Seniors warned about "free" cell phone deal

Seniors citizens are being warned about a company that claims to offer free cell phones.

You may have seen the full page ad for the offer in the newspaper. The ad says seniors can get a cell phone for free, but they have to act within 48 hours.

Right after the ad showed up, the Coastal Carolina Better Business Bureau started getting phone calls from people asking, "Is this legit?"

So, the BBB had employee Heather Johnson call the company claiming to be inquiring about the offer for her grandmother.

The pitch she got from the company's operator stressed the free and 48 hours parts: "Since cell phones are free, seniors are urged to get 2 for safety."

But then Johnson asked what company makes the phone.

"Is it like an HTC phone or is it a Samsung? What type of phone is it?" she asked.

"I can find out for you, ma'am," the operator said.

The operator had to put Johnson on hold for a few minutes and go find a phone to be able to tell her who makes it.

And how about the service provider?

"What towers are these phones using? Is it Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile?"

Johnson got the same response: "I can find out for you, ma'am."

After more questions, Johnson found out there's a $97 activation fee for the phone, a two-dollar a month fee if you want a warranty, more charges to pay for extra minutes, plus paying for your own postage if you want to send the cell phone back.

The BBB says be wary of this deal.

"The word free is the trigger that catches someone, especially a senior that's on fixed income," said Coastal Carolina BBB president Kathy Graham.

Graham says the company, Comptek, is based in Canton, Ohio, where the BBB logged more than 100 complaints about it and gave the company an "F" rating.

All for a deal that Graham says is really no better than you could get anywhere else.

"You can go to big box stores now and you can get a phone for free as long as you buy X amount of minutes and it's not even comparable."

In their ad, the company stresses how great their phone is for seniors to use in case of emergency, but Graham says you can use any cell phone, even if it's not activated, to call 911.

WPDE NewsChannel 15 called the company for comment, but we did not get a call back.