angry homer

May 8, 2014: In the early hours of Saturday, May 3, it became apparent something with my iPhone was horribly wrong.

After sending my mate an early morning text confirming my presence for pub beers on Sunday, my phone received a rather strange return message:

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This was odd. As a post-paid customer, I have unlimited texts and phone calls under a fixed, monthly fee. Perhaps it was a once off, a glitch, a ghost in the machine, as it were. Perplexed, but undeterred, I resent the message.

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Now convinced the problem was not temporary, I turned to Twitter for guidance, and found it in angry, caustic droves.

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The tone of the fuming, restless mob indicated a problem indeed exists, and it would appear I am not alone.

Turning to Virgin Mobile’s Twitter account for clarification, I was perplexed to discover their latest thought bubble had little to do with the Twittersphere’s rising tapioca.

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Hmm. Facebook shed no further light on the situation,  and their website was offline. Helpfully, and contrary to the increasingly agitated mood of my Virginers, I offered:

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I had first noticed my iPhone had devolved to an elaborate and fragile doorstop by around 6am. By 10.19am, Virgin Mobile was trending in Melbourne:

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Between 6am, when I first noticed an issue, to the time Virgin finally broke its silence at 10.50am, nearly four hours had passed:

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AND

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Four hours is an eternity without communication during a crisis. Given the company’s deep pockets and extensive social media team, such silence is not just bad crisis management, but contrary to good corporate citizenship.

Finally, the Virgin Mobile behemoth awoke, and promptly went into overdrive. Wracking off almost a tweet every 10 seconds, the social media team, much to their credit, sent personalised tweets to nearly every disgruntled customer.

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I thought the last comment was a touch passive aggressive, but given their new found promptness, I let it pass uncalled.

By midday, the problem was over, almost as quickly as it had begun:

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Three days after Mobilemageddon, Virgin announced refunds equal to the value of one day’s use, and free calls, text and MMS to standard numbers in Oz on Saturday 17th of May and Saturday the 24th of May. All this was communicated via a clear, simple and well written update posted on the Virgin Mobile community page:

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Everything about their response was top notch; personalised tweets, refunds, clear and prompt social media presence. Everything was top notch – except the first four hours when social media burned with white hot rage and Virgin fiddled.

Does the good of Virgin Mobile’s response outweigh the bad? Only time will tell.

-B

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