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.

Poor Customer Service? Time for a Song!

BT Broadband Song Tombstone
BT Broadband Song Tombstone

As many of you know, I was recently inspired to write a song about the lamentable customer service BT was providing to Darren, one of their broadband customers. The song proved to be a big hit, attracting much more attention than I anticipated. According to the BT customer service team, it also helped Darren in his quest to get his service restored (though he had to endure nine days without service first). The good people at BT Care got in touch – firstly to say:

Just posted a comment on your video about your friend’s broadband problem. We would love to get this sorted for him, could you ask him to drop @BTCare a tweet or send an email with details of the problem and we will get on to it ASAP. If you ask him to put YouTube in the title of the email I will know it is him.

I would really like to get this sorted for him. Thanks

Then after they had been in touch with their customer and started to sort things out they contacted me again:

It looks like we have been in touch with your friend and are getting things sorted for him. Thanks so much for your help with this.

I really appreciated the way BT Care engaged with me – good work.

Their reaction was a marked contrast to Ian Livingston, BT group CEO. He saw the video and called me three times in one day to remonstrate with me about the song. He was aggressive towards me and made veiled threats of legal action. The song was tongue in cheek – and I don’t think there was anything in it that warranted BT taking legal action. I discussed the matter with friends and the general agreement was ‘the song served its purpose – maybe you should take it down?’

Judging by the way Ian Livingston had reacted I had clearly caused offence, albeit unintentionally. As my friends said, the purpose of the song was to help Darren, so to that extent, mission accomplished. I removed the video from Youtube.

Ian Livingston contacted me again the following day asking

Can you let me know what you decided to do about it all as I can¹t see anything?

I replied confirming I’d already taken the video down. He responded again – here are some of his final words to me (and though I clearly wound him up I was at the time a BT customer and shareholder):


Your song had nothing to do with Darren getting sorted.  It was picked up before we saw your song. I had got it from his email to me which as I dealt with almost immediately as I do with all customer emails despite the assertions in your song….Customer complaints have reduced by 50% over the last 18 months so perhaps we are making some progress and the RFT (edit – right first time) programme is delivering although we have more to do….For someone who prides themselves in engagement skills, you clearly struggle.