Virgin Mobile announced that it is now going to selling an Iphone with a monthly plan that costs $30. Of course, the buy-in price is $549 for the 8GB Iphone. If you bought a Iphone from AT&T or Verizon, it would cost you only about $99-$199 but you’d have to opt in for a 2 year activation contract. With this contract from Virgin, you only have to stay as long as you want to stay because you already gave them the cost of the Iphone upfront.
The plan gives you unlimited data and text plus 300 minutes of calls for only $30. For someone like me who rarely makes a phone call, this is probably the phone for me. My Iphone package from AT&T has historically been a major rip-off, and I’ve always known that, but I wanted the convenience of that really good phone, so I stuck with it.
The really only down side to this is that Virgin Mobile is on the Sprint network, and if you’re in a location like Grand Rapids, their service is atrociously bad. I had Sprint for two months at one point, thinking I was moving up to something new, and man I was never so pissed at a phone network before. I had dropped calls constantly, and when you have very few phone calls as it is, that’s just wrong. When I finally gave up the phone, they tried to turn the blame on me and charge me some outrageous deactivation fee, which I argued with them on the phone until they dropped half of the price. I mentioned at the end of that conversation that they have become very successful at burning bridges with former customers. They didn’t seem to care.
The other downside to this plan is that you don’t that Virgin Mobile isn’t going to pull the rug from under you at any time. While the contract is month to month, that works both ways. They may pull an AT&T and then decide you no longer get unlimited data because they are the owners of the service and you can either accept their new terms, or you can pay a disconnect fee for being a bad customer. In this case, there won’t be a disconnect fee, but because you paid up front, they might just say the game is over and leave. And you’ll be holding a nice little piece of metal that doesn’t do anything any longer. That would really suck.
But on the other hand, I was with Virgin Mobile years ago when I was living in San Francisco and didn’t want to pay a monthly fee for a cell phone. It was a month to month thing, and it really worked well for me. So, they’ve proven they can actually do it. Back then, I had what was called the “Party Animal” phone, which I wrote about long ago, convinced that Virgin Mobile would discover I was not, in fact, a party animal and take away my phone. But they never caught onto me, so I was able to use it until the Iphone came along. And we all the know the rest of that story.