Seniors are calling the Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder about a full-page ad which appeared in the February 18, 2014 edition of The Denver Post. They’re questioning the ad’s offer of “easy-to-use Senior Mobile cell phones free.” The advertiser is Ohio-based Brilliant Built Technologies, among other names, which has an F rating with the BBB due to its lengthy negative advertising and complaint history.
According to the ad, for a one-time activation fee of $97 plus shipping, Denver-area seniors who beat the 48-hour deadline will receive a free Senior Mobile cell phone, getting nationwide coverage with no long distance charges, no contracts, no deposits and no monthly bills. The ad also repeatedly expresses that seniors are risking their safety by not having a cell phone, and that the government urges them to carry one.
The BBB of Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia became aware of the Senior Mobile product back in May of 2013. Their investigation revealed, among other concerns, that the “free” offer isn’t really free and that the company inflates the costs of its activation fees to cover and profit from what’s advertised as “free.”
The BBB cautions consumers that offers which seem too good to be true usually are. This “free” offer will cost consumers $97 plus shipping for access to 911 services, which are already provided by all wireless carriers for free. Also, despite having “no monthly bills,” consumers must pay for minutes once their first 250 prepaid minutes are used, costing 2 to 4 cents per minute.
The BBB offers the following tips:
• Start with trust. Check a company’s BBB Business Review before you purchase goods or services and find BBB Accredited Business at findacompany.org.
• Get the details. Read and understand all terms of any offer. Ask questions if something doesn’t make sense or isn’t agreeable.
• Question free offers. BBB Code of Advertising gives guidelines on “free” offers including: the normal price of the merchandise or service to be purchased must not have been increased nor its quantity or quality reduced.