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What to expect from Consumer Cellular: The GOOD and the BAD.
Posted by Tnchuck100 on 08/18/2009
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 affect 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 out of xxxxxx, XX. Are you back and fourth between XX and xxxxxxxxxxx, XX? If you are not back and fourth 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

     
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Posted by BokiBean on 2009-08-18:
Now that's a nice review...very informative, chuck. A+
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2009-08-18:
Good Info Chuckie (period, period, period) Thanks!
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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!
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-08-19:
M3C has a newsletter?
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2009-08-19:
Yeah....Old F's colon made centerfold!
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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.
Posted by tnchuck100 on 2009-09-18:
**** UPDATED ****
Added an email sequence concerning their failure to resolve an issue.
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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 out of XX and you are using the numbers full time in XX. Even thought our wireless numbers can be used anywhere coverage is avaible in the U.S. with out 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



Posted by 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.
Posted by trp2hevn on 2009-10-22:
Good job chuck! I like how your letters sounded very professional.
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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!
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2010-04-11:
108 Helpful votes! Congrates!
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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!!
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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!!!
Posted by Angelo on 2011-07-14:
Most of the time,when something sounds to good to be true,It usually is!
Posted by 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!
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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 useage 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. Thats what Consumer Protection Agencies are for. Please contact them about Consumer Cellular, they need to be ut out of business.
Posted by 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
Posted by mike on 2012-08-24:
i like consumer cellular - but, i made the mistake of ordering a new sim card from them
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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 dissappointed 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!
Posted by 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.
Posted by PalmSpringer on 2013-06-23:
Useless in the Coachella Valley - signal loss and dropped calls are common.
Posted by 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
Posted by 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
Posted by 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 agin, thank you.
Posted by 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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I Regret That I Tried Consumer Cellular
Posted by Double J on 12/29/2010
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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User Replies:Close comments

Posted by 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.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2010-12-29:
AARP: American Association Ripping off People
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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.
Posted by piet10 on 2011-05-18:
I agree about AARP. They are a front for some pretty poor businesses, particularly in the health insurance field.
Posted by 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.
Posted by 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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Excess Minutes/ Overpricing
Posted by Not happy man on 02/14/2010
We had 450 minutes to share for years with another company and never used them all creating huge carryover minutes. With consumer we had 500 supposed minutes and they said we went 450 over. Not possible since we used an Internet connection for all our outgoing calls which we didn't have with the previous company.

Also anytime you checked or listened to phonemail it comes off your usable minutes. What a crock! When your bill is supposed to be $48 and you are billed $130, time to go somewhere else.
     
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Posted by NanS123 on 2010-02-14:
Well listening to your voice mail always comes out of your minutes since you are using airtime to listen. That's nothing new. Are you sure that you are actually not using minutes when you are talking over internet? I'd check that out with your provider because that may well be where your minutes are going and what's causing your overage if that's not working.
Posted by madconsumer on 2010-02-14:
with at&t, voicemail is not minutes chargeable.
Posted by Soaring Consumer on 2010-02-14:
With a Go Phone they charge you for using voicemail.
Posted by CrazyRedHead on 2010-02-15:
There is no charge to your go phone account if you check using a LL phone. It is time to read the particulars of your account and there charges.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-02-15:
You are right Crazy! I saw this review yesterday and didn't know about the voicemail charges until I checked the particulars of my account. Check from landline = no minute usage. Check from cell phone = minutes will be charged against your allowance.
Posted by Watson48 on 2011-01-31:
We share the same complain to Consumer Cellular. I was also overcharged when I was still using this provider before, thing which I never experienced with Just5. Just5 is my present provider now. Unlike Consumer Cellular, Just5’s affordability is for real! Their calling plans are cheap, especially that the minutes of their offered minute plans expire in 90 days. So when I avail the cheapest minute plan, which costs $10, I’m only paying $3.33 each month for it.
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Stay Far, Far Away!!!
Posted by Mlrome on 06/11/2011
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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Posted by 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.
Posted by trmn8r on 2011-06-11:
VZ may have sketchy customer service, but their product is very good.

Helpful review.
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Not Given the Truth About Coverage
Posted by Out of Service on 12/07/2009
PORTLAND, OREGON -- Consumer Cellular allowed me to continue service for 18 months without disclosing that they did not have ample coverage in my zip code. Granted, I live in coastal North Carolina and it is somewhat remote, I was told by consumer cellular that I should try different tricks to get better service in or near my home.

I wasted a lot of time with them prior to switching services. Get coverage maps before starting service if you live in a rural area.

I expected a bit of honesty that I did not receive from Consumer Cellular
     
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Posted by Watson48 on 2011-02-11:
My choice for not choosing Consumer Cellular is just right! Let me just tell you then to check out Just5. This is a provider of simple cell phones and I’m very satisfied with their service and affordable rates. Most of all, I didn’t experience any problem with them yet. When it comes to honesty, they are very transparent.
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Beware of Consumer Cellular
Posted by Schizy on 07/13/2010
TIGARD, OREGON -- I initiated cellular service with Consumer Cellular. On 7-9-2010 I received two Motorola EM330 cell phones. On 7-12 one phone locked up. Upon advice, I removed the battery to reboot the phone. When doing so, the battery door latch became disengaged from the phone body. I then advised Consumer Cellular of this event. I was IMMEDIATELY told :’now you’ll have to buy a new phone’. That’s a direct quote. Phone less than four days old? “The Buy a new phone” statement made at least 8 times as I worked my way up the staff levels of customer support. I was ultimately able to reinstall the battery cover latch button, and decided I had made a grave mistake of choosing Consumer Cellular, and elected to return everything per the terms of their ‘45 day return policy’.
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Unbelievably, I was then told in no uncertain, terse terms: ‘We won’t accept the one phone back. We don’t accept broken phones for return. You can keep that phone, it’s yours now’.
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The phone WAS NOT ‘BROKEN’ ! I had never described the phone as ‘broken’, only that the battery cover latch had become disengaged. I had already managed to successfully reinstall the latch release button.
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Their oratory during the sales pitch was filled with accolades of self-praise as to what a great service they provided, how they were the “no argument” cellular provider. ‘We’re different’.
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Different they ARE! I have never witnessed such a Jekyll / Hyde transformation of any entity in my life. The mood went from ‘kissy-kissy’ (for lack of better term) to outright acerbic, rude, and irresponsible dialogue in the transition from sale to service issue.
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Actually the Motorola EM330 was a poor choice, being cheaply made and overly fragile. Doubly so when dealing with a cell provider with the post sale policies of Consumer Cellular.
     
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Posted by Watson48 on 2011-03-19:
For those who are unsatisfied with the offered services of Consumer Cellular, I recommend you all to check out the offers of Just5. My parents are enjoying the offered services of this provider including their affordability. Each minute with this provider only cost $.10 and all the minutes in the minute plans it offers expire in 90 days and also rollover when refilled. Just5 also offers an unlimited service for only $40 and it is already good for 30 days. So far, my parents don’t have any complain with this provider and I haven’t encountered any of their consumers to give a negative feedback about them, too.
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Defective phone
Posted by Libby1 on 08/20/2010
I went on line 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 it's 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 what ever method they use 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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Posted by Anonymous on 2010-08-20:
I'm not surprised they wanted the first one back before they sent another one out, they're just protecting themselves from people that would claim to get a defective phone and then try to get another for free.
Posted by consumer_cell on 2010-08-24:
just_cause is correct. I work with Consumer Cellular and we cannot send out a new phone until we get the old one back, because no one ever returns the phone when we do so. Just as when you exchange a return item at any retail store, they will not supply a replacement unless you bring in the item you want replaced. If libby1 had decided to sent the phones back, we would have given her full credit for them. Regarding the email to libby1, that was the standard email we send to all customers who close an account. It is not an actual bill and it does not take into account that she was within the money-back guarantee period. Although it is impossible for us to know the specific account of libby1, according to her story, she would not have anything to pay. There should be no charge for the short time libby1 had the account. All libby1 needs to do is send the phones back and the money will be refunded.
Posted by PepperElf on 2010-08-24:
you know i was thinking the exact same thing - but for a different complaint. one over at PFB where some guy wants the replacement computer sent out BEFORE he sends in the broken one.

and the same reasons on why the company won't do that.
Posted by Watson48 on 2011-02-09:
If I were in your shoes, I will also be outraged. You really had a horrible experience with Consumer Cellular. Now I’m more grateful that I chose the Just5 phone when I purchased my mom a simple phone. She’s very satisfied with it and she did not encounter any issue in her more than eight months of using it. My judgment is right; Just5 is a better pick than Consume Cellular—not only when it comes to affordability but also in quality and customer satisfaction.
Posted by eehudin on 2011-07-04:
my cell phone does not work while i am in my apartment. it worked all this time, now it started not working whether calling are receiving. what can i do now????????
Posted by boheler672 on 2011-12-02:
i POSTED BUT SERVICE WAS SORRY ALL THE WAY ROUND,TOO CHECK YOU MAY BE PAYING FOR SERVICES YOU DO NOT USE I HAVE INTERNET SO TO SPEAK DO NOT NEED APPS IN SUCH ON A PHONE,MY PHONE IS FOR PHONE CALLS=WE CLOSED A $90 A MO ACCOUNT RETIRED,HANDICAPED SON DIED YR AGO NO LONGER NEEDED THAT SERVICE WENT TO TRACFONE FOR A WHILE DI GOOD FOR WHAT WE DO,BUT DECIDED TO TRY CELLULAR,A WASTE OF TIME,HAVE GONE BACK TO TRAC-WITH A DOUBLE MIN CARD BOUT $21-22 A $25.OO PHONE $20 AFTER SET UP,LESS THAN 20 IN 3 MOS FOR US BUT WE ONLY USE CELLS WHEN WE ARE AWAY FROM HOME,DO NOT EVEN TURN THEM ON AT HOME
Posted by kewrock on 2013-12-09:
Consumer Cellular not sending a replacement phone without receiving the old one first is just silly, poor customer service. When you set up an account, they get your credit card number. If you don't send the defective phone back, they can just bill you.
If they didn't get your cc # for whatever reason when you set up, they can require it for an immediate shipment.
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Service Was A Waste Of Money
Posted by Jaustin012 on 07/03/2012
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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Posted by 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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Unfair non-disclosures and handling.
Posted by Tired of cons on 03/08/2010
PORTLAND, OREGON -- 4/28/2009 I went online to order cell phone service and make comparisons.
I found Consumer Cellular and ordered. They neglect to inform you that they have zero, zip, nada, free minutes either nights or weekends or between phones. So I cancelled my service on 5/18/2009. There policy is 30 days. They did not send a Return shipping label so that I could mail the phones back to them. They ship the phones already activated so they are sure of getting there $35.00 per phone activation whether or not you ever use the phone. They credit this as soon as they receive the phones. They have on my account message board that I was to have called back but lo and behold they have no record of me calling back. To make a long story short they will not send me a Return Shipping Label and therefore I am out $70.00. Just an aside with doing business with this company I received my first bill closing on 5/11/2009 with a due date of 6/2/2009. Nice Huh!
     
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Posted by dan gordon on 2010-03-08:
when I went to their website they offer a variety of plans for you to compare. Why did you not pick a plan with minutes included. This doesn't seem like a big issue other than your negligence to choose the right plan.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-03-08:
Dan, as usual, your advice cuts right to the chase. I'm also glad you know the difference in using their and there.
Posted by tnchuck100 on 2010-03-08:
I have Consumer Cellular. They are not perfect. However, not disclosing the terms of what your were getting is not one their short comings. Their website is pretty straight forward. Compared to other cell phone providers they are about 10 points above them.

See the review I wrote on them:
http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=60935
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-03-08:
You also are responsible for returning the phones.
Posted by Watson48 on 2011-02-11:
Thanks for writing this review. I was thinking to get Consumer Cellular for my mom but your review has enlightened me. I guess my officemate is right, Just5 is a better choice. This provider also offers affordable rates and so far I don’t encounter any negative feedback about this provider during my search.
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Poor Service, Handicapped telephones, High rates
Posted by Andee227 on 11/24/2012
BENSENVILLE, ILLINOIS -- Be careful with this company, all of you seniors out there! They are there to mislead us for their cheap service and no contract. Wait until you get their succeeding billing and you will find out. All of your calls incoming and outgoing, are all charged to your units, you end up paying like the expensive phones out there.

Their phones are handicapped like some of us seniors, calls are dropped, don't hear the phones ringing and it comes missed calls. Calls for service you wait forever, you can go overseas while waiting and come back you are still waiting. Very bad, bad, bad!!!!

Also, please, record your membership dues. They think because we are seniors, all of us don't remember. They will send you "renewals" even if you already paid continuously. Don't pay for more years, just pay yearly, or best of all, get out of ARRP.
     
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