Blogging 365, Day 66: Wrong Number


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Since switching to MetroPCS just a few weeks ago after dumping Virgin Mobile, I’ve been getting a lot of wrong numbers. In fact just minutes after having the phone activated and while still standing at the counter, I received some sort of text invite for an app I didn’t even know the phone had. I honestly think the phone was just handed to me at that point and I hadn’t even had the time to look through it yet.

The calls continue and they all have one thing in common: they are all from Oregon and so far I’ve received them from a school, a pharmacy, the Oregon Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Forensic Institute.

So to all of these places, I have a few words.

To the school: I don’t have a son/daughter named Jordan (name changed to protect the innocent). Besides, I’m not quite sure which gender that name is appropriate for and therefore wouldn’t name any of my kids that.

To Jordan’s parents: Get their ass to school. And when you take them, the secretary wants a doctor’s note to prove they’ve been sick. And oh, Jordan’s prescription is ready at the Generic Pharmacy.

To Generic Pharmacy: I’m not Jordan’s parent so I won’t be picking up his/her drugs.

To the Oregon Chamber of Commerce: I live in California and have never been to Oregon, let alone tried to start a business up there (although I hear it’s very pretty).

To the Oregon Forensic Institute: I’m not crazy and cannot confirm that I will be at my scheduled appointment. And you have the wrong number.

To the kid (from California) who called today asking for Dad: I am a dad – just not yours. Hope you get in touch with him. Maybe you should try going on Maury.

And to all those other random nutjobs who keep calling me: knock it off already.

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Blogging 365, Day 51: The Last Virgin Mobile Post


UPDATE 2/21/13: In the midst of Virgin Mobile’s outage that they are now quietly acknowledging, I got this interesting text today:

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I clicked on the link and it took me here (click image to enlarge or go directly to site):

boost

Ahem. So I went ahead and called my voicemail and it told me exactly what this page reads. This seems very interesting to me since Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile use Sprint’s network. I can’t be sure (nor do I have further proof) but if I had to guess, Virgin is going the way of the dodo and will soon be swallowed up by Boost Mobile.

All of this while they continue to sell phones and charge people for service they can’t use. I smell lawsuit or at least some sort of compensation, which is too bad since we’re moving on (read rest of post).

Has anyone else gotten this? Leave your notes/frustrations in the Comments section.

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For as long as I’ve been a customer of theirs, I’ve always been happy to write about Virgin Mobile’s bargain pricing and decent selection of phones. After all, coming from Verizon where Ann and I were paying well over $100 for two lines, the lure of paying a mere $25 per line (then $35 after a phone upgrade) was just too much to pass up.

And it worked for us. No, their 3G connection (provided by Sprint) is definitely not the fastest out there but it was reliable and did the trick for upwards of 4 years. SMS and MMS messaging were also trusty and only had a few hiccups now and then but nothing that would make me want to leave.

All was well for the longest time and in fact, Ann and I were looking to upgrade to the Galaxy S II once our tax refund was in our hot little hands. Even better? It’s currently selling for $279.99. All we needed was some cash.

Flash-forward to February 16, 2013, the day Ann’s new month started. I get a text from her telling me she wanted to send me a picture but couldn’t for some reason. She tried again and the phone just refused to do it. Later that day she realized that she had no 3G connection and couldn’t get online unless she was using WiFi.

This prompted a call to Virgin Mobile’s Customer Care line and if you have never called them, be prepared because this is what’s in store for you.

I spoke with no less than 8 people with each person “elevating” my call so that it would get higher priority. Each person asked me for the same information and had me do the same things to the phone, which went a little something like this:

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I gave them full access to Ann’s account so that they could try to figure out what was going on. None of it helped and by the 8th person I was becoming utterly annoyed by the service and incompetence of Virgin Mobile’s outsourced call center employees.

The best part? I was disconnected by Person #8 who was supposed to be Tech Support. This after being on the phone for almost an hour. That’s when I became completely unglued and weaved a blanket of obscenities that is still lingering above the house.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I took to social media in the hopes of getting my problem solved. I definitely got responses and emails from @VMUcare but none of them solved the connectivity problem. All they kept asking for was my ZIP code and which error message I was getting.

And for each time they asked, I told them that there was no connectivity or no error messages. All that led to was the resetting instructions you see above which, as you can imagine, didn’t do a thing. I finally threw my hands up after this tweet.

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Then I took to their Facebook page.

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You know, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if people are having problems connecting to their 3G network then there’s a good chance that the network is having issues. This is what was making me even more annoyed because as the complaints continued to roll in about no connectivity, there was not one mention of such an outage. It was only until recently that the word started to get out that there was indeed an outage.

So until things are back up and running, Virgin Mobile customers are getting screwed out of the 3G service that they have already paid for. I do realize that we are paying a dirt-cheap rate for service but it would have been nice if Virgin Mobile would have told us up front that they were experiencing an outage, rather than make us jump through hoops of fire by following useless instructions in the hopes of getting our phones back online.

And should I mention that my phone is fine? Ann’s is the one that does not have connectivity. I’m doing the calling and complaining because she can’t handle dealing with people who are completely clueless, which this situation has confirmed.

Network issues cannot generally be avoided nor can they be fixed in a timely manner. I truly understand that. But what I don’t get is why Virgin Mobile didn’t acknowledge this in the first place so that we, their paying customers, were left in the dark all this time. And if you think what I told you was bad, I’ve read posts from people with iPhones who have been without service for close to two weeks. I’d be twice as annoyed and pissed off if I were one of them considering the unsubsidized price of the phone.

So, all things considered including the way in which the matter has been handled and the way I was treated when contacting Customer Care, we have decided that we are through with Virgin Mobile for good. This situation has proven that when it comes handling an outage, they have no idea how to go about appeasing their customers and would rather lie to us and delay us by having us try pointless phone resetting.

We have already chosen MetroPCS as our new provider and will be making the switch within the week. Until then, our phones will still be active through Virgin Mobile as they have to be if we wish to port our current phone numbers to our new provider, one who offers unlimited everything for $35 per line (with a Family Plan). This beats Virgin’s $35 plan for 300 minutes.

There you go, Virgin Mobile. For your lack of truthfulness regarding the network outage, incompetent call center, and overall poor service over the course of the outage, you are losing two previously loyal customers.

And I get the feeling we won’t be the only ones.

This is indeed my last Virgin Mobile post. You can thank them for making it happen.

Review: LG Optimus Elite for Virgin Mobile


eliteYou might recall a post I wrote in April in which I was debating whether to stick with Virgin Mobile or move on to T-Mobile since Virgin was going to make it practically impossible for users to avoid rate increases by implementing said increases upon the activation of any smartphone released after May 2012.

I thought long and hard about it and decided to stick with them by buying the Optimus Elite, and here is my review of the device which I’ve had for a couple of weeks.

Continue reading

Virgin Mobile to Sell iPhone on June 29


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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all day, you’ve no doubt heard about Virgin Mobile’s earth-shattering yet not entirely unexpected plan to finally bring the iPhone to the U.S. (it’s been in other markets for quite some time now). It will be sold at Virgin Mobile’s site, Radio Shack, Best Buy and “select local retailers” as stated in the official press release.

This comes on the heels of Cricket’s announcement just about a week ago:

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Looks familiar, no?

Let me give you the good news first. Virgin Mobile’s pricing structure remains intact but if you enroll in Auto-Pay, you get a $5 discount on your monthly bill:

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So what could possibly be the bad news? Virgin Mobile will start selling the phones on June 29 at the following unsubsidized prices:

  • iPhone 4 8GB: $549
  • iPhone 4S 16GB: $649

Those prices are $150 more than Cricket’s but Virgin Mobile’s pricing structure has them beat by a little bit in that Cricket only offers a $55 unlimited everything for their iPhone. Of course, “unlimited” data comes that proviso that you will be throttled at 2.5GB of 3G data usage for Virgin Mobile and 2.3GB for Cricket. Still, an iPhone for a little as $30/mo. with 300 minutes and unlimited messaging and web sounds like a good deal. Customers under contract might be paying $30 for data alone.

In the end, is it all worth it? There’s been a lot of buzz about this since Cricket announced their iPhone. Thankfully, the math – never my strong suit – has been done for me via Cult of Mac. They were kind enough to crunch the numbers and come up with this chart of pricing across all iPhone carriers (click to see full article):

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It’s pretty clear that Virgin Mobile has them all beat if you are willing to go with less minutes – does anybody still call anyone anymore? – than Sprint and Cricket per month.

And while it really is a phenomenal deal on the surface, coming up with that initial $549 or $649 that might just be a problem for some customers, myself included. It’s one of those things that, if I decided to go that route, I would have to wait for until next tax time when I usually have some extra jingle in my pocket.

Besides, I’m eyeing the Optimus Elite. It’ll bump my monthly plan to $35 (currently $25) but it seems to be all the phone I need at the moment and not only that, I want to upgrade from my Optimus V. It’s still a good phone but I think it’s time to move up to something better and I don’t feel like switching over to T-Mobile nor do I have $600 lying around the house.

Only time will tell if Cricket and Virgin Mobile take a bite out of the other carriers who offer the iPhone under contract and subsidized but after taking all of this in, what do you think? Will you go for it or take a pass on it?

Virgin Mobile to Raise $25 Plan to $35–Again (UPDATE)


If you are like me and are subscribed to Virgin Mobile’s SMS alerts, then you probably got this message the other day:

Starting 5/27/12, new smartphones will be subject to current plan rates. This will apply if you switch phones.

There was also a link to this site.

In short, here’s what they are going to do to those of us that were grandfathered into the $25 Beyond Talk Plan. If you keep your current Android phone and, by some miracle nothing should ever happen to it, you will be fine until Virgin Mobile decides to screw around with pricing structures yet again.

But chances are your phone will not last forever and you will need a new one. If you wish to retain your $25 Beyond Talk Plan then you will have to buy one of their current Android phones, not a model introduced after May 27, 2012. Upgrading to any phones released after that date will automatically bump you up to their $35 Beyond Talk Plan.

And as of this post, Virgin Mobile hasn’t added much to their Android lineup other than the Venture, a dull model that sports a smallish screen and physical QWERTY keyboard. My guess is that they will be introducing their latest phones, including one called the HTC One s in Canada, after May 27, 2012 in an attempt to entice us to upgrade and automatically enroll in their $35 plan.

UPDATE: Yes, I was right. According to this Engadget article, the HTC EVO 4G will be released sometime in June. This is what your new $35 Beyond Talk Plan will get you.

Image courtesy Engadget

Also, the cut-off date is May 1 and not May 27. See this link.

If this doesn’t sound good to you (and it doesn’t to me), then you can stock up on a few current Android models and just swap them out when the old one dies. This will keep you at the $25 plan since they were models released before the cut-off date.

Or if you don’t use a lot of minutes, you can be like me and start to shop around for another comparable plan like Walmart’s exclusive T-Mobile prepaid plan:

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For only $30/month, you get unlimited web and text plus 100 minutes. While you will take a hit on the minutes (300 vs. 100 for $5 more a month), you get the advantage of having the first 5GB at up to 4G. I can’t recall the last time I even came close to using 100 minutes so this plan would be perfect for me, and no other no-contract plan comes close. Not only that, but the features on the Samsung Exhibit II blow my Optimus V clear out of the water, the real advantage being 4GB internal memory and up to 32GB additional via microSD.

If you’re a Virgin Mobile customer, what do you plan to do? Stick around or move on? I’m kind of leaning toward the Walmart’s T-Mobile plan myself.