Melting Pot

The Virgin Mobile Experience, Part 1

Shortly after returning to Pittsburgh, I got a new cell phone. I opted for Virgin Mobile because they had a reasonably priced phone with a ton of great reviews and a suitable monthly plan that is cheaper than the one I previously had with Cricket Wireless. Now that AT&T has bought out Cricket and started making big changes (some of them totally reprehensible) their prices have gone up so Virgin is saving me even more money. Granted the Cricket plans are “unlimited” everything and my plan with Virgin is the 300 minutes plan. But I never talk to anybody so it is more than enough. In the 4-ish months I have had the phone my average monthly minute usage is 15 minutes per month. Like I said, I never really talk to anyone on the phone. I text and email. Those are unlimited in my plan with Virgin. So it works for me.

The story, of course, does not end here. The first week I had the Virgin phone (I selected their ZTE Awe) the battery life sucked. I mean really really sucked. The reviews say it lasts all day even with constant use. Ha! I would wake up and unplug the phone around 7 am. After spending roughly fifteen minutes at most reading and responding to a handful of emails (and deleting the inevitable newsletters I never read and really should just unsubscribe from) and browsing Instagram, the battery would already have drained by about 50%. I wrote to them via the contact form on their web site and within a couple of days had a response that likely there was an issue with the battery. They sent a replacement battery that arrived within a week of their email response.

The new battery had a better life span on each charge, but it still did not come anywhere close to the 8-10 hours I should have been getting based on the reviews and the phone details provided by Virgin in the description. But it was an improvement and I am not often away from a charger so I figured I would live with it.

Fast forward a few weeks and things had changed. I was ready to throw the phone against the wall. The battery issues had returned and brought some friends as backup. The data connection constantly dropped, the keyboard would close while I was trying to type, keys would “stick” or not work, the touch screen became unresponsive. Huge pain in the ass.

Once again I fired off a message to customer support explaining my problems and asking what could be done. A factory reset was suggested. I backed up my pictures and such on the computer and followed the instructions to do the reset. Afterward, the trouble continued and some of the problems were actually worse.

CS sent me a replacement phone and a postage paid envelope to return the non working phone to them.

Upon activating the new phone it needed to be swapped on my account so I could keep my previous number. Being new to Virgin’s system I had no clue how to do this (it turns out it is simple) but CS explained it to me and also offered to take care of the swap for me this time but I had to provide the new phone serial number and give written consent for them to make the change to my account. Did that.

They replied that the serial number provided seemed to be incorrect and it showed in their system as either incorrect or belonging to another provider. I double checked the number I had sent them and it was in fact correct. I took a picture of the number as verification and sent it to them.

The latest response was they had to escalate the support request to a “specialist” of some sort and I was told to write back in 72 business hours to see what solution if any had been reached.

72 business hours will come tomorrow afternoon.

In the mean time, the new phone is giving me some of the same trouble then old one did but knock on wood it is not nearly as bad. (Yet.) At this point I think it is probably a safe assumption this particular phone just sucks and when possible I ought to upgrade to something better. For now it will do.

So far my experience with Virgin Mobile has been a bit of a headache. But I do have to say that their customer support has been awesome. That counts for a lot.


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