July 13, 2011
I set up brand new accounts on June 12, 2011 with Virgin Mobile for my two sons and myself. We purchased two LG Optimus V smart phones and a Kyocera S2100 for a total of $388.11 (including 2-year replacement warranties on each phone, plus tax). My Optimus V is on the $40/mo Beyond Talk plan, my older sons Optimus V is on the $25/mo Beyond Talk plan, and my younger sons Kyocera is on the $20/mo PayLo plan, for a total monthly cost of $85 (not including taxes and fees). I have AmEx set up for automatic monthly payments on each of the three accounts.
Yesterday (July 12) was billing day, so Virgin tried to charge my card. I wake up this morning (July 13) to a text message saying that the payment did not go through and I need to top up my account. (To make the situation easier to explain, from here on I will only refer to a single account, but this issue affects all three of our Virgin accounts.)
8:55 AM: I try to call AmEx to see if there is any problem with my AmEx card, but my phone does not work because no payment has been made on my phone, so I am automatically connected to Virgin customer service. While on hold I hear that Virgin can accept payments via PayPal. Virgin rep says charge on AmEx did not go through. I did not have another card to pay on my account because my new debit card had not yet arrived. I told Virgin rep I would set up payment via PayPal. This call was 14 minutes, 12 seconds.
Logged on to Virgin website to set up PayPal payment. Before doing so, I checked my AmEx automatic payment info and noticed that my apartment number was not showing as part of my address. This is reason for AmEx to not accept the charge. I update my address and make sure all other info is correct, save, try to run payment through, and Virgin account says it is denied. Still in Virgin account, I try to set up PayPal as payment option. There is a drop-down box giving me only credit and debit card options - no PayPal option. I search around the site, run a search on the Help page, cannot find a way to add PayPal to my account.
9:23 AM: I call Virgin again and explain what has happened so far. I have rep re-add my AmEx to be sure apartment number is included in my address so AmEx will accept the charge. Rep adds, tries to charge again, payment did not go through. So now I ask where I go on their site to set up PayPal. She tells me to do what I have already done, which of course still does not work. Call is 29 minutes, 25 seconds.
I continue clicking around the site and discover the Settings & Preferences tab gives an option to Change Payment Type, and low and behold there is an option to add PayPal. I follow the link which routes me to PayPal, where I login and click that I agree to use PayPal to autopay my Virgin account monthly. PayPal is routing me back to the Virgin site and I get an error that the Virgin URL does not exist.
10:44 am: I call Virgin again and explain to the rep all that has happened. She cannot set me up on PayPal because I have to login to my PayPal account to accept the automatic payment agreement. I think there may be an issue with my AmEx card, so I don't bother to try that again. My debit card has just arrived via FedEx, but I cannot activate my card because my phone does not work. I give rep all info to report website problems to their IT department and we end the call, which lasted 19 minutes, 9 seconds.
I find another phone to call to activate my debit card. No problem. I call AmEx to see if there is any problem with my card. No problem. AmEx rep tells me Virgin has charged my card 8 times since yesterday and all of the charges have been approved by AmEx.
At this point I am afraid to add my debit card as a payment option in Virgin because I'm concerned they will charge my debit card multiple times next month (like they have done with my AmEx) and mess up my checking account balance and/or cause a freeze on my debit card due to numerous charges from a single company (red flag for potential fraud/stolen card).
I call Virgin again. Apparently my frustration is affecting my speech at this point because their automated phone system keeps routing me around to the wrong places. Eventually I get connected to a human being. Again I explain all that has happened. She takes all the information, assures me they will look into the problems today and call me tomorrow with the resolution, and adds extra minutes to my account as a gesture of goodwill for all the trouble I've had. Because I do not want to be without a form of communication until then (my mobile phone is my only phone), she says she is setting up our phones to be able to be used until they get the problem resolved and call me tomorrow. She tells me to wait about 10 minutes before I try to use my phone. At this point I have spent over 2 hours trying to pay my phone bill. I have 3 valid options to pay my bill, I have the will to pay my bill, but Virgin will not take my money!
1:37 PM: More than an hour has gone by now and our phones still do not work. Calling Virgin again. After being on the phone with the rep for 50 minutes this time, the rep was finally able to reactivate our phones on a temporary basis until their fraud, financial and IT departments can investigate what happened and how to fix it. The rep told me that Virgin flagged my AmEx card/Virgin accounts for fraud because my AmEx card was charged multiple times. What? THEY are the ones who charged me multiple times, so why are THEY flagging my card and account for fraud?? I still have to send an email to their fraud department (at virgin's request) to explain everything that happened so they will (hopefully) take the fraud flag off my AmEx card and phone accounts. Call lasted 50 minutes, 26 second.
I have spent well over 3 hours trying to resolve this. Completely trashed my plans for the day, which included job hunting. I just hope that this does not happen again next month....
July 22, 2011
It has been 9 days and I still have not received any phone call back from Virgin Mobile as to what has been done to rectify their billing and website problems. My mother also thinks I blocked her phone number because I have again run out of talk minutes and the recorded message she (and anyone else calling me) gets sounds like I have blocked their phone number. When I spoke to Virgin several days back, I also requested that they change that recorded message because it could cause a lot of problems for people. Apparently Virgin has done nothing about this either because my mother got that recorded message yesterday and emailed me all upset asking why I have blocked her number.
2:08 PM: I call Virgin to see what they hell is going on. I call them on my Virgin phone, which is allowed because I am calling Virgin for customer service. I get through the system and am talking to a Virgin representative. I tell him briefly what has happened and that I need to know if any of the issues have been resolved. I'm giving him my AmEx number and other info again so he can check it in his system. As I'm doing this, he says, "Hello? You're very hard to hear." Then he says he can hear me again. All of a sudden I am disconnected. Just great. Call lasted 9 minutes, 12 seconds.
2:20 PM: Calling back again on my Virgin phone. Got a rep on the line and got disconnected again. Call lasted 2 minutes, 48 seconds.
2:23 PM: Calling back a third time, but on a non-virgin cellular phone now, using up minutes on that phone. Virgin representative confirms that I can call them on my Virgin phone even though I have no more talk minutes on there. Virgin representative puts me on hold to speak to his supervisor about my case. After being on hold for about 5 minutes, I get disconnected. Call lasted 13 minutes, 58 seconds.
2:42 PM: Calling for the fourth time now, back on my virgin phone. Right off the top I tell the rep that I have been disconnected three times in a row and that if we get disconnected again to please call me back (so I don't have to go through their annoying system yet again to get to a person). Rep takes the information about my AmEx card and puts me on hold. I am disconnected for a fourth time. Call lasted 5 minutes, 6 seconds.
I am completely fed up at this point. The representative is not calling me back. I cannot get any service from this organization! I am now submitting an email via virgin's website form. This is what my message says:
"URGENT: It is *imperative* that someone at the SUPERVISOR level or higher call me as soon as possible. I have been trying to resolve issues with my account for 9 days now. I have called 4 times just today to check on the status of the issues and have been disconnected all 4 times. I am certain that this web form will not allow enough space for me to report all of the issues I am having with my account. PLEASE HAVE SOMEONE AT A SUPERVISOR LEVEL OR HIGHER CALL ME AT xxx-xxx-xxxx IMMEDIATELY! I have not posted on the internet about the myriad problems I am having with Virgin because I would like to give Virgin the opportunity to resolve the issues. However, after 9 days, many telephone calls, and at least 4 hours of wasted time, my patience is running out and I am tempted to post everything online for the world to see. PLEASE HAVE SOMEONE AT THE SUPERVISOR LEVEL OR HIGHER CALL ME IMMEDIATELY AT xxx-xxx-xxxx."
2:59 PM: I have just completed an online search and found a phone number for Virgin's "Executive Escalation Department." Calling that number now. I get a recording that the number is no longer in service, but "please dial 611." Okay, dialing 611 now. That just puts me through to the same automated system ("Alex") I get when I dial the customer service number. Found another number online, called it, got "Alex" saying to hold. Disconnected again. Phone time for these calls totals 2 minutes, 26 seconds.
3:12 PM: Sprint owns Virgin, so I called my local Sprint store and they gave me a tech support number (877-877-8443). Call lasts 46 seconds.
3:21 PM: Calling the 877 number. It is Virgin's Broadband To Go helpline. Selected "tech support" option, then "live advisor." Told the man who answered that I need a phone number for someone - anyone - to take my issues up the ladder. He gives me an address to write to:
Virgin Mobile USA
Attn: Customer Care
10 Independence Blvd.
Warren, NJ 07059
But I may or may not get any reply to that, and if even if I do, it would likely take days. He can't give me any other numbers (doesn't have them), so I asked to speak to his supervisor.
Spoke to Supervisor Jesse and explained the whole mess, including being repeatedly disconnected by the mobile customer service department today. I insist that my case be taken up the ladder to someone who will resolve the issues once and for all or I would begin posting all of my notes on the internet. Jesse understands my frustration and puts me on hold while he directly calls a supervisor in mobile customer service.
After some time, Jesse comes back on the line and connects me to the supervisor at mobile customer service (Chris in Nicaragua). I explain all of the issues to Chris, who takes notes while I'm talking. He eventually identifies a couple of additional issues: a) my account has been put on "lockdown" for possible fraud and notated as "account review required"; b) the email address for the fraud department that I was given on July 13 was not correct, so they apparently did not receive my email, although the email I sent them did not bounce back as undeliverable; c) there is no explanation for my having been repeatedly disconnected today, other than maybe their system shuts down my call because of my account having been flagged as possible fraud, or the customer service phone number is just having connectivity issues.
I have been instructed to send another email to the Virgin Mobile fraud department (to the correct address) and that I should hear back from them within 72 hours. This call lasted 71 minutes, 47 seconds.
I am now going to take a break and send the email to the fraud department.
July 25, 2011
I purchase two top-up cards at Walmart. They can only be purchased in odd increments, so I get one for $60 and one for $40 so the total is enough to top up all three virgin Mobile phones (one is mine, and the other two are for my sons). I lose track of which card has which balance, but figure it doesn't matter because the total will cover all three phone plans. I login to my younger son's $20/mo PayLo account and activate the card. To my dismay, the entire card balance of $60 goes onto my youngest son's account, which is only supposed to be a $20/mo plan. I figure, okay, I guess I'll give him more talk minutes by changing him to the $30/mo plan and then he'll have two months of service paid for.
I go into my account and see that the service rep I spoke to on July 13 (the one who gave me a complimentary $25 so I could talk on my phone until the issues were resolved) actually changed my plan to the $25/mo PayLo plan, which provided far less than my $40/mo Beyond Talk plan. So I go to change my plan back and now I can only get a $45/mo Beyond Talk plan that gives me 300 less talk minutes per month. I am not happy, but would have topped up anyway and sorted it out later, but I do not top up this account because I only have $40 on the other top-up card I purchased. During this, I notice there is now an option for me to add PayPal as a way to pay my bill each month, so I set this up and remove my AmEx card as a payment option.
I go into my older son's virgin Mobile account. His plan is still as it should be: $25/mo Beyond Talk. His account still has talk minutes left, so I do not use the $40 top-up card on his account. I decide to set the $40 card aside until I can purchase another one to cover my account. I remove my AmEx card from his account and set up PayPal instead. I do the same for my other son's account.
July 26, 2011
At 2:59 PM, I'm on my way to pick my son up from school when I get a call from Virgin Mobile. The woman on the phone says she's calling regarding the email I sent to them on July 13 (note that I was told I would get a reply within 72 hours). Over the course of about 20 minutes, she essentially tells me that there was a problem with my credit card and that they have done nothing to fix the problem. I explain that I have quadruple-checked everything to do with my credit card and that it is not the problem, but that there is apparently a problem within Virgin Mobiles system. She tells me their company is having some troubles because they are (doing somethingI cant really understand everything she is saying) with their system. I figure I will just use PayPal from now on and its time for me to let that issue go.
So I explain to her that my account plan is wrong because I signed up for the $40 Beyond Talk plan and now when I go online I can only choose a $45/mo Beyond Talk plan. She tells me that I changed it to the $25 plan. I explain that, no, I did not change it; the Virgin rep I spoke to on July 13 gave me a $25 credit so I could have some talk minutes while the problems were getting resolved and that apparently she changed my plan, although she did not tell me that. I explain that I want to have the $40 plan I signed up for last month. The rep tells me she cannot change it back because I changed it. Now Im really frustrated again and ask to speak to her supervisor. At first she says the supervisor is not available. I ask to talk to a manager or someone else higher up. She puts me on hold for a couple of minutes, then comes back on and tells me she will connect me to her supervisor. I thank her and she puts me on hold.
I am on hold for more than 20 minutes before the supervisor answers. The man asks me what the problem is. I give him a very brief explanation and while Im still talking, he begins talking over the top of me, but I keep talking because I have not finished my sentence. He begins to tell me that he cannot fix whatever is wrong with my credit card. I tell him the problem is apparently in their system, and not with my credit card. But I dont really care about this issue anymore because I think I found a way to resolve it (by using PayPal instead). I begin to explain that the problem right now is that my phone plan was switched and Im being forced to pay $5 more each month for fewer talk minutes and I want the plan I signed up for just last month. He gets irritated and says that I should not be telling him what to do. I try to explain that Im just telling him what I have already done so he knows what he needs to do (makes sense, right?). He does not like that and starts talking over me again, saying that if Im going to tell him what to do, he will end the conversation. I start to tell him that I have spent an enormous amount of time trying to resolve all of the issues and I need him to solve them today because I cant waste anymore of my time, and as Im speaking he hangs up on me. I have been on the phone for 40 minutes, 37 seconds, and am no closer to a resolution of any of the problems.
That was the last straw. I am finished dealing with these fools.
4:30 PM: I call back to see if I can get the names of the last two people I spoke with. I get Victor. He sounds like hes in India. He tells me there is no identifying information in the notations on my account about who I spoke to, but he does tell me that the supervisor was in Nicaragua. This call is 13 minutes, 9 seconds.
I have now spent almost 4 hours and 45 minutes *on the telephone* trying to resolve the issues. Of course that does not include the time it took for me to type up these notes, which is easily 2 or more additional hours.
August 14, 2011
Yesterday was the beginning of a new month of service. I have PayPal set up to pay for my service. I have topped up using PayPal twice in the past 2 weeks.
This morning I log into my Virgin Mobile account to pay for my new month of service. (I did not choose the automatic payment option due to the numerous problems I have already had with Virgin Mobile. Needless to say, I have *zero* trust in them and their payment system.) So I go into my account and try to pay for my monthly service using PayPal. Their system tells me the payment did not go through. I try a couple more times. Same result. I call their Customer Disservice number and the representative puts me on hold to try to process the payment for me. She comes back on and tells me her attempt also failed and that I need to contact PayPal to find out what is wrong with my PayPal account.
Thats the last straw.
I know for an absolute fact that the problem is not on PayPals end. I use PayPal frequently for all sorts of transactions, and have done so for many years. I have never had a problem making payments through PayPal. My American Express card is the problem. PayPal is not the problem. Virgin Mobile IS the problem.
I think I have been far more patient with them than most people ever would be. I am trying to find a job and I cannot be fooling around with Virgin Mobile for several hours every month trying to make a payment so employers can contact me.
I am done with them.