Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Three years and ongoing with Virgin Mobile Canada

This is going to be a semi-review of the service I’ve received from them. On the whole, I’m pretty satisfied, but I could be a lot happier. I believe that the cell phone industry in Canada is very unfair to consumers, in that we have relatively fewer choices then our neighbours to the south, (or to other countries for that matter) and as a result, Canadians pay higher mobile phone rates. It seems like there is more competition slowly building. But it only seems like it.

Its been a little over three years that I got my first mobile phone, a Nokia 6015i through the wireless provider Virgin Mobile Canada. Unlike most people (perhaps that should read “unlike most normal people”… wahaha...) I don’t care about my phone that much. You can see in the pictures how much I care about it. It’s like a mini brick; I’ve dropped it so many times, it still works, and I’m satisfied (good job Nokia). Sometimes I’ll drop it for fun when I’m making fun of other people and their sensitive, fancy schmancy, delicate phones. I could probably use my phone as a weapon if I ever needed to throw something hard at someone in a hurry.

For me, the mobile phone is non-essential in my life and I use it more as a pager. Part of this is due to the cost of owning a phone because I’m on a pay-as-you-go “plan.” Another part of this is because I hardly use phones (even land lines) in general. For the longest time, phones made me irritable…sometimes they still do. But I’ve come to appreciate my phone, because it has provided me a lot of convenience. In addition to calling capability, I think I use the alarm clock, calculator, and calendar functions the most. However, there’s no camera, no web browsing, lousy games (which I do play from time to time), but it has a pull out antenna! After I throw my phone and knock people down, I can gouge out their eyes.

As far as I know, Virgin still has the lowest pay-as-you-go rates, and I don’t get charged for caller ID, voicemail, incoming text messages, system activation fee, or other stuff, which is why I’m still with them. The moment I hear of a cheaper provider, I’m gone.

When Virgin Mobile Canada first launched in 2005 (and when I first became their customer), their pay-as-you-go rates were 25¢/min and if you spoke over 5 minutes, it dropped to 15¢/min. Text messages rates were 5¢/message to other Virgin Mobile customers and 10¢/message to non-Virgin customers. Top-up pre-paid rates were absolutely fantastic (I speak in retrospect). The minimum top-up rate was $15 and that would expire in 120 days. If I remember correctly any amount expired after 120 days. However, since 2005, I believe Virgin has changed these pre-paid rates (as well as introduced new pricing schemes) approximately 5 times.

I think this is what I’m least satisfied with in regards to Virgin Mobile’s service. I believe most businesses do raise prices they offer over the long run, but for this industry, I’d expect it to be more competitive. I detest Virgin Mobile’s use of penetration pricing scheme when they first entered this industry. Despite prices being higher now then what I used to pay for, as mentioned, they are still the cheapest but I will be gone in an instant if I discover something cheaper.

Currently, I pay 30¢/min (up 5¢/min). If I speak over 5 minutes, I will no longer be charged a cheaper per minute rate, it will still be 30¢. Text messages from Virgin to Virgin customers are still 5¢/message, but they are now 15¢/message (up 5¢/min) for non-Virgin customers. Also, top-up pre-paid rates now vary. Top-up rates now go something like this: $100 - $200 is valid for 365 days, $50 - $99 is valid for 120 days, $25 - $49 is valid for 90 days, and $15 - $24 is only valid for 45 days. Yuck. I used to be able to spend just $15 every 120 days (yup, I talked that much), but now I have to spend $25 every 90 days (it’s the most economical).


In the pictures, the nice phone is my Mom's. She carries it in her purse. I carry mine in my pocket and it gets all scratched up against the other stuff in my pocket.

I'm sorry, this was a boring post.


Anonymous said...

Whoa - rates INCREASED?! Very weird, especially since it's a technology-based service.

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of how i started a blog ages ago at Squarespace (i don't actually use it anymore) and they promised that they would NEVER charge a customer more than the rate they started with (free for me), but i got an email last week saying that they are closing all the remaining free versions of their blogs and offering us a 15% lifetime discount on their blogs instead.

Totally NOT the same.