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Consumer Cellular
Type Private
Founded 1995
Headquarters Portland, Oregon, USA
Industry Cellular phone plans
Website http://www.consumercellular.com

Consumer Cellular is a Portland, Oregon based mobile phone service founded by John Marick and Greg Pryor in October 1995. The company started out with an emphasis on the Pacific Northwest market, but when AT&T and Cingular merged in 2005, Marick renegotiated Consumer Cellular's contract with AT&T to obtain a national footprint. Coverage now includes all 50 US states. Consumer Cellular specializes in cell phone plans for seniors.[1] The company was most recently profiled in The Oregonian's Silicon Forest blog as #15 on a list of the largest 25 tech companies in northwest Oregon.[2] They are also an Inc 5000 company. [3]

Most recently, Consumer Cellular has brought the Doro phone, a cellular phone designed for seniors[4] to its network.[5] The New York Times Gadgetwise blog mentioned Consumer Cellular's Doro phone as a good option for seniors on November 3rd, 2009.[6]

History

In 2005, Consumer Cellular began a relationship with the AARP,[7] making the company the first cell phone provider to market to retirees. The partnership became exclusive in 2008. As result of this partnership, more than 85% of Consumer Cellular's current customers are older than 50.[8] The plans are relatively simplistic compared to other carriers, and have been advocated by such senior publications as the Senior Journal.[9]

During the 2008 to 2009 recession period, Consumer Cellular has remained profitable, and has continued hiring.[10]

Consumer Cellular resells airtime from AT&T. The association with AARP is especially profitable. Adding nothing to AT&T's service, the sales strategy is to charge a premium for service that seniors could get for less with a direct prepaid service with AT&T or any other carrier. This prepaid cell phone service comes with automatic refill: automatic charges to a credit card, extremely profitable and not prepaid in the traditional sense. The profit strategy is to yield a perpetually paid service, used or not, but claimed to be a no-risk prepaid service. Noting that a prepaid service can be obtained with any cell phone company without the automatic charges, Consumer Cellular takes an aggressive stance in advertising to seniors and teens, both less likely to understand the plans offerings and charges that accrue every month, whether the service is used or renewed. This company does not let minutes roll over, another significant profit source. They often charge an activation fee that most other pre-paid plans do not (more profit).

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