Target Guests Cannot Always Use Their Current Phone On Consumer Cellular


Many Target Guests who are would be Consumer Cellular customers are fooled by the half-truth of Consumer Cellular advertisements.  The bottom line is not all Consumer Cellular prospective customers can use their current phone.  If the Consumer Cellular prospects phone is locked or it was built for use on either the Sprint or Verizon networks known as CDMA it will not work with Consumer Cellular.

Not a week goes by that a Target guest doesn’t come in wanting to bring their own phone (BYOP) to use on the Consumer Cellular service.  Some guests are able to make the transition while others are not.  The homepage of Consumer Cellular’s website, in bold print it reads “An easy way to switch — use your own phone with our free SIM card.”  Further down the page in much smaller print it says:

“Now you can use your own phone with our FREE SIM card. It’s quick and easy, and there are no activation fees. To be compatible, your phone should be a Consumer Cellular phone, a phone previously used with AT&T or T-Mobile, or an unlocked GSM phone.”

Many Target guests never read that part of the page, or if they do, they simply assume that their phone is compatible.  However, a whole host of mobile phones are not compatible with the Consumer Cellular network.  Most notable of incompatible phones are phones that were previously used with either Sprint or Verizon or one of those two companies’ regional affiliates or prepaid virtual affiliates.  There are many affiliate phone companies such as Boost Mobile, Bluegrass Cellular, Virgin Mobile, Great Call, Kroger i-wireless, NetZero, Patriot Mobile, Simple Mobile, Straight Talk, Total Wireless, Tracfone, Walmart Family Mobile, Xfinity Mobile that operate on either Sprint or Verizon (CDMA) towers that won’t work with Consumer Cellular.  Many guests holding these incompatible phones feel deceived by the ads, but there is nothing the Target representative can do except offer to sell them a phone from Consumer Cellular.

The second piece of the BYOP puzzle is that the phone coming from another network must be unlocked.  While it is possible to buy an unlocked right out of the box, that is not how most people purchase their mobile phones.  Even if the guest purchased their phone from AT&T or T-Mobile or one of their many affiliates, the guest must still have the phone unlocked to use it on the Consumer Cellular network.

Here is an example of how a guest will get in trouble.  They might see a Samsung Galaxy Express Prime 2 for AT&T Prepaid on sale at Walmart for a low price.  The guest will think “hey that’s an AT&T phone that will be compatible with Consumer Cellular, I’ll get that phone.”  However, when guests buy a cell phone through another carrier, it is usually locked to that carrier for a year or two before they will unlock it.  With AT&T Prepaid, a user must have an account that is active and in good standing that has been active for at least 6 months before AT&T will allow the user to unlock the phone.  Cell phones purchased from Tracfone will have to have used their phones for 12 months before Tracfone will unlock them.  Below is a BYOP decision tree to keep Target Guests informed.

RIS BYOP Decision Tree

The Consumer Cellular BYOP program is fraught with challenges and potential pitfalls that often trip up the Target guest who is a would-be Consumer Cellular customer.  When in doubt either call Consumer Cellular and ask about the cell phone in question or visit the local Target and speak to someone in the electronics department about the phone in question.

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