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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33 Customer Reviews for Hum by Verizon

Average Customer Rating: 1.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 stars: 3 4 stars: 0 3 stars: 1 2 stars: 4 1 stars: 25
Bottom Line: 9% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 33
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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    HUM service

    • Arkansas,
    • Feb 6, 2017

    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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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Hum, what was I thinking

    • long Island, NY,
    • Feb 6, 2017

    I installed Hum by Verizon last Tuesday. The Bluetooth was great, but today (Sunday) it quit working. It will not charge, and I have received absolutely NO help from Verizon. I now have a piece of junk!

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Bad experience with Hum

    I bought the Hum by Verizon on December 15, 2015, as part of a package to get a smartphone ahead of my eligibility date. It worked fine, until it didn't. On December 25, 2016, I received an email from Hum that my device hadn't recorded any data for ten days, meaning it had stopped working on December 15, 2016, which is the exact date the one-year warranty ended.

    For the next month, I was talking with their customer and tech support with both Hum and Verizon, hoping it could be rebooted. I did everything they suggested, and it still wasn't working. Finally, on January 20th, a phone tech support person officially pronounced it "dead." That was when I found out the warranty was out of date, and I would have to buy another one.

    I decided to cut my losses and pay the $55 for early termination. I don't like the fact that it is a one-year warranty and a two-year contract. I don't think there is insurance offered for the Hum by Verizon.

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

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Hum didn't detect accident

    I bought the Hum by Verizon for my older parent's vehicle to help them in the case of the car breaking down or car accident.

    Well, my parents were in an accident serious enough for both front airbags to go off and render the car disabled. Luckily my parents were ok, and someone at the scene called 911, but the Hum device never detected the accident (and still doesn't, the website login says the car is good!).

    We know the device was working because we occasionally got messages to change oil etc. The car got towed away. By the way, we know the Hum GPS works because it accurately shows the car's location in a junkyard.

    I've lost my confidence in Hum, and I've asked for a refund, which Verizon did give me.

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

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Hum not worth it

    Don't waste your money! The speaker is junk, it's made cheap and sounds cheap. You cannot get detailed reports of vehicle location and costs associated with driving. Then when I did cancel, I was on the phone for over 30 minutes to get the cancellation done on two vehicles.

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

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Underhanded sales tactics

    • Columbus, OH,
    • Jan 13, 2017

    My mother got four of these Hum devices, thinking they would be good as a gift. She wasn't told these devices add a line to your phone plan, which means there is an early termination fee ($120 per line) for each one. When she went to return them, they ended up having a $35 restocking fee, because they can't sell them after that for some reason.

    There is no way Verizon can say this is a "deal" of any kind. This looks so much like they are dumping shoddy technology on people. I have lost so much appreciation for Verizon because of stuff like this.

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

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  • 6 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Beware

    • Traveler,
    • Dec 23, 2016

    Purchased the Hum by Verizon recently as I was traveling. Installed on my 2000 F350 Super Duty. It did not take long for the vehicle to run poorly and die.

    These older Super Duties can be prone to having problems with the cam positioning sensor. The symptoms mimicked this issue. I did not get any indication on the dash such as the Check engine light. Vehicle died, restarted and died again.

    Fortunately, I was in the Rv park and not on the road. This could have been a very dangerous situation if on the road. I removed the unit from the under the dash port and the problem went away.

    I recently re-programmed this vehicle with an Edge Programmer for better towing and hauling. This changes the computer system. This is the only thing I can attribute the issues with Hum. Perhaps it only works with stock programming.

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

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  • 8 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Disappointed

    • Portland, OR,
    • Dec 16, 2016

    While Hum allows me to see where my kids' cars are located, I have yet to see any true readings concerning the health of the car. This is during a time when the car did show the check engine light and was low on coolant as well as another issue. Hum showed the auto health was perfect with no issues. Have experienced this no less than 4 times on two different vehicles. This piece of equipment is a joke.

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

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  • 13 out 14 people found this review helpful

    HUM's a Bum.

    I started my HUM service in November of 2016. I had to use the roadside service once, and everything went smoothly, but I had to pay $14.95 for the towing. If your mechanic is more than 10 miles away, you pay $1 per mile. That is a lot especially when I consider that at $10 per month, I am paying $120 per year for their roadside service. I have paid far less to other roadside service providers and typically was covered up to 25 miles.

    Secondly, my battery was leaking acid and one of the battery terminals was corroded by the acid. HUM reported my battery to be "healthy." Additionally, my front brakes were squeaking badly (I had to have them replaced). I never received one auto health alert from HUM.

    Last of all, the speaker is a joke. I can hardly hear the person at the other end of the line.

    Bottom Line: If you like throwing your money away, get HUM. I am stuck until November 2017 due to Verizon's iron-clad contract. I do not recommend this service.

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

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    Comments (1)
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    • Dec 28, 2016

      malcolm

      I don't think the Hum product is the problem. The problem appears to be that you don't have any preventative maintenance performed on your vehicle. The battery may have been both leaking and showing the proper voltage, and expecting Hum to report your squeaky brakes is comical (the squeaking was your "diagnostic" indicator). Relying on a "roadside assistance" product to keep your vehicle repaired and running is not reasonable or practical.

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  • 6 out 9 people found this review helpful

    People expecting too much out of Hum.

    I am really having a hard time believing my eyes and ears on the Hum reviews! Really, for what is charged for the Hum service what should one expect? Yes, it is expected to work as far as connection and it is expected to get any and all the services they advertise but, what was one thing that was attractive to you when you were offered the Hum unit? Sure, the price was in range so come on, give the thing a chance and stop expecting it to work miracles that it never advertised.

    I have had the device for about 6 months now and no it hasn't JUMP started my vehicle or preformed miracles but it was a great thing to have when I locked my keys in the car and it does a great job in locating my vehicle. It also has provided me with great information on the driving history and it is accurate. For what Verizon charges and for the service Hum provides I have been pleased. I never expected the car to turn into a Michael Knight and talk to me or to do miraculous things. So, I can say, Yes I have been pleased with the service. Thank you Verizon.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 10 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Doesn't work!

    • Sullivan County, NY,
    • Nov 22, 2016

    Bought this for an older vehicle that I was driving late at night. The service just doesn't work. Had to call and reset repeatedly. I seriously wonder how it would help me if I did happen to have a breakdown during the 80% of the time that the little box wouldn't connect.

    You are supposed to mount it on your visor, but it is connected to a cord that hangs down. It not only looks bad, it is also in the way. My vehicle was having transmission problems as well as a rear differential issue and the OBD reader didn't pick any of it up.

    My service was canceled numerous times because I didn't want to pay for someone that didn't work. But they continued to charge my credit card even after receiving cancellation notices via email. This happened four times.

    Once Verizon gets your card number, they will just continue to hit it up. So beware.

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

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