An Open Letter to CISAS and Virgin Media

Virgin Mediocre

An Open Letter to CISAS and Virgin Media

Case Number 212140893

CISAS – Thank you for your letter of 27th March 2014 confirming you have rejected my claim for compensation and an apology from Virgin Media. You have asked that I advise you on or before 8th May 2014 whether I accept or reject your decision. I reject your decision, and here are some of the reasons why:

Virgin Media stated to you that ‘the service was fully installed onto the customer’s Mac Book laptop on 16th December 2013. The connection was tested via an Ethernet cable, it did not connect wirelessly as this is the customer’s responsibility.’

Virgin Media’s statement is untrue. Although I was in the house on December 16th 2013 when the engineers arrived, I left to travel to meetings in London while the engineers were installing the TV and broadband services. I took my Apple Mac Book into London with me – so it would not have been possible for the Virgin Media engineers to connect it to their Superhub router with an Ethernet cable as they say they did. Furthermore, my Apple Mac Book doesn’t have an Ethernet connection on it, so the Ethernet cables subsequently provided by Virgin Media on December 30th 2013 cannot be physically connected to my Apple Mac Book.

Virgin Media states that ‘broadband has always worked on a wired connection’. Virgin Media’s statement is untrue. On several occasions when I telephoned Virgin for technical support, even though we had a computer directly connected to the Superhub it still wouldn’t access broadband without the Superhub being reset, and we often had to reset the Superhub several times in any one day.

Virgin Media states that it ‘cannot support a 3rd party router’, even though the temporary fix installed on December 30th 2013 and the subsequent temporary fix installed on the 14th February 2014 both rely on third party equipment, namely a d-link router. I’m still unsure why I should accept a solution which relies on equipment that Virgin Media says it does not support?

There are other inconsistencies in their defence. Don’t get me wrong, I expect Virgin Media to defend their position, and I don’t expect them to resort to lying to you.

In most of my telephone dealings with Virgin Media the staff have been friendly. They’ve been rude about each other on occasion and they’ve been civil to me. Over the telephone they have acknowledged that a) their service has not been adequate and b) they have acknowledged that on several occasions they’ve not done what they said they would (escalated matters, returned phone calls etc). The engineers who were sent to site have also been friendly, although some of their proposed solutions (including leaving an ethernet cable trailing from an upstairs bedroom all the way down the stairs to the TV) were dangerous and impractical. I am really disappointed that Virgin Media has seen fit to be untruthful in their written defence. I’m also disappoint that CISAS has seen fit to believe Virgin Media unquestioningly, even though independent review sites such as TrustPilot rate Virgin Media so poorly.

In their letter to me dated March 28th 2014 Virgin Media say ‘We’re disappointed we couldn’t reach an amicable resolution.’ I too am disappointed, but based on the fact that Virgin told lies in its defence to the adjudicator, and the adjudicator didn’t challenge any of the discrepancies between us, I am not surprised.

I have no further recourse via CISAS and I have more pressing business than to pursue Virgin Media further. This has been a fascinating lesson in how the odds seem stacked against the consumer, and I hope that by publishing my earlier blog post and this response to your adjudication, I can at least highlight that Virgin Media is a company willing to lie to the adjudicator in the event of a complaint about the service it provides.

photo credit


Given the attention this post is getting – I want to add something further in the interests of being balanced and open. I let Virgin Media’s CEO office know I was going to complain to the adjudicator, and I told Virgin Media I was seeking compensation of £1,000 and an apology. Virgin Media then offered to credit me three months off my bill. I declined, and they increased the offer to five months. I said if they would confirm that offer I would withdraw my complaint. Virgin Media then emailed me to say they would credit my account for five months of service charges, but not the whole bill. I responded saying that did not reflect what I thought we had agreed and they stuck to their guns. At that point I declined their offer, which may have been foolish given the farce which has continued to play out. Apologies for not including this beforehand – on reflection I think it is relevant.


My Mistake. No Problem We’ll Fix It

Here’s a short tale of good service. This morning I’ve been busy making travel arrangements. I hate doing this stuff and I get distracted easily…where was I…oh yeah. So among other things I booked a return flight to Dublin in December.

I chose the flight from an aggregator website which allowed me to choose the exact date and times before connected me to the airline, Aer Lingus. I booked the ticket, a cheap, no frills, no refund ticket because I like to keep client expenses low. Once I’d booked it I spotted that between the aggregator and the airline, the timings had been reset. I’d booked the wrong ticket, d’oh!

I didn’t want the airline system getting confused with two of me trying to fly on the same day and I booked a new one at the right time then called Aer Lingus to cancel my incorrect ticket.  The person I spoke to refunded my mistake without hesitation, despite me having a ‘no refund’ ticket. She didn’t have to check with a supervisor, the offer was made and gratefully accepted. Smart, empowered customer service, that is how you exceed customer expectations people. Nice one Aer Lingus. Can you imagine certain other airlines even thinking about refunding me?

The Death of Service

dance of death

photo c/o Zaqarbal

Following Dad’s death, I’m starting to tidy up some loose ends. I’m not used to dealing with the vagaries of quite so many companies at once, and I’m having some interesting customer experiences. Here are just a few:

I contacted EDF Energy because I wanted to take over the electricity supply payments at Dad’s place. After long waits on the phone I told EDF their existing bank mandate from Dad’s account would stop and I’d like to start to pick up the tab. And I gave them a meter reading. Two days later – they sent me a final bill into which they’d inserted a piece of marketing titled ‘How Will You Celebrate?’ Now I’m all for celebrating the life of dead friends and family, but come on EDF, that’s a marketing #fail. And they also sent me a sniffy letter saying I was now moved onto a crap (my word), higher priced (their words) tariff because I cancelled the bank mandate. #fail

I wrote a note to Credit Suisse advising them Dad has died and that in due course, I’ll be closing his deposit account. I sent them a certified copy of the death certificate and asked for it back as I need to show it to plenty of other companies too. Today I got a letter from Credit Suisse acknowledging receipt of the certificate and enclosing a bunch of claim forms. No certificate though. I called them up and was told ‘we don’t normally return those’. OK smarty pants, so how the hell else am I supposed to prove the fact of death to all the other companies then? I’m placed on hold for a while before being told ‘we’ll return it to you’. I should coco! #fail

BT has cancelled the phone line and broadband at Dad’s place promptly, I appreciate that. Then they send me a refund cheque made payable to a mystery character, neither me nor my father. So I called them up and after a ten minute wait I get told ‘sorry we made the cheque payable to the wrong person, please return it’. ‘How about I just shred it and you send me another one?’ I ask. But no. BT doesn’t trust me to destroy a cheque for £24 and furthermore because I want it to be made payable to me they now want to see a copy of Dad’s death certificate. BT are now wasting my time, and my money thanks to their mistake. #fail

It’s not all bad. British Gas have been fabulous. They have a dedicated bereavement team and every thing was switched over to me with no fuss and they have kindly offered to hold all the bills and keep the supply going while I sort probate of Dad’s estate. How thoughtful of you, Thanks! And Sutton and East Surrey Water have been simply fab. Easy to deal with, correct about everything. Spot on.

I don’t believe that any of these companies set out to deliver such a poor experience, and at the same time, in order to have front line service people doing such a poor job, something is wrong. It’s not just me taking hassle on board to manage this crap service, all these companies are incurring costs and wasted time too.

I’m not interested in blaming anyone, I have no interest in a departmental finger wagging contest. What I’d really like to see is closer links between HR and customer service and the customer so that we can have better conversations about how to make these things easier. For all of us, in all circumstances. Is that too much to ask do you think?