Jitterbug keeps the elderly connected…at a great cost

GreatCall’s phones challenge the wireless orthodoxies that bells and whistles are what consumers want and that the most appealing user is a young, high-volume caller. “There is a need to make things usable for people who are not interested in spending their lives reading manuals,” Harris said. “There is this void.”
The Jitterbug handsets feature large buttons, making it easier for elder dialers. The screen characters are larger, too, further easing the tension on the eyes. The only drawback: GreatCall only has two models available right now, and they cost $147 each. A lot of prepaid providers will now sell you a RAZR for cheaper. So there is no deal when purchasing the phone. The plans aren’t much better, though we’d imagine the majority of seniors aren’t looking to yack away on the phones (you can use landlines for that). GreatCall offers monthly plans ranging from $15 for 30 minutes (50 cents a minute? Really?) to $80 for 800 minutes. So you either pay little and get the worst deal imaginable, or you pay a ton for a good deal. We’re not liking the equity here. The pay-as-you-go plan is also rather atrocious, charging 35 cents per minute. That’s easily higher than any of our featured providers. Something isn’t sitting right here. So they have more expensive phones and more expensive minutes than almost every other prepaid provider we can think of. Okay, so they have an advantage in those stripped-down, large-buttoned phones. But is that really worth all the added cost? You can get a ton better deal on a decent phone and minutes at any other prepaid provider. Are the large buttons really worth being wrung out by a company positing to be senior-friendly?]]>


  1. Makenzie Brady on December 7, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    The Jitterbug may be a bit not be as cheap as prepaid phones, but it is the only phone on the market like it. No pre-paid or other phone have the large backlit buttons, patented ear-cushion which is compatible with hearing aids, and large test like the Jitterbug. The Jitterbug is a great phone, and very much worth the price. The phone is especially designed Especially for those people that may have trouble using phones with regular sized buttons, or individuals who have a hard time seeing or hearing. The Jittebrug may not be for everyone, but it definitly is they only way to go for others. No pre-paid phone can stand up to Jitterbug, don’t be fooled. Usually you will find if you put more money into something, the quality is better. It is the same with the Jitterbug. It is a quality product, that offers simple features and services that no other provider out there is offering.

  2. Wanda M. on December 19, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    I agree that the Jitterbug is expensive. What the reviewer fails to take into account is the fact that many elderly people simply cannot manipulate a standard cell phone (which requires fine motor and tactile skills) or cannot figure out how to use a cell phone (“send” and “end” seem straightforward to you, but not to an 80-year-old lady).
    I tried getting a standard prepaid phone for my elderly mother, who lives alone, and it was a complete train wreck. She could not turn it on, could not understand “send” and “end” no matter how many times we went over it. However, with a Jitterbug, she can simply push one large button and ask an operator to connect her. It’s simple.
    I have not yet purchased a Jitterbug for my mother because I read some negative early reviews of their customer service. But once they have the bugs worked out (and stop charging 5 minutes of airtime for the operator service!), I will definitely get one for her. The peace of mind it will give both of us is worth far more than $80 a month.

  3. georgetroy on December 23, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    I take issue with the elderly term. Is my 71 elderly and I don’t know the digital world? I have my cell, computers, and digital cameras just like everyone else. Wait until I’m over 85 before you say it. Besides I can afford to buy what I ever I want.

  4. Karen on January 13, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I saw the advertisement and thought this would be good for my 80+ parents. I purchased a cell phone for them for their safety, however, my mom called to say it was broken. When checked, she forgot to turn it on! This would be great for them. I do think it is pricey, and after reading some reviews, I have decided to wait. I will purchase one in the future when they work the “bugs” out.

  5. Amber on January 31, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I bought a Jitterbug for my stepmom and I don’t know what “bugs” people are talking about. My stepmom has called customer service 3 times now and had a great experience – she was happy the operators spoke english and could actually help her with her phone. She’s only in her late 60’s but she was not technologically advanced enough to use her old cell phone so she just enver did. Now she uses this phone and loves it. So far so good after 2 months with the Jitterbug!

  6. Susan on February 1, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    This sounds like price gouging on the elderly because Jitterbug has the monopoly on the “simple phone for the elderly” market. $.50/minute is ridiculous. I use my phone constantly and even I don’t pay $80/month. I’m glad 71 yr old georgetroy is technologically savy and well off financially, but my 71 yr old mother is like most other 71 yr olds – on a very strict budget and not at all techno savy. We’ll go with the simplest phone available from AT&T, Tmobile, etc., that has *competitive* pricing until a company comes out to compete against the Jitterbug monopoly, thank you very much.

  7. Terry on April 6, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    The market will make a phone like Jitterbug, we are waiting. The 50 cents a minute is so not worth it, grandma loves talking to the family and grandkids. Its just another way to screw the elderly or those family members who pay their bills.

  8. Bryson on April 8, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Jitterbug is a complete ripoff!! It is a company backed by venture capitalists that is going to go bankrupt like every other MVNO and the subscribers will be the losers. There is no free lunch and Jitterbug is only cheap if you don’t use the phone. People wake up, they think seniors will talk very little but when they exceed the minutes they get slammed.

  9. Amber on April 14, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Hi there – I wrote a while abck about the Jitterbug and wanted to post an update – My mom still loves it! And I’m not sure what you guys are talking about -the minutes are not 50 cents each. My mom mas a plan for $30 a month and she gets 150 minutes – that’s only 20 cents each. It’s really not expensive and considering how great the customer service has been, I wouldn’t even consider getting her something else as she gets older.

  10. hannah on June 19, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    you all are wrong jitter bug is cool and it isnt just for the elderly!!!

  11. Paul on August 14, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Rip off? I’m not sure everyone is reading what I read. It says you can get a year’s worth of anytime minutes, unlimited for $120. So if the phone costs $147, that’s still less than the over $500/yr for limited minutes I pay for Qwest wireless two year plan.
    For people on only Social Security…they should check it out.

  12. Ellen on September 4, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Beware Jitterbug cell phone plans! They advertise $0.10 a minute and $120 a year. But that’s only if you pay $80 a month in addition!
    The cell phone itself was great! Loved the look, handle, ease of it.
    You can read what you want in the plans…but that may not be the reality! The advertised prices and comparisons of pre-paid plans is extremely misleading. I spoke with two customer service people who couldn’t even tell me what their “low as $0.10 minute plan” was that was advertised on their web page. It was a supervisor who was able to tell me the low plan actually cost $80 a month.
    This is on top of the $147 for the phone. The $35 activation fee and the $120 for a year’s service.
    I was so excited when I got the phone and so utterly disappointed when I discovered the truth of their plan costs 24 hours later.
    My father in law makes 12 phone calls in a month. We looked into the jitterbug for him and while we loved the cell phone with his hearing aid use…the plans’ prices were way too costly for a very limited user.
    Also, their “free trial” does not include a refund of the $35 activation fee nor the shipping charges. I even had to pay myself to send the phone back to them and we had it less than 24 hours before we knew it would cost too much.

  13. Elisabeth Dakak on September 10, 2008 at 11:15 am

    No matter the company, technology is a booby trap. They know that people are going to need a cell phone at one point in their life, all of them have expensive deals. This is today’s world. Why would a company be better and cheaper than another. Their goals is to make money, since they are all so greedy. We are the fish, they are the sharks, ah! ah! ah!

  14. Joanie on September 10, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    RIPOFF!!!!! Steer clear of this phone if it is going to be used for anything other than sporadic calls. Besides the cost of the phone the setup, the monthly $80 fee, the cost for minutes is INSANE! It has been between $270.00 to $350.00 a month for my mother to make sporadic calls. Further, the bills are NOT itemized, just give the number minutes used, so there is no way of verifying. I simply cannot believe this company stays in business charging rates like this. I’m shopping for a senior-friendly phone through more legitimate providers. This is highway robbery!! BUYERS BEWARE!!

  15. Lulu on October 18, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    That why these people getting rich,able to buy three or more houses by milking someone on a cell phone.I won;t spend that kind of fees

  16. Todd on November 15, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I bought a Jitterbug a week ago, I got the 60 minutes a month plan for $20.00 a month. I used it for about 12 minutes and the phone says I used 23 minutes I guess their idea of a minute is about 30 seconds. I’m not happy with this. I do believe they are ripping people off. What happened to the honesty of the 50’s

  17. Kathy on December 1, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    The Jitterbug website actually lists a comparison of their service plans compared to other carriers. On most aspects, the Jitterbug is competitively priced. Also, no other carrier offers 24 hour operator service. The Jitterbug operators are always friendly and reliable and even provide directory assistance. There is an operator services section at jitterbug.com that has more information. Did you notice that their customer service is 100% based from the United States…that’s great!

  18. Bryson on December 11, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Wow…Kathy!! I can’t believe Jitterbug is desperate enough to pay their employees to litter blogs with positive reviews. Actually…sad. Most blogs speak of poor service quality, expensive pricing and problems like Todd is facing. Another MVNO about to go boom!!!

  19. Superman on July 28, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Jitterbug aka Great Call Inc. actually paid their own lawyer, Alexia Brown, to go on one of the blogs to post a positive review. They are a really scandalous company. Joanie is right. They don’t even itemize their minutes. I saw firsthand employees making up minutes and charging seniors extra for calls they didn’t make. They are crooks.

  20. JANNIE on July 29, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Wow… I am surprised at all the negativity. Both my grandparents have Jitterbug for over a year now and we have had absolutely no problems. My grandfather esp. loves his and what is up with the 120.00 just for service? Has never happened with us.

  21. Cynster on July 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

    The jitterbug is a rip off for the elderly. I bought one for my mom because she “doesnt use the phone that often”…come to find out, she does talk a lot and those plans are ridiculous. Too bad we can’t use that same phone with another plan…now THAT is a rip-off.

  22. Trisha Ford on October 8, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Jitterbug is a nice phone but Just5 phone is a more practical phone for the elderly. The price of this phone is very affordable already for the great features it boasts. Basically, I have bought the phone for my mother for only $89.99. This price doesn’t come with a contract, too. Undoubtedly, this should be checked out by every senior out there!

  23. victoria on May 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    My father,79, is hard of hearing and so we ordered the Jitterbug, even after reading of the outrageous prices…after the phone arrived and we tested it, we switched to an AT&T phone. The Jitterbug was not loud enough for him unless he switched to the speaker-phone and this was just as loud, then, as the Pantek Breeze he got free when adding him to my plan. The Pantek has 3, good-sized, speed-dial buttons where we placed family numbers nearby. This would have been done for free by the AT&T staff, had no one been around to do it for him.
    I have so very many Roll-Over Mins. that my father never comes close to exceeding those mins and so his cost for this phone is basically $10/mo. and free mins…with basically the same features for which we needed the Jitterbug.
    And don’t underestimate the elderly! The Pantek comes with a camera and my father has enjoyed using that camera to take photos of large fish he’s caught, and to then show them to his coffee-clutch buddies the next morning.