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.


Friday Fury – PC Whirled

I’ve been contacted by a disgruntled customer of PC World. The writer wishes to remain anonymous and has asked if I’d care to share their tale of woe. What follows is truly the stuff of Friday Fury. How does service get to be this bad? What’s gone wrong with the customer experience and the employee experience? And why don’t organisations take a more holistic view and try harder to weave the two together?

If you’d like to appear in person or anonymously in a future Friday Fury – feel free to get in touch. Now it’s over to our mystery shopper…

I told a friend that I was going to write to The Daily Telegraph after my trip to PC World. This means I was angry. In turn, it means I was ribbed by said friend and offered an imaginary monocle and honorary red bulbous nose. By the way, the cure for a red bulbous nose is to drink more of the brandy that caused it in the first place.  It will then turn purple. Thats one of my dad’s favourite jokes.

We had gone to PC World to buy a laptop. I was disappointed at how hopelessly I was served and how haplessly they then missed the opportunity to sell me something. Despite the ranting tone I employ here, the key word is disappointed. Disappointed by the false economy of seeking to compete with online shopping by stripping out all the value out of the bricks and mortar experience of buying something expensive, useful, which had been the subject of careful consideration and which was therefore worth paying a little premium for in return for knowing it’s really what you were after and, most importantly,  for having it RIGHT NOW!

The bad service was bordering on the funny. Having loitered purposefully for 20 minutes next to the machine I wanted and close to a couple who had been waiting to buy an iPad for 40 minutes, a young man, whose left ear someone had cruelly attacked with a hole punch, told  me that while he could inform a manager of our need to be served, he could not actually go to the store room and get me a laptop himself. This despite my clear and unambiguous requirement for “one of those”.

I did not need to be advised, merely served. I got a computer science degree in 1989 and therefore have a life long right to pretend that I know all about computers and if I need IT advice these days I just ask someone in HR on Twitter anyway.

Eventually, Holepunch told  Manager, seemingly a Mr Demarcation, who told Bob (no cavernous piercings but a tattoo of his name in mirror writing on his forehead to remind him who he is every fourth or fifth day when he gets a shave) that we would like one of those laptops. Normally, say in a bar where I have the futile habit of trying to ensure that queues are managed fairly, I would have pointed Bob, when he finally arrived, at the iPad buyers first, but I feared someone giving Bob a gold watch in the further intervening 20 minutes and ushering him off to retirement before he got back to us, so I allowed him to serve us. The other couple went home to pre order an iPad 4 (ok, so I made that bit up, and the tattoo).

The haplessness was that when we were finally served they didn’t have any of the laptop we wanted, the one which came top of the latest Which survey, in stock. They carry one at most. This isn’t lean, it’s stupid. I am a middle aged man. Therefore, in turn, I am stupid enough to pay an extra 10% to instantly own a product that will be used for ~5 years. In other words I ascribe 10% of the cost to the value of getting it five days earlier than if I bought it on line. I am that stupid, and so are lots of people. It is easy (trivially so) to predict that the most popular product will sell, even in tough times. This is not a one off, it happened in the same store when I last bought a television, the sort that comes with a nylon shirt, jogging pants, a nosebag and which is so big you have to watch it the wrong way through a telescope through which you can still see the bubbles in Wayne Rooney’s spit.

On both occasions I went home, bought the item on line, with the gratuitous and deliberate intent of buying it anywhere but from PCWorld / Currys.

Do you want to hear the one about the man (one guess who) who stood on top of a huge pile of a4 paper in another PC World to shout and attract the attention of the staff so they might serve a group of people all of whom wanted, separately, immediately and without question, to buy large items? Perhaps another time, but it’s entirely true. I never learn, but neither do they!

photo c/o Joelk75