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Seniors beware: 'Free' cell phone isn't free

6:47 PM, Feb 21, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - What began as an targeted at seniors looking for an easy to use cell phone has prompted the Denver Better Business Bureau to issue a warning about the company offering the item.

The full-page ad, which appeared in Tuesday's Denver Post, offers "easy-to-use Senior Mobile cell phones [for] free." The ad promises Denver-area seniors, who call within 48 hours, a free "Senior Mobile" cell phone. That cell phone, they say, includes nationwide coverage with no long distance charges, no contracts, no deposits and no monthly bills.

The Denver BBB warns that the phones are anything but free.

It's all in the fine print. In order to get the phone, there is a one-time activation fee of $97, which the ad says includes shipping and free access to 911 services. Services that are already free on a cell phone.

"Cell phone providers currently have been and are providing free services to anyone with a cell phone where you can access 911 and its services," Adriana Carmona with the BBB said.

There's also a card for 250 "anytime" minutes but nothing is free after that.

"If you want to continue to use the cell phone and you've used the 250 free minutes originally provided to you, they're apparently [charging] 2 to 4 cents every minute after that," Carmona said.

The company placing the ad is the Ohio-based firm Brilliant Built Technologies. They have an F rating with the BBB due to a lengthy negative advertising record.

"They have other companies and names that they go by, so there quite a bit of advertising issues with the company that the BBB has brought to their attention," Carmona said.

In the ad, the company says "thousands" are calling for a phone but the BBB says many are calling mostly to complain.

9NEWS contacted the company Friday for reaction but Brilliant Built Technologies has so far declined to comment.

The BBB offers the following tips when encountering an offer that seems too good to be true:

• 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.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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