense of security, and I feel like a fool for allowing Verizon to break my trust. I will be speaking with them this week and expect to cancel ASAP. Please read the reviews; I wish I had!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Zero stars

    • Cumberland, MD,
    • Apr 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Actually, I give them zero stars. I have had Hum for five months with connectivity problems from the start. The app shows no connection or activity from my car since initial plug-in. I have swapped it out twice and am on the third unit, and continued to get "no connectivity." I have canceled service and refuse to pay the early cancellation fee.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Deceptive tactics

    • San Diego, CA,
    • Apr 19, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was given a Hum by my local Verizon salesman when I registered a new iPhone. He said it was free. Turns out it isn't free at all. It costs $10/month, and to cancel this service costs upwards of $100. Very deceptive. I'm writing the California Attorney General.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • May 3, 2017

      Lyn

      The exact same thing happened to me. I went in to upgrade my iPhone, and then I was misled to believe that Hum was included in the cost of my regular phone plan and that it was free outside of the $20 activation fee. Turns out that's B.S., it's an extra $10 a month, and there's a 2-year contract I was never informed about. I got lucky enough to notice my bill was too high before my 14-day cancellation window was up. I managed to return it without the $120 early termination fee. The bastards charged me a restocking fee, instead of being refunded for returning it I somehow ended up owing them money.

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  • 13 out 18 people found this review helpful

    Hum creates problems

    I installed this product in a 2007 Toyota Corolla. Less than two weeks later, my dashboard service light came on, and the Hum warned me that I had a problem with a manifold gasket and that the repair cost would be between $1,000 and $2,000. I have never had a problem with my car, so I was naturally suspicious.

    I researched the problem, and a couple of local mechanics told me that the repair costs wouldn't be more than a couple hundred bucks. I found this very fishy. So, I removed the Hum, and two days later the service light went out and has not come back on. I have had zero issues with my car since. No repairs were needed. That was two months ago, and I have not reinstalled the Hum.

    I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do acknowledge when something is not quite right. I think that Hum by Verizon could be a scam to get innocent vehicle owners sucked into a situation where they end up using Verizon's service to pay for unnecessary repairs. Has anyone else had similar experiences? One Google search indicates that the Hum is actually causing transmission problems in some vehicles. It probably wouldn't take much for Hum to force a sensor light to go off and then offer expensive repair solutions from shops that pay to be part of Verizon's service program.

    Buyers should beware, and if the Hum informs you that your vehicle needs serviced, do your homework and find a mechanic outside of Verizon's circle so that you don't end up paying more for simple fixes or repairs that do not need to be done.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 7 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Poor design

    I gave it one star, but at best, half a star would be my rating!

    In most cars, the design of the Hum leaves the device COMPLETELY exposed. Even if your car is stolen, the thief can easily unplug and pitch the Hum and be long gone before any action can be taken.

    We bought two after our truck was stolen. The design left the COMPLETE unit stuck out in plain view. In my car (a Subaru) it stuck out at my left foot. Every time I got in the car my foot hit it. It is VERY hard to avoid. On a couple occasions, road vibrations would cause the Hum to fall out and end up under my foot.

    If a thief were to break into your can and hot wire it, he would be a complete idiot not to see the device sticking out and get rid of it. It is a good concept, but a POOR design! We returned both of ours.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 10 out 10 people found this review helpful

    This product sucks!

    • Winston-Salem, NC,
    • Feb 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not waste your money!

    I bought one for my son's Honda last Christmas, and the device gave us ONE reading! Since then I had to repurchase a replacement OBD reader for $50 from a Verizon dealer (the Verizon corp store wanted $120 to replace it). Still, it doesn't work, and neither Verizon or Hum will take responsibility for this loser of a product.

    I'm now stuck in a two-year contract at $10 a month for absolutely nothing! Take these reviews seriously. I wish I had.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 14 out 15 people found this review helpful

    HUM service

    • Arkansas,
    • Feb 6, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I do not recommend this device and service.

    Verizon can offer no service for a faulty device which only worked for approximately one week. The store set my service up but didn't give me the password. Neither Verizon nor HUM by Verizon was able to send me an email to reset the password. Verizon only offered to send me a reconditioned device with a promise that it would work.

    I am very disappointed in Verizon for selling the product and but is unable to service the device.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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