Mystery shopper: Virgin customer service, PAYG advice

Our mobile mystery shopper puts Virgin Mobile’s customer service to the test and discovers how well a Virgin rep answered our query on switching from pay-monthly to pay-as-you-go.

For more details on our mystery shopping series, including the questions we ask, the dream response to our customer service query, and a run down of how Virgin compared to the competition, head over to our summary page.

Getting through to Virgin Mobile’s customer service

Nobody much likes automated systems, but the problem is, because nobody likes automated systems, companies try to make them friendlier. This can have the unfortunate side effect of making them even more annoying.

After selecting PAYG on Virgin Mobile’s system I then heard ‘Pay as you go? Ok’, this was not only patronising, but a complete waste of time and extended the horrible experience.

Once I got into the queue for an operator I was confronted with the hold music lyrics ‘I can’t decide if you should live or die’ which, to be honest, didn’t seem like the nicest way to treat your customers.

This music was mercifully cut short by an automated message, warning me that I might be in for a five minute wait and a trip to their website may be a better option. I was then left in silence for what remained of my wait, but fortunately it was less than a minute and a half rather than the five they had quoted earlier.


A rep (who here we will call Rosie) obviously decided that I should live and rescued me from the queue.

Once I explained that I was after information about PAYG ‘Rosie’ launched into a monologue about getting hold of PAC numbers, rather prematurely saying ‘since you want to switch’. I let her ramble on for a bit before bringing her back to the question at hand.

Dealing with the problem

She went through the methods of topping up, telling me that vouchers could be bought in lots of shops while ATMs and online were also alternatives when bulking up your balance.

At this point I thought it might be best to see if switching to PAYG was the best idea. Here she roundly took my plan apart, telling me that contract was the much cheaper alternative as I would get more minutes for my money.

She didn’t really get the fact I didn’t want to spend a lot of money or use my phone that much and was more interested in pushing the value proposition of contract – saying that 200 minutes on PAYG would cost £40.

She really didn’t seem that interested in what I wanted or if she could be of any help and so I thought it was best to cut my losses and call it a day.

Virgin Summary

I got the feeling that Rosie had the underlying knowledge, she just couldn’t be bothered to release it, giving me very limited help. Instead of pushing their contract deals it would have been nice for her to have listened and given the information I was asking for.

Looking for more mystery shopper posts? Head over to our summary page for a round-up of the PAYG customer service mystery shopper series so far.

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