FREE phone for seniors advertisement a bit confusing with E911 services

By Dale Dixon/ BBB’s Chief Trust Evangelist

Have you noticed the newspaper advertising for a free cell phone, created especially for seniors?

The full-page ad offers a ClarityLife C900 brand cell-phone free. However, people calling the number listed in the ad report quickly being led into a high-pressure sales pitch. Callers soon learn the free phone will cost about $200.

The advertising says when you receive the phone, you get 100 minutes free to use for 60 days, after which you can reload the minutes – it does not say at what price the reloaded minutes will be. It also has a return policy in fine print that says the phone must be returned in near perfect condition within 10 days.

The company behind the pitch, Comptek, is affiliated with Brilliant Built Technologies in Canton, Ohio. The company has an F rating with Better Business Bureau for the following reasons: Length of time business has operated; 34 serious complaints filed against business; advertising issues found by BBB; and the business has failed to resolve underlying causes of a pattern of complaints. Brilliant Built Technologies is also behind the often complained about Clear Cast digital indoor TV antenna.

If you’re in need of an easy-to-use cell phone, you have options. You can buy a similar phone designed specifically for seniors directly from Clarity, the BBB Accredited manufacturer, for $99 (clarityproducts.com). Then, go to a local AT&T or T-Mobile store to activate service. Or, visit a local retailer and let the person at the counter know you need a simple cell phone with a large, bright screen and big buttons.

Bottom line: Do your research at bbb.org before calling the phone number in a full-page newspaper ad.

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2 Comments

Filed under News You Can Trust

2 responses to “FREE phone for seniors advertisement a bit confusing with E911 services

  1. Mark Burrows

    There was a time, when the cost of doing business was honestly giving away free stuff. It was a thrill at first because people respected the concept and became loyal customers. Then the greed bug stepped in and the thought of getting more than one free item became a way of life. Companies had to find ways to control the one per customer standard. Then eventually, the Asian concept that nothing is free was adapted by the corporate world. If you want something that appears to be free, you will have to pay dearly for it.
    Now the word free is the bane of advertising and the curse of the internet. People just do not learn the word free does not exist. Even entry in to contests where they say no purchase required or no obligation required, it a feint because their main goal is to gather information, data, and sell your name and address to other advertising agencies and promoters. You simply become a commodity yourself.
    The fact is, just about most cellphones get advertised as free, you just have to pay for the signing up to the network, the airtime, and most cases a contract. Enjoy the free phone, but in truth you are paying for it. It won’t take long before the network sends you a letter to entice you to upgrade, and they will give you another more elaborate and more fancy phone for no other cost than your upgrade, so for a matter of a few dollars more a month, you get a new toy, a few more network features, but what has happened is you have renewed your contract to start all over again. Your in, hook, line and sinker. If you realize you are in the contract web forever, then if you are smart then you can work it to your advantage. Even after 10 months, you can walk into your provider and tell them you wish to upgrade, well, they get paid by getting contracts signed. You can start to hard nose negotiate and get a top of the line phone, all sorts of extras. Then they create the contract right there. It is important to read it and then make sure they amend it to anything that you verbally agreed upon and they forgot to put in the contract. They can’t get a signature unless they do, if they balk, then walk. If they amend the contract, sign it. Then watch your billing and check you options. If they do not match the terms of the contract then you can contact them to correct the situation or expect legal confrontation. If it comes to that, you can make the contract void and invalid.

    Mark Burrows

  2. Dear Readers;
    I just got off the phone with a man who said he talked to a company rep who he needed to pay a $99 activation fee, and a $17 shipping fee.

    When he asked about reload costs after the initial 60-day 100-minute trial, he was told it would be ten cents a minute.

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