Monday, August 20, 2007

Need an Accommodation? Virgin Mobile will Hang Up!

Last night, I called the Virgin Mobile center to activate my son's phone. In the past, I had activated previous phones online. Our internet was down, so I used my captioned phone to make the call.

I got as far as the request for a V-key number when I had to stop a moment to ask my son what his V-key number was. Since the captioned phone was already a bit delayed, the Virgin Mobile automated system transferred me to a live representative before I could go further.

Hmmmm, I thought to myself, it might be easier to let the live rep help me through this activation. Dawn, the Virgin Mobile live rep, came on the phone and explained that there would be a ten dollar charge to activate the phone with a live person.

So I explained my dilemna and mentioned that under the Americans With Disabilities Act, I should be able to get some assistance without having to pay the fee. After all, if I had normal hearing, it wouldn't be a problem activating the phone.

"Oh no, we charge everyone ten dollars, regardless of the situation," was the reply. "You can activate it online." Again, I explained that my DSL line was not working. I couldn't even call by videophone.

It was late at night, I had no other option. The libraries were closed and it was too late to bother a neighbor for online access.

I asked for a manager. Tory, the manager came online. The response was the same: No, we will not accommodate your needs, we will have to charge you ten dollars.

I was tired, I was cranky and I was already on the phone for nearly forty minutes trying to make the staff at Virgin Mobile aware of how they could be a bit more accommodating to people with disabilities. I explained that if they were unwilling to help, that I would file a complaint with the Department of Justice. What happened next floored me.

They hung up.

So today, I made another phone call. The same thing happened-- the captioned phone could not keep up and I was again transferred to a live rep. Again, I tried to explain and ask for a manager. I explained to the manager and got the same response: No exceptions made-- if you want assistance we have to charge you ten bucks.

This time, I hung up.

I ditched the captioned phone and decided to use the text relay on my mobile phone. Making a call using text relay via thumb typing requires a large amount of time. I desperately needed to activate my son's phone because I was leaving the house later in the day and had to communicate with him. The same thing happened with the relay operater--we were transferred to a live rep before we could finish activating the phone.

I didn't even make it half way through my explanation of why I needed assistance in activating the phone and wanting the fee waived--

They hung up on me.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the Virgin War.


Anonymous said...

You need to file a complaint with the FCC. There is an online form -- be sure you use the words "I am filing a complaint" or it gets filed as a comment. Look under, and then go to DRO -- disability rights office.

MB said...

UNBELIEVABLE!!! You should definitely file a complaint. Actually I think you should file a complaint for each of the times it happened.

pix9thorpe60 said...

Yes, you need to file complaint with A.D.A and F.C.C. It seem not right when you are tried to talk .. every time they hung on you after require to pay for ten dollars. Seem unfair!

Kind of serious! File complaint at FCC. and Disabitiy Right Office.


NG said...

Wow... just wow. I hope you do file the complaint. The fact that this happened twice shows that it's not just one incompetent employee but rather a systemic problem with the way they do business. And that needs to change.

Amy said...

Oh, man, that makes me so angry!

Anonymous said...

What specific accomodation do you need in this situation?

Everyone who calls by phone, needs to pay ten dollars. If you were hearing, nothing would change. So?

Karen said...

Anonymous asked:
"What specific accomodation do you need in this situation?

Everyone who calls by phone, needs to pay ten dollars. If you were hearing, nothing would change. So?"

It was impossible to complete the activation via Captel or relay because the delay in response meant an automatic switch to a live rep.

Dianrez said...

I had similar difficulties with Virgin years ago when I gave a cell phone to my daughter, then in junior high school. I paid the ten dollars.

A year later, when the prepaid service ran out I tried to add more money from a credit card while on the road, using my daughter as interpreter. They refused, for reasons not clear to me, but probably had to do with not being able to provide the magic secret password. What, I could not add money to a known phone number? They were refusing to take my money??

Because of that, we were unable to contact anybody at home until hours later, when we arrived to a very worried family.

Virgin has since sent me many, many emails offering me tempting offers to renew my service. Sorry, Virgin, I don't patronize you anymore.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the FCC website where you can file a complaint.
And for the person who said file a complaint with ADA, that isn't how the ADA works. You have to sue someone, which requires a lawyer, etc. etc. The FCC is the appropriate agency to handle this. Good luck!

Marti said...

Oh that is horrible! Yes, you should definitely file a complaint! I hope it will all work out for you!

Anonymous said...

Unreal. Just totally unacceptable. Kick some tail, Karen.

(ethan's mom, has a new handle, too many heathers in blogland)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I think you missed something in her story. When you activate through their automated system, the charge is free. When you activate through a live person, the charge is $10. A hearing person can call and used the automated system easily. Since we can't use the automated system due to the relay service and delays, we are forced to use the live person, and therefore, the $10 fee.

I have experience filing a complaint with the DOJ. I believe I sent the letter in 4 months ago and have heard nothing. Anybody else have experience with sending in a complaint?

MB said...

I e-mailed Virgin and their response made it clear they didn't even read my complaint!

"To help me expedite your resolution, can you please provide me your name, Virgin cell number and your vKey (numeric security code), date, method and amount of your last Top Up and any more details about your experience?"


Anonymous said...

I am a retailer and I agree with the $10 fee. Regardless if the person is disabled.

The area we are in seems to draw in people who want their phone activated.

Many people can do this themselves, but like the convenience of us activating it for them.

Others really need help if they have poor vision, cant understand the internet activation or don't have access to the internet,or for other reasons need help activating their phone.

If we provided free activations for every disabled person, we would be doing alot of work for free.

If you count the hours, $10 is too low. Especially when you consider that you may help the customer with their minutes when they come back. Also, I have helped people understand which plan they have and I have even helped recover their account information. If you count these things, it can add up to alot of time spent to support the product.

The cost of the phones is low, and so the profit is very low selling these phones. Doing activations for free can really cut into that or even lose money for that phone.

Its not fair to provide customer service, only to lose money. Also,
I don't feel its fair to ask someone to do all that work for free.

wmstormvet said...

Virgin Mobile is THE worst phone company I have ever had the displeasure of coming across. I have had my daughter's phone with them for sometime and I will no longer use them...and I wish I could tell everyone I know not to use them. The customer service is the absolute worst!! Poor english and not at all helpful. I have spent almost 5, yes literally 5, hours on the phone with customer service to get my service restored and it is still off. I have been disconnected, lied to and given the run around until I can't stand it any longer!! I can't believe they are still in business operating like this. I have had no service for over a month, can't get it back on and can't get my money back. Their customer service is no service at all and are worthless!! I wouldn't recommend them to my own worst enemy!!! Stay away!!

Malcolm said...

Virgin Mobile is a nightmare! Their customer service is terrible, their Manila operators can only use scripts instead of thinking, their US "managers" at customer service lie to you, and they can't deliver a cell phone ordered online. When I made a claim for a refund with my credit card company, Virgin suspended service on an unrelated phone. They are petty, incompetent, venal and dishonest. They ARE the worst!