Chicago-based U.S. Cellular has launched a new campaign to attract more customers and they're backing it with a survey that shows most mobile phone users have a dysfunctional relationship with their provider.
The survey said about 44 percent of the respondents nationwide, or about 56 percent in the Midwest, have been unhappy with their wireless provider during the past year. They said high cost, poor reception and dropped calls were the main reasons. The survey was conducted by Braun Research, paid for by U.S. Cellular, and reached about 1,200 people earlier this month.
Those respondents had a variety of providers, including U.S. Cellular. So the survey isn't clear who the customers are complaining about.
Now U.S. Cellular has started a new ad campaign called "Hello Better" with TV and radio ads, billboards, and signage inside shopping malls. The campaign says U.S. Cellular is offering up to $300 to customers who switch to their service, which includes a $100 smartphone activization credit and up to $200 back with the trade in of their used phone through Aug. 12.
Here are a few of the survey's other findings:
• More than two in five respondents (44 percent) report being in a so-called 7-Year Itch period with their provider. They feel that their relationship is comfortable and they know them but wonder if there is something better.
• Half of all respondents (51 percent) have been with their carriers for more than five years, with one-third of respondents (34 percent) noting that they have "broken up" with their carriers in the past.
• Nearly two of five (37 percent) respondents say their cellphone provider is "OK" or worse.
Also, the campaign compares those unhappy customers with unhappy human relationships and how breaking up can be healthy. U.S. Cellular signed up Dr. Judith Wright, a Chicago-based relationship expert, to help mobile phone users break up with their current carrier.
"We want to treat our customers like our neighbors and not like numbers," said Chris Rathsack, U.S. Cellular's director of sales.
Not sure what it says when you need a human relationship expert to break up with your mobile phone provider. Maybe a lawyer would have been a better choice.
Surfing:The free Discover Downers Grove Mobile App is available for iPhone and Android platforms. It allows you to access all Downers Grove shopping, dining, hotel, entertainment and events. Download the app and like their Facebook page and on Aug. 15 a winner will be randomly select to receive a $100 gift certificate to the Lemon Tree Grocer in Downtown Downers Grove.
• Skokie-based Peapod.com has been highlighted in Consumer Reports' August/September issue on how online grocery shopping can "Tame Your Grocery Bill." Peapod.com had a "virtual rail," or a virtual grocery store placed inside Chicago's highly traveled State and Lake Station tunnel from May-July 16, and will return in September. The campaign features wrapped tunnel walls with larger-than-life ads of grocery shelves, stocked with name-brand products and household staples. Commuters can download a free PeapodMobile app on the spot, and start shopping by scanning the bar codes of the products featured in the ads.
•AT&T Inc., which has its Midwest headquarters in Hoffman Estates, said this week it is offering smartphone and tablet users shared-data plans starting at $85 a month beginning in August. This includes unlimited calling and messaging and up to 10 devices can be combined under one monthly data plan. Verizon Wireless, which has its Midwest headquarters in Schaumburg, started a similar plan in July and they start at about $90.
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