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.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

13 thoughts on “Virgin on the Ridiculous”

  1. Since we are constantly passed around these days in all types of customer contact encounters, the most tragic part of this is being sent back to the beginning – the digital equivalent of starting at the back of the queue again. I must say I switched to Virgin and it has been perfect, but I have not therefore had to get any service. Good luck Doug

    1. Indeed, the back of the queue. It’s like trying to sneak into the Lyceum without paying, but at least that was one queue worth busting. I fear that if and when I ever get to the front of this one it will be a big disappointment πŸ™

  2. I’ve had a similar experience with BT as I’m moving office on 1st Feb so thought ordering a broadband line on 5th Dec left plenty of time even for BT to mess things up. Wrong. Early this month I chased up the order as it was due to go live on 17th Jan. After 30 mins + on the phone I discovered the order had been cancelled, by them, but despite being in the technology business their system wasn’t set up to tell me. They booked a call for the following Monday between 9 and noon and promised they’d sort it out on the phone. You’ve guessed – no call, so I went on line and ordered again. Through came the confirmation and I left it 2 days then followed up. Forty minutes of hanging on and pressing 1 if you have all afternoon to wait, 2 if you like listening to our hold music… I found out the order had been cancelled again, and again they failed to notify me.
    My blood was boiling so I did their on-line chat to complain, was phoned by a lovely lady – Aislinn – who after getting me to hold whilst she called other departments she discovered that there weren’t enough lines going into the building so I needed a new line as well as a broadband service so she put me through to sales who did the order over the phone and were very helpful. Their inability to process an on line order has left me moving into a new office on 1st Feb that won’t have broadband until 17th March! The CEO will be receiving a letter tomorrow.

    1. Grrrr! Facepalm. Etc. When these folk get it wrong, they really go to town eh! I hope you succeed in closing the gap between February 1 and March 17. The new CEO is Gavin Patterson, sorry I don’t have his email address otherwise I’d share it. Several years ago Gavin and I spoke to a bunch of incoming graduates at BT. He wasn’t CEO at that time but somewhere up near the top, hierarchically speaking. He may have changed – but back then the way he spoke gave me the impression that he cared, so if you get hold of him I hope he helps you out.

  3. This is sadly many people’s experience, when things go wrong, with ‘big companies’. I have been chasing an issue with Vodafone since September last year – having been bounced from department to department for 3 months I finally sent a letter saying I intended to go to the ombudsman if a resolution couldn’t be found. No resolution was offered just a letter telling me to send my letter to a different team!
    ….vodafone staff must feel so frustrated and demotivated by having to follow these rather strange customer diservice practices.
    And me, following the expected positive outcome from the ombudsman, I’m going to stick to doing business with small providers, employing people who give me their full names, are able to make outgoing calls and genuinely care about me and my business!

    1. Sorry to hear your story. I agree with you about the staff being frustrated – and then i turn that feeds through into how they deal with customers. Not good. And when you can deal smaller that might be the way forward – and I’m not sure I can currently get broadband etc from anyone but a big company. Another engineer visit being planned for next week. Yawn!

      Cheers – Doug

  4. I’ve been with Virgin since they were NTL. Over the last 13 years inevitably perhaps we’ve had problems and they have fixed them all, usually really well.
    Only once I did lose patience: I wrote a letter, a proper paper thing, detailing the issues and their poor response. Wow, that worked. I got a call a few days later from someone from the ‘Managing Director’s Complaints Department’. Julie she called herself. She was awesome. Utterly impossible to angry with. She kept agreeing with me when I said the service was unacceptable! A twenty minute phone call, a single visit from an engineer, and she phoned whilst he was there to check it was okay.
    Problem sorted, and we have never looked back. We get the advertised speeds, it’s ultra reliable, love it.
    Sadly, it appears to be down to the individual people who happen to pick up your call. I am sure companies generally recruit good people. But they then systematically demotivate and hamstring them with dreadful systems. I guess some employees find a way to cope better than others.
    I just hope the next person you get is one of these.

    1. Thanks Noel. Systematic demotivation, indeed. You never see that written in the employee handbook but oh boy, it’s there alright.

      Among other contact points we are being called by the CEOs office periodically. And that is all very well, but the fact remains that barring a few days when an extra router was temporarily inserted into the mix (as a test of Virgin Media’s systems and kit), we’ve yet to have 24 hours of consistent wireless coverage since December 16th. πŸ™

  5. I had a mobile broadband contract with 3 for two years. Phoned a month before the contract end date to get it cancelled rather than renewed. Three months later I had a letter threatening legal action, asu direct debit had been cancelled. Phoned and explained that I had cancelled in time and made the last payment the end of that month. Turns out the person I spoke to forgot to put the cancellation on the system and therefore it wasn’t cancelles and I now had to pay for three further months…due to no fault of my own. Struggled for months while having calls from solicitors and receiving many “amemded” bills, each for different amounts I now owed. Then a letter to say that I had moved and not informed them of the address change, so they were charging me for the hassle and admin of finding me…I hadn’t moved, the previous bill and this letter was sent to the same address. This started February 2010 and I finally managed to speak to someone higher up and get this all forgotten about in July 2013 – believe it or not, 3 years to clear up their mistake!

    1. πŸ™ Pleased you got the mess sorted out – but awful that these things can take so long to fix.

  6. I perceive a long slow decline. Virgin were very much on the ball when they connected our ASDL web three years ago, but we had often to reset our router. Fortunately, the technical customer support at the time, in Swansea I think, was excellent – and they owned up to some compatibility issues with Apple Macs.

    All okay for a fair time, except the price went up. Then recently our speed dropped, the result of BT excavations. Virgin took a week to press BT to mend it – and now it’s dropped again. And where were the nice people from Swansea? What I get is a nice but inaudible gentleman on the other side of the globe, putting me through the old ‘are you using extension leads?’ routine. Galactic? I’m ballistic.

    1. Thanks Howard – sorry to hear you’re having trouble too. In the end I took the matter to CISAS which is supposedly n independent adjudicator for resolving problems between customers and providers. Virgin lied to the adjudicator – I can prove this. The adjudicator sided with Virgin – didn’t seek any clarification just believed them. Total waste of time. Hope you get a satisfactory resolution.

  7. Thankyou, Doug – can’t say I have heard of CISAS – which might indicate something! What an annoying experience for you. Even regulators now need regulating.
    With the landline still all over the place, I have asked Virgin for my MAC code, and to be fair the Scots woman on the line was friendly and not at all pushy. But she didn’t seem to have been informed about something I discovered a few minutes later – that proper fibre connections are planned here for July. Too late for Virgin, as I’m heading for MacAce who seem on the ball.

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