Consumer Cellular

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1.9 out of 5, based on 28 ratings and
40 reviews & complaints.
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Consumer Cellular
7204 S.W. Durham Road
Tigard, OR 97224
1-888-345-5509 (ph)
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What to Expect From Consumer Cellular: The GOOD and the BAD.
By -

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 mailbox. 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.

Terrible Customer Service. Misinformation.
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
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.

Consumer Cellular | My FTC, FCC & BBB Complaints
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
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

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

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

Customer Service Is Deplorable
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
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 sync contacts and appointments..

CS No help here. Did not know products at all. So I decide on a different phone then ** (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. ** 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 ** 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.. ** 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!

Ineffective Customer Service
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
Rating: 1/51

PORTLAND, OREGON -- My experience is unbelievable. I purchased a Consumer Cellular phone for my husband and plan 6/20/2014 approximately 6:30 p.m. I gave all of the pertinent information and on the way home, approximately 7:15 p.m., my cell phone was deactivated, not my husband's. Our numbers differ by a single digit. When I realized what happened, I call Consumer Cellular's customer service. **, probably in a West Coast office, persuaded me; my cell phone company just sent my phone number to Consumer Cellular without my authorization or standard industry protocols, like an account and/or pin number.

The following day, Saturday, I spent about six hours trying to get my service restored. Instead of Consumer Cellular acknowledging their mistake, they blamed my former cellular company. Similar attempts made on Sunday to port my number back to my cellular provider were unsuccessful. My cellular company wanted to charge me an activation fee even though I paid my monthly bill 10 days earlier and did not authorize Consumer Cellular to port my number to their company. I need a cell phone for my husband who has Alzheimer, but remembers my cell phone number.

Having explained this situation repeatedly to representatives and first line management of Consumer Cellular, they offered no equitable resolution. The company would not pay the activation fee because it lacked the policy to address this expenditure. In the meantime, my husband has no cell phone. I have purchased two sim cards that are invalid because they are associated with my cell phone number hijacked by Consumer Cellular without my authorization.

I failed to mention I am unemployed and use my cellular number as my contact number on job applications. By now, you must wonder what it would cost to restore my cellular service…. $50.00. When you are elderly and unemployed, $50 equates to the cost of filling a prescription or food. Shame on you Consumer Cellular.

Consumer Cellular Is a Rip-Off Company
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
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 salesperson 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 ** tonight. I ended the call by telling ** 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 ** 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 ** 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.

Service Was a Waste of Money
StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarBy -
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.

Stay Far, Far Away!!!
By -

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 cannot 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!

I Regret That I Tried Consumer Cellular
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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 period of time and regret that I left Verizon wireless. The Consumer Cellular connections only worked for me about 80% of the time, compared to Verizon's 98%. The cheap little cell phone Consumer Cellular gave me was barely 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.

Defective Phone
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I went online and ordered phones (2) and service from Consumer Cellular on 8/15/10. I received the phones on 8/19/10. One of the phones was a defect. The back did not fit and left a gap. When I called customer service I was told to send the phone back and they would send me a replacement. Here's the catch. They also wanted me to pay another $35.00 to activate the replacement. I had already paid them $70.00 up front to activate the 2 phones they had just shipped.

The phones had not been activated due to one being a defect. They refused to send out a replacement unless I sent the other one back first and paid the extra $35.00 up front. I refused and canceled the service. I was told by the customer service representative that Consumer Cellular would send a box postage paid for me to return both phones in. They went on to tell me that my $70.00 would be refunded. OK, all was well.

Then I received an email later that day telling me that I would receive an invoice for the partial month of service. What service? The phones were not even activated! There was no usage. I had just received the phones on 8/20/10 and canceled on 8/21/10. They want me to pay from the time I placed the order on 8/15 until they receive the phones back. What the heck! What service?

I don't have a problem at all sending the junk back! After all its no good to me if it hasn't been activated. I'm sure they would like me to send that "free" phone back, so they can send it to the next poor sap. Why don't they just tell the truth, the "free" phones are not "free". They cost $35.00 each. They just call the $35.00 something else. All I'm asking is that Consumer Cellular send the call tag out or whatever method they used to pick up the phones. And refund my $70.00 for the "free" phones! And by the way if I get something from the store that's "free" and it's junk, I throw it away. I don't return it!

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