September 26, 2011

STEER CLEAR: Nothing Consumer About This Company

Imagine chatting on your cellphone with a client and about to close a big wholesale deal and the line suddenly goes dead.

Your first instinct may be, "Did I pay the bill?" But you did. Then, is the phone broken? No, it's fine. So you find a landline and call the cellphone company and they tell you that you were in danger of going over your allotted minutes, so they suspended your service.

That is the policy of Oregon-based Consumer Cellular. They just terminate your service without much warning if they think you're on track to go over your minutes...they just cut you off.

A company endorsed by AARP, the organization that advocates for the 50+ crowd, touts its service as one that is senior friendly. It markets older model phones - many with poor voice quality like the Nokia C3. And they just started pushing a touchscreen Motorola Android phone that recevied borderline reviews from the technology critics.

Basic monthly service charges range from between $10 and $60.  Data plans are roughly $10 a month.

When Craft Entrepreneur questioned Consumer Cellular's policy about suspended service to push customers into a higher rate plan, the customer service representative said the goal was so that the company didn't "get stuck" with high bills.

But here's the kicker: Try to cancel your service and you can't. You have to agree to a higher rate plan FIRST so Consumer Cellular can bill at least one month at a higher cost before you can terminate. 

For artisans and crafters who depend on reliable, cost-effective service, you may want to think twice before considering Consumer Cellular. The unreliability, scam potential and lack of respect for customers gets the Craft Entrepreneur's "STEER CLEAR" recommendation.

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