Virgin Mobileunauthorized use of credit card

I've had a Virgin Mobile pre-paid phone since the service was first created, probably around 2002. Back then, it was a great, affordable option in an era when many phone contracts offered little and cost a lot.
Today, I rarely use that phone -- and have over $300 credit on it -- but I keep topping it up as a backup/emergency phone.
For the past year, I haven't been able to access my account, online. The PIN they gave me doesn't work, even when they issued me a new one. Now, when I call them via their own *86 connection, their service doesn't recognize what I select. (The recording keeps saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please review our options and choose the one that fits your needs, " or something like that.) So, I've been adding funds via email.
This month, I asked them to add the usual $10 to keep the phone active and my $300+ balance intact. However, in addition to the $10 (plus $1.05 service charge), they made a second -- completely separate -- withdrawal on my credit card, in the amount of $21.70. I'm not sure if they thought I wouldn't notice. (And, it's possible they've done this before and I didn't notice. I'm not always as watchful as I should be.)
I tried to call them when it happened, but -- as usual -- their phone system wouldn't put me through to anyone. It just kept repeating the usual options.
I emailed them and it took three days for them to reply. Even then, it was a form letter asking for my PIN, etc., though I'd included a screenshot of my bank statement... showing just their withdrawals, of course.
Several emails later, they said the refund was "under review." When I explained (via email) that this was not okay and I intended to share this experience via social media, they suddenly said the refund was approved, but could take 7 - 10 days to be initiated, and might not show up in my bank account for 30 days. No apology. Nothing to assure me they'd found the source of the error and fixed it.
For me, this was the last straw. I'm posting this to warn others to check their bank statements carefully if they're doing business with Virgin Mobile. Years ago, when it was actually part of the Virgin network, it was a great phone company. Now, I'm expecting them to be shut down (in the U.S., anyway) for illegal activities. A well-managed, above-board company would have rushed to apologize for the unauthorized withdrawal and make sure the mistake was corrected. Looking back over others' similar complaints -- some from five more more years ago -- Virgin Mobile looks like a company to avoid. So disappointing.

Jan 27, 2015

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