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Old 09-22-2014, 10:58 PM   #1
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Consumer Cellular

I'm kicking around changing cellular phone companies. Does anyone have any experience with Consumer Cellular. Supposedly they use AT&T's network and have some pretty good rates. Coverage is pretty important to me and I really need reliable cell phone service. Especially once we are off the Interstate.

Up to now I've used Verizon and US Cellular both of which have given me good service. Unfortunately US Cellular withdrew from the St. Louis market. I switched to Verizon which has given be good service but at this point I use their prepaid plan to give me lower rates.

Commercial Internet reviews give Consumer Cellular glowing ratings, but they seem to have some sizable complaints. Looking at it I wonder since they advertise a lot with AARP, whether the complaints are tied to the age base of their cliental which might be less technically oriented.


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Old 09-23-2014, 05:28 AM   #2
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I do not know Consumer Cellular but there are now many resellers of wireless bandwidth from the "big 3".

There is always a trade off - They all have to do something to resell at a lower price point than the carrier they buy from. That may be scrimping on staffing, service or throttling bandwidth.

One tradeoff to look at carefully is no roaming. They can save costs by not paying roaming fees to other carriers - this a big deal IMO when on the road alot.

I have been looking at this recently and the resellers available at Walmart seem to have good prices. If you look carefully, you can determine the carrier for the particular plan you like. The plans I looked at had no roaming.

I decided to go with Republic Wireless. Unlimited everything. They resell Sprint, no contract, include roaming and have very good prices. Their tradeoff to lower prices is technology based and I think it is actually a feature for RV'ing.

Republic has only three phones. They are designed place and receive calls over WiFi (when available). The phone automatically uses Sprint for voice and data when no WiFi is available. It can use WiFi at home, at the campground, coffee shops, travel centers etc. This is free calling and reduces what they have to pay to Sprint.

Most campgrounds have Wifi that is good enough to place or receive a call so not matter what, we always will have service there.

You have to buy the phone upfront ($99 phone available in Oct). Their plans run $10/mo, $25/mo or $40/mo depending on the data plan you need. (we are going with the 3G $25 plan).

(FWIW - I absolutely avoid anything that AARP offers)

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Old 09-23-2014, 09:29 AM   #3
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If you google search for cellular coverage maps you will find that Verizon has the best coverage. Take a look at coverage maps for each carrier and then match that up to where you find yourself most often. I work while traveling during the week. I use the the Coverage! iPad app which is a quick way to check a location. It also shows all 4 of the major carriers and you can turn on and off each overlay.
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:43 AM   #4
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have you checked wal-mart's programs?
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Old 09-23-2014, 10:03 AM   #5
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I have been a very satisfied user of Tracfone for many years. It's a 'pay as you go' plan and the phone you use determines your carrier. My phone does texting and some limited Internet browsing. It is not a smart phone. It uses the AT&T network. It can do roaming and if it does, the minutes used is double. Even so, with its coverage I rarely roam and it's costing me about $7 a month. My phone cost $30.

My wife has a ZTE smart phone ($49 on sale at Target) and it uses Verizon, which has no roaming. It can also use Wi-Fi, saving us minutes. The quality of the phone call is so good, my wife said I can get rid of the land line, something she said she'd never do. The only downside of the ZTE phone is that its processor is slow. It can run all the apps but sometimes it takes a while to respond.

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Old 09-25-2014, 08:04 PM   #6
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A lot depends on what your needs are. For example, my wife needs are not as onerous as mine. So she uses the Tracfone. We spend $100 a year to load it up with minutes and she still has minutes to carry over. (We bought the phone at Walmart for $20).

However, in my case I require "gold plated" service, as I maintain several internet servers. That means I need to have reliable data and enough minutes to cover some tech calls. In addition, I need to be able to call to and from Canada. That service I get from Verizon. I have a Wilson amplifier built into my AS with a roof-mounted antenna (the aluminum makes an absolutely perfect ground plane), which enhances my signal in fringe areas.
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:28 PM   #7
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My wife checks the revues of consumer cellular online and found few to none gave a good report. We are wondering way AARP would endorse a product that is getting such bad ratings.

When something sounds to good to be true, it almost always is.
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:38 PM   #8
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AARP endorsed Obamacare. If you like your new insurance rates you may like their cellular recommendation as well.

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Old 09-25-2014, 08:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by No. 13 View Post
AARP endorsed Obamacare. If you like your new insurance rates you may like their cellular recommendation as well.

If you like your cell phone carrier, you can keep your cell phone carrier???

Somebody ought to clean these windows. There is a tremendous buildup of gook all over them...
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Old 09-25-2014, 08:45 PM   #10
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Good one!

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Old 09-25-2014, 08:49 PM   #11
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Consuler Cellular

Yes... it all depends on what your needs are.

Last month we did a serious re-evaluation of our needs in relation to cell phone service. We also read the reviews... Consumer Reports, January 2014 issue, rated Consumer Cellular tops for customer satisfaction. We've trusted Consumer Reports for years. I began to not trust some of the other negative reviews on the internet because I sense that the big companies are now in a big fight to hold on to their customers and might doing anything to discredit the smaller companies.

Our needs are modest. We need a cell phone for safety and emergencies while away from home (which rarely goes beyond San Diego County)! We do not need to text or get on the internet via a phone.

We switched from Verizon Wireless to Consumer Cellular last month and are very, very pleased. Our first bill came in yesterday for $24.04, and that's for 2 phone lines (Our Verizon Wireless bill was $43.69 for one phone line). Consumer Cellular does use the AT&T network and is supported by AARP. So far, its been working just fine. I'll post updates when we start camping in the desert in early November.

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