Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Too many examples.... Two more tales of woe for Virgin Mobile South Africa to be worried about. An open letter to Steve Bailey, CEO.

Hiya Steve....

This email is going to you, to Louis Stanford, Lynn McMaster, my Coffee-Shop Schmuck blog, and my Posterous blog.

There are now 23 comments on one of my blog posts about Virgin Mobile ( Some of those comments are mine. But many of them are from people who've had poor experiences with Virgin Mobile. Experiences which are not being sorted out or solved timeously, courteously, or with integrity.

As you know, I've been forwarding most of the comments to you. And you've sorted many of them out.

But I think it's time for this poor service to stop. It cannot keep going on like this.

The rumours about Virgin Mobile's pending demise continue to circulate on Twitter. No-one from Virgin comments on these rumours. Your PR agency seems not to even know about them. Nor do they seem to monitor the blogosphere.

At the same time, the South African internet-literate public seem to be very active in searching for examples of Virgin's poor service. And they seem to be finding my blog. And leaving comments on it. This is not good for Virgin Mobile. It's not good for the entire Virgin brand.

I really thought you guys would have taken some steps to fix things after the small debacle that led to my first post.

But you haven't fixed things. 

Are things at Virgin Mobile truly unfixable? Is it impossible for some person on the end of a telephone or email to actually take responsibility for the satisfaction of the customer at the other end?

You should not be in business if you are unable to address these issues. And you should not be in business if people have to resort to force to get their issues handled. When people leave a comment on my blog, they are resorting to force. And that should leave Virgin Mobile deeply ashamed and embarrassed. More than that, Virgin Mobile should be leaping into action to make things right. Even if you ARE going to be shutting your doors at some point.

Please read the comment I've quoted below. It's from Louis Stanford:

Louis Stanford April 7, 2009 at 1:21 pm


I'm having similar issues, I cancelled my account in October (no phone included in the contract) and money is still being deducted off my account, even more bizarrely, they've handed me over to TransUnion debt collections for an amount of R4784 (which I do not owe).

I have now phone the call center 8 times, and 8 times I've been told that the mythical billing department would investigate and get back to me.

No luck so far.

Tomorrow, I change tactic.


Now here's one from Lynn McMaster, responding to Louis's comment with a situation of her own:

Lynn McMaster August 5, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Hi Louis,

I have an identical problem.  I have been struggling with VM since June 2008, and eventually returned, in total frustration, the useless handset in December 2009.  I have written and phoned VM so many times, I have lost count.  They do not come back.  No success from Steve Bailey whom I also mailed a while back, using the address you gave.  I tried Virgin Mobile, UK.  They are not interested.  I have tried to contact Sir Richard.  No luck.    I was contacted by one Ivana Japhtha from VM SA, who undertook to sort the matter out and cancel the contract, remove any "debt" incurred by VM even when the phone was back with them.  They just quote their Force Majuer clause in thecontract (No 18).  read it. VM can do what they like, even if they do not offer any service.  Roll on the Consumer Rights Bill.

Then I get demands from Trans Union.  I go back to Ms Japhtha, who says not to worry.  I tell Trans Union I have declared a dispute.  Eventually Japhtha calls me on April 19 2009 to all resolved.  Contract cancelled and "debt" wiped out.  But guess what; she lied.  I kept getting accounts from VM and threats from Trans Union who have japtha's number.  I keep reversing the amounts taken from my account by VM.  Japhtha promises to sort it out.  Nothing happens.  I go away for a month in June and come back to find a company NAEDO NuDebt has removed money from my account by debit.  I don't know who they are; they have stolen the money.  I call them.  They say they were authorised by Cell C to remove the money.  Who is Cell C?  Guess what, Virgin.  I have never signed any permission for Nu Debt to take money from my accounts.  Trans Union say they know nothing  about the illegal removal of money from my account and that my account with them was closed.  I think, Hooray, Japhta sorted it.  But no, she never contacted them.  because the account was in dispute, and nothing was happening, it was closed and "migrated" elsewhere.  I try to get out of Japhtha what is going on.  She doesn't come back to me.    So I go to my Bank, Standard to find out how they can allow the removal of money from my account by an unauthorised company.  They tekll me there is so much fraud, they cannot control it!!!!!!They try to contact VM.  No reponse.  So, today (5/08), I go to Standard Bank by appointment to close the account from which money is being stolen.  We try to open a new account.  No Luck, I have been listed.  No-one has told me of this.  I do not know who has listed me, and since Japhtha has written to me re cancellation of my debt, I assumed she was writing the truth.  Stupid me.  I should know VM is completely incompetent and completely unethical.  I establish that Japhta has never contacted Trans Union as she claimed.  I am still receiving accounts each month from VM.  I write to Japhta and query response.  I phone Japhtha, and she promises to phone me before 5.30 pm on a day.  She does not.  Standard Bank phones her today (5 August 2009).  She tells them she is sick in bed.  She acknowleges I have been listed, as this happens "automatically"  What does she mean? She promises to fax through stuff to Standard Bank tomorrow.  Will it happen, I don't know.  Meantime, Standard is trying to get permission within their own company to open a  new cheque account.  They don't like it because of the listing.  They promise to phone me back this afternoon.  I have left three nessages with them this afternoon.  No return calls, and no information on the status of my "new" cheque account as faithfully promised by Standard.  Is it possible they are in league with VM?

Can someone recommend what I can do to sort this.  Is there an attorney whom I can use to hit VM big time for fraud?  And I mean big time.  ICASA was contacted by me, and they did nothing.  Advice is desparately needed.


Steve... are you still the CEO of Virgin Mobile? If not, please can you tell me who is? And can you forward this message to that person? If you ARE still the CEO, then please take action to make these issues stop. And please let me know what you're doing about it so that I can blog about it.

Also, please contact Louis and Lynn on the email addresses in the header field of this email. They deserve your speedy and decisive response.

Thanks Steve.

Blue skies