This morning I spotted this deal on a Samsung Intercept for $159 at Target over at my favorite deal site – Fatwallet. The phone is a pretty good deal for a touch screen Android 3G phone, especially considering it also has a keyboard and that Virgin Mobile offers a Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk $25 per month prepaid (no contract) plan which includes unlimited data, text and 300 voice minutes.
Unfortunately that’s where the happy part of the story begins and where my life lesson on what being a “prepaid customer” really means. In a nutshell it’s a life of being connected to overseas call centers, indifferent representatives — and some highly annoying music on-hold that blares as if they assume the caller must be half deaf.
Virgin Mobile apparently was unable to activate any new customer phones — either online or over the phone.
Ok. I get that computer issues occur. That happens even in the world of post-paid where the customer service representatives speak intelligible English, treat you like a valued customer — and willingly escalate your case to a supervisor when there’s a difficulty.
The issue with Virgin Mobile is that their activation was down at least 8 hours on 2/20/2011 – yet during that time they kept the web based activation site open allowing new customers to waste time entering data only to eventually have the system error out on the final step (I performed this at least 3 times in an attempt to activate my new Samsung Intercept).
Thinking that perhaps it was only an issue with the web — and that good old fashioned phone activation might work (Warning: This phone activation is all a tedious voice activated system) – I called the 800 activation line — and was prompted through 20 minutes of questions and answers with an automated voice system. Then eventually I was told I’d have to transfer to a live representative.
When the live representative answers – they proceed to ask the SAME EXACT 20 minutes of questions and answers about information needed to setup and activate my new phone.
Guess what happens next?
They abruptly conclude the conversation with “oh, I can’t activate this”.
That’s it. End of the conversation – except to mention that “they’ll need to send it for research”.
I’m now a brand new customer, have spend probably 2 hours total of my own time trying to activate a phone through a system which is obviously broken.
Apparently nobody at Virgin Mobile has a system to know in advance when there is an activation issue which prevents new customers from setting up their phone? Instead a Virgin Mobile overseas operator has to struggle through a 20 minute script only to reach the end of the conversation with an abrupt “Oh I can’t activate this”.
As I explained on the Virgin Mobile Facebook Fan Page (where’s the dislike button?) – I’m looking behind me as I type to see if Allen Funt is here.