My husband and I signed a contract with Virgin Mobile in November 2010. The account was in my name, though my husband was the principal user of the telephone. The plan we selected cost, tax included, roughly $100 per month. In the year that followed, there were one or two months where we went over our monthly allowance of internet usage. I believe that the most expensive bill we ever received was in the range of $200. We always paid our bills in their totality.
There were 2 ways in which Virgin sent the monthly bill. Firstly, they sent it by email to my email address. Secondly, a text message would arrive on the telephone further providing notification of the sum of the monthly bill. I could then pay the bill through an online account. However, after the bill I received on September 20, 2011, I ceased to receive notification of my monthly bill, both by email and text message. I had no idea why Virgin had ceased their billing service. When I mentioned this to a customer service representative, he assured me that he would remedy the situation, but nothing changed.
In December 2011 I was contacted by Virgin Mobile's billing department to inform me that my bill for the month of October was over $500, a significantly higher sum than usual. Because Virgin had ceased to send me any form of a bill, this phone call was the first time I was aware that there was a problem with the bill. The sum was due to roaming charges my husband had incurred while spending a week in New York in the month of October. Concerned that this sum was extraordinarily high, I contacted Virgin Mobile's customer service department by telephone. The gentleman I spoke with informed me that he was unable to make any significant adjustments to the sum.
On Dec. 22, 2011, at around 1:00 in the afternoon, my husband again contacted Virgin Mobile's customer service department in a further effort to address the bill. We were concerned by various elements of the bill. For example, the bill included over $100 of internet connection charges, despite the fact that my husband had turned off the 3G function on the phone, which he had been instructed to do by a Virgin representative when he called the customer service department earlier in the year to ensure that he avoided roaming charges. We hoped that we could point out this mistake, and lower the amount of the bill.
After spending two hours on the phone and speaking with at least three representatives, my husband was able to come to an agreement with a female customer service representative. This representative confirmed with my husband that if we cancelled the contract, paying the remaining hardware fees for the telephone, we would not be obliged to pay the last bill. The hardware fees were in the range of $340. My husband and I decided that this was the best course of action, agreeing that the danger of going over one’s allotted internet usage was too stressful. We preferred to pay a one time fee of $340 rather than risk incurring roaming charges in the future. My husband informed the customer service representative he was speaking to that we would accept the payment of $340 instead of the payment of over $500, and the phone conversation was terminated with the clear understanding that we would subsequently be billed only the $312 hardware fee, and no more. The customer service representative assured us that we could rest easy and spend the holidays not worrying about our cell phone bill. In the ten minutes after we terminated the phone conversation, the phone service was cut off.
Three weeks passed, and we didn't receive the final bill from Virgin Mobile. I attempted to access the bill online, but our account had been terminated when we terminated the phone contract on Dec. 22. Concerned, on January 16, 2011 at around 12:00 a.m. I called the customer service department in order to ensure that we would be able to pay the final bill in a timely manner. I was informed by the customer service representative I spoke with that my bill was, in fact, for a sum in the range of $550. When I inquired as to the reason for the discrepancy between what my husband was told on Dec. 22 and the later figure, the representative was unable to provide me with an explanation. He informed me that the billing department would contact me subsequently.
The billing department contacted me two days later and left me a voice mail message informing me that the charge of around $550 was, in fact, valid. My husband, becoming ever more concerned for the mounting charges, contacted Virgin Mobile by telephone on Jan. 18, 2012. The first customer service representative he spoke with was unable to provide a clear explanation as to why the bill had increased. The representative provided two very different explanations for the bill over the course of the conversation: one, that we were being charged for the hardware costs as well as for our final bill; and two, that we were being charged for the hardware costs and for breaking the contract. Neither of these explanations were satisfactory, nor did they logically account for the amount in question. My husband was then transferred to a customer service manager, who provided similar unsatisfactory explanations for the charges. After more than an hour spent on the telephone, no conclusion could be reached.
At this point, I decided to lodge an official complaint with Virgin Mobile. On January 22, I registered a complaint online with the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services.
On January 27 at around 2:00 I was contacted by a representative from Virgin Mobile’s complaints department to notify me that they had received my complaint and were attempting to settle it. She wanted to gather further information about the situation. When I pointed out that the sum of $550 was inaccurate, she admitted that we had, in fact been charged twice for the hardware fees, and that in fact we should have been charged a sum of about $340. She then continued to inform me that this sum was in addition to the charges of the last bill, which were in the range of $500, as well as for the bill of the previous month, which was the first time anyone had ever mentioned a previous unpaid bill. I informed the customer service representative that this was completely unacceptable, as a Virgin agent had assured us that the hardware fee would be the last sum we would ever have to pay. The representative with whom I was speaking seemed puzzled by this; she informed me that Virgin agents were not authorized to make such a deal. I reassured her that I understood that it seemed there had been a misunderstanding at some point, but that the phone conversation of Dec. 22 needed to be further investigated. I pointed out that it would have been ridiculous for us to react to an expensive phone bill by agreeing to pay $300 in addition in order to terminate the contract.
The representative with whom I spoke seemed sympathetic, and assured me that she would further investigate the matter and get back to me. I asked her to confirm that no action would be taken without contacting. She reassured me that this was the case. I asked specifically that the bill not be sent to a collections agency, as I did not want my credit to be affected by this confusion. She further reassured me that no action would be taken without Virgin contacting me first.
I had no further contact from Virgin Mobile.
On January 26, 2011, I was contacted by CBV Collections Service, a collections agency. They informed me that my bill had been transferred to them by Virgin. The sum of the bill that had been transferred was in the range of $900.
I consider the course of action taken by Virgin to be unconscionable.
Specifically, the following actions on the part of Virgin were unacceptable:
1) Virgin refused to respect the deal made between their agent and my husband on Dec. 22.
2) Virgin never sent me a bill informing me of the sum to be paid.
3) Virgin transferred my bill to a collections agency after specifically reassuring that they would not do so.
Location Griped About:
Virgin Mobile Les Promenades St. Bruno
Boulevard des Promenades
Sainte-Bruno, QC , Canada