Virgin on the Ridiculous

Virgin on the Ridiculous

16th December 2013 – a day that is seared into my memory. The day we let Virgin Media into our home to provide us with TV, phone and broadband services.

I had to leave the house before the installers finished their work – and when they did – they showed Carole the TV and phone were working, but not the wireless broadband. We immediately started having problems with the new router – having to reset it every couple of hours to get service.

On Christmas Eve, after acknowledging their online systems were showing faults lighting up like a Christmas tree, Virgin Media returned and replaced the router. They call their router a SuperHub, it doesn’t feel very super to me. The replacement misbehaved in exactly the same way. After further attempts to fix the problem by phone, Virgin Media sent another engineer out on December 30th. This time – another router, something called a D-Link, was placed into the mix, and the SuperHub was reset to work in modem only mode. I was told the purpose of this set up was temporary and necessary to see if the problem was with the SuperHub, or with interference in our house. Inelegant yes, but at least it was functioning.

Inelegant and Temporary

On December 31st we got a phone call to see if everything was OK, but unfortunately the call came during a short power cut so I wasn’t able to test anything. The caller promised to phone back on January 3rd. January 3rd came and went with no call. A couple more days passed then I hopped onto Twitter for a bit of a moan. The only help I was offered on Twitter was a suggestion that I call back again. I called and explained my frustration with the lack of call backs and the temporary nature of the fix and was told my call needed to be escalated – could I please leave it with Virgin Media and they would get back to me. Promise.

Another week passed and no call back. Another promise broken. All this time we had been powering two routers, the SuperHub and the D-Link, and while the service had remained constant – this was only ever meant to be a temporary test fix.

I called Virgin Media again just over a week ago. This time – the guy who spoke to me berated the previous jobs, demeaned his colleagues and proceeded to fiddle about with everything via a remote connection and with my help. I couldn’t believe how much he slagged off his colleagues – and by the end of this call, the D-Link router was back out of the equation, various things had been faffed with and reset, and I was being reassured that everything would be OK.

Since Mr Arrogant came to our rescue we’ve had to continue to reset the SuperHub in order to get service. Seems his attitude about his other colleagues was not only rude, but misplaced too. I called Virgin Media again today and spent 51 minutes trying not to lose it with the guy on the phone. I’m afraid I wasn’t convinced he knew what he was doing and I felt like I had more idea about what was wrong than he did. The problem is exacerbated because all the case notes written on their system by Virgin Media people previously are sketchy at best. So each time I call I have to replay most of the story, you can imagine how happy I am about that!

So here we are five weeks down the line, paying for a service that doesn’t work, promised phone calls not happening and getting conflicting information when we call to chase Virgin Media. I’ve tweeted Virgin again and this time been asked to fill out an enquiry form. Whoop de doo! I await their response, with minimal faith.

How can you get customer service so badly wrong?

#1 Update – aka you couldn’t make it up.

This morning I have been contacted by Virgin Media again. They’re asking me to complete an enquiry form – identical to the one I filled in yesterday. Maybe I’m just not awake yet? The nightmare revolves and continues. Eat. Sleep. Mistake. Repeat.

#2 Update – Poetry Style

While I wait for Virgin Media to call, I’ve put my customer experience down in a rhyme.

So far I’ve had this by way of a response – but no call yet…

Hello Doug.

We’ll get to your form and we will race, to get your broadband fixed and put a smile on your face. I know it’s a worry but please don’t fret, you’ll soon be connected to the Internet. Your experience has been bad, that I’ll admit, but we’ll turn it around, we won’t quit. We’re here to help and we’ll find the cure, for your dodgy broadband that’s for sure.

#3 Update

Over four hours has passed since our earlier poetic exchange and I’ve not heard any more. Just sent this to Virgin Media:

4 hours ago you said you’d rush. So far no call, only hush. How long you gonna keep me waiting. More delay is just frustrating.

#4 Update

We’ve had Virgin Media installed for 8 weeks and one day (today is February 12th 2014), and the service has been and remains faulty since the first day it was installed. Four engineer visits (one of which involved trailing an 8 foot wire across the room leaving the router balanced on a cupboard door to see if the service was any better there), replaced hardware, numerous phone calls and emails. No resolution.

#5 Update

We had another engineer visit, making five site visits in total. On the fifth visit, the engineer reinstalled the temporary fix, bypassing their equipment with a third party router. We have agreed to accept this mess if in return we get a reasonable, stable service. In addition, we are seeking compensation via the adjudicator for all the inconvenience caused by Virgin Media. Most recently, Virgin Media has submitted an 8 page defence of its appalling service. It is full of inaccuracies and frequently states that Virgin Media do not support third party hardware – despite installing third party hardware in our house twice. The matter is unresolved as at March 9th 2014.

No You Can’t. Yes You Can.

Dealing with the mortgage company

Over the weekend I spotted this cartoon doing the rounds on the web. If anyone can tell me where it originates from I would love to credit the artist. As I looked at it, the image spoke to me of my relationship with my mortgage company.

No You Can’t

The current tracker rate on our Natwest mortgage expires at the end of this month. I’ve been in conversation with the bank about the choices we have available for the next few years, and we’ve reached a decision. Last week I call Natwest to book a new deal over the phone. I’m told I can’t. I have to wait over a week for a callback because no one is available to process my request.

I don’t need any investment advice, and I know the deal I want, if they’d give me access to the computer – I’d book the thing in myself! And there’s a sting in the tail. If by the time the Natwest calls me back the deal has expired, we’ve missed out – tough luck. A few weeks ago I could have made the arrangement on the spot – since then, apparently there’s been a ‘policy change’.¬†We to and fro for a while. I ask to speak with a supervisor, once again I hit the no one is available wall.

I try my luck on Twitter and the bank responds quickly and gives me another number to try, and I end up in the same situation. The Twitter version of Natwest expresses sympathy.

NatWest Twitter Expresses Sympathy

I appreciate the sentiment, and sympathy don’t pay the rent.

I have to settle for an appointment at the end of next week, and a call back from a supervisor within 24 hours – though I’m assured they’ll be able to do no more than that which has already been offered.

‘Natwest – Helpful Banking’ runs the strap line. Sorry but I ain’t feeling it.

Yes You Can

It’s Saturday morning, and the Natwest supervisor phones me and offers to process my new mortgage deal – right there – on the spot. I accept the offer and a half hour later, we’ve blundered through a vaguely incompetent call and have done the deal, two days after being told that this wouldn’t be possible before next Friday.

Pleased and Disappointed

The deal is done. I shan’t deny it – I’m pleased about that, although I genuinely worry when the customer knows more about the product being ordered than the sales person.

We’ve had to jump through hoops to make it happen, I’m not pleased about that, and I can’t imagine the Natwest is either. Time has been wasted, disempowered employees have been disengaged (well they would have been if they knew what it meant – more on that another day), systems have failed, and process has been broken in order to patch up a failed experience. Plenty of HR survey results and white papers will extoll the benefits of an empowered workforce. And I think until HR goes beyond HR, and helps people to join the dots right through the organisation and on to customers, suppliers and more, empowerment will remain high on the buzzword chart and low on action.

I have a great week in store and I hope you do too. If during this week you can find and solve a customer problem through making it easier for your people to deliver better service, then my hope will become your reality.

Come Over to the Dark Side

I’m giving a talk next week for Workplace Trends on the dark side of social media – what to do when it all goes horribly wrong, and I’d like your help please. I’m after some good social media screw up stories. As much as I like guitars I figured everyone’s pretty bored of United Airlines’ ability to break them, so what have you got? Hit me with your best shot.

photo credit