Telus free phone for seniors offer may require a little neighbourly help

Many times a “free” deal will appear too good to be true, and while that’s often the case, it sometimes just takes popping over to a neighbour’s house to make it real. That seems to be the case with Telus’ free smartphone project for low-income seniors.

The company launched the program in early December offering seniors, who receive the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement, a free smartphone and a subsidized mobility rate plan as a means to end the isolation many seniors are feeling during the pandemic.

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And while, according to Telus, more than 10,000 seniors applied, some seniors that have had trouble getting in touch with Telus to get enrolled.

“It was pitched at seniors without cellphones or internet connection so it seems strange that you have to use internet to get in touch with Telus,” said Paul Hancock, one of several seniors who contacted the Times Colonist with concerns about the program.

Hancock said he’s had to resort to going to his neighbour’s home to correspond with Telus and submit documents to enrol in the program.

“They’ve been lovely people to deal with but it’s been difficult,” he said.

Telus’ Lena Chen said the response the company has had to the program suggests most seniors have been able to navigate the online application process.

“The response so far indicates that we’re providing an important and sought after program. Our team continues to process and vet applications to connect eligible seniors to a subsidized mobility plan through Mobility for Good for Seniors,” she said. “The process to sign-up is simple, requiring only a piece of documentation proving you receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement to be eligible.”

Chen said the company encourages eligible seniors who do not have access to a computer or phone to enlist the help of a friend, family member, or social or case worker for support. She also noted they can access computers at their local library.

When it was launched Telus said as many as 2.2 million low-income seniors could qualify to get better connected to their community.

The program, available across Canada, includes a free refurbished smartphone, unlimited nationwide talk and text programs, and three gigabytes of data for $25 per month.

There are no contracts, no set-up fees, no cancellation fees and the $25 rate is good for as long as the senior wants to use the service.

There is also a “peace-of-mind” program that kicks in should the senior use more than the three gigabytes of data each month — that means the user will not be not be dinged with extra charges.

For more information go to: ­telus.com/mobilityforgoodseniors, or ask your neighbour to help you call it up.

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