I've been a bit quiet lately. Reason - Virgin Media. They broke our broadband and said they couldn't fix it for a month. After lots of angry phone calls and getting nowhere we told them where to go and now have lots of lovely Sky services including high speed broadband.
So here is the complaint letter I have written to Virgin Media about their service. It's very long, but I'm rather proud of it.
Dear Mr. Branson,
I feel it necessary to write to you to let you know why I am no longer a customer of Virgin Media after 13 years of continual service from its previous entities.
The story begins one Saturday morning. I am an administrator of a busy internet forum and need to check it on a regular basis. So Saturday morning I fire up the laptop and try to connect to the internet. Nothing. Try all the usual troubleshooting things but still nothing. Get my husband to double check. Still nothing. So begins the weekend from hell courtesy of Virgin Media.
I call the fault centre and give my details. Firstly the agent did not ask for the security password on the account. I pass the phone to my husband as he is the computer expert in our house and take my son off to his karate lesson - heís only 7 but already a blue belt so annoying him is really not good. Over an hour later I return to find my husband still on the phone. Apparently this is the second phone call as he was told to try ďsomethingĒ and call back if it didnít work. The second agent he was speaking to did not ask for the security password and was happily dealing with Mr Ashdown despite him not being named as an authorised user on the account. This agent said that as we had a Set Top Box modem he would book an appointment to have a cable modem installed as this was the preferred modem now. Anyway after lots of tests we got a ďtry this and call back if it doesnít workĒ was forthcoming from this agent. Unsurprisingly it did not work. Back on the phone. Third agent did not ask for password and dealt with Mr Ashdown again without my authority. Clearly itís pointless trying to keep my account secure because you are all quite happy to talk to all and sundry about my personal details. After doing the same troubleshooting over and over again this agent said they were going to check something and call back. Well they didnít. The young blue belt is not happy at not being able to play Club Penguin. He hasnít fed his Puffles and they may run away.
Fourth call. No password and no asking who Mr Ashdown was. Detecting a pattern here? Same troubleshooting brings us no nearer to solving the problem. However we have clues. Our STB modem has been deprovisioned from the Virgin Media network. We can reprovision it but as soon as a signal is sent to it, it gets deprovisioned again. We tried this about 20 times in all on Saturday with the various agents.
About 20 minutes into call number four the agent suddenly realises that perhaps some security questions would be a good idea. So she asks Mr Ashdown and myself the same questions and then proceeds to repeatedly get our names wrong for the duration of the call: itís Ashdown, not Ash or Ashleigh or one of the many other names we were called. By now there are some choice names Iíd like to start calling people but hey ho, letís keep humouring them for now. She also lets me know that your staff are not trained on STB modems. Eventually my patience runs out and I ask to speak with a manager. I am told that someone will call me back within two hours. Well Iím not holding my breath.
Itís a good job I didnít hold my breath as I would have been holding it until 8am the following morning.
So here we are at Sunday morning and Iím back on the phone again. This time I get David who proceeds to tell me that the fault is with my computer. Well after telling David that we have tested the modem with 3 different computers and it doesnít work with any of them, he changes tack and decides that I am speaking to the wrong department. David drops me into a call queue where the options I have are Telephone or Television. Hmmmm, not very helpful. I redial and surprise surprise hereís David again. This time, instead of dropping me into a call queue for the wrong department he actually takes the trouble to transfer me directly to the wrong department. Whilst he was doing this he pointedly ignored my request to speak to a manager. Oh and David didnít ask for my security password. But quite frankly thatís what Iíve learnt to expect now. May I suggest a career in politics for David because quite frankly he is bloody fantastic at avoiding the main issue.
Now Iím speaking to Sonny (sp) whose English is barely understandable. Anyway Sonny initially refuses my request to speak to a manager and offers to do the same checks I did multiple times yesterday. I ask for a manager again and am eventually connected to one. She was most unhelpful and just kept saying that she would not help me if I refused to do the same tests again. I say to her that I would do this once more only if she guaranteed me it would work. At 8.37am she promised me it would fix the problem Ė check the call record, itís on there. Well suffice to say your manager made a false promise.
Back to Sonny to do tests. They didnít work. But wait, heís noticed something. Apparently a network upgrade took place in our area over Friday night and Saturday morning. Hmmm, a light bulb goes off somewhere and a few more checks later and we have discovered what the problem is. The poor little modem in our set top box cannot handle the network speed now it had been upgraded. Hurrah we know what the problem is. And it only took just over 24 hours. Now weíre really getting somewhere.
The solution is a replacement modem. The date at this point is 13th June. The date I am given for my new modem to be fitted: 10th July. Wait a minute, youíll have to repeat that, for a minute I thought you said 10th July. OK you did say 10th July. Thatís 4 weeks away. Itís the fault of the World Cup you say? Oh really; just how can a bunch of overpaid prima donnas kicking a ball around a field on the other side of the world affect when I get my broadband service restored? Unless of course all Virgin Media technicians have taken 4 weeks off work to sit around and watch the aforementioned football. Seriously July 10th? Yes and we canít do it any sooner. Stupid Wayne Rooney.
Except now itís not the fault of Rooney and all his rich friends. Itís the fault of Customer Services as they are in charge of fitting cable modems. OK put me through to them please. Now hereís a thing. They canít help. And quite frankly donít want to help. Perhaps there was an important football match somewhere that they were all too busy watching or they were all having a balloon fight in the office but whatever the reason Iím being told I have to do without my broadband service for 4 weeks and no one is interested in trying to reduce this wait time. And no one has said sorry. OK at this point I have to go out as believe it or not I have a life and cannot spend the whole weekend on the phone.
I have a nice day out with my family away from football and broadband and uncaring people on the other end of the telephone. Upon my return I start the nightmare again. This time I cut straight to the chase and ask the person who doesnít ask for my password to put me straight through to a manager. Am promised one will call back within one hour. I set the timer.
One hour later when no one has called me back I call again and am not asked for my password. Perhaps if I changed my password to John Terry someone might notice it and actually ask me what it is. This time I ask for a manager and say I will not accept a call back because obviously Virgin Media just uses this as a tactic to get rid of callers and no one ever has any intention of calling anyone. Or perhaps you forgot to pay your phone bill and canít make any calls. Or too busy watching football.
Iím left on hold for no less than 30 minutes. OK I have a cordless phone so can wander about, feed the dog, go to the toilet, even watch a bit of the World Cup but seriously 30 minutes is a joke. Maybe the call centre staff were waiting for me to get fed up and hang up. Ha! No way am I falling for that one. So I hang on for 30 minutes. What makes this wait even more soul destroying is that your hold music consists of a loop of 3 songs. Rocket Man, by Elton John, Venus by Bananarama and something else so unmemorable Iíve blocked the memory of it. Now much as I admire Mr John and his musical talents, Iíd like to take this opportunity to point out to you that he has been in the music business for many years and has a repertoire of far more than one poxy song. If youíre going to leave me on hold for so long at least vary it a bit. Oh hereís an idea: people could pop on the line every so often and not ask me for my password. Just to make sure I donít nod off.
Eventually the rudest woman in the whole world comes on the line. If this woman truly is a manager and not just someone dragged in off the street to get me off the phone then you should be ashamed at employing someone with such pathetic people skills. She didnít even know what the score was in the football. Basically this woman proceeded to tell me that I was lying to her and that there was nothing wrong with my service. I nearly lost it at this point and had to resort to a bit of ďangry voiceĒ. In this day and age the average person deals with a lot of call centres and quite frankly this woman was by far and away the rudest person I have ever encountered in any of them. And I told her so.
We stop for a half time break while I calm down and in the second half she has a change of tactics and resorts to the ďitís the fault of customer servicesĒ formation again. Anything is better than apologising and trying to help I guess. Iím put through the customer services where Iím completely knocked off the ball by a man asking for my security password. Bells and chimes ring out everywhere and the sound of Hallelujah appears all around me. The nice chap looks at my account and I hear an exclamation at the amount of people I have spoken to over the weekend. Clearly this employee is not too busy watching football to show a bit of sympathy. He quickly connects me to a manager. Who is no help at all.
This manager sells me a dummy at first by at least sounding sympathetic. However, it soon became clear that she was in no way going to help resolve my problem and just kept saying that you couldnít do it any sooner. At this point I have had enough and shoot for goal asking how I go about disconnecting my service. My shot was fired straight into the wall though when she told me I could not disconnect my services on a Sunday as that department does not work weekends. Let me guess Ė playing football. I could not believe what I was hearing at this point and just hung up and threw the phone across the room. Luckily it didnít break as you would be receiving the bill if it had.
By now I estimate I had spent somewhere around 6 hours on the phone to Virgin Media over the course of the weekend and had got absolutely nowhere. You guys play the offside trap well, Iíll give you that.
Monday morning. Letís give them one more chance. Thatís what they say about playing Lampard and Gerrard together isnít it? Anyways at 7.20am Iím on the phone again trying to get someone to give a damn. The first agent I speak to without giving my password puts the same defensive wall up and tells me I have to wait a month for a resolution to my problem. I ask her what the resolution time is for someone reporting a fault and she tells me 48 hours. Well Iíve spent the last 48 hours just trying to get someone to help me, never mind get the problem solved and now Iím told its 28 days, take it or leave it. Manager please. And not that Italian guy, his tracksuit bottoms are too tight. Manager comes on line, same old story, same old not going to help. I try one last tactic and ask for someone senior. Apparently someone senior doesnít start work until 10am. Lucky them.
At 8am I call back and speak to someone about disconnecting my broadband service. The nice chap asks for my password and then asks why I want to disconnect. Well how long have you got mate? He looked at the account and did say the word ďhorrificĒ but didnít say ďlet me see if I can do anything.Ē
Then he proceeded to tell me Iíd need to email all my contacts to let them know that my email address would be cancelled. Ummmm, how, I have no frigginí broadband. He arranges the disconnection and tells me that itís cheaper to have the whole package rather than just television and telephone. Pointless if one of them doesnít work though isnít it?
Mr Ashdown did a bit of shopping around and finds that we can have HD television, telephone and broadband (at a higher speed than you offer) all installed before you guys can get off your backsides and drag yourself away from the football to fix my modem. Sold! Weíve cancelled all our Virgin Media services.
Which is a shame because once upon a time I worked for Nynex, which became Cable and Wireless, which became ntl, which became the pathetic company that is Virgin Media. I used to work for a fantastic company with great people that cared about providing a good service. Iíve watched that company decline to the mess that exists now. Itís sad.
1. What is the point of having a security password when no one asks for it?
2. Why is Mr Ashdown able to call and speak about my account without my authorisation?
3. Why is it the fault of the World Cup that my broadband service should be down for 28 days?
4. Why did the third agent we spoke to on the Saturday not call back as promised?
5. Why did the promised manager call back on Saturday not happen?
6. Why are your agents not trained on STB modems?
7. Why did a manager promise at 8.37am on Sunday that she would fix my broadband when clearly she couldnít?
8. Why did the promised manager call back on Sunday evening not happen/
9. Why is it ok to leave people on hold for 30 minutes?
10. Why, if you have a fault resolve time of 48 do you think itís acceptable to leave someone without a service for 28 days?
11. Who do you think should partner Wayne Rooney up front for England.
I await the answers to these questions at your earliest convenience please.
I hope you donít expect me to pay for the month of broadband that was broken by a bunch of footballers.
In order to get some sort of internet connection I had to pay £25 for a mobile broadband connection to get me through until the new service was connected. Iíd like Virgin Media to pay for that.
I wasted a good part of a whole weekend trying to sort this out and spoke to at least 10 different people. Not a single person said sorry. Shabby.
From now on I will be recommending Sky to all my friends for their media services because they have been exceptional in getting our services installed and up and running quickly.
In 6 weeks time I will be using your airline for our family holiday. I seriously hope the experience is much better than the experience with Virgin Media. Hopefully it should be as the World Cup will be over by then!