What is "The Trombone Effect"?


Ah… the dreaded trombone effect, known to strike fear into the hearts of cellphone users everywhere. We suggest you avoid ‘tromboning’ when roaming, but before we get there – let us just explain how ‘tromboning’ works when you don’t pick up a call.


You pay for the first time when someone in South Africa calls your Virgin Mobile number and because you are roaming, you pay for the international leg of the call.


You pay for the second time when the international network tries to find you, and if your phone is busy or you don’t take the call, the call is diverted to your voicemail box in South Africa. You will be charged at international rates again!


You pay for the third time if you retrieve that voicemail. When you get the voicemail notification message and call the number to listen, you will pay international rates yet again!


So, how do we avoid cellphone bills that make you wish we still communicated by smoke signals?


  • Forward ALL your calls to voicemail.
  • Ideally, you should consider unconditionally forward all incoming calls to your voicemail box in South Africa. This means your phone will never ring, but you will still be able to make outgoing calls and SMSs.
  • If you unconditionally forward all calls to voicemail, you will only be charged when you phone South Africa to retrieve them. And better yet – rather retrieve them when you’re back in the country. You’ll pay even less.
  • To retrieve your messages while roaming dial +278414 followed by the last nine digits of your Virgin Mobile number. Press # when you hear your own voicemail greeting. You will then be prompted to enter your password, which is 1234, unless you’ve changed it.