SafeLink Wireless & Assurance Wireless – A Marketing Review

FREE CELL PHONES!

STEP RIGHT UP AND GET YOUR FREE CELL PHONES AND FREE MONTHLY MINUTES!

COME AND GET IT!

That’s pretty much the message sent to us through those SafeLink Wireless and Assurance Wireless TV commercials.  If you’re in the poor house because of one reason or another, or have a job but still fall below that magical poverty line (however much that is these days), the federal government will step up and make sure that you can have a FREE cell phone and FREE monthly minutes.

The programs vary slightly between the states and aren’t available everywhere just yet, but here in the great state of Georgia, if you qualify for the programs you’ll receive a FREE cell phone and 250 FREE monthly minutes.

Wow!  Is that amazing or what?

Assurance Wireless SafeLink Wireless

Remember that we’re not talking about private companies stepping up and doing charity work.  Both are being funded by U.S. taxpayers through the federal government.

  • The Assurance Wireless website states, “Assurance Wireless is brought to you by Virgin Mobile USA and is a Lifeline Assistance program supported by the Universal Service Fund.”  The Low Income program within the Universal Service Fund provides discounts to essentially make basic telephone service affordable for low-income customers.
  • SafeLink Wireless’s website is more direct and states that the “. . . service is U.S. government supported program for Income eligible households provided by TracFone Wireless, Inc.”

So there we go.  Apparently it’s a “right” these days for everybody to have access to a FREE cell phone and FREE monthly minutes.  I mean, how could anybody even hope to survive without having a cell phone?  It’s a necessity in today’s world, right?

Both programs by SafeLink Wireless and Assurance Wireless last for 12 months.  You receive a FREE cell phone and 250 FREE monthly minutes, and after 12 months you have to basically renew the agreement and prove that you’re still poor enough to receive another 12 months of freebies.  Of course, you’re supposed to call and cancel the program once you start making enough money, but we all know that people won’t exactly be eager to cut off the free phone service.

I’m not a huge talker on a cell phone myself, but when I see the 250 monthly minutes, that’s just insane.  Phones like that are supposed to be used for emergencies and urgent phone calls, such as talking to a potential employer, not for just everyday chitchat.  It’s not meant to be used to talk to grandchildren and other crap.  I mean, we’re talking about over THREE HOURS of talk time EACH MONTH, for FREE!  You just know that an offer like that is going to be abused.  If a program like this was only meant for emergencies, then the amount of “free” minutes need to be cut back severely.

But it’s not and people who qualify for programs like this can just sit back and chat without paying for any of it.  Great.  Just great.

Let’s take a look at the TV commercials and see how the companies are practically encouraging you to be even more dependent on the federal government and carried on the backs of hard working U.S. taxpayers.

SafeLink commercial – Grandma

So here we have Grandma worried that she won’t be able to place a phone call during an emergency.  At the end of the commercial she’s smiling because, as she states, “I can now call my family anytime.”

Okay, so why can’t your family chip in and get you a cheap, pay-as-you-go cell phone?  Why do you HAVE to use a government program?  I know for a fact that SafeLink Wireless’s parent company, TracFone Wireless, Inc., happens to carry extremely inexpensive cell phones and minute plans.  I used it myself for a few months and it worked great.  $20 for the phone (included the double minute plan), and the minute cards were dirt cheap.  The network coverage was great and I never had any problems placing calls or adding minutes to the phone.

Apparently Grandma in the commercial isn’t worth the most basic of emergency phones to her own family.  Sorry, Grandma, but apparently the sorry bunch of losers in your family could give a rip about your “poor” living conditions.

SafeLink commercial – Single Mom

Up next we have a single mom worried about getting by, especially since her phone was disconnected from her inability to pay the bills.

Okay, mom, why were you still trying to pay an expensive cell phone bill when you were running out of money?  Why did you end up skipping payments, taking the hit on your credit report, and then getting your service disconnected when you could have stopped the service or switched to something significantly cheaper a while ago?

This single mom made some poor financial and budgeting decisions and now has to resort to the government and taxpayers for her cell phone use.  Oh, but look how happy she is at the end of the commercial with that FREE cell phone and those FREE monthly minutes!  She screwed up and becomes thrilled when somebody else picks up the bill in the end.  Why can’t we all do that?

On a side note, if you’re a single parent, how does SafeLink help you stay connected to your child like the woman claims in the commercial?  Does said child also carry a cell phone?  Are you constantly calling the school or day care center to talk to the child?  Can’t you just talk to the kid in person if you’re the only parent in the child’s life, since it’s assumed the child is living with you?

SafeLink commercial – Taking Pity

This last commercial reminds me of those sketchy diet commercials that tell you that it’s not your fault for not being able to lose weight.

Here, SafeLink Wireless appears to take pity on you and your financial hardships.  Yes, the economy sucks.  Yes, unemployment is high.  And yes, I’m sure that if those people in need really wanted a cell phone, they’d find a way to make ends meet so they can have a cheap, pay-as-you-go cell phone instead of being on an expensive monthly phone plan.

Assurance Wireless TV commercial

The Assurance commercial has a few different scenarios showing people benefiting from the free cell phone program.

Up first we see a mother telling us proudly that she can now call her daughter’s doctor.  I just wonder that if she cannot afford the most basic of cheap cell phones, can she also transport her daughter to the doctor in one way or another?  Is she also on a government program to pay for her daughter’s medication?

Next we see some grandparents telling us proudly that they can now “. . . keep in touch with their grandchildren.”

A) How is keeping in touch with grandchildren an emergency?  Why do taxpayers have to pay for you to have that privilege?  Can’t you write them a letter or e-mail?

B) These grandparents dress nicely and it looks like they live in a decent house.  How in the hell can they not afford the most basic of cheap cell phones?

Up next a young lady tells us that, “Now that I have Assurance, I can send a quick text.” Because being able to text is soooooooo important these days, right?

It’s interesting that this was included because the Assurance Wireless website states that texts cost ten cents each and REQUIRE some money to be deposited into your account through a credit/debit card, PayPal, or Virgin Mobile Top-Up card.  If you have money to splurge for texting and other crap, then you can afford your own cheap cell phone.

The last, and worst, example shows a gentleman telling us that, “Now that I have Assurance, I can let work know I’m running late.”

Hang on a minute.  If this person has a car AND a job, why in the hell is he using a government supported cell phone program?  Does he enjoy leeching off the system and looking like a complete fool in the process?  Can he look in the mirror and find any pride in himself?

But that’s just me and I know that today’s society is vastly different than when I was growing up in the world.  What emergency handouts used to embarrass people back then are proudly accepted today, even for things like free cell phones and other crap.

TracFone Wireless, Inc.

TracFone - One of several dirt cheap and very affordable cell phone companies.

The TV commercials for the “free” programs make me wanna vomit.  I know that there are legitimate cases where people are in dire need of some help, but the scenarios presented by both companies are just insane.

Teach people about budget phone plans and watch them find a way to make it work.  But, alas, today’s society doesn’t seem to want to be as responsible as it once was years ago.  Teach people today how to get crap for free and they’ll flock right to it, not caring about shame or looking like a leech or a complete fool.

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Assurance Wireless, SafeLink Wireless, and TracFone Wireless, Inc. are trademarks and were used without permission in this article.

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