Virgin Mobile Defrauding Customers - Do other companies do this?

by Rusty Porter
(KC, MO)

I recently found out that Virgin Mobile Top-Up cards have an expiration date (they won't clarify it for me but it appears to be 60 days from purchase date). Once the cards expire Virgin will not honor them and simply pockets the money without ever providing the service contracted for. I don't know how many people let cards expire but this has to be a huge windfall of pure profit that Virgin is simply not entitled to. After all, the cards do not show an expiration date or have any notice printed on them warning customers that they may not receive what they paid for.

With pending litigation that is all I will say about Virgin but I want to know if other companies engage in this type of deceit, fraud and outright theft?

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Aug 24, 2011
Prepaid Wireless Airtime Card Expiration Date Confusion - Part 1
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

From what you describe, it sounds as though you're saying that the topup card expires 60 days from the day you purchase it from a store. I think there may be a misunderstanding here. Prepaid wireless airtime cards are usually valid for at least one year from the day you activate it in a store. In fact, many states require that such cards either last longer, or in fact never expire (similar to gift card laws).

Wireless cards like these actually have no financial value to the wireless carrier until they are added to a customer's phone. In fact, until a short number of years ago, even money added to phones that expired wasn't revenue for the carrier, but rather went to the state as escheatment (i.e. unused money). Laws in most states have since changed whereby unused funds on a customer's account can be counted as revenue by the wireless carrier. However, even though that may now be the case, carriers absolutely do not benefit from selling you a prepaid card that you never add to your wireless account. i.e. You buy a card at Walmart and never add the PIN to your prepaid account. Walmart benefits from the sale, but the carrier loses money if you never add it to your account as they've paid Walmart their commission, but can't count the money as revenue until the card is redeemed. i.e. Cards sold do not equal revenue; cards redeemed and used for prepaid services are considered revenue.

The only reason most carriers have an expiration date on cards for the period of time after you buy it after which you can no longer redeem it to your account, is that there are always terms and conditions related to each card, and having them expire at some point gives them the flexibility to change terms without having to honor super old cards. Ex. The card may reference a plan or service that no longer exists.

This is only an issue because in a lot of retailers you'll find cards that are many many years old (ex. 3-5 years or more) that are sitll being sold by stores. Because these cards have no real inventory value to retailers (i.e. they don't invest upfront in keeping cards on hand), they'll often go missing (maybe a box hidden behind a palette of toilet paper or something), and resurface later.

Aug 24, 2011
Prepaid Wireless Airtime Card Expiration Date Confusion - Part 2
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Having these cards expire at some point allows wireless carriers some protection. For example, they may have had a $10 card that is they discontinued selling because it's no longer profitable. Although, every card will note that "terms are subject to change without notice" so legally speaking, they could discontinue a card at any point in time assuming they take reasonable commercial efforts to get rid of them and notify customers first. Nonetheless, they still like to put an expiration date on the card itself as extra protection.

All that said, most carriers will honor cards even beyond the expiration, as it's only in their best interest for the most part to do so. In fact, the expiration tied to the card is usually either manually or automatically extended when the carrier sees that there are unredeemed cards that still remain unactivated in the market.

Now expiration value of funds once added to a prepaid account is a different story. EVERY prepaid wireless carrier has an expiration date for each denomination (i.e. each card). Some are 10 days, 30 days, 90 days, and up to 365 days. Most carriers have a number of options depending on how much money you add to the account at one time, and a handful of carriers offer 365 days for higher value cards (ex. $100).

These funds expire from your account unless you add more funds before the expiration date. If you add more money before the expiration date, your entire balance will now carry forward to the new expiration date (i.e. you'll never lose your money).

Cards are required by law to have both the expiration date of the card (i.e. the period from the time you purchase the card to the time you add it to your account), as well as the expiration time of the funds (i.e. the period from the time you add the funds to your account to the time you use the funds or add more funds). There are very strict laws governing this, and wireless carriers as well as retailers that sell the cards are pretty strict about these laws.

I'm wondering if you're actually referring to the expiration date from the time you add the funds to your account? If you have a photo of the back of the card, it would be interesting to see the terms listed on the back. I'd be surprised if these expiration dates were not listed.

I hope this helps to clarify things somewhat...

Aug 24, 2011
Look's like they tell it right upfront
by: Larry Cole

Aug 24, 2011
re Prepaid cards
by: Anonymous

In the prepaid world when you buy a card it has an AUTOMATIC 30 day expiration date. Use use it or lose it.I bought a prepaid $24.95 plan just for backup & used that phone 2 times that month.However Page Plus on the Verizon Wireless network's $80.00 2000 minute plan is good for 365 days. Only yearly prepaid plan I know of right now.More prepaid choices.Gotta love that.

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