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Virgin Mobile outage leaves customers without phone service

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Eamonn Duff

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More than 2 million people have been left without a phone service.

More than 2 million people have been left without a phone service. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Virgin Mobile customers languished without phone service on Saturday after the national network suffered a partial collapse on Friday night.

The company said approximately a third of its one million subscribers had been affected, adding it was working "tirelessly" to fix the issue and there would be further updates on Facebook.

David Scribner, head of Virgin Mobile Australia confirmed on Saturday the company would be "crediting" customers affected by the disruption with an entire day's access fee, as compensation.

"I would like to sincerely apologise to those being affected by this outage and let you know that we have all hands on deck to resolve this. We absolutely appreciate the urgency of the situation and are doing everything we can to get things back up and running ASAP."

Users were unable to call out or send and receive texts since the early hours of Saturday morning following a "network outage" fault. With the company's website also down, officials were forced to turn to social media in order to communicate with customers on Saturday morning.

Some users said service had resumed from midday but Virgin confirmed the problem had yet to be fully fixed.

"There is currently a network outage affecting some of our postpaid customers," said the firm on Facebook. "The fault began early this morning and is impacting customers' ability to SMS, call and use data." 

The company said it would update Facebook and Twitter as more information became available.

The statement proved insufficient for some angry customers who also turned to social media – to vent their anger. 

Adrianna Connelly tweeted: "Virgin mobile crashing nation wide: I will dispute with you until my throat starts to bleed. Not paying my bill this month."

Sian L, meanwhile, tweeted: "I've been transported back to the 90s – Virgin Mobile is down so no mobile phone. I guess I'll, like, talk to people in person?"

But while many continued to vent anger long after their service had returned, others commended the carrier for its decision to refund. Matthew McBurney wrote on Facebook: "While it is hard to run a business without a phone it makes for a quieter morning, less profitable as well mind, but I appreciate the credit."

Kimberley Sattler meanwhile, was one of many who attempted to put widespread customer anger into perspective: "Representatives from Virgin should personally visit every single customer's home in Australia with an apology card, bunch of flowers, and free credit because clearly this has ruined some people's lives FOREVER by not having reception for one morning."

It is the second time in six weeks that Virgin Mobile has suffered major network disruption with its prepaid customers, having been affected by a nationwide outage affecting voice and data for an entire evening in March. On that occasion, Optus customers were also left without service as both they and Virgin share mobile towers, meaning when one goes down, the other is nearly always affected too.

On Saturday, however, it appeared Optus users were spared the disruption.

Disgruntled customers are also believed to be behind a series of edits on the Virgin Mobile Australia Wikipedia page, which were swiftly  removed.

One read: "In May 2014 Virgin Mobile decided it was more important to spend time removing wiki page updates about the lack of service to their entire customer base than to actually fix the problem causing the outage."

This story previously said 2 million customers were without phone service. Virgin Mobile say they do not have 2 million customers.

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