Great deals and good performance, but Virgin Mobile’s customer service and satisfaction scores are surprisingly low
Be prepared to be perplexed. Virgin Mobile is currently a virtual network, and after years of relying on EE for 3G and 4G coverage, it has switched to Vodafone for both 4G and 5G coverage. Virgin Media’s parent firm, on the other hand, just merged with O2 and is expected to transition to O2’s mobile network in the near future.
The larger business will be able to offer a wider selection of plans and bundles, including all-in-one TV, broadband, and 5G subscriptions. But where does that leave Virgin Mobile at the moment, and is it still worthwhile to sign up for its current mobile plans? How does Virgin fare in our Mobile Network Awards for 2021?
Virgin Mobile review: What do you get?
Virgin Mobile’s future is difficult to predict, as plans for O2 and Virgin services to combine appear to conflict with its contract with Vodafone, which doesn’t expire until 2026. However, it currently sells a mix of low-cost smartphones and value-packed SIM-only plans, giving Virgin more than its fair share of eye-catching deals.
There are some good deals on smartphones, especially if you’re willing to stretch the expense over a longer contract. At the time of writing, an iPhone 12 with 2GB of data is available for £30 per month for 36 months with no upfront costs, or a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE for £28 per month with the same terms.
With a 24-month contract and 30GB of monthly data, the iPhone costs £41.50 per month and the Galaxy S20 FE costs £38.50 per month, for a total cost of £996 and £924, respectively, which is significantly less than what you’d spend on most rival networks. Virgin also offers similar discounts on a wide selection of phones, including inexpensive and mid-range models from Samsung, Oppo, Sony, and Xiaomi.
If you’re looking for a SIM-only contract, Virgin has some attractive offers, especially on 24-month contracts. 40GB for £13 or 100GB for £20 isn’t bad, and unlimited data is available for £28 a month on a 12-month contract or £25 on a two-year contract. If you don’t want a large amount of data, you can get 4GB or even 6GB for £10 or less, with 15GB currently available on a £10 offer. Virgin Mobile’s current plans and rates may be found here:
Virgin Mobile 50% Off Yearly Plan: Get 50% Off Yearly Plan and Up to 8% Cashback every month
for Play Store
For Apps store
Monthly fee (12 months)
|Monthly fee (24 months)||Texts||Minutes|
Virgin Mobile review: Customer service
Virgin Mobile has struggled with customer service in the past, and while it surpassed Three in the most recent Ofcom survey, it still trails Vodafone, Tesco Mobile, and O2, as well as EE and Giffgaff. Virgin also got the most Ofcom complaints per 100,000 users (25) and the longest average call waiting times (6mins 44secs).
Our Mobile Network Awards survey results aren’t any better. Only one in five Virgin customers indicated they were extremely satisfied with the company’s customer service – the lowest rate in the poll – while 16 percent said they were actively dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, the highest level we found. This gives us little reason to believe that Virgin Mobile’s customer service is improving.
Virgin Mobile review: Coverage, reliability, and speed
Virgin appears to be taking a step backward in several areas. Virgin Mobile never had access to EE’s fastest 4G services, which EE reserves for its own customers, but it did profit from being on the UK’s fastest network, according to RootMetrics’ newest speed research.
Virgin’s new host, Vodafone, is still the second-fastest, but its UK-wide median download speed is less than half that of EE’s, ranging from 25.2 to 58.5 megabits per second. Although Vodafone’s reliability was rated as superb in the most recent RootMetrics testing, with awards for reliability in 12 out of 16 of the UK’s main cities, coverage isn’t quite as extensive.
Vodafone’s availability in terms of 5G performance may be better. RootMetrics was unable to record 5G results in three of the 16 test cities, and what RootMetrics refers to as every day 5G availability was less than 40% in ten of the remaining 13 cities.
Despite this, Vodafone achieved median download rates of more than 100 megabits per second in 12 of the 16 locations tested, including 192.2 megabits per second in Glasgow and more than 140 megabits per second in Manchester, Cardiff, and Birmingham. Of course, by the time 5G is widely available, Virgin’s customers may be on O2, which now lags behind Vodafone in terms of both speed and availability, but until then, those who are lucky enough to acquire 5G should have good service.
Virgin Mobile review: Roaming
Virgin Mobile’s Roam Like Home feature allows you to use your inclusive calls, texts, and data in 43 EU and EEA destinations, exactly like you would in the UK. While Vodafone has declared that it will reintroduce £2 per day roaming costs, Virgin has yet to make any announcements.
Roaming outside of the EU can be costly. In the United States, making a call costs £2 per minute and receiving one costs £1.50, while data costs $5 per megabyte. In Kenya, calls cost £5 per minute to make and £1.50 to receive, with SMS costing up to 60p per text and data costing the same £5 per megabyte. Needless to say, if you’re planning a trip, you’ll want to keep this in mind.
Virgin Mobile review: Verdict
Virgin Mobile should have everything going for it. It’s affordable, with good prices on smartphones and SIM-only plans, and while it doesn’t use the fastest host network, it doesn’t use the slowest, either.
Yet it’s hard to ignore the poor scores for customer service and satisfaction or the underwhelming scores for value for money. When a full 24% of your customers wouldn’t recommend your network to a friend – the highest number in our survey – something isn’t going right.