By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Virgin Mobile was launched globally in 1999 as the first mobile virtual network operator, building on what is now the EE network. As a result, it offers the best 5G coverage currently available in the UK (with EE), and a great selection of handsets and SIM deals to choose from.
It may surprise you to know that Virgin Media is no longer owned by Richard Branson, and has been for several years now. It is actually owned by Liberty Global, a large multinational telecommunications company. So what does Virgin Mobile have to offer? We are looking at the details.
Rates and plans
Virgin Mobile offers monthly paid plans with phones as well as SIM-only plans. You have a decent choice of contracts with 24 months and 36 months for handsets and 12 months for SIM only deals. Unfortunately, there aren’t any one-month SIM-only options, which is odd considering Virgin has month-long deals for its broadband services. All Virgin Mobile contract and SIM-only rates come with unlimited texting and calling, and a wide range of data quotas. Plans range from 1 GB to unlimited.
You won’t have to pay anything up front for Virgin handsets on its monthly rates, which means there is no flexibility to choose how much you want to pay up front versus the month, and no choice on the length of the contract either. There is also no option to buy a phone outright, but if you want to refund your handset, you can do so at any time, even after only a month in your contract. At this point, you will only pay for your airtime plan, which you are then free to cancel at any time with one month’s notice.
All of Virgin’s mobile plans are flexible in that you can choose to increase or decrease your data allowance each month and you can carry over any unused data to the next month. You also get free roaming in 43 destinations around the world. Hotspot is allowed on all Virgin plans, up to your chosen data limit, so you can use your phone as a hotspot if you need to.
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Range of phones and devices
Virgin Media only offers the increasingly popular Apple, Samsung, Sony and Huawei, Fairphone and OPPO phones. If you’re desperate to get your hands on the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and it hasn’t been released yet, you can pre-order it.
In addition to phones, Virgin also offers a selection of tablets available under contract, with a strong focus on the latest iPad and Samsung Galaxy models. Customers can choose from a modest range of data options and a 24-month or 48-month contract to spread costs.
Virgin Mobile has high customer satisfaction rates, at least according to industry body Ofcom. the latest Ofcom notesAs of 2020, 93% of its customers were satisfied with the service, in line with the industry average, and beaten only by Giffgaff with 95% satisfaction.
Only 3% of customers had a reason to complain about their service, but those who did were quite dissatisfied with the way their complaints were handled, with only 51% satisfied – well below the industry average of 58 % and the lowest score among all suppliers included. in the survey.
Ofcom’s data is based on surveys of a few hundred customers, so it’s worth checking other sources. Virgin Mobile has a rating of just 1.2 out of five stars on the Trustpilot review website based on reviews from over 400 customers, which is on par with other mobile providers reviewed. Complaints range from billing errors to incorrect charges. Just keep in mind that more people are more likely to leave reviews if they’ve had bad service than if they’ve had a positive experience.
If problems arise, you can call Virgin Mobile on 789 from your Virgin Mobile or 0345 600 0789 from any other line. Its customer service is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. It also has an efficient live chat service, or you can ditch the provider through social media on Twitter or Facebook.
Value for money
Virgin Mobile’s rates rank well in the market, and there are plenty of money-saving extras. There are no upfront charges on its handsets and its data transfer means you can keep unused data from previous months.
Customers already registered with Virgin Media Broadband can choose to purchase a family plan with Virgin Mobile and save up to £ 8 per month with up to four SIM cards for your family. Calls between family SIM card holders are unlimited.
Virgin Mobile users can get a refund for referring a friend and can also trade in their old phone for cash for a new one as part of the trade-in offer. The Trade Up program allows monthly contract customers to switch to a new phone and enter into a contract before their current trade is complete by trading in the value of their current phone.
The value of your old phone is used for the refund, regardless of how much is left on your contract. If your old phone is worth more than your remaining contract, you will get the extra value back. If it’s worth less, you can always upgrade early – all you have to do is pay the difference. Virgin will provide you with a quote for your old device, depending on its condition, which is guaranteed for 14 days, and then you will receive a pack in the mail in which to return your device.
Virgin Mobile customers also have free access to 22,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK. These hotspots are located in high street bars, restaurants and shops and even in the London Underground. Having Wi-Fi on public transport is pretty nifty, but it actually only works in metro stations rather than in tunnels, which is less useful.
Virgin Mobile uses the EE network, which has the widest 4G coverage in the UK and also the widest 5G coverage, although so far 5G is still much more limited. EE’s 4G signal covers 99% of the UK population, so wherever you are in the UK you should be able to get a 4G signal with Virgin Mobile, but there may also be local factors such as buildings, trees or weather conditions that could affect the quality of the signal you receive.
To see if you can get 5G with Virgin Mobile in your area, check the provider’s mobile coverage checker. Simply enter your zip code and it will tell you if your area has 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G coverage and the signal strength for each.
Virgin customers appear to be reasonably happy with the signal they receive. Ofcom’s latest service quality reportAs of 2020, 84% of customers were happy with their Virgin Mobile phone reception – just a fraction below the industry average of 84% and, unsurprisingly, on par with EE.
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Virgin Mobile customers are off to a good start because there are no upfront charges and you can increase or decrease your data and minutes each month. Plus, if you want to regularly upgrade to the latest device, you can either pay off your phone at any point in your contract or trade it in and invest in a new model.
On the other hand, there are no 30-day options, which could be problematic for some. However, its prices for contracts and SIM-only deals regularly place it among the best buys, and you can get cash back for referring a friend to Virgin mobile services.
When it comes to customer service, value for money and coverage, Virgin does well. Ofcom regularly assesses Virgin for customer service, and branding on the EE network gives Virgin the benefit of the widest 4G coverage in the UK and the best 5G coverage currently available, making it a overall good choice of cell phone provider.
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