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Consumer Cellular Sending Out T-Mobile MVNO Sims Unbeknownst to Customers

Consumer Cellular Phone


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After contacting Consumer Cellular, Prepaid Phone News  is reporting that the company is now selling sim cards and service that operate on T-Mobile's network.  Consumer Cellular up until now, has always been solely an AT&T MVNO.  Generally I applaud MVNOs when they expand and offer service from multiple networks, however, what's going on here could quickly become agitating to the end user.

At the moment, Consumer Cellular makes no mention on their website anywhere that they are now providing coverage through T-Mobile.  In fact if you check out their coverage map, they only show one and it mirrors AT&Ts.  Furthermore, their pricing as is can be considered rather expensive for a T-Mobile based MVNO.  I expect the company to quickly start accumulating a lot of complaints unless they update their website.  I can't see customers being happy thinking they are signing up for AT&T based service only to find out after the fact they ended up with something else.

See also:  Consumer Cellular Offering New Customers Up To 3 Lines Free For One Month

Supposedly Consumer Cellular is sending out T-Mobile based sims based on where you live and if that network provides stronger coverage in your area than AT&T's.  This strategy seems rather unwarranted to me because there are very few places if any where T-Mobile has coverage and AT&T doesn't.  In fact, even if T-Mobile does have better coverage in a particular area, you still may end up losing your signal within certain structures and buildings due to the cellular frequencies T-Mobile operates on, whereas with AT&T you are far less likely to experience this.

Consumer Cellular has long been a reliable and reputable company operating since 1995.  However, if they don't become more transparent with what they are doing here, they could quickly damage their reputation.  Unfortunately, this sort of "bait and switch" if you will, can give MVNOs and prepaid providers in general a bad name.  Hopefully they rectify this situation soon before a floodgate of complaints opens up and their reputation does in fact get damaged.  For the time being I will not be updating the MVNO database pages to reflect Consumer Cellular's new service options until they make the changes official on their website and hopefully start giving potential customers a choice of networks to choose from.

Category  Consumer Cellular

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Pete M
Pete M
3 years ago

Unfortunately it looks like current CC customers are still at risk of losing network coverage. We’ve been loyal CC family plan users with ATT network coverage for three years. It’s been a decent value for those needing full ATT coverage.
However when we ordered three new iPhones they surreptitiously switched us to T-Mobile network, with poor coverage outside the metro area. When I complained they agreed to switch us back, which requires new SIM cards that haven’t yet arrived. But it’s been an unpleasant surprise, and one we did not request and were not notified of when updating phones.

4 years ago

I appreciate this excellent article. We cancelled Consumer Cellular because they sent us a T-Mobile SIM card. Not only was I unable to speak to my wife at work because T-Mobile has such poor coverage in buildings; we cannot do business with a company that is not transparent about this business practice. I contacted senior management at AARP and at Consumer Reports asking them to investigate this matter (CR gave Consumer Cellular a stellar review). Consumer Reports indicated they will investigate, while AARP doesn’t plan to pursue the matter rationalizing that “CC doesn’t state explicitly on their website that they are using ATT exclusively. “I may pursue further with BBB and FTC complaint division.

5 years ago

Exactly what happened to me too. I’ve been with Consumer Cellular for many years but when I updated to an iPhone 6 they sent me a t-mobile sim (unbeknownst to me) When I started traveling to places I had been to where I always had good coverage suddenly there was no service or Edge. When my family members were traveling with me (also on CC and also with iPhones) they had great service! I thought I had a bad iPhone until finally one of the customer service agents told me I had a t-mobile sim. Got it changed out (they require you to go through their diagnostics first) for ATT and coverage is good again. But yeah, they should tell people that when they send it out. It would have saved a lot of grief. Other than that they are a great company!

Chris Bodden
Chris Bodden
5 years ago

Dude you nailed it! I just spent almost 50 minutes on hold with CC and when I finally got someone that is exactly what happened, they had sent me a t-mobile SIM! I have had horrible (basically non existent) coverage since signing up with them. I chose them for 2 reasons 1: Supposed excellent customer service & 2: them being an AT&T MVNO! Glad I found this site to check out my NEXT carrier for when I kick these people to the curb.