Do You Love Your Phone Company?

Category: Mobile , Telephony

A few years ago I wrote an article that started with these words: “Everyone hates the phone company.” But every time I write on the topic of mobile phone providers, the feedback from AskBob readers is loud and clear: “We Love Consumer Cellular!” I've been a Verizon customer for 20 years, so I decided to take a closer look at Consumer Cellular and find out why folks think it's so great. Read on to see what this mobile phone company does that others do not...

Consumer Cellular Review

Consumer Cellular has taken the road less traveled, and it has led to great success for this mobile communications provider. Revenues reached $1 billion in 2016, and the company now employs over 1,000 people. Even more impressive is Consumer Cellular’s wall full of customer service awards from the like of Consumer Reports and J. D. Powers & Associates.

The company pioneered the no-contract business model, in which customers are free to change their plans or terminate service at any time without penalties. That meant Consumer Cellular had to keep customers by satisfying them, not by threatening them. From its founding, the company has focused on providing low-cost, high quality phone service and excellent personalized customer services. What a concept!

Rather than compete for high-value business customers and others who use their phones constantly, Consumer Cellular tailors its offerings to casual users. It has plans that include voice service only, starting at $15/month for 250 minutes, or $20 for unlimited minutes. Its text-and-data add-ons start at $25/month for 500 MB of data and unlimited texts, and range up to 15 GB for $50. An "unlimited shared data" is offered for $60/month. Those prices are for a single line, and there are significant discounts for households with 2 or 3 lines. Currently they are offering a promotion: if you sign up by the end of September 2020, your first month is free.

In love with your phone company?

It’s no accident that all Consumer Cellular customer service agents are based in the USA. The sound of a familiar voice speaking one’s native tongue builds trust immediately, and prevents many miscommunications that have frustrated customers who deal with foreign call centers.

Business really took off in 2008, when Consumer Cellular became the AARP’s preferred wireless service provider. AARP members get 5% off their monthly service bills and accessories. Today, more than 85% of Consumer Cellular’s customers are age 50 or older. The company had 3.5 million customers at the end of 2019.

According to BestMVNO.com, Consumer Cellular is a MVNO, a reseller of mobile service from both AT&T and T-Mobile, which gives them excellent coverage and reliable high-speed LTE data in most areas. (MVNO stands for "Mobile Virtual Network Operator," a mobile provider that buys wholesale minutes, data and text from AT&T, Verizon, or T-mobile, to resell to consumers.)

What About the Phones?

Consumer Cellular may not be the right choice for everyone, especially if you have a family of data-hungry users. Check out my reviews of other low-cost and innovative cellular service providers: Ting, Hello, Tello, Net10 and Tracfone.

Flip phones with big pushbuttons are very popular among Consumer Cellular customers. But that doesn’t mean that all Consumer Cellular offers is “grandparent phones.” You can choose from a range of phones, from the $30 Consumer Cellular Link, to the latest iPhone 11 Pro. The latter costs $1000, but you only need $80 down; the rest is spread over 24 months, interest-free. A credit check is required, payments are automatically charged to a credit/debit card, and if service is terminated early the balance due for the phone is charged to the card. Smartphones from Samsung, Motorola, ZTE, and Doro are also available.

Other hardware includes the Grandpad, a simple tablet aimed at seniors, and a wireless home phone base that works with standard wired phones, no wall jack required (but a power outlet is needed). This allows you to put a phone almost anywhere in the house, including the garage; you can even take your home phone on vacaction.

I checked out Consumer Cellular's rating at the Better Business Bureau website, and at first I was surprised that only 20% of the reviews there were positive. But then I remembered that BBB is a place where unhappy customers go to complain and get satisfaction. The good news is that Consumer Cellular has earned an A+ rating with BBB after 25 years in business. That means that at least 97% of the time, the company was able to resolve customer issues in timely manner, or make a good faith effort to do so.

Consumer Cellular’s dominance of customer-satisfaction surveys is well establshed. The company has won Consumer Reports’ top rating among no-contract carriers in six of the past seven years. PC Magazine readers rated Consumer Cellular the best carrier from 2014 to 2020. J. D. Power surveys have rated Consumer Cellular first in customer satisfaction among cellular carriers for the past nine years.

If you are unhappy in your relationship with your mobile service provider, maybe it's time to break up with them. You just might fall in love with Consumer Cellular. I have no relationship with the company, just thought you'd like to know. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 3 Sep 2020


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Most recent comments on "Do You Love Your Phone Company?"

(See all 31 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

RICHARD EMANUEL
03 Sep 2020

I switched to Mint Mobile over 2 years ago and am extremely happy. $15 per month for Unrestricted calls and texting, Data at 3 gb/month. Fabulous service. Was a bit disturbed once when I found I had no service at my sons place near Moosehead Lake in the "Big Woods" of upper Maine until I realized not having access was a blessing in disguise... after all I was there to get away from everything and relax. If I really needed to make a call I could drive several miles to the nearest town. While there I could have an adult beverage (or 2) at the Stress Free, a local place where I can converse with some great local people. I also use an internet service for a landline at home (and on the road) from Magic Jack. This costs $32 per year.


Posted by:

Shelly
03 Sep 2020

I recently switched to Mint Mobile. Unlimited talk and text and 3 GB of data for $15 a month. You do have to pay the year in advance otherwise it is $20 a month. Mint is also an MVNO and uses the Tmobile network. Can't beat the price. So far the customer service has been pretty good. As good as what I had with Tmobile. You can also get discounts when you refer the service and a new user signs up.


Posted by:

jay silva
03 Sep 2020

I have ATT for landline. It's horrible because 90% of incoming are robocalls, scams, charities or political, and ATT does nothing to filter the mess. Have Great Call for cell usage which is fine, except for the irritating charges for unwanted incoming msgs, and the clumsy way of deleting them. So, "No" I don't love my phone company(s).


Posted by:

Jean Warren
03 Sep 2020

I absolutely love "TELLO!" I pay only for what I use, get free calls to my daughter in Canada, and have saved a LOT of money since switching from Sprint. (I pay less than $10/month!)


Posted by:

barry
03 Sep 2020

For years and years a Tmobile customer 100/mo 2 phones unlimited talk and text no data. Then your article on budget mobile providers. Went with Republic Wireless now unlimited talk and text 10/mo and Unlimited talk and text w/data 20/mo for a total of 30/mo Great coverage (sprint network) However, no dial up customer service only online but quick responses....Thanks Bob!!


Posted by:

Ralph
03 Sep 2020

We tried CC several years ago (Detroit area) and kept getting one way audio: called party couldn't hear us. Worked with customer support for over two months, got new phones, switched carriers from Sprint to AT&T, no joy. I really wanted them to work, but finally canceled within the 90 day trial. Went with T-Mobile and haven't looked back.


Posted by:

Robert Mansker
03 Sep 2020

Can you use WhatsApp on CC. I now use Verizon but two or three time a month we use WhatsApp to stay in touch with family back in Europe.


Posted by:

Robert Mansker
03 Sep 2020

Can you use WhatsApp on CC. I now use Verizon but two or three time a month we use WhatsApp to stay in touch with family back in Europe.


Posted by:

ebloch
03 Sep 2020

I was a long time satisfied customer of CC until AlticeMobile offered service. Depending on their advert timing it is either $20 or $30 per month per line for unlimited EVERYTHING (minutes, text, and data). They include service to and within 35 foreign countries so if you travel like me it saves additional expense and perhaps a new SIM. Since Altice also owns Optonline/Cablevision which I use I receive an additional discount along with a reduction for automatic credit card invoice payment.


Posted by:

Sweetski
03 Sep 2020

Both my husband and I have been Tracfone users for years. We are extremely light users and for about $7 each per month (60 minute card each every 3 months), we get what we need. Plus my phone gets triple minutes, texts and data and his gets double. And everything rolls over which makes it more competitive. Even though customer service is offshore, I have had no problems.


Posted by:

Jim
03 Sep 2020

I have heard a lot of good about Consumer Cellular. Several years ago, my wife and I switched from Cincinnati Bell (now out of business) to T-Mobile. The reason for choosing T-Mobile was its international plan, which was (and is) far better than any other international plan offered by other carriers. (What's App also comes in handy for international travel).
If it weren't for the international travel, we would definitely consider Consumer Cellular.


Posted by:

Robert Deloyd
03 Sep 2020

I don't make a lot of calls and don't need data... I have wifi in the home and car for that, so I got Tello for $6.91 a month and that's including taxes.
Custom Plan Recharge
300 minutes Recharge
Unlimited text Recharge $6.91

consumer cellular cheapest is talk only for $15 a month for 250 minutes!
So no, I don't need any other service except Tello.com


Posted by:

Pete
04 Sep 2020

I am a tech guy with computers but I do not stress out about having the latest, greatest phone every year. I'm with Cricket and love the price per month and they've had very reliable service. One time there was an issue and I would say that the only negative I've experienced is communicating with their foreign call centers. Actually, for other non-issue calls & chats with support, they were just fine. Next point.

My mom, in her mid-seventies began considering getting a smartphone. Her brother (older than her) told her to get one of us 'kids' and take us to Consumer Cellular so we can make sure she gets a decent phone so he can send her updates and cute cards like he does everyone else on his list. Since he rarely gets out these days, it's a pastime. Anyway, I told her I had looked into CC a little but please let me compare their info online to Cricket and see if I agree. I ended up telling her that it is just like Cricket but I have to concede, CC is better. I found they have excellent rates for tight wads like us. They use AT&T plus T-Moblile towers AND they are considered kind to older people and have call centers in the USA. Yes, if you get a phone, that would be wise because I have better service at her place with Cricket than they have with their CDMA type current provider. From researching TMobile does not have many towers in their area but it doesn't matter in this case. Sounds like she has a couple sisters that love CC as well.

I guess the virus junk came around and she lost interest in going to get the phone. The next time I see her I'll offer to just go online and get it. That's what I generally do myself anyway.

Sorry to write so much but I was excited to see yet another person touting the benefits of CC.

I also have no affiliation with CC. I kind of wish I did now. Easy to give it compliments.

PS. I didn't know about the 24mo no interest thing with CC. Thanks for that nugget of information!


Posted by:

Norman Rosen
04 Sep 2020

A year or so ago, we got SimpliSafe for our security system. The base unit connects by cellular network to the 'mother ship.' Our base unit refused to synchronize. When I called them up, they told me it came with a T mobile chip and that they always had problems with T Mobile where I live (near San Diego). They sent me a Verizon chip and it has worked perfectly ever since. I would never use a service that bought any minutes from T mobile.


Posted by:

Ken Cavin
04 Sep 2020

I'll stick with Ting Mobile. My bill is rarely over $20. Suits my needs to a tee.


Posted by:

Robert Wolf
04 Sep 2020

I have switched from Verizon to CC earlier this year. For the same coverage, my monthly bill dropped from $109 to $51. I am very happy.


Posted by:

Michael Kulick
04 Sep 2020

Been with Verizon for years. Looking to do some cutting so CC was a no brainer!! Unfortunately and after several attempts, in changing SYM cards, could not get service in our area, not even with T-Mobile and Wi-fi calling!! Their customer service is excellent and they did try to to help. So, had to go back to Verizon and my signal enhancer!! C'est domage!!!!


Posted by:

Bill Funkhouser
04 Sep 2020

As to Robert Mansker's WhatsApp question... I have been on CC for a few years and have used WhatsApp ever since I signed up without any problems.


Posted by:

artm
05 Sep 2020

As a long-time user of TracFone we use the following technique to keep costs low. (Note: Service time and phone time are separate entities at TracFone)
A) Initially purchase a 1 year service and whatever minutes they offer at that time (they usually offer bonus minutes too). B) In remaining years, purchase the smallest increment of minutes offered. In the check-out process, they've always offered a year of service for 49 bucks. Thus, you are out the door with a year's service and whatever unused minutes you've accrued for around 75 bucks. Obviously we use the TracFone only when out of our home, and typically for calls to family. We've accrued thousands of minutes on both of the phone we have and will never use them. BTW, you can purchase an Android-based phone from them for less than 30 bucks. Can you beat that?


Posted by:

Citellus
06 Sep 2020

I heard such great things about Consumer Cellular and switched to them when I got a new phone. Unfortunately that lasted about two days since we get no signal and zero reception in our rural area. Back to Verizon - the only one we can get service from.


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