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Faulty Purple SIM Card Woes Strike Virgin Mobile UK Customers

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 (1:15 pm) - Score 16,235

Some customers of Virgin Media’s mobile network sibling – Virgin Mobile – are being affected by a batch of faulty purple SIM cards that for the past few weeks have been causing intermittent connectivity problems. The situation has even hit some of the replacement SIMs that were sent out in order to resolve the original problem.

In most cases those who have been hit by the faulty SIMs state that, once activated, they tend to get a working service for a little while before their phones suddenly revert to only allowing Emergency Calls (i.e. the SIM stops working). Sometimes this can be temporarily resolved by rebooting the phone (the classic “turn it off and on again” solution) but the issue soon returns.

NOTE: Virgin Mobile is powered by EE’s (BT) Mobile Virtual Network Operator platform.

Sadly Virgin Mobile’s front-line support team tend to adopt the tried and tested tactic of blaming everything other than their SIM card for the problem, which until now has left some customers to go around in circles. As you’d expect Virgin’s Community Forum is full of similar gripes (examples here, here, here and here).

Sample Complaint 1

“Ongoing problem with Virgin mobile seems to be supplying non working SIM cards.

I get a mobile signal for approximately 1 hour and then ‘No Service’ until I power off and on again.

Complained to Virgin and they sent me a new SIM card with exactly the same fault.”

Sample Complaint 2

“Just updated my plan & had to have new sim. On my second one now and none work. I have spent over five infuriating hours talking to some very “chippy” advisors in the Phillopines with no success at all.They seem to only want to sell me another phone which I do not want or need. After numerous calls each time my account is “RESET” then I get service for about 30 mins and then nothing once again.

I have been with Virgin for 8 years plus and never had problems like this. My old sim worked perfectly in my phone but both new sims just will not work.”

Sample Complaint 3

“I finally got through to the technical team who were very helpful and honest. There is a known fault with the system. Which I’ve just noticed someone else has previously mentioned in another post. There is a problem with a batch of (“319″) SIM cards not recognising or losing the network. Or possibly EE transferring to 5G and these SIMs don’t recognise it. It could be something else, they are not sure. Or when this will be fixed. As I’m sure you already know, the only short term fix is to reboot or refresh network settings etc. But then, if you’re lucky, the service only lasts briefly.”

The good news is that a moderator on Virgin Media’s forum confirmed yesterday that they are now “aware of an issue affecting some customers’ SIM cards and are working hard to resolve it.” The Register has also picked up on the problem.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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24 Responses
  1. Robert Smith says:

    Exactly the same has happened to me and virgin said it was my phone’s fault and tried to sell me a new one.Disgraceful service!

    1. Ay says:

      Usually when an issue isn’t as widespread then it’s obvious they’d blame the handset, now they’re aware of it they know it’s not handsets.
      Hardly disgraceful.

    2. Stephen Wakeman says:

      So you don’t consider blaming the customers handset and trying to sell them another – a device that can cost hundreds of pounds – without any BASIS other than assumption to be acceptable business practice?

      “I’m sorry to hear that you can’t get your paid channel sir, how about a new TV because it’s probably your set.”
      “I’m sorry that your car isn’t starting sir, how about you buy a new one?”
      Etc etc.

      If you genuinely believe that it’s okay for companies to try flogging you a new contract or handset without trying to assist the customer resolve what may actually be a simple problem first then frankly I hope you get ripped off big style one day and never see it coming.

    3. Ay says:

      It’s almost as if we live in a world of refunds, as for “hundreds of pounds”; you’d be a few quid extra at best before the problem is confirmed and you’re able to return the handset as per any warranty.

      It’s Virgin, technical support isn’t their specialty and you deserve to be ripped off by being with them. They’re a shit company even to work for never mind being a customer of.

  2. Dean says:

    Never had a problem before until Customer Service sent out a purple SIM just over a month ago. I have to keep manually rebooting or forcing it on the network. The CS system states there are no issues so they cannot escalate it..what a shambles!!

  3. Sean says:

    Because it Virgin Media is no longer available service Virgin Mobile pay as you go sim card missed after British people is unhappy didn’t working network problems all of timeline cannot fixed unit not good for Virgin media without .

    1. SimonR says:


    2. Graycoll says:

      I’ll have a small drop of what you have obviously had.

  4. SimonR says:

    Small correction – The Register’s article was published yesterday.

    I thought today was really dragging when I read it was today. Turns out I read it yesterday afternoon.

  5. Leanne says:

    I’ve had the same problem too emergency calls only no signal rang then a few time when u actually get through said was my phone hmm I have a new phone so told her going to cancel with virgin then tries selling another phone x

  6. lguy8 says:

    This has been going on since last year if I’m not mistaken. Have a look on their forums. There have been all sorts of issues.



    It doesn’t surprise me that haven’t sorted it, Virgin as a network are useless. I was with them for 3 years. Prior to that I was on Giffgaff with their non-stop outages and issues topping up on their site etc.

    I really do think you get what you pay for, don’t go with an MVNO. Go with a real mobile network

    1. Graycoll says:

      Couldn’t agree more.

  7. Michael Devereaux says:

    I use a Lyca sim card, I have the same problem as Virgin customers, my problem started 02/09/2019

  8. Philip Johnson says:

    I have had different problems with virgin, for example, trying to create my online account with their new app,says cannot find your account.
    Also letters addressed to me asking me if I wish to change my mobile network to virgin, I have had my VIRGIN, SIM card for 7 years, and they can’t find me. Still charge me though.

  9. Jonathan says:

    I’ve experienced the same problem with my virgin purple SIM. For the past few weeks I’ve not been able to gain sustainable connection (NO SERVICE) message keeps popping up.

  10. Trevor says:

    I have had the same problem. Initially told that it was an issue that the new sim was 4G and that my old phone needed to be replaced. My old phone had actually gone well past its sell by date and I was having other issues with it. So I took the plunge and bought a new phone outright, which arrived yesterday. Working fine this morning then this afternoon lost signal and would not comeback even on reboot. Got home transferred the sim back to old phone and used it to contact Virgin. They have now confirmed it is the sim at fault and are sending me a new one. Oh well new phone, new sim what else can go wrong ??

    1. Ay says:

      You’re with Virgin Mobile, everything can and will go wrong.

  11. Jennifer Davies says:

    Had three or four years of problem free mobile service from Virgin. New card arrived about three weeks ago. First week after inserting it had a whole day without service. Now (07/09/19) had no service for two days. Spent ages yesterday trying to get through to their very unhelpful team. No one prepared to accept the new card may be the problem. I’ll be looking to change provider.


    This has happened to me after upgrading to their new sim 3 weeks ago, they told me it was my handset. I spent £250 changing my handset and now they tell me they are aware of faulty sims. I’m furious as my old handset was only 4 month old…

  13. Don R says:

    I am on holiday outside Europe. Neither my wife’s nor my phone will allow us to call or use messaging service even though both phones are showing roaming connection. I can not get in touch with Virgin to try to resolve things. Do I have to wait until I return to the UK to find new SIM cards in the post?!!

  14. Denise Whitby says:

    I have been having problems with my sim since it was put in the phone on the 27th August! After 15 hours of phone calls and being given numerous excuses including being referred to Apple blaming my Iphone (who told me it was categorically not my phone but a network issue and told me to contact Virgin AGAIN!!!!), I was finally essentially informed last night by a virgin technician that it was actually a network issue with a batch of Sims starting with 38 and that even though they sent me a new sim out, it probably started with the same numbers so would be just as useless!! I was told to give it another 5 days (This makes 4 weeks in total!) but to be honest they were told to say that 5 days ago so don’t hold my breath!
    They know its an ‘inconvenience’ but its a fee service so its not like I am paying for it.
    No, but I did pay £38 to get out of my old contract early to use this useless free service!They did credit my account £10.99 so I could purchase a pay as you go chip!!!

  15. Jack says:

    I used to be with Virgin Mobile on SIM Only. All I can say is good riddance since December 2018. Staff are just terrible to speak to and cut the call to avoid loosing out on custom. Glad Ofcom have introduced the PAC via SMS service as this is really handy for companies like Virgin who try to keep you on. Nothing but problems and major slow downs throughout city centres that are non existant on the parent (EE) network. I’m now on Vodafone and couldn’t be happier with their service especially for coverage and speeds although I have yet to deal with their customer service.

  16. Lucy says:

    Myself my husband and daughter have all had a new sim card within the last month and we are all having problems.no sevice. No sound when trying to make a call then it doesn’t connect. Our phones are unavailable when someone is trying to call us. We have red sim cards, it can’t be the phones as we’re all having the same problem

  17. Steve Jenkins says:

    I am amazed at this. My wife’s phone encountered this problem and I ended up having calls with Virgin that were lasting in excess of 1hr and then they blamed the handset. Luckily, my handset was still within guarantee and the provider tested and replaced the phone. New phone, same problem, once again, Virgin said there must be an unlocking issue with the phone. Phone replaced once again with a completely different batch number and same issue.

    Virgin are now sending me another replacement SIM. This has been such a headache and so time consuming. They couldn’t even courier the SIM to me, even though they know the grief this has caused. Ive only been a Virgin customer for 7 years and they told me that I was free to go to another provider!!!


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