GreatCall Review

GreatCall Medical Alert Devices

GreatCall Logo


Who is GreatCall? 

GreatCall is a medical alert system provider that ties most of their services in with smart phone use, and even provides Jitterbug phones and call plans for seniors. They have been in business since 2006 and they claim to be the original easy to use senior friendly cell phone and market to active aging adults. This is a pretty modern option compared with other medical alert services which mainly focus on stand-alone equipment reserved only for medical alert use. Currently, they have over 900,000 subscribers.

In December of 2015, GreatCall acquired Lively which is a connected health platform that does have more traditional stand-alone medical alert devices but with advanced features and a modern look for active seniors who are looking for emergency response protection. They also have a suite of healthy, medical and safety apps for seniors. GreatCall is headquartered in Carlsbad, CA and employees over 1,000 people.

Some of GreatCall's services, using their well-known 5Star Urgent Response, require only a smart phone and you can even use your existing smart phone with their medical alert cell phone app. The equipment they offer is modern-looking, and their sales reps are not overly pushy. We like the fact that they have all of the latest technology with no phone line (cellular), GPS, activity monitoring, medication reminders, and fall detection options.

In August 2018, GreatCall was acquired by Best Buy. Best Buy has been investing in technology for the aging population and will have the resources to market and sell GreatCall’s products in their stores. GreatCall will keep their headquarter location and call centers in Carlsbad, CA and Reno, NA.

 

Review Summary

There are four mobile medical alert system products that GreatCall offers (they have several other legacy options, but only actively promote these four on their website). Please note, you will have to have Verizon cell coverage in your area to use their service.

1. Lively Mobile Plus: *****PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PRODUCT IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE AT THIS TIME****.Their most basic medical alert device. With GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus, no landline or other equipment is required, and you can speak directly through the device to emergency help. Available with optional fall detection utilizing accelerometer technology. The latest edition includes enhanced GPS technology, 4G LTE integration, improved battery life and loudest amplified speaker to date.

2. Lively Wearable : This option turns your smart phone into an emergency response device. It is their most affordable medical alert service. A smart phone with cellular service is required and make sure you have an Android 4.4/iPhone iOS 8.0 or later operating system (this device uses Bluetooth, data, and GPS location from the smartphone). When you push the wearable medical alert button, your smartphone will automatically call an urgent response agent. Fall detection is included.  


3. Jitterbug Smart2: Cellular smart-phone with service that provides a mobile medical alert through an App. Features include large 5.5” screen, large icons, simplified menu and text, long-lasting battery, voice typing and urgent response app.

4. Jitterbug Flip: Cellular flip-phone with service that provides a medical alert with a button on the phone. This is an easy-to-use option when you need a simple phone with emergency help built right in. It features bigger buttons, a bright screen, powerful speaker, voice dial and magnifier with flashlight.



Pros

Automatic activity monitoring option, detailed medication reminder option, equipment status alerts, automatic fall detection, multi-lingual customer service help, refunds for unused weeks of service, no land-line required, 24-hour emergency support, and modern-looking equipment.


Cons

Equipment charges and activation fees, no reimbursement for equipment if you cancel after 30 days, no advanced payment discounts, some of their services require that you have a smart phone, their monitoring centers are not TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond certified and they do not offer smoke detection or carbon monoxide monitoring options.


Rating: 4



Since you're looking at GreatCall, consider taking a look at MobileHelp for comparison.

Compare Device Features:

Pros & Cons To Consider

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Price
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Cost for Equipment

Cost of equipment starts at $49.99 for the Lively Mobile Plus option and goes up. Shipping fee for all products is $10.

Cost Per Month

GreatCall’s most affordable option, Lively Wearable, starts at $14.99 a month and the other options go up from there. Other options are available.

Advance Payment Discounts

None

Monitoring Agreement Term

30-day risk free trial period.  No long-term contracts - month to month only. You will also receive a refund for any service prorated from the day you call to cancel.  No equipment reimbursement after 30 days - the equipment is yours to keep.

Repairs or Replacement Charges

No. Replacements shipped free for defective equipment (all equipment has a 1 year warranty). Optional $3.00 to $4.00 per month equipment protection plan depending on your device. Product replacement for damaged or lost equipment could cost anywhere between $49.99 to $149.99 to replace without a protection plan. The protection plan does have a deductible ranging from $15.00 to $50.00 depending on your device.
Cancellation Policy & Discounts
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Cancel at Any Time

Yes

Senior Discount

None

Other Discounts

None
Equipment
GreatCall Review

Approximate Button Range in Typical Home

The only product of GreatCall's that has any range requirement is their Lively Wearable, which must be within 150 feet of your smart phone to be able to work.

Watch/Button Battery Life

We could not get a battery life estimate for the Jitterbug Smart or the Jitterbug Flip, but expect them to be similar to a normal mid-grade cell phone.  No battery replacements are provided.

On the website, it says you can expect about 24 hours of standby time in-between charges for the Lively Mobile Plus, but we were told it will depend on cell service strength in your area, how often you charge the device, how long you charge your device, and even the ambient temperature where your device is mostly used.  No battery replacements are provided for the Lively Mobile Plus either.  You must purchase a new device.  

The battery for the Lively Wearable lasts about 6 months, and does not require charging. The app will alert you when it's getting low.  However, you must purchase your own replacements (uses a watch-style coin battery) and install them yourself.

What Happens if I Lose Power

It depends on the device you have, when you last charged it, and how much you use it. Maximum battery life for the Lively Mobile Plus is 24 hours.

Is the Watch/Button Waterproof

Yes, the Lively Mobile Plus and Lively Wearable are waterproof.

How Can The Button Be Worn

Neck, wrist and belt clip options available for the Lively Mobile Plus or the Lively Wearable.  When you order over the phone they will include both the lanyard and the wristband for free.

UL Certified Equipment

Yes

Does The System Automatically Test Itself To The Monitoring Center

No. You can test the system as often as you wish though, by logging onto mygreatcall.com and sending a test call to your device. You can also press the call button and wait for an agent to respond, and just let them know you are making a test call.

24 Hour Technical & Customer Support

24-hour emergency support is available. Customer Support is available 6:00 AM - 7:00 PM PST Monday through Saturday.
Monitoring Station
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TMA Five Diamond Certified Monitoring Center

No, but they are NAED (National Academy of Emergency Dispatch) certified, which is the same certification as 911 operators.

Typical Response Time When Button Pressed

Average response time of 5.3 seconds.
Other Options & Information
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How Fast Does System Ship

Equipment will ship the next business day after you order.  Free ground shipping takes 3-7 business days to arrive.

Do You Need Separate Systems For Mom & Dad

Yes
Optional Advanced Features
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Activity or Inactivity Monitoring

Yes, with the Lively Wearable and their HealthSense Activity Monitoring solutions (motion detection throughout your home). Currently, Lively Wearable is sold out and a new wearable solution with this technology is coming soon.

Senior Fall Detection

Yes, available on the Lively Mobile Plus.

Cellular or No Phone Line

Yes. All of their equipment options are cellular-based.

Non-GPS Mobile Alert System For Protection On The Go

No

Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Protection

No

GPS Medical Alert Tracking System

Yes, with all of their equipment options.
Special Offers
GreatCall Review

Special Offers For Our Visitors

None at this time.


Monthly Costs & Fees 

Lively Mobile Plus & Lively Wearable

  • The cost of the Lively Mobile Plus equipment is $49.99 plus a $35.00 activation fee.
  • The cost of the Lively Wearable equipment is $49.99 plus a $35 activation fee and $14.99 a month for the services. Currently, this product sold out and no set date on when it’s coming back in stock.

The Lively Mobile Plus monthly options differ slightly in price to their phone plans.

  1. Basic: ($24.99/month) Includes their 5Star Urgent Response service.
  2. Preferred: ($29.99/month) Includes their 5Star Urgent Response service, their GreatCall Link service, which allows caregivers and family members easy access to updates and information on your well-being and location, and their Urgent Care service, which allows you to speak directly with doctors and nurses, and even get prescriptions over the phone.
  3. Ultimate: ($39.99/month) Includes their 5Star Urgent Response service, their GreatCall Link service, their Urgent Care service, and an equipment protection plan. In case a device is lost or compromised, a replacement will only have the cost of a small deductible. This Ultimate Health and Safety subscription service also includes fall detection on the Lively Mobile Plus device.

Jitterbug Smart2 & Jitterbug Flip Phones

  • The cost of the Jitterbug Smart2 phone is $149.99 plus a $35 activation fee.
  • The cost of the Jitterbug Flip is $99.99 plus a $35.00 activation fee.


There are three different levels of monthly service for the Jitterbug Smart2 and the Jitterbug Flip. Talk and text packages are separate charges and are available in a variety of options located on their website.

  1. Basic: ($19.99/month) Includes their 5Star Urgent Response service.
  2. Preferred: ($24.99/month) Includes their 5Star Urgent Response service, their GreatCall Link service, which allows caregivers and family members easy access to updates and information on your well-being and location, and their Urgent Care service, which allows you to speak directly with doctors and nurses, and even get prescriptions over the phone.
  3. Ultimate: ($34.99/month) Includes their 5Star Urgent Response service, their GreatCall Link service, their Urgent Care service, and an equipment protection plan. In case a device is lost or compromised, a replacement will only have the cost of a small deductible. This Ultimate Health and Safety subscription service also includes fall detection on the Lively Mobile Plus device.

Shipping for all of GreatCall’s products is $10.00.


What We Like About GreatCall

Reasonable Service Rates - GreatCall has competitive rates for both their Lively Mobile Plus and their cellular service when paired with their 5Star Urgent Response.

Cancel at Any Time Policy – No long-term contracts, you can cancel at any time. If you are not happy with your service, you can cancel and get a refund for unused weeks of service paid. However, you will not get a refund on the equipment charges but you do not have to return the equipment either.

24-Hour Support - Emergency only support is available 24 hours per day.

Cellular Option - All of their subscriptions are cellular based in case you are without traditional land-line phone service.

Fall Detector Option – (Available with the Lively Mobile Plus and the Lively Wearable) Since some diabetics can have the tendency to faint and falls are common among seniors, fall detectors can be helpful because the user may be unable to press their medical emergency button.

Mobile GPS Option - For seniors or even young children on the go, this GPS technology may be an important option for you. The GPS can track your loved one’s location and send help exactly where they are when they need it.

Location Services – Available with all Preferred and Ultimate Health and Safety service levels with the GreatCall Link app. This allows authorized users to check your location at any time, as many times per day as needed.

Activity Monitoring – (Available with the Lively Wearable) Activity monitoring typically requires the user to check in with the system by pressing a button once every 24 hours. GreatCall utilizes the latest automatic activity tracking technology, and even lets you set goals and alerts you when you have reached them throughout the day. Activity can be seen on the GreatCall Link app. This is very beneficial as it allows you to know that your loved one is active and about each day, which can provide greater peace of mind.

Medication Reminders – (Available with the Jitterbug Smart2 and the Jitterbug Flip) Having the system remind you of when to take medication is a nice feature, although not required by all. Many of these services have the main unit console provide some sort of beep reminder on regular interval to remind you of when to take your medication. With most other competing services, the downside to this option is that it will not tell you what or how much medication to take. GreatCall gives more detail, allowing you to enter in medication information online on mygreatcall.com, and set-up reminders to be sent directly to your Jitterbug Smart2 or Jitterbug Flip.

Multi-Lingual Help - If you need to communicate in a language other than English, they have multi-lingual representatives available in 100 languages.

What We Dislike About GreatCall

Activation Fees and Equipment Charges– All GreatCall equipment requires a $35.00 activation fee per device because they have to connect through a cellular service provider. Verizon needs to be available in your area to use their services. 

Equipment Replacement – If your battery is dead, you either have to replace it yourself, or more commonly, buy a whole new device. A deductible is required even if you have the Product Replacement plan. You also cannot return any equipment for any equipment refund after 30 days.

No TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond Monitoring Center– This is an important certification that requires an annual renewal with The Monitoring Association which shows a commitment to a higher level of service. 

Equipment Battery Life – The Jitterbug phones and Lively Mobile Plus need to be charged daily. This may be hard for some seniors to remember. When the battery wears out on any of their devices, you must buy a new device (or with the Lively Wearable, purchase and install a new watch-style coin battery).

No Advanced Payment Discounts- We feel that advanced payment discounts should be offered when you pay for services up front. 

No Carbon Monoxide or Smoke Detection- Both are important features to have in your home and GreatCall does not have these options. 

What Others Are Saying About GreatCall

On GreatCall’s website you can read about their accolades and product reviews from published news sources. One such review claimed "GreatCall is the perfect accessory for active seniors."

In looking for unbiased reviews direct from consumers, we found mixed reactions on Amazon. Some wrote how the product truly worked for them in an emergency situation and that the call response time was quick. Other reviewers claimed the medical alert device caused many false alarms and it was difficult to call and cancel GreatCall’s services. We found many negative reviews on Yelp from consumers who felt the product was great, but the company was hard to deal with and their customer service was lacking. GreatCall does respond to the negative Yelp reviews so they can help resolve any customer issues.

GreatCall is a Better Business Bureau accredited company with an A+ rating at the time of this review. They have an average of 70 customer complaints on file.


Bottom Line

If you're looking for a basic medical alert button or a traditional landline in-medical alert system, then GreatCall may be more than you need. They offer the latest medical alert technology including automatic activity monitoring, medication reminders that provide names and dosages, no phone line cellular options, and fall detection as well. If you are looking to turn your aging loved one’s cell phone into a medical alert device as a great low-cost option, then Lively Wearable is perfect for you. Although they are currently sold out of this product, they do plan on bringing it back in the near future. Perhaps you are looking for a senior friendly smart or flip phone that can act as an emergency response device? GreatCall has you covered for any of those options as well.

Their equipment (especially the Lively Wearable) is extremely modern looking. If you are a caregiver, then GreatCall is a good choice with many monitoring options available for you to more easily care for your loved one. We love that they offer automatic fall detection, activity monitoring and pill reminders options. We do prefer to see a monitoring center that is TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond Certified. They also ask you to pay activation fees and equipment charges that a lot of other medical alert companies have done away with, but typically only on their more basic systems. Many do still require them on their more advanced equipment offerings.

If you're in the market for a basic cell phone for your mom or dad, then the Jitterbug Flip could be your best mobile medical alert device option. It's simple for most seniors to use and includes the 5Star Urgent Response button right on the phone.

We've had mixed call experiences with GreatCall when performing reviews. On one call their customer service representative was helpful and not pushy, on another call we had the complete opposite experience.  They also do not provide details about when the Lively Mobile Plus product would be back in stock. We recommend giving GreatCall a call if you are in the market for one of their senior-friendly medical alert products.

Although our experience with this company had these results, your experience may be different. If you're interested in this company's services, contact them to judge for yourself.

 

*GreatCall Logo is a registered trademark of the GreatCall company

Modified: 2019-09-23