Monday, April 18, 2011

Sucks to be Virgin Mobile

Or it sucks to be me since I have Virgin Mobile.

I got my account back in December. The device is good though maddening sometimes-- I'll do a blog on how to take a phone and make everything about the phone wonderful and interesting while making it act as a phone extremely difficult. The price is good. The coverage is adequate given the price.

The customer service is abysmal.

Okay, first let's talk about the website. Which is difficult to use and often downright dysfunctional. Indeed, it is the website that is invoked when you contact Virgin from the mobile-- and it does not work on the mobile. So you cannot contact and update settings on your mobile account on your mobile.

Then, let's talk about billing. The $25/month is the only recurring cost. All other costs require "topping up". Basically you have to have a certain amount of money in your account to cover any other expenditures. Like insurance.

After I set up insurance and (like a fool) expected the insurance to be taken out of the account I found this out. I got a flurry of emails about how my insurance was going to lapse. I called up customer service and was told it wasn't a problem. Next month another flurry of emails. That's when I found out it needed regular topping up. So I set up a recurring $15 topping up charge back in March and topped up some money to cover it until then.

Two days ago I received an email that said I had to deal with my insurance right then or it would expire and never be able to be reinstated. I didn't response because I often don't check email on weekends.

So I find this out and go to the website first: it's dead. Missing or failing ip addresses. I call Virgin Mobile and find out the phone system is on an "upgrade" and won't be back on line until Sunday.

Clearly, I'm not the demographic their business model is aimed at. Email and text messages are fine. But mainly I want my services to work. As advertised. Reliably. And, most important, without me having to worry about it.

I don't live my life tethered to email or text messages. I read them, or don't, at my leisure. It's my life. Not theirs. And I refuse to live my life on their terms.

The phone is tied to Virgin but Virgin is really Sprint in disguise. I'm wondering if I can just take my mobile and convert directly to Sprint.

At least their business model works.

Addendum: Well, I finally talked to Virgin. And sure enough they dropped the insurance. They said it was clear that it was their fault-- there was enough money in the account to cover the insurance fee.

Of course, that said they could not reinstate the insurance. Only Asurian could do that. Asurian assured met they could not reinstate the insurance and sent me back to Virgin. Virgin then tried to tell me that I had lapsed the payment. I said back there had been plenty of money in the account at the time of the insurance lapse. All they had to do was take it out.

On hold for a while. Then they said they needed to transfer me. And then hung up.

Called back and found out that there had been a problem with their system but that, in fact, I had insurance and had been charged for that insurance three days ago.

There's an hour of my life I'll never get back.

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