I’d like to start this post with a quick trip down Memory Lane. There’s an old Elaine May-Mike Nichols sketch called the “$65 Funeral” that appeared on the Jack Parr Show. Some of you may remember it. This hilarious skit was a great example of how a business will attract consumers with an initial offer, and then try to up-sell those prospects to a more expensive product. In this case, the business promoted a very cheap funeral but if you wanted anything with it, say, music, you had to pay extra.
I was reminded of that comedy skit the other day when I read how Verizon announced its Share Everything cell phone plan, which represents a dramatic change in their core mobile service. Under their new plan, customers will get unlimited voice and texting plans, as well as data plans they can share with family members across devices.
That might sound like an attractive offer on the surface but it’s actually a plan that favors heavy data users and penalizes consumers who are more frugal in their cell phone usage. Like the funeral “special,” there are hidden gotchas in the offer.
Under the new Verizon plan, customers are forced to pay for unlimited minutes. Additionally, they are forced to pay for a text-messaging plan, even if they don’t do any texting. And the cost of their data plan, in some cases, doubled. As a result, many customers, especially light or occasional cell phone users, will end up paying for a benefit, such as unlimited minutes, they don’t need and will most likely never use.
In such situations who really is looking out for the customer?
We don’t lock our customers into a two-year contract. And we don’t like to dictate usage to them. That’s why we allow them to add more minutes to their cellular plan at any time—without charging a fee. We offer affordable share plans. And we are not in the habit of raising the prices on our plans. On the contrary, we’re more inclined to give our customers extra minutes or data for the same price as before and have done so twice in the last two years.
To answer my own question from above, I like to think Consumer Cellular is looking out for the customer. We give them the freedom to make their own cell phone choices. And that’s a plan worth sharing.