Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Forced replacement of SIM

Tuning in

Hi all.

Apologies in advance for a long post.

I'm asking this question here as I'm not sure I can face another round of frustration with Customer Services on the phone - apart from each call generally being like trying to get blood out of a stone, they NEVER actually do what they say they will which, most recently, led to me being cut off from service because they actually did precisely what I asked them not to and which they promised they wouldn't.


What on earth is going on with these regular forced replacement of SIM?

I have just received an automated SMS telling me that, once again, "To continue to use your mobile service you will need to swap your SIM to a new one", which will be sent to my UK address in early September.

I get that system upgrades might require this but, seriously, this is the THIRD time in little over a year.

I had this in June 2021 and again in March this year! I am already therefore on my third SIM card in less than 18 months and now you want to make it 4!

I am struggling to comprehend how Virgin Media cannot be aware that the actions they have presumable planned far in advance will EACH require every user on their system to be change their SIM.

The waste of resources is staggering - producing and mailing tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of new SIM cards every 6 months and getting users to simply bin the existing, almost brand new ones which are now useless!

What on earth is going on???

But, that aside, this is a serious pain in the wotsit for me, though I recognise that my circumstances are very niche.

I spend the vast majority of my time out of the UK. Sometimes not returning for 6 months or more at a time.

You tell me you WILL send the SIM on your timetable and that I then MUST swap it into my phone within 14 days or I will lose service.

The problem is that I won't be in the country in that timescale.

If I call customer services, I am PROMISED that you will delay starting the process and sending the new SIM until I inform you that I will be in the UK. Then you send it anyway whenever you feel like it and start the 14 day clock.

Last time you did this (March this year) it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to get the SIM sent on to me and receive it within the 14 day period and so I was actually blocked from serivce till it finally got to me.

Yet you refuse to send to a non-UK address, and seem incapable of actually doing what you promise to do in terms of altering the timing of the process.

But, again, why on earth is less happening again only 5 months after you forced it on your users last time? Which, in turn was only 9 months after the previous forced SIM change?

I have been with Virgin Mobile/Media pretty much since it began (at least 20 years now) and have put up with a lot - forced SIM changes; unilaterally (i.e. without my permission) changing me onto a new, more expensive, plan because you simply decided to stop offering the plan I had been on for many years; no access to voicemail while roaming (which is most of the time) for over 2 years now (still ongoing), despite numerous calls to Customer Services and promises that it will/has been fixed (yet voicemail still "works" so people can leave messages but I can't check them, nor can I disable voicemail because I can't access the system); and generally appaling Customer Service - but I am rapidly approaching the stage where I have had enough.

I would be grateful if someone could please tell my why ANOTHER SIM change is necessary and, assuming it is unavoidable, how/if it can be done on a mutually agreed timetable that avoids me being blocked from service because you do it exactly when I specifically ask you not to!

Thanks in advance, and apologies for the long post...


I had an SMS text at lunchtime yesterday stating ...

URGENT: We've made some changes to our network, so we've sent you a new SIM. Your old SIM will stop working in 2 days. To continue to use your mobile service, you urgently need to swap it over if you've not already done this. Not received your SIM or need info? Go to or call 789.

... which is not an acceptable notice period. Surely Virgin Mobile / VMO2 have been planning this for quite some time given their initial move from EE to Vodafone and subsequent collaboration with O2.

I am currently in Ireland looking after my brother following his cancer surgery and I expect to be away from home for several weeks or even a few months more. I was expecting any switchover to be seamless and to only happen once in the next five years while Virgin Mobile still has its MVNO agreement with Vodafone at which point I expected to be switched seamlessly to VMO2.

Furthermore, I am concerned that these network changes will affect coverage. I moved from Vodafone to Virgin Mobile because of poor signal (and unsatisfactory customer service) with Vodafone in the locations that I frequent most and some transport routes that I use regularly. Within weeks, Virgin Mobile had announced its switch to Vodafone and shortly afterwards its effective merger with O2. Some customers who have already been transferred from EE are reporting loss of service.

If my current SIM card does stop working in the next few days or, when I return to the UK, I find that my service is adversely affected, I will be raising the issue with Ofcom.

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK

Very Insightful Person
Very Insightful Person


OFCOM will do no more than note your complaint. They don't deal with individual cases.

The deal with Vodafone is now dead in the water 

As you are out of the UK, Virgin have no way to update your present SIM, hence the new one.

I agree things have been done badly and the time period too short. It was also done in July and August when a number of customers would be out of the country.

I'm a Very Insightful Person, I'm here to share knowledge, I don't work for Virgin Media. Learn more

Have I helped? Click Mark as Helpful Answer or use Kudos to say thanks

This isn't an individual case. The whole thing has been handled appallingly and Ofcom should intervene.

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK

We have a Virgin Mobile phone for our son who is currently deployed with the UK armed forces overseas. He's just received the same message that he needs to swap his SIM within 7 days or lose service. As the SIM needs to be activated in the UK and then sent abroad this means he's effectively cut off. We've contacted customer services who were next to useless and informed us there is nothing they can do and simply offered compensation - completely unacceptable short notice with serious implications on their customer base. 

Hi @rigsmith


Thanks for posting on our community forum and my apologies for the inconvenience.


Unfortunately with the SIM swapover there isn't anything we can do now the SIM has been sent out as every single one of our mobile customers are being changed over so we can run through the O2 network.


I completely understand your frustration and my apologies for this.

Forum Team

New around here? Check out the do's and don'ts, in our Community FAQs

Joining in
The same thing has happened to me, I`m a posted worker in Norway at the moment. waiting for my sim to arrive...
I`ve now been cut off....
I`ve work related apps I need to access on a construction site with no Wi-Fi as it's a construction site in the middle of eeffffffffffing nowhere.

I`m now sat in the site office with my thumb up my arse because I`m unable to use the work-related apps....
Thanks, Virgin, for your poor service.

Hi Tonto1976,

Sorry to hear your Mobile has gone off due to the Sim changeover to O2 and that you are posted abroad and didnt get it, we apreciate the frustration and hope you are able to get your new sim ASAP, unfortunately we have no way to send these overseas.



The SIM cannot be activated from outside of the UK, or so I've been told by VM, so it wouldn't matter if VM sent it abroad or someone forwarded it, it still wouldn't work.

I was without service for a month while I was in Ireland looking after my brother who has had colon cancer. My wife offered to forward the SIM to me but I had been told that it wouldn't activate while roaming.

The whole switchover has been extremely poorly announced and implemented especially as it happened in August when many people were on holiday.

I moved from Vodafone to Virgin Mobile for a variety of reasons just before it was announced that VM were ending their 30 year relationship with EE and moving customers to Vodafone, albeit mostly 5G customers initially. Then, less than a year later and at very little notice, we were being moved to O2 with a very short cut-off from the issuing of new SIMs.

My VM contract expired last month and I am currently reviewing the situation. There are far better SIM-only deals out there like 30GB for £10 or 120GB for £12 with SMARTY (on Three) whereas I'm currently paying £11.34 for only 10GB with VM.

I am also with Three on a 30GB SIM-only deal for £12.54 (which is way better than VM) so I may move both to SMARTY.

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK

Hello Felim_Doyle.

Sorry again for the inconvenience this is causing you.

Please get back to us if you need any help at all.


@enlli wrote:

This should be the last change now Virgin and O2 are in a Joint partnership. But changing carriers is a gamble you take when signing up to a Virtual network.

Hi enlli

Hasn't been that long since I changed my Virgin SIM for the new purple version! Can I ask why if Virgin were merging and I was sent yet another SIM, the Purple one, why that last SIM didn't have the OS upgrade it now seems to require?

You did seem to think it would be the last change at the time, why another update to the SIM in such a short time?

Are these SMS's I'm getting correct, or can I ignore them?

Is my SIM going to keep working or not?

I find myself in the same situation as last year, same as "Ilmenau" above.

I've had a couple of SMS's from Virgin about leaving my phone on for the update which of course has failed etc. I hardly ever get a connection, so a night time upgrade is no good for me in my location even if that could work, which it can't as I'm not on the home network for the update.

But I'm very unlikely to be in the UK when the updates happen. I need a SIM sent now I think, pre configured as was done before. I was cut off last year because the SIM didn't get to me in time, another SIM had to sent out etc.That was a lot of time not able to use that number or do banking! I hardly use the phone because I can't get a signal most of the time, but I need it for banking and as a backup if my other SIM stops working etc.


PS. At least for the 2nd time I get a message saying I'm banned from this site! I reported this problem last year and it was fixed. I have to use a VPN. It's not a static IP so Virgin must be blocking a block of addresses yet again I assume. My account is fine, this is an IP ban only!!