Three Weeks Later, Your Helio Phone Is Still Not Activated

Reader Katherine has been trying for the past 3 weeks to get her Helio phone activated and has had no luck. The CSRs say they’re working on transferring her number from Verizon, but when she calls Verizon they say that no one from Helio has called. How mysterious.

Here’s an email she sent to Helio:

Dear Helio,

My name is Katherine [redacted]. This is my SECOND email regarding this problem. I ordered my Ocean from your website, and received it on January 14th, 2008. As of today, January 28th, it STILL has not been activated. I requested to port my number from Verizon Wireless.

On the 14th, I attempted to activate my device online. I mistakenly put the wireless number I wanted to transfer over as the “Account Number” in the form. After I realized my mistake, I called “customer care” on Tuesday, January 15th. I spoke with a gentleman whose name I cannot remember and then a female named Pearl. According to the “customer care” representatives I spoke with on Tuesday, my concerns would be “elevated to a higher department”, and my device was to be activated in 3-5 business days.

I called “customer care” again on Friday, January 18th, and spoke with Ray. I was told again that my device would be activated in another 3-5 business days.

I called again on Monday, January 21st, and was told that my device would be activated by Tuesday afternoon. I called again at 6:00PM PST on Tuesday, January 22nd, and was told that my device would be activated in no more than 24 hours. During this conversation, I said very clearly that I would cancel my service, and return my phone for a full refund if my device was not working within 24 hours as promised.

By this point, each representative I’d spoken with had read back the incorrect account number when “verifying” my information. I’ve explained to every representative I’ve spoken with what happened when I attempted to activate the device on my own, and told them that the Verizon Wireless account number I’m giving them is the correct account number. Still, the incorrect information is repeated back to me each time I call–which tells me that the information I’ve had to repeat on 8 or 9 different occasions is not getting recorded properly.

By Wednesday the 23rd, I was extremely frustrated. My phone was still not activated as promised. I called again–this time, intending to cancel my service, and received the same “3-5 business days” answer. I called back immediately, and asked to speak with a supervisor. The woman who took my call (Florence) not only left me on hold for over 18 minutes, she wasted time asking me questions and NEVER let me speak to her supervisor.

At this point, I explained to her that I had been waiting for almost 10 days for my phone to be activated AND that I’d spent over 3 hours of my life on the phone with “customer care” trying to get this situation straightened out. Each time I called, I was given the same “3-5 business day response”. I told her that I was fed up, and needed to be compensated for the time I’d wasted with this company. She started crying and asked if I would hold while she spoke with her supervisor. After a very long (5-7 minute) hold, she came on the line and said “Please call back in 3-5 business days.” I asked if I was going to be able to speak with her supervisor, and she said, “No,” as she promptly hung up. To recap– no compensation was offered, my phone was not activated, AND my request to speak with a supervisor was denied.

After being treated so poorly by the customer care representatives at 1-888-88-HELIO, I was at the end of my rope. I looked up the phone number for an actual Helio Store in my area, and begged them to help me. The woman I spoke with there was 500 times more helpful than anyone in “customer care.” She gave me a different number (800) 505-3202. I called that number, and initially spoke with Juan.

Juan looked up my account information and history for me. He, again, read the incorrect account number back to me while “verifying” information. In tears, I explained the whole situation to him, and he was able to tell me that the hold up was not on Helio’s end, but Verizon’s. He then said that some one in the “higher department” was working on it, so it should be taken care of in the next day or so. He also said that my bill would be “prorated” as compensation for my troubles. I thanked him for the information he’d given me, and immediately contacted Verizon Wirelsss to see if we could get the process moved along faster.

After a lengthy conversation with Verizon Wireless, I discovered that the last (and only) time Verizon had been contacted by Helio on my behalf was on Monday, January 14th, 2008–when I attempted to activate my device on my own with the wrong information. This tells me that EVERY representative I’ve spoken with at Helio has not only lied to me about when my device will be activated, but also about someone in a “higher department” working to solve this problem.

After finding out that Helio had never even bothered to contact Verizon with the correct account information, I contacted Cayleb at (800) 505-3202. He told me that he understood my frustration, and offered to let me call back if my device was not activated by the end of the week. Well, the end of the week has come and gone. Today begins week 3 of this ordeal.

There are several things I expect once my device is activated. I expect to be credited for the device that has been sitting on my desk gathering dust for the past 14 days. I also don’t even want to SEE a bill for at least 6 months.

As I promised in my first email regarding this issue, I will be contacting the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports with this information. I also have half a mind to post this on every online forum I can find regarding Helio and wireless service.

Thank you for nothing so far,

Katherine, we know you probably like the phone you got from Helio, but this just isn’t worth it. You’re probably not going to get the level of compensation you’re asking for, so you might as well just chalk this one up as a lesson learned and take your business elsewhere. Return the phone. Cancel your account. Go phone shopping. If you wait much longer you might be stuck.

We suspect that after spending 45 minutes in a nearby mall you can find yourself a wireless carrier that will have you up and running that day. Helio has had their shot at your business, now it’s time to throw a little capitalism their way.



Edit Your Comment

  1. MickeyMoo says:

    Can’t she return the first (unactivated) phone – buy another (assuming she still wants Helio (a big IF) and then make sure she inputs the CORRECT information on the activation web page?

  2. Joafu says:

    You were in tears over their customer service, is that what you really want from your wireless provider? I would have moved on after I learned that they hadn’t even contaced Verizon. I’ll never even consider Helio.

  3. bigsss says:

    I agree. There are many wireless carriers who will be more than happy to activate an account on the spot. Forget about Helio. Go with a more reputable carrier.

  4. youbastid says:

    6 months? Get real. Just return the phone and stick with Verizon, or go with someone else. Helio sucks, clearly.

  5. Natheo says:

    I’ve had no problems with my Helio. Service is always good, and it was activated quickly and easily. I don’t know how these things happen.

    Also I don’t understand why you would suffer through it.

  6. Mr. Gunn says:

    Isn’t Helio owned by Sky Dayton from Earthlink, and isn’t he a kinda weird Scientologist guy?

  7. emptydarkone says:

    I would have given it a week, and then found a different carrier. You don’t want to see a bill for 6 months? Get real, and get a real provider.

  8. theblackdog says:

    @invicta: Since when has moving customer support out of the US actually improved it?

    DIAF company shill.

  9. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    You guys are all making a mistake here. Remember, even from their commercials and original marketing on myspace… Helio IS NOT a phone company and the devices they sell ARE NOT phones.

    It was in the commercial. If you call it a phone everyone gets mad at you. That seems to be what they did to her. Moral… Don’t call Helio a phone/phone company and or expect phone service from them.

  10. machete_bear says:

    “I looked up the phone number for an actual Helio Store in my area”

    So there was a store in the posters area, and yet they ordered online anway… Are people that lazy these days?

  11. chiieddy says:

    “I called again at 6:00PM PST on Tuesday, January 22nd, and was told that my device would be activated in no more than 24 hours. During this conversation, I said very clearly that I would cancel my service, and return my phone for a full refund if my device was not working within 24 hours as promised.”

    “By Wednesday the 23rd, I was extremely frustrated. My phone was still not activated as promised. I called again”

    It looks to me that Helios isn’t the only one not making good on their promises. You need to follow through on threats and actually do what you’re going threaten to do, otherwise, what weight to your promises hold? About as much as those from Helios. You’re not getting a response because they don’t really believe you’re going to follow through on your threats.

    On top of this, something tells me you weren’t being overly polite on the phone if their customer service rep is breaking down crying when you request a supervisor.

  12. I had helio for about 5 – 6 months and hated it after the first two months of a reeeally buggy device and poor customer service. They changed a few of their rates around the same time (data first, device protection and text messaging) and according to their TOS I could leave without ETF, so I tried for about 2 weeks over and over and over again.

    Two things I did that were most effective: One of their call centers is in USA somewhere, keep calling until you get it. And the other is to file complaints with the BBB and the FCC. When all was said and done I even had a $20 rebate coming my way (though 3 months later all I keep getting are bills stating $-20 balance)

  13. dink23 says:

    You called it a “phone.” There is your problem right there. That is against Helio’s core values and therefore they reserve the right to be a constant pain in your A$$ much like their annoying commercials.

  14. n/a says:

    When will you people learn, dont buy phones from Helio, they are ran by Scientologists, the Guy who owns Earthlink Sky Dayton started up the Helio phone service, he helped the funding of it, so there is in fact a Scientology connection. Avoid all brands that have been even remotely or connected to Scientology.

    God when will people learn?

  15. n/a says:

    Adding to my post since they dont have an edit button, from the page on wikipedia about Helio.

    “Helio is an MVNO wireless carrier launched on May 2, 2006. It was founded by Earthlink founder Sky Dayton. It is a joint venture between SK Telecom (a South Korean CDMA mobile telecom) and Earthlink.”

    on Sky Dayton

    “Dayton is the founder of EarthLink, co-founder of eCompanies, founder and Chairman of Boingo, and the CEO of Helio. Dayton is married to Arwen Elys Dayton, a science-fiction writer. They are members of the Church of Scientology and they have three children.”

  16. nsxpro says:

    How do you know that Verizon was not making up the story that no one from Helio contacted them?

    You automatically assume that Helio is lying, but Verizon can be just as bad letting go of your number.

    I left Verizon to Cingular (AT&T now) and Cingular could not get my number from verizon for almost 9 days.

  17. bar_merch says:

    I have Helio and ported my number over. The port took 5 mins tops. Before I was in my car I had service.

    “How do you know that Verizon was not making up the story that no one from Helio contacted them?”

    Good point. Verizon royally screwed me over when I was with them, so what makes them so trustworthy? And no, just because you call your device/phone/whatever a phone doesn’t mean the company will hate you forever.

    And since when does religious beliefs have anything to do with electronic equipment? Yes we all know Tom Cruise is crazy, but that doesn’t mean all Scientologists are crazy. I have some friends that are Scientologists that are very much sane. There is so much judgement in the world its sickening. Everyone has a right to be who they want to don’t like it? Get over it and grow up.