Dear Virgin Mobile Canada, Jim Balsillie, and RIM… – December 9, 2010 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – Dear Virgin Mobile, Jim Balsillie, and RIM.    I’ve been with Virgin Mobile for nearly six years now.  Who can live without a cell phone after all; especially in business?

I started with a pay as you go and then moved to a 3 year plan after the phone died.    Recently I made the move to a “Smart Phone” only it seems as though I got stuck with a “Dumb Phone”.

I went to the kiosk and had to choose between an iPhone and a Blackberry Torch.  I liked having a keyboard and it felt more solid than an iPhone.

I went with “The Tab” which meant I was spending about $679.00 putting up $179 and tabbing out the rest.    I opened my new phone with all those manuals, bells and whistles and all was well for the first few days and then my new Torch flamed out.   It died in its sleep and wouldn’t wake up.

I phoned Virgin Mobile customer support; something akin to putting needles in my eye only to be told I had to return it to the kiosk who of course didn’t have a replacement.  Maybe next week I was told.   I phoned Virgin and they explained that they’d make an exception and mail me out another phone reminding me that if they don’t get the first phone back I get dinged for it.

Well my business was without a phone for a week, but I was happy to have the new one in.   Of course my data was gone and I had to re enter a bunch of info, but at least I could use my phone for work….that was until it started freezing.    I was told by a few people that this happens with this model.

So I called Virgin Mobile and they said “Send it back and we’ll send you another.”   I told them that I simply couldn’t afford another week without a phone, not too mention all this time with customer support.   At this point my monthly bill came in, a whopping $179 and the system wouldn’t let me in to see it.  I was told that I wasn’t registered which was odd as I’d been looking at my bills online for nearly 3 years!   This had happened recently when they switched from the old system to the new system for my old phone also.

I’d called customer support so often over the last year that it almost felt like I could work in their customer support.

So I told them Nyet.  I don’t want a Torch any longer.  I felt burnt.  I said just turn my old crappy phone back on because at least it worked as a phone.   And the rep actually told me they’d do that, but that I’d have to pay the full TAB!!!

At that point I asked for a supervisor, but none was available.   Two days later one called and offered to replace my Torch with…another Torch.  I said Nyet.  No more Torch for me.   He offered me half off for 3 months and I told him I didn’t want money.   I just wanted a phone that worked because there’s nothing like being in a sales meeting and going to show someone The Cornwall Free News on your new smart phone (or dumb phone) and having the screen freeze.

I asked for his supervisor and he promised that someone would call.   Nobody ever has.

So now Virgin Mobile,  Jim Balsillie ( I still think the NHL shafted you and that you should have your hockey team in Canada) and RIM I’m in this situation where I have a phone that freezes that I have no confidence in and a bill due that I can’t read.

I’m thinking this isn’t really productive or good.   I don’t want to call your customer service anymore because frankly I don’t have any faith in having my issue resolved.

What I’ve been told by a few friends is that you’ll just bill me to death, and unless I pay what you want, send it to collection and trash me  for nothing which is sad because for all this time you’ve been getting my money each and every month.

I know in business; like in life, the difference between winners and losers is how you deal with adversity.  Is this really how you are going to handle this Virgin Mobile?  Is this really how your company operates?

I for one hope not.  I for one hope that there’s a happy ending to this story and all that anecdotal information I’m getting is totally wrong.

We shall find out soon…..


So I phoned customer support to give them one last try.   I’m still on hold after speaking to two people with heavy accents.  (It turns out the call centre is in the Philippines)   One suggested that they might send me a different phone but that I’d still be on a tab which is a bit confusing.  I explained that I bought the phone in good faith.  It didn’t work out and I simply want to be taken care of for this mess.    The call ended with him assuring me the proper notes were added to my file and that guess what?  Someone would be calling me!


Monday December 13.   Ring Ring.  It’s the doorbell and what’s on my step, but a new Blackberry Torch.  This after I clearly told the rep from the Phillipines last week I din’t want any more Black Berry Torches.

I phone Virgin and get a non-Phillipine support person.

I still can’t see my bill online other than a total.  She explains the bill to me line by line and sure enough when I migrated to the Torch and was promised quite clearly by the sales rep that none of my phone features and billing would change they’d dropped my 400 free Long distance minutes.   They also had roaming charges even though my phone is set to only work off of the Home Network.

I now have two Blackberry Torches I don’t want and almost $400 in phone bills for two months when my monthly should only be about $75!!

40 minutes into this call and I’m waiting for a supervisor before I give up on them and go get my phone number ported over to a new phone with another company.

What a total waste of my time.   Even the clerk admitted that I’m not the only person having issues with the Torch regarding Freezing.

UPDATE 4-  3:24 on December 13, 2010

Someone named Jeremy from Virgin posted in our comments section below while I’m hold with Virgin.

Hey there – This is Jeremy, I’m the Social Media and Community Manager here at Virgin Mobile. Sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad time with your phone. Talli passed this link on to me after offering to help you here a week ago.

In your original post you say that “I don’t want to call your customer service anymore” so we’ve offered to help you through email. Yet in your last update you say you want to call in again, so I have to admit I’m a bit confused. We’d love to help you out through this forum or through email, all we need is for you to email us at hello@virginmobile.calike Talli originally offered.

Of course we would have an account for you with info in it, but since this is an anonymous posting we have no way of knowing who you are. Talli or myself would need you to email us with your name and phone number so that we can access your info.

Again, we’re here for you and would love to help you out. All we need is for you to email us and we hope you do.


So I emailed Jeremy and the hello address and received an auto-reply that someone should get back to me in two business days.

In the meanwhile the first clerk I was on hold with, Terry, came back on to chat with me even though I’d asked for a supervisor to tell me she could give me 100 Free Long Distance minutes and I explained to her that when someone says there will be no changes to a contract and there is that’s an issue.

Now I’m still waiting for a supervisor…

UPDATE  5 – 3:55 PM

Spoke with Talli who posted below and there’s now a glimmer of hope.  A ray of sunshine peeking through this wasted morass of blackness.   🙂

Update 6 –  4:12 PM

Another chat with Talli – am waiting to see the old phone ring and be active again.   More rays of hope….


Talli was amazing.  I wish all cell phone companies had that kind of support.  She patiently sifted through the mess and addressed all of our issues.

I sent back the third Torch that the rep in the Phillipines sent over my protests as well as Torch number two that was freezing and my old regular cell phone was reactivated.    My account was cleaned up and I’m on month to month now.

I’m still going to be looking for a mobile net solution for 2011, but I’m going to wait a bit more and see what comes onto the market.

While Talli was impressive and I give Virgin full kudo’s for having people there I’m not 100% sure I’m going to stick with Virgin.

It’s time to start checking out all of the competition….

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

If you’re having a problem with a customer service issue or a bad business experience you can email us at and if we see merit in your case we’ll try and help you get it resolved!

Syljack Best Western Cornwall Schnitzels


  1. Good luck.. its like pulling teeth.. especially when you have to deal with a foreign country instead of here at home to get any real service.. Next time, scrap the RIM, go for the IPhone.. Crackberry’s suck..

  2. All smartphones have have issues with freezing and overheating at some time or another. The price of underdeveloped tech. I suppose.

    I do, however know the manager of the Cornwall Square kiosk very well, and showed her your article. She’s really great at solving these kind of problems, and suggested that you bring your phone to her to try to resolve it for you. At the very least, she can escalate it on your behalf and get the wheels turning a bit faster.

    Give the kiosk a call at (613) 938-6445 to arrange a time when she’ll be in.

  3. The boyz and their toyz, lol

  4. Author

    Antogonizer. Actually there are a couple of folks at the Cornwall Square Virgin Kiosk that are really good. At this point it’s systemic with Virgin and I just don’t want to have to go through some of these “artificial” hurdles any longer and I didn’t know their customer care was in the Philippines.

    We have companies like Star Tek and Teleperformance right here in Cornwall and there are others in Canada. I like to keep things as local as possible. I’m hoping that the supervisor at Virgin calls back and fixes this, but my long term relationship with any company that farms services overseas is something that is a factor in me doing business with them. For example it’s why I now boycott Hershey Chocolate after they moved their factory to Mexico from Smiths Falls.

  5. When I had issues with Bell that I had to call in about, I ended up speaking with a representative in India. It took a while, but this rep. finally escalated my call to a technical support agent, who was, fortunately, in Canada who gave me the best advice I’ve ever received.

    He told me that when I call in, to choose the ‘french’ option. Those called get directed to call centers here in Ontario and Quebec and nine times out of ten, they speak english. If you get someone who doesn’t, just call back till you do. He told me that they often have more authority that the foreign centers and higher standards for call resolution. It did, in fact, work like a charm.

    BTW, Startek is an outsource for an American company. Most businesses route their calls away from the area you’re calling from to avoid fraud, i.e. setting up a buddy’s phone with unlimited minutes.

  6. You know how to avoid India or another foreign country for assistance? ask for the French queue and then ask them to speak in English.. Most of those workers know how to speak English, works every time for me whenever I have an issue..

  7. Having worked on behalf of Bell at call centres, all I can say is that our phone service, internet and TV now comes from Cogeco.

    If you do have to call about your Bell “service” try not to be too hard on the representative who answers the phone. True, some of them do seem like complete idiots, but most of them work very hard to resolve the issue at hand. Remember, these people have very little latitude, and they too are fighting a corporate culture which is to extract the maximum money from the customer while providing the minimal service they can get away with.

    My biggest problem with any of the cell companies is that they always charge an exorbitant rate for long distance. In the US and most of Europe, long distance calls (at least within the same country) cost the same as local calls, and given the US experience, there is absolutely no reason to charge for long distance in Canada.

  8. I used to work for many call center’s as well.. and quite frankly, one of the reasons I despised working for call centers is because management started trying to cut the talk times to sub 5 minutes while putting pressure on the reps to either meet those demands or else.. How would you feel as a customer, if you knew that the service you were paying out the wazoo for (we do pay the most and get the least for what we pay for here in Canada vs. other countries), and all you are worth to them is 5 minutes and then get off the phone? and then to top it all off, having to bounce through various queues while speaking to foreign countries that know utterly nothing about the way things work here? It really says a lot about these companies that charge us so much for the services we require..

    But I do agree with the Watcher, its not the rep’s faults, it is almost always management fault or bureaucratic fault with what the reps are literally whipped into doing..

    Notice the rep has to come on for example and state how long they are placing you on hold, and how they have to come back and advise you again thanks for waiting and etc and how they have to ask to place you on hold again if required, etc.. and they have to check on you every 5 minutes.. the company does this in order to promote good customer service…

    Want to promote good customer service? Start handling the issues that people are calling in about instead of whipping your reps to drop the customer after 5 minutes, etc.. Actually spend time with the customer and figure it all out once and for all instead of further aggravating the customer by having them call in again..

    I have personally witnessed some higher ranked reps in call centers, actually hanging up or dropping customers just to meet the ludicrous call time requirements that management sets out in the first place.. which is just wrong, but you cant blame the rep when its their job on the line!

  9. So has anyone called to resolve this issue?

  10. Author

    Nothing since yesterday’s chat with the Phillipines….

  11. Hey there. This is Talli and I work here at Virgin Mobile. I am so sorry for this frustrating experience. I’d love to help you out. Send me an email at with your contact info and I’ll take care of you.

  12. VirginMobileCan with such little service, I am surprised you are still in business. I had a virgin phone once, never again.

  13. Jamie…please do let us know what happens when you contact VirginMobileCan.

  14. Author

    Hi Jacqueline, I’m kinda hoping that they call back as their customer rep said someone would do…..

  15. Jamie, I would suggest you take the help of Talli.. Hate to say it, but expectations when it comes to big wireless is usually nil.. If she want’s to help you, then let her do so.. at least it will make someone in the country proud to help you.. 😉

  16. I have an Iphone i’ve had mine for 7 month now i’ve had no problems with it at all ive had a few blackberry’s and they were all pure junk and vowed that when virgin got the iphone i would get one and i did and have had no problem with it at all

  17. Well, I went out of my way to contact my friend at the Virgin kiosk who, in turn, offered to help you, then you got another offer from VirginMobileCan who, from net searches of her email, seems to be a Canadian Corporate rep and you turned both down.

    Honestly, it just seems to me you’re more interested in trying to make some point than actually getting your phone fixed, reinforced, of course, by the fact that I didn’t see any ‘update’, to that effect, in your article. Better customer service than I ever got with Bell, I’d say.

    Anyway, I’d suggest you take Grimalot’s suggestion and contact Talli, if you really want your problem solved and not just fuel your article.

  18. Author

    antagonizerr it’s not been several phone calls to Virgin. While I appreciate the offer from the Kiosk I have zero faith in the Torch and zero faith that it will give me any sort of good service for a year or two and for $659 that’s what I expect and want. Good service.

    The issue here, why I wrote this piece, is because of the time I spent already with customer support, waiting for phone responses etc.

    There’s no hidden agenda. I gave this phone two chances and they’re dragging their heels and ignoring the issues for whatever reason they have whether it’s a linguistic mess in the Phillipines or simply not wanting to do right by their long time customer.

  19. @admin “simply not wanting to do right by their long time customer…”

    Seems to me that the kiosk and VirginMobileCan tried.

    I don’t say that “hidden agenda” is the right term. More of a shoebox prophet trying to make a point and negating things that usurp that point.

  20. Author

    Antagonizer I’m not going to be antagonized with 🙂

    It’s wonderful that someone from the Kiosk offered you, an anonymous poster to assist. Virgin has my file well documented and can contact me at any time. I’m going to call them again on Monday for one last shot at the bucket before I switch my number to a new company with a new phone.

  21. @admin “Antagonizer I’m not going to be antagonized with”

    That’s unfair now. If someone’s name was Dickinson, would you call him a pedophile? lol

    Just pointing out the obvious chum.

  22. I told you not to get the crackberry Jamie and to go for the IPhone.. Seems like antagonizer went above and beyond to try to get you some help as well.. These big companies don’t give a crap Jamie, and when someone is offering to try to help you out, especially from a registered Canadian location, I would accept that help as previously stated.. either that, or like I said above, ask for french queue and then speak english with the rep.. that will at least avoid you ending up in a foreign country..

    It’s again, not the rep’s fault, it is solely the way the company is set up in order to assist you as cheaply as possible.. (again, remember sub 5 minute talk times and the supervisor whipped reps)

    I used to work for a company once, not wireless but for internet, and there was a particular district that was always having “Known Issues” (which I bet they still do even 10+ years later), and you know what the company did instead of telling the customer right off the bat it was a known issue (like Rogers actually does)? They would have all the customers calling from that district, to end up in a queue where it was just constantly playing “Animaniac’s” over and over and over and over.. Sometimes a customer would actually wait on the phone line for over 2 hours to finally get to me, and finally find out for sure it was “yet again” a known issue.. Then they crap on you for waiting 2 hours while listening to animaniacs over and over and I would say, why did you do that? I mean there was nothing much more I could say, but the company itself just didn’t want to lose customers in that district and would never admit on any recorded line that it was yet again “known issues”… These big companies think like that, they literally don’t care for anything but your money.. when you get a rep such as Talli (who wants to actually help you out, like I would offer to my customers to actually help them out), then you take that offer, she has more pull then some average reps because she actually works for a kiosk and not for an outsourced call center (which I guarantee in any case you are reaching)..

    I remember customers calling in that wouldn’t speak to the rep they got at all, they would be asking for me by name in many of the different call centers.. because I did what Talli would do for you for them…

    The other way, write in a written complaint, the companies have to act on that..

    Either or, if Tony Cote is still doing Action Line in Ottawa, sick him on them.. he’ll get your problem resolved.. 😉

  23. Hey there – This is Jeremy, I’m the Social Media and Community Manager here at Virgin Mobile. Sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad time with your phone. Talli passed this link on to me after offering to help you here a week ago.

    In your original post you say that “I don’t want to call your customer service anymore” so we’ve offered to help you through email. Yet in your last update you say you want to call in again, so I have to admit I’m a bit confused. We’d love to help you out through this forum or through email, all we need is for you to email us at like Talli originally offered.

    Of course we would have an account for you with info in it, but since this is an anonymous posting we have no way of knowing who you are. Talli or myself would need you to email us with your name and phone number so that we can access your info.

    Again, we’re here for you and would love to help you out. All we need is for you to email us and we hope you do.


  24. Author

    Hi Jeremy,

    So far so good! I spoke with Talli this afternoon and there’s much hope that this will work out.

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