Why Virgin Mobile Sucks - 2008/09/15

This is a retelling of the extreme annoyance that I've had with Virgin Mobile and why you should never use their services.

I purchased my Virgin Mobile phone about a year ago and everything seemed to be working just fine. Then, all of the sudden, on Tuesday, August 26th, my phone was disconnected. Well, at the time I didn't know it was disconnected, because Virgin Mobile didn't tell me. They just simply disconnected my phone without warning or notification. I tried to make a phone call, but instead my phone called up Virgin Mobile's customer service answering machine. Since there were heavy storms that day, I just assumed that my phone was out due to some problems with cell towers or something. I waited until later in the day and tried to call again, but my call went to customer service again. I try logging on to their Web site to see if there is a problem, but my login on the Web site fails as well.

The next morning I tried my phone again, but it still went to customer service. I decided to try and figure out what was going on, so I actually let the customer service go through. I entered that I wanted English menus, and then the machine told me I needed to speak to a live advisor. I pressed the button for a live advisor and it told me I was being transferred. Then the line went dead. WTF?

I tried again on my lunch break and finally I got through to a person who spoke broken English. I gae him my information and asked him what was wrong with their phones. He told me that my phone was disconnected because a payment of mine had been placed in dispute with my bank. Knowing that my last credit card payment was two days late, I assumed that's what he was referring to, so I told him that it was taken care of. He told me that it would take up to three days to reconnect my phone. I thought that three days was an awfully long time to reconnect my phone since, when I bought it, I connected it myself in a matter of minutes, but I knew that he couldn't do anything about it, so I thanked him and hung up.

Three days later my phone is still disconnected. I call back and and get a different broken English advisor and ask them what's going on. They again inform me that my bank has a payment dispute over $53 and that I must call my bank, have them make the payment, and then have them to send a letter to Virgin Mobile before they can do anything. I look at my most recent credit card statement which shows all of my recent cleared payments to Virgin Mobile and inform the advisor that I have made all of my payments. The advisor tells me that the disputed payment was made back on June, 2nd. I ask the advisor why didn't anyone contact me about a payment form almost three months ago, and, of course, they didn't have an answer. I ask them if I can just pay the $53 right now, and they tell me that the only way to get my phone back online is to have my bank mail them a letter.

I hang up with them and call my credit card company. I ask them if I have any disputed payments and they tell me I don't. I ask again, just to make sure, if there are any payments back in June that were in dispute, and they assure me that I have none. This makes sense, because I have never disputed any of my credit card payments.

I call Virgin Mobile back and explain to them that my credit card company has told me that I do not have any disputed payments, but the new broken English speaking advisor tells me that I need to call my bank and take care of the dispute. I remind them of what I just said about my credit card company telling me there were no disputed payments, and then, reviewing my credit card statement, I inform them each payment that I have made on my credit since then. They tell me that the payment that is in dispute is on a different credit card. I remind them that I am setup with an automatic payment plan that is always goes to my one and only credit card whenever I have to make a payment. They tell me that someone with the last name Longendyke made a payment on a Discover card. I tell them that this must be a mistake since I don't have a Discover card, and I don't know who that person is. I tell them to look at my billing statement so they can see that all of my payments for a full year have been coming from the same credit card. They tell me that they can't do anything about it, but give me an email address to write to and say they'll get back to me in three days. I tell them that's a horrible way to do business, and I want to make a formal complaint. They say they don't have a complaints department. Surprise.

I send a very detailed email, with all of my information, to the address they specify and ask them what the problem is and how they plan on compensating me for this long span without service. I wait four days for a reply. Nothing.

I call on day four and the next broken English speaking advisor tells me, again, that I need to call my bank and have them write a letter. I tell them, again, that I can't do that because the payment was made by someone else and I can't contact their bank. They tell me that they can't do anything about this, and tell me to write an email. I tell them that I've already written an email. They tell me it can take up to three days to get a reply. I tell them that it has been four days now. Then, they tell me it takes four -business- days, so the weekend didn't count. Nice. I ask them what I should do if they don't reply by tomorrow, then making it over three business days. They assure me that they will.

I wait a day and nothing. I decide to wait one more day, just in case, but in the meantime, I go to their Web site to try and figure out if how it could be possible for someone to make a payment on my account without my knowledge. I assume that you'd have to log in in order to make a payment, and since Virgin Mobile disconnected my phone, I also can't log in, so I wasn't really expecting to get anywhere. However, I figured it out anyway. On Virgin Mobile's Web site, all you need to make a payment is a phone number and a credit card. You don't actually have to prove who you are. Take a look at the screenshots below. You can enter an amount to pay, click on Top Up Now, then enter in a phone number (the phone number has to be an actual Virgin Mobile phone number, but a simple typo will give you someone else's number), and then it goes straight to payment. No checks at all! This is a major security flaw that even an amateur should have noticed.

So, the Ms. Longendyke, went to make a payment, went to type in her phone number, but mistyped and put in my number by mistake, and then finalized the payment. Then, she realized that they payment she made was for the wrong phone so she called Discover and disputed the payment. With the payment in dispute, Virgin Mobile flags my account as having a $53 debt and disconnects my phone. Simple. I had just figured out the problem even though the staff at Virgin Mobile couldn't.

At this point, I figure it will be simple to explain. I call up Virgin Mobile again and ask them the status of my phone. The latest broken English speaking advisor tells me to call my bank. Instead of answering the next couple questions and getting the exact same responses, I decided to explain the whole problem to him. I tell him about the security flaw in their Web site. Inform him that Ms. Longendyke must have made a payment in error, and that I can't call the bank to send a letter. He then tells me to write an email. ARRRGH! I tell him that I already wrote an email, five days ago when I was told that it would only take three. He tells me he will flag the email to show that it is urgent, but it should take three more days. Another three days? Yes.

I wait three more days. Still no reply. It has now been almost three weeks since they disconnected my phone and over a week since I sent my email, but Virgin Mobile has made no attempt of any kind to tell me what was going on. I call back, again. And again, I get a new broken English speaking advisor. I ask them if there is any progress on my account. They inform me that I need to call my bank and have them send a letter. I -again- tell them I can't do that. I then, preemptively inform them that I already sent an email, over a week ago. They tell me that the finance department needs a fax of my credit card, front and back, my driver's license, front and back, and my latest phone bill. I ask them why they need this and they tell me it's because of my claim that it was someone else's credit card. I ask them if they ever actually planned on letting me know they needed this. No response. I tell them that I'm sick of all of this, and I'm just going to cancel my service all together. So, they transfer me to the department that handles cancellations.

Finally, I get someone who speaks English. It seems incredibly stupid to have the best speaking people handle the cancellations and have the worst speaking people handle all the customer service, but then Virgin Mobile has proved themselves to be a stupid company. I tell him that I want to cancel my phone service. He asks why. I explain. Right away he understands my problem (unlike the ten minutes it took to explain to each of the customer service advisors) and asks if I sent an email. I told him that I did over a week ago and he says that it shouldn't be much of a wait now. I tell him that I'm through with waiting, and that I want to cancel my account now. He looks at my account and tells me that I can't cancel it because there is a disputed payment. Incredible!

I tell him that the account is just going to sit in limbo forever, because Virgin Mobile has never made an attempt to straighten out this problem. He tells me that he can't do anything about it. When I say goodbye he thanks me for choosing Virgin Mobile. Hilarious.

I've already got a new phone, obviously from a different provider, to replace the waste of time and money that is Virgin Mobile. For fun, I'm going to keep counting how long it takes for them to get back to me.

By the way, if you really want to piss off someone you know who uses Virgin Mobile, make a payment on their phone number using your credit card, and then put a hold on the payment. They'll be disconnected from their phone without notice and never be able to get their service back. Virgin Mobile allows this, and doesn't do anything to stop it. It's the ultimate prank!