If there’s one thing the Internet seems made for – aside from porn, cute kitty pictures and fantasy football leagues – it’s complaining about bad customer service. And that’s not for nothing: if you spend enough time at The Consumerist, TripAdvisor or Elliot.org you’d think that most companies don’t just have bad customer service, they’re becoming downright hostile to customers these days.
But this isn’t one of those awful customer service stories. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that, a story about great customer service. And it involves Virgin Mobile.
My parents gave me a Virgin Mobile Samsung Intercept phone for Christmas last year. Coming from Tracfone’s relatively ancient LG 600g handset, the Intercept seemed like magic. And for the first couple of weeks, it was! But then odd things started happening. The phone would lock up often, requiring me to remove the battery to restart. It would lose connectivity, apparently unable to gracefully switch between 3G and Wi-Fi. It would reboot for no good reason. Many of the stock apps (and parts of the OS itself!) would crash. Most worryingly, the phone would gradually slow down – not just in a given session, but overall, like a Windows computer loaded down with malware.
The phone shipped with Android 2.1, and Virgin Mobile promised that most of these issues would be fixed with the 2.2 (Froyo) update, which was due in February… then March… then April. I’m an IT guy, and I understand how software releases get delayed. So I was OK with that, but was getting tired of resetting (wiping) the phone every few weeks to make it usable. Wiping the phone was great for restoring performance, but every time I did so I’d lose my SMS messages and call logs, and then had to spend an hour or more reinstalling my apps and tweaking the phone (notification settings, sounds, etc.). Anyway, the upgrade was finally made available in April, and I upgraded. And yes, a few things were fixed… but the phone was still slow and still locked up far too often.