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.
Their SIM card which is "ALL IN ONE" comes in three pieces which came apart in my phone and broke the SIM slot. Brian **, the supervisor just argued with me saying, "We are obviously not responsible with what you do to your phone." He wouldn't give me the name of his supervisor, claiming "They are not available." Not to mention that I haven't had a workable network in a week when the SIM card WAS working. This is the WORST Company. They are completely unprofessional and apathetic and don't care at all. What's funny is, they're promoting how great they are on the recording as you wait an 30 minutes to talk to someone who ends up not giving a damn.
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA -- I have had a Consumer Cellular "Doro" phone for about eight months. The phone went dead (will not charge). When I called Consumer Cellular, the representative talked "down" to me (as "Did you plug the charger in completely?" "Did you try to charge the phone in two different outlets?"). I hung up and called again--to talk to a different customer service representative. She said that the warranty was for 45 days. I told her that I would not buy another phone and risk having it go dead in eight months (as I have had cell phones that have lasted for several years). So, I cancelled my account.
This customer service representative did not even thank me for my past business. This customer service representative reminded me that I have a bill due--and that they would be sending another one! I ended the conversation by saying, "I am sure that you will try to get as much money as possible out of me" and slamming up the phone! I had to wait about ten minutes to speak to the first customer service representative and about five minutes to speak to the second one. These people seem to be busy--handling complaints! Needless to say, I would not recommend doing business with Consumer Cellular.
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.
I have had repeated problems with my phone, and have had to call almost weekly to troubleshoot it. Today, again, I could not make calls. I called the company, and after 1 hour of taking my time "helping" me, they decided I need a new phone. But I don't have a permanent address right now, and they would not overnight it. So, at least for the moment, I am stuck with their defective phone.