Select Jitterbug Phones Sold by Best Buy Can’t Make Calls
Please check in on any family members who use a Jitterbug Flip phone. This product, which is primarily sold through the Lively carrier at Best Buy, cannot make or answer calls due to an oversight during Verizon’s 3G network shutdown. (That said, this probably isn’t Verizon’s fault.)
The Lively phone service is an MVNO or “mobile virtual network operator.” Instead of owning or maintaining a cellular network, it rents cellular service from other operators. Lively was acquired by Best Buy in 2018 and primarily caters to seniors by selling old-fashioned flip phones and medical alert devices.
Evidently, Verizon is the 3G provider for Lively, as Jitterbug Flip phones lost service immediately after Verizon shut down its 3G network on January 2nd. Other cellular providers spent years pestering customers and offering free phone upgrades to avoid this situation. But The Wall Street Journal spoke to several Lively customers who were either unaware of the incoming shutdown or told that it wouldn’t interrupt their service.
“We continue to work diligently to resolve the service disruptions affecting some Jitterbug Flip phones caused by a recent network update. If your phone is not working, in the event of an emergency, contact 911 directly via another phone device. If you have a critical need, please contact us at (800) 359-0476, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org, for support.”
Note that Verizon originally planned to kill off its 3G network in 2019. The shutdown was postponed by several years to help customers and MVNOs transition to 4G. And yes, the incoming shutdown was widely reported by journalists in all fields, including cable news.
This is a very frustrating situation, and understandably, some Lively customers are looking for a new carrier. But Lively hopes to return service to affected customers by Thursday, January 12th. And according to WSJ, Lively is offering upgrades or discounts to customers who complain.
Again, we suggest contacting any family members who might use a Jitterbug Flip phone. And even if Lively manages to provide 3G service for affected customers, it’s probably a temporary fix, so you should make sure that your family members are using a 4G handset.
Source: The Wall Street Journal