Virgin Mobile And Walmart Team Up To Make Great Mobile Broadband Plan Disappear

Scott tried to do a nice thing and buy a low-cost, low-bandwidth mobile Internet plan for his mother. Unfortunately, there’s some confusion between Virgin and Walmart, and the plan that Scott thought he was buying has disappeared into a reality vortex. One where customer service reps insist that he purchased the item from Walmart.com when he didn’t.

I’ve purchased the Ovation MC760 from Wal-Mart in an effort to receive their 20 dollars/1GB Broadband2Go service for my mother. Went home, activated – the 20 dollar option isn’t available. Customer service says I bought it from Walmart.com, though I have the in-store receipt with terminal number, etc. CSR suggests I go back and exchange it – for some reason. I do – and get home. Still doesn’t work. This time they say that Wal-Mart has to activate it (earlier Wal-mart employees said they had no further process for the Broadband2Go). Take it BACK to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart employee did great work to call them and see what they needed since Wal-Mart couldn’t activate it and he’s being told that I bought it at Wal-Mart.com (despite seeing the in-store receipt for BOTH purchases).

I return the device and buy YET ANOTHER MC760 right in the store as he’s in the phone with Virgin Mobile Customer Service. She hears the transaction and processes it, activates it on the phone (because he cannot) and then…tells me that it’s not giving her the 20 dollar/1GB option. I need to wait 1-2 hours for it to “update” (earlier they could make it update on command). I tell her I’ll gladly stay on the line with her instead of calling back like she asks – and she says that it’ll be 3 hours. Then 4. Then 5 max.

Finally I ask for another supervisor who promises, on an audio recording, that it’ll be ready in 1-2 hours. That was at 9pm Central. It’s 11:25am the next day and it’s not working. Know why? Because according to Virgin’s Customer Service rep of the day – I bought it at Wal-Mart.com.

I have a (crappy) picture of the 20 dollar/1GB option. Stories abounded 2 weeks ago about it. I have audio (over 20 minutes of the vague reasons she gave for it not working and then the promise that it will work).

Either this is a terrible case of bait and switch, or a massive miscommunication between Virgin Mobile and Walmart.

Comments

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  1. kylere1 says:

    The common theme for most issues on Consumerist is shopping at Walmart or Best Buy. Can we just put a banner that says, “No Smart Human Being shops at Walmart or Best Buy” and report other issues?

  2. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    I don’t think it’s miscommunication between Virgin Mobile and Wallyworld…more like a miscommunication between Virgin Mobile and the call center over in India.
    Hey OP, you must have the patience of a Saint cause I do believe I would have told them where they can place their phone after the second failed attempt, but that’s just me.

  3. Gravitational Eddy says:

    No Kylere1, you can’t stab Wallyworld like that. I shall defend them.
    Don’t even think Walmart is in the same league as BestBuy.
    Any place you can buy beer -and- readymade fried chicken can’t be all bad.

  4. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    I had same sorta problem when I bought my virgin mobile phone from Target. The issue was virgin has about 3 different barcodes on the product and 2 of them have to be scanned and process before it could work. When I got it from Target the 1st time they only scanned the price code, was forced to return and rebuy where diff clerk scanned all the codes but apparently one was not to be scanned so had to return it again but they let me keep it this time but it did take 3 days before virgin was able to activate it (was purchased on a friday, couldve had something to do with weekend although virgin customer service is 24/7). I bet you its the same problem and some code isn’t being entered in the right sequence.

  5. nandhp says:

    Is it worth noting that the Virgin Mobile website only lists plans 100MB/10 days/$10 and Unlimited/1 month/$40? Does Walmart have some special plan that’s not on the website?

  6. Jeff says: "WTF could you have been thinking?" says:

    I am mired in VM quicksand myself right now. Bought a phone and a $20 airtime card last night and brought it home to activate it on the internet. Process went smoothly, got a couple of texts indicating my account was active and giving me my new phone number. Except, the phone is not able to make or receive calls because, according to the message i get on the phone when I try to call out, “You do not have enough money in your account to make this call.” CS sees my 20.00 ‘Top Up’ card was applied and the account shows 0/400 minutes used. I am then informed it may take up to 4 hours for it to become active and I will receive a text message when this occurs. Guess what? Its now 16 hours and no phone yet. I called CS again this AM and have an urgent trouble ticket pending. Just what I want from a new service: Delays and empty promises.
    I’ve had my Boost Mobile for 6 years with only 1 or 2 hiccups in all that time.

    • incident_man says:

      I used to work in the wireless industry and there are WAY more problems with Virgin Mobile than with Boost. Virgin is simply not worth the hassles.

  7. TampaShooters says:

    Obvisously the plan is no longer offered, and they haven’t updated their advertisements, it’s not rocket science. Move along, and get on with your life..

    • mrscoach says:

      If it is no longer offered they should know about it, and Walmart should not sell it. The CS didn’t say it wasn’t offered, only that it wasn’t giving them the option to choose on the screen. If it wasn’t available at all the CS should know that.

  8. DragonThermo says:

    It must be a miscommunication. I purchased a Virgin Mobile Mifi a few weeks ago from Walmart because it cost less than buying it elsewhere, before the $20/1GB promotion was announced. I see the $20/1GB option on my device’s account web page.

    Maybe some EISN (or whatever it’s called) allocated to walmart.com and some allocated to Walmart stores, but the one the OP got was originally allocated to walmart.com but was re-allocated to the physical store?

  9. CorinneVMU says:

    Hi Laura -

    Corinne from Virgin Mobile Public Relations here. We would like to be able to help Scott and look into this matter. Can you please have Scott email me and include his ESN number from the MC 760 Ovation device as well as his contact information including best telephone number to reach him on and email address. Please ask him to email social@sprint.com and in the subject line include Consumerist – Walmart/MC 760 Ovation device.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance in helping us to work to resolve this issue.
    Corinne

  10. daveSH says:

    This is no surprise since Sprint took over Virgin mobile! I’ve had Virgin Mobile for several years now and have been quite satisfied (other than the relatively poor coverage inherent with the Sprint network). But after Sprint took over several odd things have been happening (like Auto Top-Up not working, an increase in minimum top-up amount, without telling me, harder to talk to a real person, etc.).

  11. LastError says:

    This one is extra hilarious because Walmart stores and Walmart.com have traditionally insisted they are two different companies and will not honor each others pricing.

    There used to be a real internal wall between the two divisions. Things seem to be better these days but it’s still like two siblings who do not exactly get along.

    The retail stores certainly would not be selling merchandise that actually belongs to the dot com side.

  12. coren says:

    Maybe I’m just used to the “unlimited” comcast plan, or don’t know enough about mobile broadband, but 20 bucks a gig seems…excessive to me.

    • scorpionamongus says:

      It is excessive, especially when you can buy a phone directly from VM and use one of their ‘Beyond Talk’ plans, which start at $25 a month for unlimited web and text and 300 anytime minutes.

  13. Yorick says:

    I’ve had a VM phone for a few years without any major hassles, except every time they redo their website, things get borked. The most recent one conceals the ability to pay the bill on a monthly plan onto a page you generally wouldn’t get to — one which I found some minutes after completing a call with their customer service to do the same thing. (On the plus side, they gave me 75 extra minutes for the inconvenience)

    Maybe it would be different if I did anything other than use the phone. I have no use for mobile internet.

  14. CorinneVMU says:

    Just to follow-up on the original post regaring this….Virgin Mobile did reach out to Scott to resolve this matter; however we never heard back from Scott with the necessary information. We will update this post if/when we hear back from him.