20 February 2011 ~ 12 Comments

Virgin Mobile Activation and Customer Service Fail

virgin mobile fail.jpg

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.

Unbelievable.

Poor Virgin Mobile Customer Service

About

Wayne Schulz is a CT CPA and consultant. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, New York City, blogging, technology and searching for the perfect smartphone. He lives in Glastonbury CT with his two children. Contact Wayne by email at wayne@wayneschulz.com. (Important: We are not the manufacturer or seller of any items we've blogged so unfortunately we are unable to provide support or answer questions about them).

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  • Guest

    This seemed to have affected existing customers (outside of NY), too. I was unable to use the network for anything except re-activating my phone (which succeeded, but didn’t allow general network usage over 3G). After re-activating again in the morning, the network (3G) finally worked again. This is the second of such incidences in the last month which makes me very concerned. I have the LG Optimus V, so it doesn’t appear to be phone-specific.

  • AmyD

    Experiencing the EXACT same thing! Bought Samsung Intercept from Target on 2.23. Tried 5 phone calls, unending attempts online. WHAT is going on!?!

  • Mxer581

    I am currently going through the exact same thing with my new LG optimus. I bough it at 4 yesterday and I still can’t get the damn thing activated

  • Creeper

    Men let me tell u VMU is a great company out since 2004, first the company was post pay, and til they got Sprint network they went prepaid, as i sed VMU is great the crap is the Sprint system that’s most of the time mested up soo that where the issue’s start’s, apart VM is great, and about the automatic voice system u just press option 5 the option 4 and it will take u to an Adviser any other info about how to go true VM u can write me at jr_booter_boy@hotmail.com

  • mshawnte

    I am on the phone with Virgin Mobile customer service as I type. It is horrible. This is my sixth time calling to get my phone number transferred from AT&T. The first time I called, someone hung up on me. The second and third times, people made mistakes when putting in my account information. It’s been 4 days. Will the process ever be completed? Why has a rep put me on hold for a few minutes? I don’t understand.

  • http://www.s-consult.com Wayne Schulz

    It appears that Virgin Mobile is undergoing massive data issues. Numerous customers on their Facebook page and in the HowardForums Virgin Mobile forum are complaining about data that has been inaccessible since early March (for some) and for those with data the coverage seems sporadic and frequently comes and goes. Sometimes turning on airplane mode helps. Recently the echoes of those without data are growing louder.

  • Kootnygirl

    Woah.  This is exactly what I’m going through now, 8 months after you posted this.  I found your blog while looking for an update on the activation issue.  I got my new phone on November 13…it is now Nov. 18 and I still don’t have service.  The call-rep told me to expect information within 5 days of when I phoned which seemed like an incredibly long outage.  I sure hope that once I am finally activated I will have no further problems.  I work in IT, and I can’t imagine being down for 5 days…totally unacceptable, especially now that I see it is a recurring problem.

  • THEELOC

    I NEED HELP WITH MY PHONE

  • THEELOC

    CAN SUM ONE HELP PLEASE

  • Sqaddy

    This is now May 2012, same exact problem.
    I have been trying to activate my Intercept for 2 days.
    Between on-line efforts and talking to virtually unintelligible Customer Service, trips and phone calls to Target, (Virgin says that Target did not unlock phone. Target checked that it was unlocked at time of sale), I still don’t have a phone!!
    At the last attempt, the Virgin representative told me to go back to Target. When I told him that I had already done that, he just hung up the phone.

  • Steve

    I just bought a HTC One V from Virgin Mobile online, had it shipped expedited to get it sooner, the deal was good since it was 20% off, that’s where it all ended.  Phone arrived, followed the instructions and went online, entered all my info and payment, then tried activating the phone, activation failed multiple times, called VM customer support, which were yes, very hard to understand and to make it worse there was excessive background noise further making them unintelligible.  I was told that they would need to “research” the problem and get back to me in 48 hours, I said well I would like to RMA the phone and just cancel it.

    I was then handed off to a technical support rep who spent 1 1/2 hours with me on the phone constantly apologizing for the issue and putting me on hold.  He went on to ask me again all the info and question I entered into the online system, they could not get my name right and spelling and even after repeated attempts they still did not know how to spell my name.  

    After 1 hour I was told they can’t fix my phone and activate it, then I said well can I RMA it, that took another 1/2 hour to get the RMA # and address, I was like what a great experience!  Now I have to pay for shipping back to VM on top of paying for the original shipment I will be out of $20+ including my time and travel to the post office.  

    I read bad reviews prior and should have let them make my decision before getting into this mess, and on top it I will have a $200+ credit waiting to get back on my credit card. 

  • Dollbaby3233

      I went to Walmart and bought an htc one v. I’ve spent one hour earlier trying to activate the phone and just got done spending two hours trying to activate it. Nothing seems to be working. I’ve tried calling every 1 888 number I could find and entered my info into VM’s web site. Nothing has panned out. I’m out  $169.00 for the phone, the unlimited data usage card, and tax. I’m not sure who I should be more mad at, VM for making this piece of shit phone or Walmart for selling it. Now I have to travel back to Walmart and pray they give me my money back without the receipt. I wish I would’ve read these reviews before I just assumed that VM was creditable and well established…. I miss T – mobile.   11/12/12