Phones, A Virgin, and A Boost

A little while ago I was visiting with some family members and my nephew noticed my phone. It was an iPhone 5S and it worked just fine for me. My nephew commented on it and made me take a second look. I can’t remember what he said, exactly, but I remember thinking that perhaps my phone was the penny-farthing bicycle of telephones.

The following week, my television and internet service provider emailed me to tell me that they had a special offer on new cell phones and so I decided to get one. I tried to do so online but was rejected at the point where they asked for an American social security number. I don’t have one, so I gave up.

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Then I decided to walk a couple of blocks to where they have an office to see if they could side-step the social security number requirement. After all, they’ve been taking my money without any trouble for several years now. I explained the hiccup to the person at the front desk and again to the technical assistant who attended to me. They both gave me to understand that they could sort this out.

After a long wait, and a lot of computer keyboard tapping, and a long phone call to someone in another location, it turns out they couldn’t sell me a phone because I don’t have a social security number. Well, duh!

A few weeks later, after thinking about it, I decided that even if I couldn’t get the super-duper special deal, I would still like to get a new phone if I could get it for less than a king’s ransom. So, I went online and found that my current telephone service provider could offer me a discount. It was less than the offer made by my TV service provider, but a discount is a discount. I decided to take them up on it.

iPhone XRImage by pau_ly from Pixabay</a

I went online and followed the links to put in all the necessary information to buy a new phone and, a few days later it arrived at my door. I followed all the instructions to get it set up and it duly downloaded everything from my old iPhone 5S on to my new iPhone XR. Perfect. I was a happy camper.

Well, I was pretty happy until I realized that I still couldn’t use the XR as a telephone. I could use it as a computer so long as I had wifi, but it didn’t work as a phone. Belatedly, I realized that I had done everything except get it activated by the telephone service provider. Well, doggone it, I thought. How could I be so stupid?

It turns out I can be quite stupid quite often. In this case, though, the problem could be easily resolved by going online. All I had to do was go to the page for phone activations, and type in the correct, very long, number from the four offered on the back of the box that the phone came in. Needless to say, it took me four attempts.

After giving the webpage all sorts of detailed information, I reached the final, glorious moment when they should have activated my phone only to get an error message. It said, chirpily, “Oops.” They seemed to have a problem. Well, no. In fact, it was I who had a problem, but I’ll let that pass. The amazing thing about this whole endeavour is that the telephone service provider, in failing to activate my phone, offered me a phone number by which I could reach them to redress the problem.

I’ll say that again. They could not activate my phone, so they gave me a phone number to call. It boggles the mind.

Photo by Fernando Neves from Pexels

At this point, this is my only phone, and it doesn’t work. To add to my dilemma, my telephone service provider is being abandoned in a megamerger between bigger companies. I am with Virgin Mobile which is under the Sprint umbrella and is being merged with Boost Mobile while Sprint and T-Mobile negotiate a marriage. Oh, and Dish TV Network is in there somewhere, too.

When I tried to figure out how to get my phone activated, I went to the Virgin Mobile website which advised me to go to the Boost website. Try as I might, though, that website refused to acknowledge that they had anything to do with Virgin. Suddenly, I feel sorry for Virgin. They are like the online date who has been dumped by one date and rejected by another at the same time. Maybe because they are a virgin, who knows.

I was beginning to think that I might never get this phone to work when I realized that I could talk to an actual person just a block away. Not far from where I live is a Boost Mobile store, so I walked there in the hopes that someone there could solve my problem.

When I explained it all to the person behind the counter his first reaction was “Virgin and Boost parted ways a long time ago.” I explained that Virgin customers were being directed over to Boost and he looked bewildered. In the end, he decided to ignore all that corporate takeover nonsense and try to activate the phone in the same way that I had tried previously.

When he did, he got the same error message that I had. The big difference now, though, was that he actually had another phone. He could call the customer service number! Wow. Brilliant. The clouds parted. After a few minutes on his phone and computer, he was able to activate my phone.

I was very grateful to him for what was, in his view at least, going beyond his line of duty in helping out the customer of a different company. I asked him what I owed him, and he said nothing; he was glad to help. So, in the end, after I had messed about for hours and become very frustrated, all it took was a real Boost to help a former Virgin.





  1. Oh Anne, I am proud that you got that mess resolved, but what a Herculean effort! Congratulations to you!

  2. Hmmmmm….I have a 5S…….maybe I don’t want to replace it!? Why in the world would anyone need a social security # for a purchase!!?? Amazing you were able to get everything working! Sort of like giving birth?

    • I actually like the XR much better than the 5S because it is bigger and somehow easier to use. The SSN was needed to get the special offer because it involved paying over two years and therefore a two-year contract with the company. Because it was essentially a loan, they had to do a credit check.

      I actually think giving birth was easier!

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