PORTLAND, OREGON -- BEWARE OF CONSUMER CELLULAR! I converted to Consumer Cellular and was thrilled at the price and service. After my mother passed away, I needed to cut costs to cover her expenses. So, I did away with my landline since I had my cell phone. Before she passed, my mother asked me to look after her little sister who is 72. During the time following my mother's death, my aunt suffered a serious medical emergency and I was trying to help her. In the midst of that situation, I found my Consumer Cellular phone disconnected because I was two weeks late on my payment.
I was able to reach Consumer Cellular customer service (if you can call it that) after waiting on hold for nearly 20 minutes, but no one else. I explained my situation and asked them for a two week extension. I explained that I would be able to get everything caught up in two weeks. They refused. I asked them if they would take a check and hold it for two weeks (which I NEVER do) and they refused. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told that I should pay my bill on time and I wouldn't have this problem.
She, too, said I needed to pay the bill before service would be restored. I understand that the company is in business to make money and I don't begrudge them the money I owe. It doesn't seem that waiting two weeks would be that great a risk to me, especially given the circumstances. So, for $114.68, I have had no telephone service for nearly a week. My aunt is entirely on her own to deal with this medical emergency. I can't even call in my prescriptions to the pharmacy or make contact with my children. If I can make it one more week, I will be able to pay the bill. I can only hope my aunt will be okay.
BEWARE: I strongly suggest that if you choose to convert to Consumer Cellular, DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR LANDLINE. In my experience, Consumer Cellular has no compassion when it comes to extenuating circumstances and you don't want to be left with no way to communicate if something unexpected happens. To John and Tami, the owners of Consumer Cellular in Portland, Oregon, a little compassion and understanding goes a long way toward building a strong customer base!
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.
ALL USA -- Stay away from them. They will lie to sign you up. I spoke with their representative and before I gave her my SSN, I asked her several times if she is going to hard pull or soft pull my credit (soft pull does not show on your credit report). She said it will be a soft pull. I told her that I am buying a house and that I can't afford any inquiries on my credit. She assured me that will be soft credit pull and there will be no inquiry on my credit. There is one. She lied. I tried to dispute it with the credit bureau, but no luck. Consumer Cellular doesn't want to take any responsibility for it!
They will tell you any lie to enroll you in their service. Now I'm stuck with extra inquiry on my credit that will cost me money on my Apr of my house purchase. If I was told the truth I would not sign up for service until I buy the house. I tried to dispute it with BBB, but their answer was ongoing "yes, we pull credit". They didn't want to acknowledge the fact that I was lied by the sales representative I called and asked to speak with a manager, because supervisors don't care. I was told that the manager will call me but he never did. No interest in solving the issue.
FLORIDA -- I was with Verizon for years since I had two children on my plan. The kids are grown and gone, so I researched new cell service for my husband and me. I chose Consumer Cellular predominantly due to the ease with which the plan can be changed as usage increases and decreases. I chose basic phones since we don't really need the bells and whistles. Having worked with the plan for a couple of months, I could not be happier.
I can tell no difference in service -- the phones work great anytime we need to use them. I've changed our plan (downward) twice, since I apparently over estimated our "minutes" need. The online change menus are simple, quick and very user friendly (as are the usage logs). Best, I'm saving about $220 per month since I no longer need all the services my children used. This is an excellent plan for those looking for reliable, basic phone service, and I am very impressed with the website features for account management.
MINNESOTA -- CC (Consumer Cellular) changed the billing period on my final bill and then charged me an additional $25.75, after I ported my number to another carrier. I was given no notification that they would prorate in this manner. When I called CC they claimed that they had sent me an email notifying me of the change but then acknowledged that they had not. CC changed their billing period, prorated the plan, closed my account, and then sent me a bill that was excessive. When I spoke to an account representative and her supervisor, both claimed that there was no way to fix this and that if I did not pay the bill in its entirety they would send it to a collection agency.
PORTLAND, OREGON -- We left Verizon, who is notoriously bad, for Consumer Cellular because they were recommended by AARP (shame on AARP). The lady set up with smart phones and reiterated 4 times we could cancel anytime within 45 days for ANY reason and pay nothing. There were NO restrictions. We asked 4 different times and there were two of us on the phone.
The phones, Huawei, was complete garbage. Did not work right or were hard to use. I spent 3 hours on the phone the day before Thanksgiving with different people who would reverse what the person had said before them, were insulting and definitely were unhelpful. The last rep - supervisor **, was the most insulting, most unhelpful and a complete waste of time. Unknown to me, they closed at 8pm and she was just trying to waste time so she could get off the phone. I could NOT get my voice mail set up because they were clueless.
Two days later, we were informed we were at 3 times our data usage even though we had our phones off and used NO data. They tried to explain with examples that were so ridiculous - our phones were off, how can you use anything with the phones off??? After 10 days of insulting customer service people we are now at a point of frustration and will be quitting the service and sending the phone back - the complete piece of crap phones that they are.
I would NEVER use these people and feel they are predatory to seniors. I have lodged a complaint with the attorney general in Oregon, the BBB and will complain to the FTC. Why isn't there a class action law suit against these jokers (I am NOT laughing)??? Just curious.
FLORIDA -- About 2 months ago I obtained phone services with Consumer Cellular. I thought I would be saving money by didn't as I was spending more than the basic unlimited plans to 2500 minutes. I decided that this does not make sense and have been trying to have my number released back to my prior carrier. Folks, it has been over a week and the excuses are beyond me. I finally had to obtain a new number and you can well imagine the inconvenience this has caused... I am very dissatisfied with this action and will be having individuals I referred to this service terminate.
FAYETTEVILLE, GEORGIA -- My wife and I joined Consumer Cellular about 6 months ago and the service is good. However after the first month my Motorola 340 stopped sending and receiving phone calls. Consumer Cellular sent me a replacement because I was within the 45 days window since I am an AARP member also. I got the replacement phone in July and this one died with the same symptoms after about 3 months. Since I am disabled and this is my only phone I quickly ordered a phone similar to my wife's since she has had no problems with it.
However - Consumer Cellular will not provide any retroactive compensation for the two bad Motorola phones they sent me. Rather they are telling me to send it back to the manufacturer to get it fixed or replaced. I would have hoped Consumer Cellular would provide a partial credit to my account for the bad phones they sent me under their name. After talking with 4 different Customer service reps I could get no answer any better than that. This has been my only negative experience with Consumer Cellular but it is a huge one for me.
PORTLAND, OREGON -- When I ordered the phone and service, I was unaware that the battery could not be replaced easily. The battery didn't last very long at all and CS told me I would have to mail it back in and then wait about 2 weeks to get it back. They ran a diagnostic on it and agreed the battery was bad. However, they continued charging me for service I didn't have access to. I refuse to pay the remaining balance because I did not have the use of the phone. I am appalled that AARP would allow themselves to be associated with a company like Consumer Cellular.
PORTLAND, OREGON -- Last August, Consumer Cellular advertised that they now have iPhones (refurbished 3gs) available for $200 each. Only after getting them, do you realize that you can not attach a picture to a text message that you are sending. Nor, can you receive a picture with a text message. Now who in these United States, besides Consumer Cellular customers, have the fabulous iPhone that will not allow the simple task of attaching a picture to a text?
I requested a return of my two iPhones or for them to send me two phones that would allow pictures on texts. They told me that I had exceeded my 45 /days, 45/minutes, 45/text message, 45/mb (whichever comes first) timeframe to return any phones. They basically told me that they would do nothing about my phones and that I could buy new phones from them or I could change carriers and use my iPhones like everyone else.
I filed a complaint with the Portland BBB. Which cost me two weeks of back and forth banter with the Consumer Cellular “We do not care” department? But, they stuck to their "you have 45/days, 45/minutes, 45/texts, 45/mb - whichever comes first" and did nothing. Well tomorrow, I am changing carriers. And Consumer Cellular, GOOD RIDDANCE!!!