About Hum by Verizon

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff Updated on: Oct 24, 2017

Smartphones. 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. Promoted as a smart upgrade, it simply plugs into your car’s OBD-II port and turns it into a safer, more connected car. How?

Mainly, by providing vehicle diagnostics (i.e., preventing breakdowns) and giving you access to faster roadside and emergency assistance. The upgraded HumX model can even act as a Wi-Fi hotspot. 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 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 kind of 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, Verizon advertises that 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-II Reader – This small device plugs into your car’s OBD-II (Onboard 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-II 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, email, or on the Hum app.

According to the company, these “easy-to-understand alerts for hundreds of car issues” can “help you save money and avoid serious breakdowns.”

And if you learn that your car needs work, you can use Hum’s Mechanics Hotline to obtain personalized, unbiased advice and repair estimates from certified, independent mechanics.

In addition, 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 simply 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 four “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).

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. And the Safety Score can help you identify potentially risky habits related to factors like acceleration, speed, braking, and cornering.

Finally, you can use GPS to identify where your car is parked, as well as its last location; driving history (average miles traveled, idle time, average miles per gallon, speed, etc.), which can be filtered by day, week, month or year; and customizable speed and boundary alerts.

HumX vs. Hum: What’s the Main Benefit?

Compared to the standard system, HumX’s silver speaker also acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot, which allows you to connect up to 10 devices at any one time and provides access to streaming music, movies, and so forth.

Regardless of device type, anyone in the vehicle can connect to your hotspot, as long as they have your network name/SSID and the password.

How Does Hum by Verizon Stack Up?

Let’s take a closer look at some of Hum’s closest competitors.

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. Like Hum, OnStar also provides turn-by-turn navigation, and can even work as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Although OnStar’s security features seem to be more robust, including remote ignition block and stolen vehicle slowdown.

What it costs: As far as price, OnStar customers will generally 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 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), this means there’s also 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 and trends, and 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 Wi-Fi 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 ended in August 2015.

How it compares: Instead of featuring built-in services like OnStar and Automatic, Vinli offers access to specialized apps (many 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 in order 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 the term “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

If you agree to a two-year contract, Hum’s standard model will cost you a one-time equipment fee of $29.99, a one-time activation fee ranging between $20, and $40, as well as a $10 monthly subscription (plus taxes and fees).

Along with your subscription, the website indicates you’ll gain access to “hundreds of local coupons and discounts for retailers, auto service providers, restaurants and much more. Plus, an online booking tool to help you save on hotels, flights, and cruises.”

The HumX system is priced slightly higher, with a $150 retail equipment price ($99 with a two-year subscription, or $6.25 per month). You’ll also have a $20-$40 activation fee, a $15 subscription fee, plus taxes and other fees.

As far as data usage for the HumX model, the website FAQ reports that you can add Hum to your existing data plan, which will draw from your monthly allowance. If you don’t want to sign up for a plan, your initial purchase will include 1GB of data, with additional gigabytes available for purchase as needed at $10 each.

Per FAQ: Hum comes with a limited lifetime equipment replacement warranty for as long as you continuously have a subscription to the service.

Per FAQ: If you purchased your Hum System from hum.com, a Verizon Wireless retail location or verizonwireless.com, you can return Hum at any time within 14 days of purchase and receive a full refund. If you choose to return Hum after the 14-day return period, you may be subject to an Early Termination Fee (ETF).

According to Hum’s Terms of Service (TOS), you’ll have 14 days from the date of purchase 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: The FAQ indicates that if you purchase and return your equipment in-store, you could be assessed a $35 restocking fee.

Outside of the first 14 days, you could be subject to 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) 711-5800.

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 2015, although this 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 seemed to reference poor service. Granted, this could be considered relatively low based on the number of customers enrolled in Signature’s services.

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 (and the more recent HumX) 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!

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65 Consumer Reviews for Hum by Verizon

Average Consumer Rating: 1.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 2 2 star: 6 1 star:  52
Bottom Line: 9% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 65
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Hum tracking my car and me

    • Levittown, NY,
    • Apr 9, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    So, I upgraded my phone, and the Hum came with it free. I said ok, it's free, why not. If I don’t like it, I can take it out. So, it is installed, and I downloaded the app. Other than my sister borrowing the car one day that would be the only odd thing that should show up on the app, thinking it is only tracking my car. Well, it is not. The app also tracks you, and if you don’t want that to show up on your report, you have to go into the app on to deselect the trip and check off the passenger choice. Seems fairly easy but if you are someone who takes a train to work every day, it means I have to into my app every day and deselect those trips.

    So, I called Hum about it and said this is the only way to do it because the app tracks your car and you. I said that is counter initiative because the safety score is for the car, not me. If I forget to check off myself as a passenger on my train travel that applies to my score. What if the train derailed and my score was sent to my insurance company? This could pose a problem because one of the perks of having Hum is to document that you are a safe driver and you can get a discount from your insurance company. BUT if it is taking into account my moves, this doesn’t seem right.

    The Hum is a good idea, but it should track the car. Does my Fitbit track my driving? I find this stupid and useless at the point. Update the app to track the car only!

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

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  • 3 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Buyer beware - please do thorough research before purchasing

    • Henderson, NV,
    • Mar 22, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    If I could rate my experience less than zero on this product and the service which accompanied it, I would do so. My experience is similar in a combination of ways to what some others have reported in their reviews on this site concerning the product itself and the service.

    I was "talked into" this device on a "special promotion" when I went to purchase a new phone with Verizon in mid-January. Since that time I received 17 email alerts regarding low voltage on the battery. With the first 16, the car started right up each time after receiving the alert. All of those were called yellow alerts. The last one, which was a red alert, said the battery was critically low. The car (a 2002 Corvette) would not start even with a charge. I had to have it towed to my mechanic. Upon running diagnostics and recharging the battery, the mechanic reported he could find nothing wrong with the car. He inquired about the possibility of the battery being drained each time the Hum diagnostics were being run.

    I called the advertised Mechanic Support Line (customer service) to speak with someone about the situation. The first CSR told me that she could not find my account (even with the account number I provided from the app profile). I was on hold for 15 minutes while she researched and then was told she would call back in one hour. She did call and said I was being transferred to the "Mechanic Hotline." I was again put on hold for another 10 minutes at which time I was disconnected. Upon calling back, I got another CSR and had to start completely over with the explanation.

    After another wait, I finally was put through to the "Mechanic Hotline." Not sure what Hum's intended definition of a hotline is. After again explaining the entire situation, I was told that "a ticket had been issued and that the next level of support would get back to me, but it could take up to two days." When I told that CSR that my car was sitting in the shop and a two-day timeframe was unacceptable, she diverted and said she would relay my concern to management. Guess what? It has now been over a week, and no one from the "Mechanic Hotline" has ever called back.

    I picked up the car from my mechanic's shop three days after the ticket at the "Mechanic Hotline" was supposedly issued. I found the reviews on this site and had him unplug the OBD reader. I have not had any problems with the car since. I didn't have any battery problem with the car before the OBD reader was installed.

    I ended up having to pay towing charges as well as for a draw test on the battery. There has been no more resolution with Hum since no one has ever called back to close out the supposed "Mechanic Hotline" ticket that was opened.

    In the meantime, I have received two surveys via email from research companies who claim they represent Hum by Verizon; one to rate my overall experience with the support service and one to rate my satisfaction with the product (more specifically, the likelihood I would recommend Hum to a friend). As you might guess, my response to that second survey was "no way." Not surprising to me, there has been no feedback from anyone regarding my recent survey feedback either.

    I have been a loyal Verizon customer for many years. Candidly, that loyalty has been tested with this product and the atrocious service that has accompanied it.

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

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  • 5 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Waste of money

    • New Richmond, WI,
    • Feb 24, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    We originally purchased Hum by Verizon for our 2012 Dodge Journey because that car did not have blue tooth connectivity. We ended up trading that car in for a 2017 Journey. We no longer needed it, but found out we were stuck in a contract and would have to pay over $200 to get out of it. That's the first rip off.

    So I tried it on my 2016 Journey. January 11th I was staying at a Hotel in St Paul, MN. The car was outdoors overnight, and the temp was below zero that night. The next morning my car was totally dead. The emergency button on the Hum device would not connect my call. I ended up having my car towed 45 miles to the dealer where I bought my car.

    The message on the Hum app said there was a problem with the alternator. After doing diagnostics at the dealer, we found the battery had been completely drained. It took two days to get my car back and was informed that the Hum device was draining the battery because it kept trying to communicate with Verizon. They said over time the battery could not keep up.

    I have removed the device and will never use it again. It is a total rip off. I am through with two-year contracts of any kind.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Worthless equipment

    A customer service representative "gave" me a Hum as a consolation gift when they couldn't fix my internet issue. I was told that I would not be charged for it.

    Once in my car, the location of the Hum protruded into the car so far that I would hit it with my knee when entering the car. I worried about damaging the fuse box, so I removed the Hum and tossed it in the back seat. The thing was operational about 6 weeks and kept saying I needed an oil change.

    Then I got my bill, with a charge for the Hum. When I complained, I was told it would cost me $240.00 to drop the Hum from my plan. It seems that, while the Hum equipment was free, the monthly charge was my problem. Not what I call a gift.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Never use

    • Summerville, SC,
    • Feb 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The Hum is ok when you do not change cars, but if you do, it is a nightmare.

    I have been trying unsuccessfully to get the problem resolved. I had 3 Hum devices installed. My mother sold her car, which had a Hum installed, and forgot to remove it, so I asked to remove it from my account. They did so after charging me a $60 early termination fee. I was ok with it, but they removed the wrong one, and now the car I need it on does not work, and for over a week now they have been trying to resolve it.

    I find it hard to believe that a simple device such as this would be so hard to correct. It is like Hum and Verizon do not communicate with each other, but I am fed up spending several hours on the phone with no solution and will be removing and canceling this service.

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Account closed but they are still taking money out

    My subscription ended, but they have taken money from my account. I called and had a conversation with two people who say they are not authorized to give me my money back. I don't care how much it was or is, it's mine. The first time I waited three days and got no call. Now it's been another three days. They were not authorized to take my money, but it seems like they are not authorized to give it back either. I need my money! Thank you.

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

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  • 2 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Excellent! Hands-free driving, roadside assistance, emergency medical, police and more.

    • North Carolina,
    • Jan 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love my Hum unit. My car didn't have built-in hands free driving and I hate Bluetooth earpieces. The Hum resolves that and more for a $10 a month service fee. It also includes vehicle diagnostics warnings, no charge mechanical and emergency roadside assistance, boundaries warnings and vehicle location if the teen goes outside the normal expected area where they should be. Also, has maintenance reminders, stolen car assistance, excess speed overage that can be set from your phone app, and sends you a text warning plus keeps a driving log by month with average speed, distance, idle time, and more.

    Excellent for me, but is a must-have on your teen's vehicle. Can be set up for different drivers on the same vehicle as well. No problems, great service. Love it!

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Waste of money if there is a vehicle change

    Hum is a good thing when it works. I had a vehicle change, and when we changed the Hum over to the other vehicle, it worked for about an hour to hour and a half and then became incompatible. If it works for a while, there is no reason for it to stop.

    I called into customer service and the first person, when I asked if I was just wasting my money, said "correct." I called back in and the next rep I talked with was so much better and actually explained things, which I appreciated, although it still makes no sense to me.

    So bottom line is, it is a waste of my money for one of the Hums. I have two total and am thankful that one works, and I'm just dupped on the other. I have to pay for nothing.

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

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  • 12 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Rip off alert!

    I joined Hum on November 9, 2015. I called today (October 27) to cancel my account because I have fulfilled my two-year contract with this company, and I am paid up until the beginning of the new billing period (November 9). I was told by their customer representative that I would have to pay an early termination fee of $5. Hum only charges me $10.00 per month. I asked for an explanation and was told that this is simply how their system is set up. However, if I waited until November 9th, they would reimburse me the $10 that is going to be debited from my checking account.

    I have only used Hum service once, and I paid more for towing than if I had used the service provided by my auto insurer. Do not get involved with these people.

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

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  • 7 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Nice idea, but customer service is totally unacceptable.

    Nice idea, but they forgot to build a high-quality customer service department. In a nutshell, it is abysmal. I tried to use the travel discount service and had the following problems:

    - After imputing my credit card info, I was told it failed.

    - The credit card company had no record of a failure.

    - The system would not allow me to use a second card.

    - No one answered the customer service line for 30 minutes plus, so I abandoned the call. While waiting I was told I was 3rd in line, then 2nd, then next, then 2nd. All of this while being bombarded with a message telling me my call was very important and it will receive the "attention it deserves." With that they were right - attention to my problem was of little value to them.

    - I called to make arrangement to return the purchase and resend the agreement.

    A week later I decided to try again (before returning the equipment):

    - Same credit card problem.

    - I was sent to 5 different departments; none were able to help me.

    - On the last call, our call got dropped but the rep did not bother to call back.

    In summary:

    - Verizon is better than this, but they have lots of work to do to get this service ready to dance.

    - My advice is, do not buy this service at this time.

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

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  • 6 out 9 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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