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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55 Consumer Reviews for Hum by Verizon

Average Consumer Rating: 1.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 0 3 star: 2 2 star: 4 1 star:  45
Bottom Line: 9% would recommend it to a friend
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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Tracks cell phones only

    This feature tracks your cell phones not your vehicle! Hum technicians gave me different troubleshooting tips. Very bad product.

    The Hum tracked my daughter's car that was sitting at home while she was riding the school bus home!

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Junk

    My wife purchased this product at the recommendation of Verizon. She is on her THIRD device and is currently at a Verizon store with yet another problem. IT IS CRAP! Don't spend your money on this device because it is not worth the time you will spend to try to keep it up and going. AWFUL, AWFUL product.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Taken for a ride and bamboozled

    • Ohio,
    • Sep 1, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    This was a deceptive tactic added on to a phone purchase. The salesperson was not forthcoming about the two-year commitment or the fact that we can't use both our phones to utilize the device. Just poor service. The salesperson disappointing in the performance, no value, and created a very poor opinion of Verizon. Counting the days that we are no longer bound to this contract.

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

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  • 0 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Unpaid to return

    I let the salesman talk me into buying the Hum. It sounded like a good idea for safety and Bluetooth. Within five days (today), I went to return the device. The device was not loud enough.

    Verizon wanted to charge me $35 for a restocking fee, on a device that cost me $32. LOL, no! After two hours, three calls to corporate, and two very upset trips to Verizon, I got my money refunded to my checking account. I did/will not pay the restocking fee.

    They are hustling people. How are you going to charge me more for returning the device? They basically would have gotten the device back and keep the money, and then some. They will send it back to the factory and sell it as a refurbished device.

    Buyer beware!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Drained battery and electrical problems

    I have a 2005 Honda Accord, and as soon as I purchased the Hum and installed it, my battery has gone dead three times, and the electrical functions in my car are going haywire! My GPS unit started flickering, and now it is no longer working anymore. I can't even operate my air conditioner because the screen to operate it has frozen!

    I wish I would have read the reviews before I purchased it. I am taking it back right now. Horrible experience! Do not purchase a Hum!

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

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  • Not perfect but I didn't expect it to be.

    • California,
    • Aug 29, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    We got a Hum for our kid's first car. We wanted to know where he is. The GPS function and boundary alerts alone were worth it. The diagnostics are a tool. If something pops up, we send him to our mechanic to check out. We get a discount on our insurance for the vehicle location service for law enforcement. That offsets the 10 bucks per month.

    We do occasionally get false alerts. Nothing more than a little annoying though. I can see why it's not for everyone. It's not a necessity for sure, which is why I only gave three stars.

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

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  • 0 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Hum

    Not worth the frustration. The first year was great, but then I went through two more units and in two weeks, they never worked. Tech support claimed it was the engineer's fault, but no real reason was given. I canceled the service and returned the unit back to Verizon.

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

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  • Paid for itself a dozen times over!

    • Washington,
    • Aug 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have a 2001 Dodge Durango, and within three months of having the Hum, we got an error code alerting us to a bad sensor (don't remember which one). My husband was able to get instructions on how to replace it on YouTube, bought the part for $30, and it was done. Repair estimate was almost $300.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Do not buy!

    • Tennessee,
    • Aug 22, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    The worst GPS system. It never works, and there is no customer service. No one can ever help or figure out why you can't locate your vehicle. I sat on the phone for the tech department for over an hour just in time for them to close. Find another system. This is not worth it!

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

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Rip off, scammed at Verizon store

    • Detroit, MI,
    • Aug 22, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    When my nine-month old Galaxy S7 stopped working while I was in Knoxville, TN, far from home, I went to a Verizon store looking for help. I have to admit, I'm getting older and not as sharp as I once was. Basically, over a 90-minute period, I got sold a Galaxy S8, plus about $20 worth of accessories than I paid $100 for, and two "free" Hum units. Well, on my second bill, I got my monthly charge.

    I called Verizon, and they told me a general manager at a Verizon store could take them back. I went to a Verizon store near home, and the general manager claims he can't do a thing. So I ended up paying $220 in early termination fees for my "free" Hum.

    Thanks, Verizon. Nice job scamming a senior. I realize now it's the classic situation, someone out of state and needing help.

    It wasn't good enough for you to sell an S7 and then an S8 in less than a year? You got over 200 bucks from me for two Hum units that were never taken out of the box. You'll probably resell them to some other sucker. Did I say sell? No, you'll "give" them two "free" units.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Not impressed

    • California,
    • Aug 21, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    We use Hum to track our father who is getting lost a bit lately. The tracking app only works about 20% of the time. VERY FRUSTRATING and inconvenient. We will be looking for a more stable device and canceling this product immediately.

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

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