Consumer Cellular

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1.8 out of 5, based on 21 ratings and
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What to expect from Consumer Cellular: The GOOD and the BAD.
Posted by on
PORTLAND, OREGON -- UPDATE: Some of the BAD has been corrected. See comments.

I have recently subscribed to Consumer Cellular wireless phone service. This replaces my previous 6 year relationship with Nextel (Sprint). With Nextel I was paying about $77 a month for 2 phones sharing 400 minutes.

I saw a Consumer Cellular ad on TV and thought I would check them out. I found few complaints against them on a quick Google search. Some of those complaints were baseless as those individuals obviously did not understand wireless billing practices.

The GOOD:

I called Consumer Cellular and ordered two phones, accessories, and activation fees for $171. I received the phones two days later. I called them for activation and they ported my numbers from Nextel and I was up and running within an hour. So I now have 500 minutes shared between 2 phones for about $47 per month. And, the best part, NO CONTRACT!

Their telephone customer service is located in the USA. Wait times are usually less than 5 minutes. Customer service representatives are friendly and patient.

Coverage and call reliability have been good. (See AT&T coverage map)

The BAD:

Their online call log information is about 1-3 days behind your actual usage. It is helpful but don't rely on it to avoid going over your minutes.

Their call log detail only shows phone numbers for outgoing calls. They do not show phone numbers for incoming calls. They indicate "Not Available" for ALL incoming calls. This is NOT a "Private" or "Blocked" call issue. You cannot verify any incoming calls that you may be billed for. Not a good thing. The phones receive the caller ID as they should. When questioned about this they claim the carriers are not providing this information. Nextel (Sprint) provided both incoming and outgoing numbers without a problem. Other carriers I checked, including AT&T (which is what they use), provide both.

Another annoying characteristic is they only allow your cell phone to ring for 15 seconds before displaying a missed call message and informing the caller that you have not set up your voice mail box. I did not want or request voice mail and told them during activation I did not want it. They did fix this but only after being called three times about it. This problem re-occurred approximately a month later.

Occasionally I get a "Call forwarding is active" message when placing a call. I have never activated call forwarding. Canceling call forwarding has no effect on this. It happens with both of the phones I have. Customer service either cannot or will not explain this but will only repeatedly parrot a script about call forwarding.

Their email support is in the toilet. They are slow in responding (if they respond at all) and are of little help when they do. They don't appear to pay attention to the details of an inquiry. Responses are generic in nature and don't acknowledge the actual issue at hand. It appears as more of a pacifier type response in hopes you will just go away.

In summary:

Price is very reasonable and no contract. Customer service, while courteous and friendly, is only slightly better than other cellular carriers. They appear to help but either do not or cannot actually correct anything. Consumer Cellular is extremely poor at resolving technical issues.

DISCLAIMER: These statements are based on the results of my own personal experiences with Consumer Cellular to date. The statements may or may not hold true for any other individual or specific instance.

****************** U P D A T E *****************

September 18, 2009

In the initial review I stated their online call log could be 1-3 days behind. Well, they have now demonstrated this information can be over 10 days old. This is also true of the information they will give you through the automated phone inquiries. Your minutes used during a billing cycle is NOT reliable. What's worse their customer service representatives are not aware of this unless you lead them by the nose to see it.

The following is an email sequence between Consumer Cellular and myself. This should provide a representative picture of the kind of support you can expect from them. It provides evidence that they either do not care or are just plain inept at handling technical issues.

First email - sent July 30,2009

Mr. xxxxx,

I am a new customer to Consumer Cellular. For the most part your customer service has been quite good. However, I have an issue that I have not been able to resolve through your normal channels.

The problem is the call detail listing is only reporting outgoing phone numbers. Your system is reporting 100% of incoming calls as "Not Available". Please note, this is not a "Private" or "Blocked" call issue.

Before subscribing to your service I scrutinized your website for issues of this nature and saw that you supported "Extended Detailed Billing." Currently this has proven to be only partially true. I have just left Nextel/Sprint and they were able to report both outgoing and incoming numbers. I cannot fathom why the technology you are using would not be capable of delivering the same level of service that most other cellular carriers do.

I require the incoming phone numbers that have not been blocked by the caller to be listed as well. As president of Consumer Cellular I would expect you would have the ability to address this in a more satisfactory manner than your front-line employees were able to do.

Is this something that will be corrected in the near future?

Thank you,
xxxxxxxxxx
Acct#: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
>From Consumer Cellular on August 3, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxxx,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the identification of the incoming number on your statement.

The reason the number is not being printed on your statement is we are not receiving the information in the transmission. To better identity why we are not receiving this information I need to first ask you a few questions.

1. When you receive an incoming calls what does your display on your phone read? Does the Caller ID display on the phones screen?

2. I noticed you have a XX mailing address, yet the wireless numbers are based in xxxxxx, XX. Are you back and forth between XX and xxxxxxxxxxx, XX? If you are not back and forth what zip code do you mainly use the wireless phones?

3. Do you have several people that contact you on your wireless phone are do you have a relatively small group that contacts you on your wireless phones? If a small group could you identify two of the numbers that contact you on your wireless phone regularly?

If you could answer the above questions we could give you a better idea of why the incoming numbers are not being identified in the transmission we receive. I am avaible by phone at 800-686-4460 or simply reply to my e-mail with the information.

Again, thank you for your e-mail and I look forward to addressing your questions raised in your e-mail.

Thank you,
xxxxxxxxxx
Consumer Cellular
Desk 971.223.3002
Fax 503.675.8989
-----------------------------------------------
To: Consumer Cellular on August 18, 2009
Mr. xxxxxx,

We spoke on 8/3 at 12:15 CT. At that time I provided you with the answers to your questions.

Recapping those answers:
1) Caller ID appears on the phone as it should.
2) Primary use zip code is 00000, xxxxxx, XX.
3) (000) 000-0000, (000) 000-0000, (000) 000-0000

You stated you would follow up on this issue within a week. It has now been two weeks. I have seen no results.

On 8/17 at 9:15 AM CT I called and spoke with Michelle. This was in regard to both of my phones only ringing for 15 seconds then indicating a missed call and informing the caller that the voice mail had not been set up. I do not have nor do I want voice mail. Last month it took 3 phone calls to customer service to correct this issue. Now the problem has reoccurred. Michelle did ask me how long I wanted the ring to last. I told her one minute would be ideal. She advised me that it should be corrected within 24 hours. As of 8/18 at 9:15 AM CT the ring time is now 30 seconds on both phones but it still refers to a voice mail box that has not been set up.

Another issue is on the weekend of Aug. 7 while we were in Bristol, TN both phones would indicate "Call forwarding is active" prior to placing any call. I have never set up or used call forwarding. Even after going through the menus and turning off call forwarding and it indicating success in doing so the problem persisted. At the present time the phones are not doing this.

When I asked to be transferred to you Michelle stated at the time you were not in and had sent you an email to call me in reference to the failure to log incoming call numbers issue. No call was received.

I do hope these issues can be resolved quickly and permanently.

I have posted an informative review about Consumer Cellular on the my3cents.com consumer website. Updates will be made as they are warranted. Hopefully they can be of a positive nature.

Thank you,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
---------------------------------------------------
>From Consumer Cellular on August 18, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxxx,

Thank you for your e-mail.

I had left you a phone message last week to give you a status.

I talked to the technical folks and they said another week or so to research the issue.

I will follow up as soon as I have an answer for you.

Thank you,
xxxxxxxxx
Consumer Cellular
Desk 971.223.3002
Fax 503.675.8989
-------------------------------------------
To Consumer Cellular on August 25, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxxx,

Another week has passed. Still no results. I almost did not send this but on the other hand things don't get fixed by sitting passively by.

First it was "within a week" (per our phone conversation), then it was "may take two weeks" (per the answering machine message you left), and now it's "another week or so" (per your last email).

With all due respect, Mr. xxxxxx, this has all the earmarks of stalling and hoping the customer will just go away. Someone of technical competence should be able to resolve an issue such as this within a matter of hours - not weeks.

It is particularly disappointing to bring to your attention the other issues I have experienced with my service and no offer of explanation as to why these problems exist or why they have failed to be properly corrected and are re-occurring. Not even any form of acknowledgment.

In all of this I have not asked for any special treatment or exceptional service. I only ask to be provided with what should be considered a normal level of service in the industry. Each of these problems degrades what would be considered normal service and should have never been an issue in the first place.

Thank you,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
--------------------------------------------------
>From Consumer Cellular on August 18, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxx,

I am sorry you feel I am stalling.

The technicians are looking into your situations. As I said all along I will keep you updated as information comes in.

Many factors go into delivering calls and the call data. You have provided valuable information that was passed on to the technicians.

You will be the first to know when information comes back. I had said from the beginning these issues take a while to research.

Thank you,


xxxxxxxxx
Consumer Cellular
Desk 971.223.3002
Fax 503.675.8989
-------------------------------------------------
To Consumer Cellular on September 10, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxxxx,

Over a month and a half has now passed. You have failed to produce any results. It has become painfully obvious that Consumer Cellular either is technically incompetent or simply does not care if issues get resolved. My experience thus far has shown your "100% Satisfaction guarantee" claim applies only to Consumer Cellular's satisfaction, NOT the customer's.

The following is taken directly from your website:

"What do I do if I don't recognize a number on my bill? What if I did not call a particular number?
The usage list is simply a record of incoming and outbound calls. If you do not recognize a number, the best thing to do is call the number from your home phone to verify whose it is."

If you have no intention of providing incoming call numbers you should correct your website and stop misleading potential customers (as you did me) as to what you can provide when in reality you are not capable of delivering what you claim. Other carriers, including AT&T, do not seem to have difficulty providing this information to their customers.

In addition, I am finding what you do report in the usage logs are random, out of sequence calls. I have seen it as much as 10 days out of date. Under these conditions I don't see how you can expect a customer to have any confidence in your billing accuracy. From a customer's perspective your call tracking methods are grossly inadequate. You even state on your website the billing information is not the same as the usage information.Why not? Customers should be able to see the same source of information that you are using to bill them with. Anything less is suspect and breeds distrust.

Specifically for Mr. yyyyyyy: (To whom this was originally addressed) It does appear you have now become so large that you no longer need to concern yourself with your customers or their satisfaction. As is typical with large corporations its customer service is inversely proportional to its size. The bigger you get, the poorer your customer service becomes.

Cynical? Unfortunately, yes. Precipitated by Consumer Cellular's inability and/or refusal to correct what should have been a simple issue.

Your disappointed customer,
xxxxxxxxxxxx

cc: my3cents.com UPDATE

     
Read 37 RepliesAdd reply
User Replies:
BokiBean on 2009-08-18:
Now that's a nice review...very informative, chuck. A+
DebtorBasher on 2009-08-18:
Good Info Chuckie (period, period, period) Thanks!
Nohandle on 2009-08-18:
I liked this review Chuck. The Good, the Bad and I will add the Ugly. You've put it all out there so others can make an informed decision based on your experience thus far. We've had so many complaints about contracts and most maintain they were not prepared for if they decided to cancel and here you have no contract. Keep us up to date. I'm certain many will be interested.
DebtorBasher on 2009-08-19:
Congrates on making the M3C Newsletter...in fact this was the ONLY Informative to make it...and you just posted it lastnight! Give that man another star!
Anonymous on 2009-08-19:
M3C has a newsletter?
DebtorBasher on 2009-08-19:
Yeah....Old F's colon made centerfold!
DebtorBasher on 2009-08-19:
Go to the very first page on M3C and in the upper right corner you'll see, "Subscribe To Our Consumer Tips Newsletter" ... just click on it and they will Email it to you.
Nohandle on 2009-08-19:
Wally, they will also include in your email additional information on recalls on various products and a great deal of other helpful information. You will NEVER receive any spam or any of that garbage. Sometimes this is the only way I realize there's a good review out there I missed.
tnchuck100 on 2009-09-18:
**** UPDATED ****
Added an email sequence concerning their failure to resolve an issue.
DebtorBasher on 2009-09-18:
Very well written Chuckie. People here can take some pointers from you...no name calling, no pity stories, no demands for free services for life, no demands for others to boycott...just straight to the point with facts. Good job!

This is like trying to work with the people in China on my issue.
tnchuck100 on 2009-09-30:
*********** UPDATED *********
The Final Chapter

From Consumer Cellular on September 18, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxxx,

Thank you for the feed back. We did get an update yesterday on your call records. Sorry for the delay, being familiar with researching question such has yours I said in the beginning to find an answer to your request would take some time.

After researching your specific call records we have identified why the incoming number is displaying on your phone display but not displaying on your printed usage records. Your phone numbers our based in XX and you are using the numbers full time in XX. Even though our wireless numbers can be used anywhere coverage is avaible in the U.S. without an extra cost, the numbers do have a home market assigned and the system is designed to process records from the home market. When the calls are received out of the home market the incoming number is passed to the phones display so you can tell who is calling, the same information is not passed to the system that displays the information in your printed usage.

Since you are using the numbers full time outside of the home market you will see some delay when viewing usage. The delay can be from 48 to 72 hours in some cases.

Going forward you can certainly take advantage of our no term commitment and use another service if this is unacceptable to you. We obviously would rather keep you as a customer but if you feel you need to have the incoming number displayed on your printed usage we will not be able to provide this. Another solution we talked about on the phone was having to your numbers replaced with XX numbers, but I believe you had said that most of your friends and family had the XX numbers your are currently using.

Again, thank you for your comments and I apologize we can not provide the incoming number for you on the printed usage while using your number outside of the numbers home market. I hope you continue as a customer and take advantage of our pricing and service.

Thank you,

xxxxxxxxxx
Consumer Cellular
Desk 971.223.3002
Fax 503.675.8989
------------------------------------------------
From Consumer Cellular on September 22, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxxx,

Not sure why you are not getting our e-mails but this is the last of many that I have sent you.

Please read below.

Thank you,

xxxxxxxx
Consumer Cellular
Desk 971.223.3002
Fax 503.675.8989
-------------------------------------------------
To Consumer Cellular on September 23, 2009:

Mr. xxxxxxx,

I did receive your original response. You are probably getting the ones addressed to others forwarded to you. Such as Mr. yyyyyyyy probably tasks you with anything addressed to him. Check the "To" addresses. That should explain it.

I do not buy your explanation of why you do not report incoming phone numbers. I noticed that you do report "Numb Blocked" which then stands to reason that the number COULD be available for the other incoming calls. While living here in xxxxxxxxxxx with the same yyyyyyyyyyy phone numbers Nextel did not have a problem reporting incoming numbers. If you were handed a subpoena/court order for this information I am sure you would find a way to provide it.

I also noted that outgoing text messages are logged instantly. Incoming text messages are logged much later. By viewing the log there is no difference between incoming and outgoing messages. "Direction" is meaningless. They do, however, show the other phone number involved. Incoming phone numbers for text messages only? Just one more indication that your explanation does not hold water.

Another thing I noticed is if I choose not to answer a call Consumer Cellular will answer it and inform the caller I do not have voicemail set up (which I do not want) and I am charged one minute for the call.

The other issues I asked about were simply ignored by you. No mention of them whatsoever.

Let's face it Consumer Cellular is technically challenged. I have little confidence in Consumer Cellular's ability to understand and correct problems.

Respectfully,
xxxxxxxxxxxxx



tnchuck100 on 2009-10-22:
************ U P D A T E ***************

As of 3 days ago they began reporting the incoming phone numbers. Did my complaint have anything to do with it? I may never know. They never sent any further emails to me.
trp2hevn on 2009-10-22:
Good job chuck! I like how your letters sounded very professional.
SnowflakeSkier on 2010-02-01:
My mom is a senior and didn't want to be on a contract anymore. She signed up with Consumer Cellular, and they sent her a free phone. After two weeks the phone would not turn on. She needs a working cell phone because we have no landline.She took the phone into a local battery store since it was a Sunday, and they put in a new battery for $40.

On Monday she called to see if they'd reimburse her for the new battery, or at least send back the bad battery and get a new one. They refused to reimburse her for the battery. And, they would not let her send back the bad battery for a new one!

After one week with the new battery, the phone would not turn on again! It was obviously a defective phone. She called customer service and they refused to help her. Luckily she was able to get her money back at the local battery store for the new battery that was no longer working.

My mom decided to go back to T-Mobile, and have her number transferred back. T-Mobile was great, they did not charge her any activation fee, and they said it would be 24-48 hours for the number to be transferred back.

After 3 days of waiting, she went into the local T-Mobile store because her number had not yet been transferred. The guys at T-Mobile literally had been fighting with Consumer Cellular to try to get her number transferred back. The T-Mobile worker told my mom to come back in one hour because Consumer Cellular was trying to find an excuse not to transfer her number.T-Mobile called Consumer Cellular 4 different times before they FINALLY transferred my mom's number.

Save yourself time and money along with preventing stress by NOT ever doing business with Consumer Cellular.
Anonymous on 2010-03-08:
Wow Chuck. VERY thorough and VERY informative. VH!

Did they ever resolve your issues? I need to know how this ends!
DebtorBasher on 2010-04-11:
108 Helpful votes! Congrates!
Lifemates on 2010-09-14:
"Their telephone customer service is located in the USA"

This is very useful if you ever need to go on the phone with their tech support. I hate the companies that outsource their phone rooms to Asian countries, it makes it so difficult to resolve issues if they arise.
Watson48 on 2011-01-31:
I used the service of consumer cellular because of the affordability of its offers. But I totally regret my decision for doing so because I felt like I was deceived. What I thought to be cheap is actually expensive. I’m using Just5 as my provider now and I’m totally fulfilled by its offers and services. The prepaid plans they offer are very practical. I can only spend $3.33 a month for its cheapest prepaid minute plan as the minutes expire in 90 days. So when it comes to affordability, Just5 is the reliable provider.
himain10antz on 2011-02-17:
Thank you so much for a great review!! I just ended my Verizon contract and a friend suggested Consumer Cellular to me. I am looking for a no contract phone that has good coverage in a rural area. After the way you were treated and the incompetence shown by this company, there is no way I would choose one of these phones. I know my one little purchase will not make or break them but I would like for you to have the satisfaction of knowing all the work you did on this review sure changed my mind...Thanks again!!
CCRAWLM on 2011-06-06:
My experience with Consumer Cellular is completely opposite of the author's. The billing issues are very common. It would be helpful if others who have been charged for free items, such as batteries or a replacement phone, write in to this website, or better yet, contact the FTC and FCC at 1-877-382-4357, and 1-888-CALL-FCC, respectively, to report their problems with Consumer Cellular.
Don on 2011-07-07:
Very expensive phone service.No free minutes after hours and on weekends and before you know it your 700 minutes are gone!!!
Angelo on 2011-07-14:
Most of the time,when something sounds to good to be true,It usually is!
Fran on 2011-11-19:
Thank you so much, tnChuck100, for the thorough, in-depth, detailed report on the Consumer Cellular phone plan. Because they have hooked up with AARP, one might assume that they would have excellent service. I guess that would be a wrong assumption! I shall look for some other phone plan. Your efforts have saved many of us needless hours of countless grief! Salut!
Doug on 2012-02-13:
I have had two phones with CC for over three years. I have no complaints except for not being able to set CALLERID name. They send out 'wireless caller' My bill is $37/month and if I am going over minutes I get an email warning and can change plans at no charge for just that month online. Previously I had Verizon and the minimum plan was $80/month for two phones. CC is generally for those who don't make lots of calls although it probably would work for higher volume callers also. I don't text nor use Internet on the phones. I am amazed at the complaints as this has not been my experience. One time I had a problem with a drop outs at my vacation home. I called and they were able to determine that the cell site in my area was out and gave me an estimated repair time. CC does not have their own towers they buy time from AT and T. I doubt you would get similar response from Verizon or AT and T if you used their service. I have no connection to the company and just want good cheap phone service and a simple phone which I feel I have gotten from CC.
Susan on 2012-05-08:
Very disappointed with Consumer Cellular and wish I would have done more research on them before I ordered my husband's cellphone back in December of 2011. He doesn't really use a cellphone, but keeps it handy in case of emergencies. So we thought the Doreo with the big buttons and no frills would be perfect for him. Plus no contracts was also a good thing and still is, because after 5 months we are going to cancel this nightmare of a company.

Our first phone was a Doreo. We paid $74 for the phone and 2 accessories, for a total of $74.

When the battery was low we tried to recharge it and it would not charge. So we called CC and they shipped us another one free of charge because of the warranty.

When the battery was low on that one we tried to recharge it and still, it would not charge. So we called and were told to send it back, we would get a credit as soon as they received it, and we could purchase another one for $60, which would be credited to us because we had already paid $74 for it.

The 2nd Doreo didn't work either so we shipped that one back too, and all at our own expense, about $6 each time having to ship it back with delivery confirmation.

At one point they did not credit our charge card like they said they would so we disputed the charge.

Today we got a bill from them for the charge that was disputed because they said our cc company charged them an additional $60 and they want that back plus they charged us an addiitonal $25 for the dispute.....AND shut off our phone without calling us first to discuss what was wrong.

The only thing I ever heard from them was an email they sent me yesterday explaining they were shutting off our service due to our usage being too high and thought there might be some fraud on the account.

I agree, there is fraud on our account and they are the ones causing it. I called our cc company to see if they could resolved this and they are working on it for us. They said they have never heard of a company charging the customer a dispute charge and the other $60 that they want from us now should have been taken up with our cc company not us.

I am posting this because I fear that seniors may be taken for granted by this company and I don't want that to happen to people who don't know what to do in situations like this. Its such a small amount of money, but its the principal of the matter. That's what Consumer Protection Agencies are for. Please contact them about Consumer Cellular, they need to be ut out of business.
writes4dLord on 2012-06-20:
I was considering changing mine and my husbands cell phone carrier to Consumer Cellular after watching the tv commercial, but after reading all the previous comments, I changed my mind. Thanks
mike on 2012-08-24:
I like consumer cellular - but, I made the mistake of ordering a new sim card from them
Bill R. on 2013-02-08:
I was considering getting this service. I liked the detailed information. I made my decision. This is service I do not want or need. Thank you for your Information.
Kevin F on 2013-03-25:
In the Denver Colorado area, it seems that AT and T blocks Consumer Cellular calls from some of their towers. I have a friend with AT and T service who has full signal in the same area where I have none. When I called Consumer Cellular, they place the blame on AT and T. I notice it more in the southwest (Roxborough) and along the I-70 corridor heading west.
wjk898 on 2013-04-22:
Whatever the reason, their signals have dwindled over the past 2 years to the point where now, I often have NO SERVICE! It is now for my purposes - phone calls only...useless. Too bad too, cause these other phone companies rob ya.
Yvonne L on 2013-05-09:
I have been using CC for a few months now, and am currently looking for a new carrier. I am disappointed in their service for many reasons. Some have been mentioned, some not. What bothers me the most is not being able to send or receive photos (I guess I missed that in the fine print before I signed up). I had no problem with AT and T in that regard, but it doesn't work now. The other thing is not being able to see a number in my "recents" when a voicemail has been left. Oh, and lets not forget that it doesn't take but a few minutes to dump huge amounts of data when you look up anything on the Internet! I have had to increase my data so many times with my plan to keep from being charged exhorbitant overage fees, that I'm now paying nearly as much as I did with AT and T. What is wrong with these people? I guess it's really true that when something appears too good to be true, it usually is!
JoeKay on 2013-06-13:
Reception using this cellphone plan, just for phone calls has deteriorated to the point where there are too many periods when there is "no service." My theory is that all the complex smartphone activity (which people pay oodles of money for) has made this very thrifty phone call service obsolete. Reluctantly, I had to go to another, more expensive phone service because Consumer Cellular has essentially become useless in too many areas.
PalmSpringer on 2013-06-23:
Useless in the Coachella Valley - signal loss and dropped calls are common.
StevenB on 2013-07-06:
Received their mailer and searched online - was looking for a new phone for my mom actually - glad I read your thorough and professional review - we won't be calling CC
Joe F on 2013-07-18:
It is a shame that they market to AARP people. This (so far as of July, 2013 ) appears to be a good MVNO. I like the idea that they are using AT and T's cell towers but are NOT AT and T! :-)

The trouble is compounded. As an MVNO, offering the cheapest terms, you need to understand cell phones better than the 'hold your hand' providers. Especially if you bring your own device and want to use data plans.

AND it seems to me a LOT of AARP people expect to have their hands held! LOL.
I'm 61 and an AARP member but very much a Geek! So I have not problem with them. I also wonder if they turned over a leaf since a lot of complaints I find online are out-dated.
Joe F
P.S> MVNO is Mobile Virtual Network Operation - I.e they buy from a major cell company -- this case it's AT and T
Dan G, on 2013-08-08:
Thank you! Thank you, Thank you!! I have been researching companies to reduce my bloated Verizon bill.
After reading your fair and well written reviews I will continue to look. CC sounds like the Cell phone companies of old, treating customers as though we need them more than they need us. With so many options to choose from we consumers most certainly to not need the kind of "Customer service" CC offers.
once again, thank you.
Sue on 2013-10-19:
Thanks Chuck! We were looking to change from Sprint, and CC sounded ideal, especially with the AARP backing, now after reading your very informative and entertaining review, we certainly won't be going to use CC. Thanks!!
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Terrible Customer Service. Misinformation.
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
PORTLAND, NORTH CAROLINA -- DO NOT USE CONSUMER CELLULAR. (That's the short version.)

When I first called, I specifically asked, in several ways, whether the phone I wanted to buy would work on their network. (They only offer 6 phones, only two of which are Android, both of which are utter crap.) I was going to buy a GSM Unlocked Moto X, a phone that IS available on the AT&T network, which they use. The woman I spoke to assured me that the phone would work with their service.

It didn't. I couldn't send or receive MMS (picture texts). After they made a couple of half-hearted attempts to fix it, they told me, "Well, since that isn't one of the phones we sell, we can't guarantee all features will be available on our service." Um... even though you told me that it would work?

After another runaround with Motorola, I found the answer myself. (Just add ",mms" after the word "default" in the VPN settings.) So, that was fixed.

Then, the service one day just suddenly dropped out. It gave me a little red triangle symbol with a white cross, and said "Emergency Calls Only". I called Consumer Cellular. They again reiterated that, since it was not one of their phones, it may not work on their service. Despite the lie that got me to start with them in the first place.

They tried sending out firmware upgrades and had me turn the phone off and on a billion times, to no avail. They escalated the problem to the next tier of support, which meant I waited a full day for another call, only to be told the same thing.

Eventually, the phone just found service again on its own. This happened four times. After the fourth (I only called about three of them, and went through the same runaround) I called Motorola to be sure it couldn't be a hardware issue (nope) and then called CC to cancel my service with them.

One of the many times I'd called, I'd mentioned that I had bars, but no '4G' designation. I was told CC doesn't HAVE 4G. Later, when I called again and got someone else, I was told they DO have 4G. So I kept getting different information from different people.

The 'supervisor' who left a message after one of my many calls/escalations told me that I "may have to use the phone outside" my house. (Ludicrous, 'cause they supposedly use AT&T's infrastructure, and I can use my AT&T phone fine indoors. Not to mention, they tout themselves as the service for the elderly; are you really [going to] tell an elderly person that their for-emergencies-only cell phone won't work inside their home??!)

Just now, I called to give them one last chance to redeem themselves, and the 'supervisor' was excessively rude, telling me the same thing about the phone not necessarily working on their service. I told her that I was told explicitly that it would. She didn't care. I told her they were losing at least 5 customers (I've got a family plan) because I'd been lied to and jerked around. She said she was sorry I *FELT* that way, but that was the way it is.

Now they're charging me over $10 for what was supposed to be a free trial of their service, 'cause I 'exceeded the limit of text messages for the free trial', which only happened because I had to keep TESTING the texts, 'cause my texts weren't working!

I cannot tell enough people not to use this chaotic, poorly-run company that doesn't give a hoot about their customers.
     
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Consumer Cellular | My FTC, FCC & BBB Complaints
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
PORTLAND, OREGON -- Caveat emptor "Let the buyer beware"

July 4, 2013

Re: FCC Congressional Control Number 1300482/kam
Federal Trade Commission Complaint 13-C00495788
FTC Reference No. 14008286
BBB Complaint #22389625 thebbb.org

Dear Senator Cornyn:

The response by Consumer Cellular Inc. to the FCC is but re-cycled, unsupported claims from Better Business Bureau Complaint #22389625. Their response is disingenuous and does not address the most significant of my claims. Namely, their (A) deceptive and unfair business practices, (B) false advertising, (C) unsatisfactory service and, (D) the selling of a “defective and unreasonably dangerous” product.

Responding to Better Business Bureau complaints, Google points the finger of blame at Consumer Cellular Inc. and Huawei. Consumer Cellular Inc. points the finger of blame at Google, Huawei, RadioShack, Sears and, even me. RadioShack and Sears claim to be “just retailers" and point the finger of blame at Consumer Cellular Inc. and me. AARP stands by Consumer Cellular. Huawei says nothing.

The Companies will stonewall this matter as long as they can. To get to the truth, I need your help with FTC complaints against Google Inc., Huawei Devices USA, Consumer Cellular Inc., RadioShack Corporation, Sears Holdings Corporation and, AARP Services Inc. (AARP), herein the “Companies” for the following reasons.

1. The Companies Target “nearly 40 million members” of AARP. They advertise, market, promote and sell the Huawei 8652 Smartphone (“Smartphone”) as suitable for keeping connected, accessing the Web, downloading financial applications (“Apps”) and, accessing bank accounts. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
2. A consumer would reasonably believe that you can safely use the Smartphone as the Companies advertise.
3. The Companies fail to adequately warn of the following conditions, each of which put consumers and their private data at significant risk.
3.1 There are unpatched security flaws in the Smartphone’s software.
3.2 The Smartphone does not receive regular, prompt security updates.
3.3 There are critical software security updates published by Google Inc., but that have not been distributed to the Smartphone.
3.4 The Smartphone’s Android 2.3 Operating System and the default web browser are eight (8) releases out-of-date and, cannot be upgraded to the most recent and secure versions. 8
3.5 The Companies refuse to remove third-party Apps installed on the Smartphone.
4. Android smartphones that do not receive regular, prompt security updates are defective, unreasonably dangerous and, expose consumers and their private data to significant cybersecurity-related risks. 9, 10
5. The FTC acknowledged, security vulnerabilities on consumers’ mobile devices may be used “to record and transmit information entered into or stored on the device … to Target spear- phishing campaigns, physically track or stalk individuals, and perpetrate fraud, resulting in costly bills to the consumer … [and to misuse] sensitive device functionality such as the device’s audio recording feature … to capture private details of an individual’s life”. 9, 10

The Companies practices, coupled with their failure to adequate warn of the Smartphone’s poor security constitute (A) deceptive and unfair business practices, (B) false advertising, (C) unsatisfactory service and, (D) the selling of a “defective and unreasonably dangerous” product. 9, 10

Every day, by their actions and inactions, the Companies put unsuspecting consumers at risk for identity theft, the hacking of their bank accounts, jeopardizing their personal safety, exposing private medical history and imperiling their 40lk retirement funds, every minute they use the Smartphone. 9, 10

Respectfully,
cc:
United States Senator Ted Cruz
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
Mr. Donald S. Clark, Secretary of the Commission, Federal Trade Commission
Ms. D’wana R. Terry, Associate Bureau Chief, Federal Trade Commission
Google Inc., Mr. Larry Page, CEO
Huawei Devices USA, Mr. Jiangao Cui, CEO
Consumer Cellular Inc., Mr. John Marick, CEO
RadioShack Corporation, Mr. Joseph C. Magnacca, CEO
Sears Holdings Corporation, Mr. Edward Scott Lampert, CEO
Sears Holdings Corporation, Mr. Ronald D. Boire, President of Sears
AARP Services Inc., Mr. John J. Wider, Jr., CEO
Better Business Bureau, Ms. Carrie A. Hurt, CEO


1. https://www.consumercellular.com/About/PressRelease?id=129
2. https://www.consumercellular.com/About/PressRelease?id=137
3. https://www.consumercellular.com/About/PressRelease?id=10
4. https://www.consumercellular.com/Info/PhoneDetails/463/Huawei-8652
5. https://www.consumercellular.com/About/PressRelease?id=237
6. https://www.consumercellular.com/About/PressRelease?id=178
7. http://www.huaweideviceusa.com/products/features?id=52
8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_version_history
9. http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty/aclu-files-ftc-complaint-over-android-smartphone-security
10. http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/aclu_-_android_ftc_complaint_-_final.pdf
     
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Customer Service Is Deplorable
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
NEW HAMPSHIRE -- I ordered a phone from them last month. Checked to insure I could port my old cell number on their site which said I was good. Received my phone 5 -6 days later and tried to activate SIM card and then found that the number was not available. OK so one mistake is acceptable. Then they send a second SIM card programmed to the same non working number. After a wait time of 1/2 hr to get to customer service. I decided that I would rather not have to deal with customer service so I said OK I want to swap this phone for a very basic phone that I can synch contacts and appointments..

CS No help here did not know products at all. So I decide on a different phone then Louise(cs Agent) tells ME THEY WANT AN ADDITIONAL $75 to ship the new phone. I said no, asked for an RMA and Refund under their 100% satisfaction policy. Louise said she would ship a return label and refund my account once the phone was received. At that point I felt relieved that I would NOT EVER have to deal with this inept, unprofessional company again. I'm done Yeah! The next day I find out they had charged my bank account without my authorization. So I call them back 20 min to get to a cs agent,(john) and asked for a manager. He said He needs to verify my information then tells me its another 20-30 minute wait to get to a manager.

Then I mentioned I was filing a complaint with The NH AG and all of a sudden a manager was available.. Mary I believe her name was. Who Insisted they put a hold on my account and did not charge it. I explained to her that I did not authorize them to do ANYTHING with my account and explained that their "hold" was going to cause overdraft charges.. She could not have cared less and did absolutely NOTHING. So Not only did they NOT provide me with a phone, or any kind of competent customer service their ineptitude and apathetic attitude has caused me additional fees to the now $215 of my money they have tied up.

This company is hands down the WORST. I left Verizon because their customer service was Poor. Consumer Cellular makes Verizon look like a customer service all star.. *********AVOID CONSUMER CELLULAR*********** JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF Big Business Screwing the consumer!
     
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Consumer Cellular Is a Rip-Off Company
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
PORTLAND, OREGON -- Filed against :
Consumer Cellular
7204 SW Durham Rd Ste 300
Portland OR 97224

Complaint Description:
Consumer Cellular misrepresented their phone service. Had nothing but problems with their phone from the first day we had it. It dropped calls constantly and got spam text messages from people we didn't know. There was also at least one time when his phone didn't disconnect for an excessive period of time. Nobody explained that we would be charged every time we checked our own voice mail and the first sales person led my husband to believe there would be free mobile-to-mobile calling. We cancelled the phone after 2 weeks of complaining about the service and were told we would owe no money. Yesterday we received a past due notice that we owe $33.66. I called to try to get the charge waived and instead was met with two extremely militant supervisors who refused to listen to anything I said and just insist I pay the full bill. They were not in the least bit interested in the fact that I was thinking of giving them a 2nd chance in September, nor did they care when I said I can get word out to at least 3000 people as to what a rotten company they turned out to be. All the supervisors can do is repeat how excessive our minutes usage was, and would not listen to my side of the story that not all of that was our fault. We only had service from about March 1st to about March 15th. Might I add: I spent the better part of an hour on the phone arguing with the two supervisors Michael and Craig tonight. I ended the call by telling Michael he can take his phone service and "Stick it where the sun don't shine". That's not how it started out either. My husband and I started out being very nice about the bill and calmly explaining our situation. There is no excuse for this kind of lousy customer service and they should be ashamed of themselves. I told Michael that AT&T and Comcast have never treated me with such disregard.
Plus: They assigned a ad phone # that may have belonged to a drug dealer. We even had a call from some drunk who wanted to kill someone.
I told Michael I had serious health problems and this just adds to my stress, but he could have cared less.
Additionally: We did not even get a full refund when we returned all of the equipment. I did not complain because it was only $11.00, but combined with the bill, it adds up. I am disabled and have gone without pay for almost 2 years. (Old complaint filed against Cigna.)
Desired Resolution:
I just want them to waive the bill of $33.66 they sent, especially since we were told that we would owe nothing when we closed the account.
     
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Weedwhacked on 2013-05-22:
"Nobody explained that we would be charged every time we checked our own voice mail and the first sales person led my husband to believe there would be free mobile-to-mobile calling."

Did you read the terms of the contract?

"nor did they care when I said I can get word out to at least 3000 people as to what a rotten company they turned out to be."

That's because this kind of threat doesn't mean anything.

Michael couldn't have been completely terrible if he "could have cared less."
sharon on 2013-07-24:
I have used prepaid phone service before and I recognize the tricks they use. Like text mess.from people you don't know.And phone not hanging up when your finished with your call.Charging to hear your voicemail.Getting calls from people you don't know.This is all to jack-up your bill.Now I'm having second though's.
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Service Was A Waste Of Money
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
HOUSTON, TEXAS -- I thought I was getting a good deal but found out 30 days later the services was very poor. So hard to get a good signal and it was difficult trying to hold a conversation because of the phone cutting off. I was very disappoint to find out that you are charged on weekends and after 9:00 P.M. on week days. I purchased 2 of the NoKia 3 phones with the covers for my husband and I. We really liked the phones but it was the services that was poor. After 5 months I gave up and realized I had wasted our money.

     
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tnchuck100 on 2012-07-03:
Be aware Consumer Cellular operates on the AT&T system. That is the coverage area you can expect.
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Not Good Service - Tracfone Can Be Cheaper But Good Service
Posted by on
CHESTER, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Consumer Cellular is not what they advertise on service or phones. We are seniors [old folk] & AARP, retired their service has been poor. We had 2 phones 200 min, ($28 a month), one free, one bought. I bought a Nokia because out of 4 we had with other company it did much better than the others. Handicapped son died we no longer needed $90 a month phone bill. Went to Tracfone for a while then tried Consumer Cellular have cut one off the Nokia. Went back to a Trac cut the other off today. For folks like us that use so few minutes the deal is go to Tracfone. About a $60 start up cost, buy phone, double min for life of phone card and $20 min card.

Then, my next cards cost me around $10, 20 card every 3 mos, have minutes left over. If we use less than 30 min a month on 2 phones rest of time we use house or Google voice. Consumer Cellular will not get a good signal on mine when it did could not hear. They would not try to correct it, they post good reviews but not the bad ones. Prices are not exact, but close. Trac contact service has been and was great going to reactivate other Trac. Trac has a phone for around $10 on up if you like. We got one cheap, one higher. They have/did beat the heck out of Consumer Cellular in cost and service.

ALSO I am talking about low usage not sure this would be best on lot of usage so do your math. The only minor problem ever had with Trac was bought one from a box store was not compatible with our area, exchanged Trac easily transferred my cards to it when I contacted them.
     
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Stay Far, Far Away!!!
Posted by on
I have been using Consumer Cellular for about 3 months now and can honestly say it is the WORST cell phone service I have ever had. In the beginning, I was brought to tears (literally) trying to get a hold of these people to help me with my set up of the phones. One of my phones would not connect to their service, so I had to call them for help. I used 180 minutes(in 3 calls)trying to get someone to help me on the phone. Thank goodness the minutes are free as long as you are calling their number! But still, I spent 3 hours on the phone, mostly on hold, trying to get a person to help me. Now that the phones are working, I can tell you the phone service is horrible. I get dropped calls all the time. I can not get any calls where I work. If I get a call, I have to put my head down on my desk with the phone next to my ear in order to hear anything from the caller (I feel ridiculous!!). I am into these people for $150 (phones and start up fees). I can't afford to just switch to another carrier.

All I can say is "they got me". I am looking into going back with Verizon as soon as I can afford it. Like the other poster said, why is AARP allowing their name to be associated with this company? I feel I was fooled by AARP. I also chose this company because AARP endorsed them. Shame on AARP!! Hope this review helps some unsuspecting person. Stay far away from Consumer Cellular!
     
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Jay on 2011-06-11:
The WHY for AARP is simple. Money. Consumer Cellular pays AARP for that.

Dropped calls: You can thank AT&T for those issues. Consumer Cellular uses their system.

Their customer service can be good or bad. Just depends on the luck of the draw.
trmn8r on 2011-06-11:
VZ may have sketchy customer service, but their product is very good.

Helpful review.
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Unauthorized Charges To Debit Card For Supposedly Free Battery Replacement
Posted by on
First, let me mention, that I only chose Consumer Cellular as my mobile phone carrier because AARP recommends them. That decision was a mistake. My recommendation is to do your own research and due diligence, because thus far, AARP has been non-responsive, except for acknowledging my complaint, since I first reported this unauthorized withdrawal of $17.50 from my bank account for a free battery.

My phone stopped working in March; prior to this I'd experienced multiple dropped calls and 'failure to connect' reports. Upon contacting Consumer Cellular, and going over the trouble-shooting protocol, the call center representative tried to upgrade me to a 'free' newer model, and, I only had to pay an activation fee of $35.00: I declined. He then said there was probably nothing wrong with the phone, and, since it was still under warranty, I was qualified to receive a new battery shipped to me at no charge. Free.

A review of my bank statement disclosed that a charge of $17.50 was tucked into my monthly bill. After many emails and calls to various supervisors, I am still not pleased with how this complaint is being handled by Consumer Cellular nor AARP. ORG.

If anyone is having similar billing, rude and non-responsive customer service issues from one or both of these companies, I suggest filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at 1 (888)-CALL-FCC; fax: 1-(866-418-0231; email: fccinfo@fcc.gov. Also, contact the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) at (1-(877)382-4357, to file a complaint. If you are a member of AARP, their contact information is member@aarp.org.

Be sure to have pen and pencil ready to record your case or reference number with the FCC and FTC. According to their websites, the more people who contact them with complaints, the better able they are in protecting consumers by investigating, and in some cases, filing court actions against companies that don't follow rules and regulations.
     
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trmn8r on 2011-06-04:
I don't see why AARP is involved in resolving this complaint, since you got the battery from Consumer Cellular and they billed you directly.

What did CC say when you called and told them you were told it would be free, but were billed?
Jay on 2011-06-04:
Never give any company your debit card number. As you just found out you loose control of your money.
FaFaFhooey on 2011-06-06:
Always use a credit card, never a debt card, except at an ATM.
MRM on 2011-06-06:
Fafa, that's exactly how I do, use credit when making purchases and I use debit for ATM.

And welcome to the site, FaFa! I look forward towards your first star!
nick may on 2012-08-16:
Consumer Cellular has been a very good company for us, I own a Radio Shack in Toccoa, Ga and have been very happy with the consumer cellular product. I have not heard of any complaints like this. Every complaint I and the customers have about consumer cellular has been very quickly resolved and fixed. I would recommend this product to anyone. If you have any problems with your service or anything call them and tell them you want to speak to Mike Kerm, he is a manager for the company and that is who I always go to. And if that doesn't help come on by Radio Shack in Toccoa, Ga Zip:30577 1499 Big A Rd, We are right across from Wendy's and quality foods.
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I Regret That I Tried Consumer Cellular
Posted by on
I can't believe that AARP is allowing it's name to be connected to Consumer Cellular phone company. I wonder if AARP did it's homework first or just accepted what Consumer Cellular was claiming at face value because of cheap monthly rates?

I tried Consumer Cellular for a short periord of time and regret that I left Verizon wireless. The Consumer Cellular connections only worked form me about 80% of the time, compared to Verizon's 98%. The cheap little cell phone Consumer Cellular gave me was bearly readable, with the keyboard difficult to navigate.

When I disconnected Consumer Cellular, they tried to collect over $100 for about only 4 or 5 days of service.... So much for "no contract" and "no surprise charges".

I only tried Consumer Cellular because I thought that I could trust anyone that AARP endorsed..... Not!!

Good luck to anyone that decides to try them.
     
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tnchuck100 on 2010-12-29:
1. AARP will lend their logo to anyone willing to pay them for its use.

2. Coverage is different from Verizon. Consumer Cellular uses the AT&T network.

3. They have several different phones to choose from. Sounds like you just picked the wrong one.

4. Please tell us what those charges were for. Phone charges? Activation fee? Air time? Please fill in the blanks.
jktshff1 on 2010-12-29:
AARP: American Association Ripping off People
tnchuck100 on 2010-12-29:
What do they claim disqualified you?

Our Risk Free Guarantee.

We stand behind our service. Try us. If you're not satisfied for any reason, you can cancel your service anytime within the free trial period [30 days or 30 minutes] and pay nothing. We'll even send you a postage-paid shipping label to return the phone. No harm, no foul.
Watson48 on 2011-01-30:
The many complaints I’m encountering about Consumer Cellular are stunning. I thought this is a good provider because it charges inexpensively. But I think my friend is right, I should get the Just5 phone. I haven’t encountered any negative feedback to this provider yet in my entire search. And the fact that Just5 have obtained several awards already and is now popular in Europe, I’m more convinced now that this company is really worthy of my trust. Besides, this company offers very attractive calling plans, too. Based on the words of my friend, I don’t think I will experience to be ripped off by this provider like what were experienced by some of Consumer Cellular’s consumers.
Watson48 on 2011-02-01:
I actually planned to get the service of Consumer Cellular before. But I was discouraged after I learned about the many complaints about this company for overcharging their consumers. So is Consumer Cellular really perfect cost-conscious? I’m not sure. But I’m sure that Just5 is. I resorted to Just5 after I eliminated the idea of getting the service of Consumer Cellular. I have no regrets because Just5 is more suited to cost-conscious people as this provider offers unlimited call and text plan as well as minutes that expire in 90 days.
piet10 on 2011-05-18:
I agree about AARP. They are a front for some pretty poor businesses, particularly in the health insurance field.
subway-buff on 2013-07-09:
The "X is the exclusive provider of Y service for Big Bucks Corp" is what is called a paid endorsement. The fine print on the TV ads from Big Bucks Corp states that a fee was paid to Big Bucks Corp for use of their name. Big Bucks Corp does not care because they get the money from X and want to keep the money coming in. It is all how much can we fleece the consumer for as little cost to us as possible? Sorry to say Customer Service is dead. It is now how much can we get for as little service as possible. We do not care if a customer has to wait. We have no time for customers.
kcgoat26 on 2014-01-28:
tried it for one month , cancelled and was billed for $57.21 . month that I cancelled November, final was for $6.80 that was billed for January
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