Canceling A Virgin Mobile Account is Extremely Difficult

Pre-paid cell phones sound like a good way to stay contract-free in the harsh world of cell phone use, but can a pre-paid account be just as frustrating as a regular phone? Apparently. Reader Sarah writes to share the email she sent to Virgin Mobile. All Sarah wants to do is cancel her account so she can give her phone to someone else. That’s it. Easy right?:

Did I want to Top Up? Did I want to Upgrade My Account? Did I want to Buy An Amazing New Phone? No, no, no. I wanted to get rid of my old and mediocre phone and wash my hands of my old account. JUST LET ME OUT! my mind (and occasionally my mouth) screamed. I WANT THE NO HASSLE NO CONTRACT PART. By that point I would’ve rather paid a cancellation fee. Any supposed benefits to “no commitment” phones were mercilessly mocking me.

I waded through a number of menus and somehow ended up on hold for a very long time. My mother frolicked with the Nintendo Wii in our family room. I stayed on hold. She bowled a strike. I stayed on hold. She hit a home run. I stayed on hold. Generations passed before my eyes, and I was on hold. Life went on around me. Children graduated from high school. And I was on hold.

No commitment, no hassle? Right.

Eventually I got through to a human being. I told him I would like to cancel my account. He asked me why. I wanted to scream that it was because my mother was playing with the Wii and I was aging and I liked my new phone and I hate it when people spell “you” with only a U and WHERE ARE THE NO COMMITMENT PARTS but I just said I found a better deal somewhere else.

Poor Sarah. Read the rest of her email to Virgin inside.

Sarah writes:

A friend mentioned informing all of you about this, so I am doing that. This is a copy of an email I sent to Virgin Mobile a week ago. I decided to just have fun with it, because I am realizing that getting them to do anything or respond in any way is like… doing something very impossible that I lack the proper metaphor to describe.

Email:

I am extremely frustrated with the lack of service I have received. A few weeks ago, I decided to switch cell phone providers, because it was far too expensive to stick with Virgin Mobile prepaid. I got a much better deal elsewhere, and so I got a new cell phone plan. I have a relative who is still with Virgin Mobile and I told her I would give her my old phone as soon as I got my new one. She was quite excited and looked forward to receiving it. I looked forward to giving it to her. All seemed right. After all, the entire purpose of prepaid was the lack of contract. No contract! No commitment! What could be better?

Many, many things, apparently. After repeatedly searching the website, I could find no information on how to cancel my account with Virgin Mobile. I understand that this is not something that any company wants to encourage people to do, but making it completely impossible to find the information is not exactly the best course of action. It does not make me want to stay with your company, and even if I had been considering staying in the slightest, the idea would have been completely banished from my mind upon finding out that the information wasn’t readily available. Such a move seems irresponsible at best, and at worst, childish. I decided to leave it alone: it was prepaid, after all. No contracts! I figured I would just spend the remaining dollar-something in my account and switch the phone over to her.

I tried spending all my money; I couldn’t. I had too little to spend and too much to fully expire. For a no-contract no-hassle no-commitment phone plan, I was starting to feel very tied down by that last 16 cents. I delayed the horror of trying to deal with customer service for as long as I could but it was inevitable. If I wanted to switch the phone to her account, I was clearly going to have to do something more drastic. So I called the dreaded number.

After listening to a number of unnecessarily jovial options (all of them very pro-Virgin Mobile. Like I said, I understand that a company wants business, but it was ridiculous). Did I want to Top Up? Did I want to Upgrade My Account? Did I want to Buy An Amazing New Phone? No, no, no. I wanted to get rid of my old and mediocre phone and wash my hands of my old account. JUST LET ME OUT! my mind (and occasionally my mouth) screamed. I WANT THE NO HASSLE NO CONTRACT PART. By that point I would’ve rather paid a cancellation fee. Any supposed benefits to “no commitment” phones were mercilessly mocking me.

I waded through a number of menus and somehow ended up on hold for a very long time. My mother frolicked with the Nintendo Wii in our family room. I stayed on hold. She bowled a strike. I stayed on hold. She hit a home run. I stayed on hold. Generations passed before my eyes, and I was on hold. Life went on around me. Children graduated from high school. And I was on hold.

No commitment, no hassle? Right.

Eventually I got through to a human being. I told him I would like to cancel my account. He asked me why. I wanted to scream that it was because my mother was playing with the Wii and I was aging and I liked my new phone and I hate it when people spell “you” with only a U and WHERE ARE THE NO COMMITMENT PARTS but I just said I found a better deal somewhere else. He was sorry to hear that. I wasn’t. Eventually he said he would cancel my account. I went on hold for a while longer. I came back. I was told something about 60 days and 90 days and I don’t know what it was. I don’t want 60 days, I don’t want 90 days, I don’t want 60 seconds. I want my account cancelled. Done. I am through. If I had ever even wanted to consider coming back, that moment is now going. It is over. I want out. We are done. This relationship is no longer working.

I asked him about transferring my phone. He said it would be no problem.

It has been a week and it is still a problem. I am not sure what part of CANCEL MY ACCOUNT is hard to understand, but here it is again: CANCEL MY ACCOUNT. I AM DONE WITH VIRGIN MOBILE. DONE. END IT. DELETE MY INFORMATION. LET ME SWITCH THE PHONE AND BE DONE WITH THIS. There is no reason to perpetuate the insanity any longer.

My phone serial number is ****. Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, switch that phone over to ****. It is not stolen. It is not missing. It is not a mistake. The phone is just waiting to be used by someone who will enjoy it. I am not going to wait sixty or ninety days to switch my phone to her account. I am done with it RIGHT NOW. I was done with it a week ago.

***

They have not replied in any way, not even a form letter. The phone still can’t be switched.

So much for no hassle phones. We’re starting to think two tin cans and a string is our only option. —MEGHANN MARCO