How reliable are Virgin Mobile and their term plans?
November 16, 2009 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Is Virgin Mobile worthwhile for their non-pay-as-you-go phone plans? They've got very competitive prices but I've heard they're terrible for their pay-as-you-go plans. Does anyone have any experience with their term plans? Are they just as bad? The main thing I've heard is their customer service being the worst and that the coverage isn't great. Any thoughts?
posted by Joseppi to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just to say that I've had zero problems with my Virgin pay-as-you-go. I don't use it a lot but it's never been unreliable, and the few times I've used customer service it has been fine. It's also great value - the phone was $15 and I bought $60 minutes which last a year at the $0.20 per minute rate -- you can buy cheaper minutes, but they expire after a month (though they roll over if you buy refills.)
posted by anadem at 10:38 AM on November 16, 2009

I have a Virgin 3-year term plan for my Blackberry and while I've only had it a few months, nothing has really stood out to me - great or awful. Some of their wording was unclear and in my first month I ended up with extra charges because I thought I had free long-distance to certain people, when in fact I didn't but I got that straightened out almost immediately and have been a-okay with it ever since.

Their customer service is usually pretty good, as well. I don't know how they do it but the people on the other end of the phone have ALWAYS seemed actually happy to answer my questions/solve my problems, so that's nice.
posted by hepta at 11:02 AM on November 16, 2009

Note: I am in Canada.
posted by hepta at 11:03 AM on November 16, 2009

They've been bought by Sprint so they're now on the Sprint network, so coverage isn't really that much of an issue. Personally, in terms of coverage, my Virgin pay-as-you-go has been the same as any other provider.

As for their customer service, I find it better than other cell phone providers. I did have some trouble adding minutes to my phone last month and it took me an age to get a live person to talk to but once I was helped quite quickly. And that's really been the only time I've even needed to talk to customer service in the past three years which is also saying something.

Overall, I'm really happy with Virgin and do recommend it. I won't be switching away anytime soon.
posted by jaybeans at 11:05 AM on November 16, 2009

Virgin Mobile is riding the Sprint Network, and in fact was recently purchased by Sprint. Both my wife and myself have used VM for 3 or 4 years and never had a problem. I've only had to call customer service once or twice but once I got through the auto attendant to a live person they were fine.

One thing I noticed is that even though I have no contract with them, when they change pricing or plans they don't force me to change. My existing deal is grandfathered apparently until I choose to change it.
posted by COD at 11:05 AM on November 16, 2009

Response by poster: I checked out their kiosk the other day at the mall just on a whim and everything seems pretty good for the deal. $50 for everything I need (voice, data, voice mail, caller id) and the phone (BlackBerry Pearl flip) is free on a 3-year term. I wanted to get a better idea of what people really thought of them since a lot of the reviews I seemed to have read could well have been written by text-happy, spelling-deficient teens.
posted by Joseppi at 11:15 AM on November 16, 2009

I've been a very happy Virgin Mobile customer in NYC for about four years now. I use the pay as you go plan, since some months are leaner with usage than others. Coverage has been great. I've used my phone at home, in Florida, as well as Boston, and Philadelphia and points in between, with no problems.

Customer service has been helpful, though I haven't needed to contact them more than twice (which I would think is a good thing). As with COD, my price plan is grandfathered in from when I signed up, but their current rates are actually really flexible.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:51 AM on November 16, 2009

We've had VM pay-as-you-go for years, and keep adding phones as the kids get older (we added a third phone three years ago, and MrR has had an account with them for at least 6 years). We went with them in the first place because they were the only PAYG providers who had coverage out here, and now because there's no reason to change. We've never had a problem with their customer service the very few times we've had to call them. The only places we've been where the phones don't work is where there is no service. Have no idea about term plans -- we may look into them when DaughterR uses up all the minutes we've rolled over from our accounts -- she's really the only one who uses a cell phone very often, as she's off at college and that's her primary phone.
posted by jlkr at 12:11 PM on November 16, 2009

Response by poster: So reception for the phone and internet is never an issue? I won't be surfing too much to be honest, but the mobile e-mail is nice. I try to be careful with my money so before I sign up for three years I just want to make sure what I might get myself into is worthwhile. Thanks for the comments so far. Keep them coming!
posted by Joseppi at 12:20 PM on November 16, 2009

I have had a monthly plan with VM for about 4 years, and a pay-as-you-go for a number of years before that. No problems, no complaints.
posted by hworth at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2009

I used it briefly. No problems. Funny you heard that about customer service, they've actually won awards for their customer service in the past (J.D. Power, I think.)
posted by Vhanudux at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2009

I bought a prepaid phone from Virgin with cash, and then used paypal to buy credit online.

Short story is that Virgin suspected me of fraud (apparently using paypal to buy phone credit in a different country than the account is in is indicative of terrorism or something, despite the fact that international traveling is one of the main reasons to buy a prepaid phone), locked the phone, and would not under any circumstances unlock it. I spent hours on the phone with them, spoke with multiple managers, etc. I never even got to use it and I missed one of the job interviews that I had traveled overseas for because I was unreachable. They wouldn't take a return, reimburse me in any way, or really do anything about it whatsoever. I basically just had to eat the $100 I paid for the phone. I ended up getting an AT&T prepaid phone which worked perfectly for the rest of the trip. When I got home I sent Virgin a long and detailed letter about the experience, hoping I could at least get an apology or store credit or just SOMETHING. I got a form letter thank you note in return. Super.

I can't say much about their term plans, but in my limited experience their customer service is bordering on criminal. I wouldn't go near'em again.
posted by skintension at 1:38 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had a virgin mobile phone for about a year. It was awful. Never any reception once I stepped inside a building. Customer service is the worst I have ever experienced with anything I have ever purchased.

I would never use anything from virgin mobile again, even if it were free.
posted by 517 at 1:46 PM on November 16, 2009

I've been on Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go for four or five years now with zero complaints. Of course, I hardly ever use the phone -- that's why I'm on a pay-as-you-go plan. But when I use it, it works fine.

They've been on the Sprint network for as long as I've used them. Can't speak to the internet service part.
posted by Lazlo at 2:29 PM on November 16, 2009

Seconding . . anadem, jaybeans, COD, just about all the answers here. I use the oldschool pay-as-you-go also; I don't use the phone a lot; reception is decent; it's definitely worth it; customer service has been nice to me (when I lost my old phone, etc.) And they do seem to be very good about not forcing people into new plans. They do use the Sprint network, and they have a coverage map on their website so you can check and see if your area has good coverage.
posted by oldtimey at 3:36 PM on November 16, 2009

We have had Virgin's pay-as-you-go for several years now, as their prices are the best for those who don't use very many minutes.


1. Got one of the cheap Kyocera phones and it wouldn't hold a charge. Now have the LG phones and they are fine. I don't think Virgin offers any better brands (like Motorola) in their pay-as-you-go category.

2. Seems to cater to kids and teens, so there is very little "fine print" that you can read and navigate your way through any problems you might have.

3. Terrible, just awful customer service. They don't intend to be bad, but my misfortune is to always be connected with someone who is grossly incompetent.

4. There are no roaming charges... because there is no roaming. If you get outside their pay-as-you-go locations, you lose your service altogether.

5. Our US service couldn't be used just over the border in Canada.

6. There are big holes in places like Montana, even in the cities. Virgin just isn't there.

That said, you may wonder why we are still with them. The answer is that we are going to bail as soon as we decide who has the next most competitive prices.
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:12 PM on November 17, 2009

I have nothing but praise for Virgin Mobile. I got my phone free. I got through to customer service quickly and got refunded for a few text messages that I received from someone I don't know. You just need to be aware that if you don't sign up for one of the prepaid monthly plans or autopay then you'll need to top up every 90 days with $20 or more.
posted by VC Drake at 9:27 PM on November 17, 2009

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