Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why I won't stay with Virgin Mobile

I signed up with Virgin Mobile because a rarely use my cell phone, and paying $30 per month for my little bit of use was wasteful. I initially bought the SE-47 Slider phone, and with a data cable I added a few simple MIDI ring tones and some wallpapers images. When the antenna broke on my slider, I decided to shop for a replacement. Target has some, and I chose the Super Slice because it has a USB port, and I thought this would allow me to put the couple things on the phone that I want. I might even be able to add my contacts list without entering it on the phone.

However, the UTStarcom Super Slice phone for Virgin Mobile has a USB port that is deliberately disabled, and I found this out only after I bought it. I never thought a manufacturer would be so inconsiderate as to deliberately disable the USB port, but I guess Virgin Mobile wants me to pay $2.49 for their ring tones, all of which are unappealing (kids these days!), so they feel they just cannot let me do what I want to do with my own phone since I would then not be paying them for ridiculous stuff like ring tones and fake calls from celebrities to impress my friends (really!). The device will appear momentarily on the USB bus before it is immediately disconnected. I can watch this happen in /var/log/syslog

Nov 12 20:04:40 localhost kernel: [17444684.280000] usb 2-2: new full speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 6
Nov 12 20:04:41 localhost kernel: [17444684.472000] cdc_acm 2-2:1.0: ttyACM0: USB ACM device
Nov 12 20:04:41 localhost kernel: [17444684.472000] usbcore: registered new driver cdc_acm
Nov 12 20:04:41 localhost kernel: [17444684.472000] drivers/usb/class/cdc-acm.c: v0.23:USB Abstract Control Model driver for USB modems and ISDN adapters
Nov 12 20:04:43 localhost kernel: [17444686.560000] usb 2-2: USB disconnect, address 6

and in /proc/bus/usb/devices (only momentarily)

T: Bus=03 Lev=01 Prnt=01 Port=00 Cnt=01 Dev#= 5 Spd=12 MxCh= 0
D: Ver= 1.10 Cls=02(comm.) Sub=00 Prot=00 MxPS=64 #Cfgs= 1
P: Vendor=0d08 ProdID=0300 Rev= 0.00
S: Manufacturer=UTStarcom, Incorporated
S: Product=UTStarcom CDM1450
C:* #Ifs= 3 Cfg#= 1 Atr=a0 MxPwr=500mA
I: If#= 0 Alt= 0 #EPs= 1 Cls=02(comm.) Sub=02 Prot=01 Driver=cdc_acm
E: Ad=81(I) Atr=03(Int.) MxPS= 64 Ivl=32ms
I: If#= 1 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=0a(data ) Sub=00 Prot=00 Driver=cdc_acm
E: Ad=82(I) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 64 Ivl=0ms
E: Ad=02(O) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 64 Ivl=0ms
I: If#= 2 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=00 Prot=00 Driver=(none)
E: Ad=84(I) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 64 Ivl=0ms
E: Ad=04(O) Atr=02(Bulk) MxPS= 64 Ivl=0ms

Searching for help on the Internet only confirms what I have experienced. The phone is deliberately disabled for some reason. Now I'm stuck with a phone that I don't really want because it is more trouble than I want to deal with by reentering all of my contacts, and it has no redeeming features because of its disability. Target will not take back a phone that has been activated. Virgin mobile will not take back a phone purchased from Target unless the phone is defective and is being replaced with the same model.

I suppose I will deal with the phone just long enough for me to validate that T-Mobile is what I want to use. GSM phones and SIM cards mean that I won't have to be locked into a single phone. My advice to you is not to buy the UTStarcom Super Slice for Virgin Mobile because it will just be an semi-expensive annoyance.


Rich said...

The new ones are going for $40 on ebay, so maybe when you jump to tmo, you can recoup some of your cost.

Chris G said...

I agree with your comments about the USB port on the super slice. I use Virgin mobile as well and just swapped phones from a Kyocera K-10, that had seen better days. There is a way into the phone, we just need to be persistent. I am always hopeful that as we get more tech savvy as a culture, we won't buy in to this 'lock-in' stupidity.

John Paul said...

I decided to switch T-Mobile and bought a Motorola v195 GSM phone for $40. I am very happy with the service and the phone. I have not yet gotten rid of the Super Slice, but I don't really have time to try to work through the ridiculous USB issues.

Lock-in is something that people in all types of business think is a great thing. It keeps your customers with you even if they are not happy, or at least that the theory. It didn't work my experience with Virgin Mobile's Super Slice.