Avoiding the “Stream Scream”

Usage Alerts Keep Consumer Cellular Customers On Top of Their Cell Phone Plan:

It sounds like a collection of 21st century urban myths.

A man streams a movie on his cell phone and is surprised—shocked, would be more accurate—to receive a bill for more than $60,000!  Another man streams a football game while on a cruise and is charged nearly $30,000. Tickets on the fifty yard line at the Super Bowl would have been cheaper. An oil worker in the frozen fields of Canada uses his cell phone as a modem to stave off boredom and doesn’t exactly strike oil. Instead, he is stuck with a not-so-boring $80,000 cell phone bill for streaming movies.

Those are not myths but actual cell phone user horror stories from a few years ago. And apparently, the “stream scream” has struck again. I recently noticed this headline that appeared online: Canadian Man Hit With $11,000 Cellular Bill for Letting Kids Stream Movies.

All these cell phone users had two things in common: they were surprised by a huge phone bill and they were not Consumer Cellular customers.

Granted, cell phone service providers often warn their customers of the data costs associated with streaming or excessive downloading. But, we live in an age of information overload and it’s easy to overlook details.

We do more for our customers than offer warnings about streaming. As a free benefit, we automatically track their cell phone usage and notify them whenever it becomes excessive or approaches the upper limits of their plan. We call this service our Usage Alerts program and it’s been very popular with customers since its introduction nearly two years ago.

More recently, we beefed up our Connect! plans late last year, adding more minutes and data, without charging more, to every Consumer Cellular plan. Even though we gave our customers more data for the same price as before, we hope they’ll use that extra time and data wisely.

Here are two tips that can save you potentially thousands of dollars. First, do not use your cell phone to stream videos—at all. Second, if you must use your cell phone for such activity, connect to your home WiFi or a hotspot access point and use that connection to stream. Because streaming through a WiFi connection does not use your cellular network, your Connect! plan will not be charged.

I truly love the many things I can do with my cell phone. But watching a movie on a device the size of one’s palm is not my definition of a good movie experience. Movies, after all, are made for the Big Screen.

16 Thoughts on "Avoiding the “Stream Scream”"

  1. Eldon T. says

    On trips I would like to get online with my laptop. Can I use my Moto G as a Modem?

    reply to Eldon

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Eldon. While some of our LTE capable phones can be used for tethering to a laptop, your Moto G is not able to do so at this time. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about your Moto G at 888-345-5509, and we appreciate you taking the time to post today!

      reply to Ashley

  2. Ken says

    Howdy. We just got Moto E’s. How do I know if I’m using minutes or using wifi? For example, when I’m in a coffee shop and want to surf the web a little, do I have to switch to wifi, turn off something in the phone or what? My experience so far has been an old flipphone, so that’s my experience level. Thanks!

    reply to Ken

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Congratulations on your new smartphones, Ken. You’ll only use minutes from your plan when you place or receive a call. When you use your phone to go online, check email or stream music or videos, you’ll use data from your plan Connect plan. That’s why we recommend using Wi-Fi whenever you can, such as at that coffee shop. We have a great How-To video that will show you how to connect to Wi-Fi on your Moto E here. You may find the other videos in the series helpful as well as you get to know your phone. Of course, we’re always happy to walk you through connecting to Wi-Fi or anything else at 888-345-5509 at your convenience. Thank you for posting, and we hope you have a great day!

      reply to Ashley

  3. Earle Eddington says

    I would like to know when will I be able to get wifi for my home.

    reply to Earle

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for asking, Earle. At this time, we don’t offer broadband service as an option. We do appreciate the suggestion, though! We appreciate you taking the time to post today!

      reply to Ashley


    Would you send me the how to video showing how to use my moto e as hotspot for my computer?

    reply to BEVERLY

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for posting, Beverly. We don’t cover that topic in our how-to series, but you can view more information about that feature in the Moto E manual. You’ll find it on our support page here. And of course, we’re happy to help you with any device questions at 888-345-5509 if you like. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us today!

      reply to Ashley

  5. M. Battaglia says

    Consumer Cellular did not participate fully in the presidential alert by FEMA on 10/3/18

    reply to M.

    • Ashley at Consumer Cellular says

      Thank you for posting. We did participate in the alert, and while most devices received the message, there are some that didn’t receive this test. The test is designed to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure and determine if improvements whether needed. If you would like more information, we’re happy to discuss this with you at 888-345-5509. We appreciate your comments!

      reply to Ashley

  6. David says

    Does CC support 4G LTE modems like The NetGear LB1120? I am going to make an interstate move and not going to have WiFi in the process. I would like to connect my laptop and iPad to the internet via cellular until I get settled in my new location.

    reply to David

    • Hi David, thanks for your post. We don’t have a WiFi option to support modems like the one that is mentioned. If the device can be used as a hotspot device, is Unlocked from all carriers, and is GSM-compatible, it may work on our network. We can’t guarantee compatibility for it, but we’ll do all that we can to see if we can get it connected for you.

      reply to Jacob

  7. Darrell Myers says

    I have a streaming alert on my consumer celluar that is using up my battery. how do i get it off?

    reply to Darrell

    • Hi Darrell, thanks for your post. If it’s an alert, there should be an option to dismiss and acknowledge it. Depending on what you are streaming, you may want to close the app completely through the settings so that the phone doesn’t think you’re continuing to use it when you’re not.

      reply to Jacob

  8. Bob says

    Why don’t you guys just offer a Stream Saver option, like everybody else does?

    reply to Bob

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