My mother has had a Jitterbug phone since 2009. The Jitterbug is meant to be a simple phone for seniors. In her case, she wanted it only for emergencies, not unlike a Life Alert.
The price started out at $17.69 per month, then crept up, until I discovered a cheaper plan at around $13.00 per month.
Then it crept up again, until finally she was paying almost $20.00 a month for a phone she never used, but was insistent that she needed for peace of mind. This is understandable.
Here are some things that happened.
- I, daughter, am the one who set up her account, including the online account. I thought they had my name, but just for good measure, I mailed them the Power of Attorney.
- One time, when I saw the bill went up and needed to look at her billing history, I discovered I was blocked from seeing it until I requested a CPNI password, which had to be authorized by her. Apparently they weren't interested in the POA, so I gave my mother all the information she needed, dispatched her to make the call and hoped for the best. When she called me back a few days later to tell me it was completed, she mentioned that while on the phone with them, they sold her some monthly "lost phone" coverage which, over a few months time, would have exceeded the cost of a new phone. They had never asked if she was living in a facility, where the chances of losing and never recovering a cellphone are near zero. She was so proud of her decision, and it was hard to convince her she had just been defrauded.
- I knew I would have to call them myself. By this time, I doubted they would honor the POA, and I was confident that if I painfully walked her through making the call, that they would find a way to convince her to keep the contract, and moreover, might sell her somthing else. So I called them and impersonated her to get the "lost phone" contract cancelled. As it was, she was upset, and wanted to believe that I was the mistaken one.
- Over time, I saw evidence that she had forgotten how to make a call on the phone, including how to dial and how to hang up.
- Over the years, I periodically would ask her how important the phone really was. All along she's been in a facility that has a security button in the apartment, in addition to a morning security check. But she insisted that she might fall in the hallway, and not be found.
- I would also check while visiting to see if she was charging the phone. When I noticed the dead phone, she would tell me that she had only let it lapse for a day, and that yes indeed she was still charging it and carrying it around. I was doubtful.
- One time, when my mother's credit card had been updated with a new expiration and security code, I tried to update the card in the account. I thought I was successful, until she received an alarming email that she had not paid, which for an aging senior citizen, is upsetting. I had to call them on the phone to give them the new card information, which they happily took from me even though I'm not her, and informed me that you can't use the website to update the credit card, even though the function is plainly there inviting the user to do so. It turns out that every time I tried to update it, they saved the info. There's now a long list of identical credit card numbers in her account.
- In 2017, we found the dead phone again, and she relented. I went to the website to cancel, but found out you have to call them to cancel the phone and the monthly fee. There wasn't even a way to remove the credit card.
- To spare me the pain of dealing with Greatcall, hubby called to cancel. After twenty-five minutes on hold, they refused to talk to him or to even acknowledge the POA (which he is on).
- So he called her credit card company, who informed him that he would have to wait until they bill her in order to dispute it, but disputing it would only work for one month, so there's no point. Their only recommendation is to cancel her card and give her a new card. This we are not doing.
- So I called, and after twenty-five minutes on hold, I told the rep I wanted to cancel the phone, and she put me on hold again for another twenty minutes. Then I impersonated my mother to walk through the painful process of trying to cancel the phone. She tried to give me a monthly discount by telling me I'm now eligible for a lower price! I said no thanks. Eventually, I was successful in getting my point across and the rep cancelled the service.
- To this day, the function for updating the credit card is still in the website account, and all those duplicate credit card numbers are there.
- So now I will have to watch her card closely to make sure they don't charge her any more. Also I have to call Greatcall again to cancel the online account, but I don't want to do that until the day the service is supposed to end. I want to make sure first that the phone no longer can make a call. I also want to ask them to remove the credit card from their files.
She had a useless phone for eight years, and I don't want to total up the cost.
I give the company zero stars out of five. They are crooks. They take advantage of the senior citizens they claim to protect.
I don't recommend Greatcall to anyone, and I don't recommend the Jitterbug phone to anyone.