Friday, 17 August 2007
Posted by Dave
Ever been stuck in a customer service loop that you can't break out of? Ever suffer the indignity of having to repeat your eternally lengthening tale of woe and miscontent to yet another uninterested, minimum wage monkey? Ever get the feeling that your concerns are never noted, seldom acted upon and frequently binned? If so, there's a very real chance that you're a customer of Virgin Media.
I signed up with Virgin at the beginning of July, when I moved house. Since I'm now a home worker, I decided to go for their top of the shop, VIP package. Sounds good on paper, £85 a month gets you all the TV channels, sport, movies, phone line with virtually free calls, 20Mb broadband, the works. And since it was the primo-package, I thought that maybe they'd treat me nice like. I wasn't really expecting to have a Thai masseuse come around of a night, cup my gonads and sing "oh what a loverly bunch o' coconuts". But some degree of efficiency in dealing with issues seemed to be indicated. I was, after all, a Very Important Person with a Very Important Package.
The reality of the situation started hitting home on install day. TV and broadband went in fine, but the engineer had trouble with the telephone signal - a fault somewhere between my house and the green street box apparently. Not to worry though, he kindly offered to cancel the phone line (so I wouldn't end up paying for it) and raised it with HQ, who would send out a team of engineers to fix the line. Great!
A week passed, and of course I heard nothing about my rescheduled telephone line fix. So I got on the phone, spoke to a nice Scottish girl and she promised to raise the issue with installs. I would hear back from them shortly. Okay!
Another few days passed, still nothing from installs, but I did receive my first monthly bill. £110. Clearly some mistake, I thought. £110 for an £85 a month package seemed to be a little... cheeky. But there it was, a breakdown of services: TV, Broadband, sports, movies. All adding up to £110. Of course, it was obvious what had happened. When the engineer cancelled the telephone line, the system knocked me out of the VIP package since I was no longer receiving a component of it and instead had me paying for each service seperately.
Needless to say, I was on the phone like a ferret up a drainpipe. I was calm, the customer service rep was helpful. He agreed there was a mistake and credited my account with £35, taking the bill down to £75. While I was there, I inquired what had happened to the telephone install. The rep said nothing, and offered to raise it with installs. I would hear back from them shortly. Yay!
A week passed, still nothing from installs, but I receive a letter from Virgin telling me that I had an outstanding debt of £75. Odd, I thought, since I'd set up a Direct Debit and it looked fine from my bank's point of view. So I get on the phone (a task that would be a lot easier if I actually had a phoneline). I end up speaking to an Indian fella. He claims that he has no idea what went wrong, I'd have to check with my bank. Grr. I'm in a rush, so I tell him I'll pay the balance by debit card and we'll sort out the DD later. He agrees and tells me he's going to take £110...
Calmly, I point out that I have already agreed the discount and even have a letter from Virgin in front of me saying I only owe £75. Nevertheless, my cold, calm logic has no effect on him and he is adament that his screen says £110 so £110 is what I shall be paying. At this point, I am getting somewhat irked. I ask him to read out what package I am subscribed to. "The VIP £85 a month package", he dutifully replies. I ask him how much I owe. "£110", he replies. I ask him if he thinks this is a little weird. He doesn't.
So I tell him, in no uncertain terms, that I am going to pay him £75 quid there and then and he is seeing no more money from me. I may have even said "goddamn money", I was that het up. He relents, and takes the money. He also offers to raise my missing telephone situation with installs. I would hear back from them shortly. Cough.
Weeks pass. No word from installs. I receive my second monthly bill. £145. I take a couple of seconds to wonder exactly how high this spiralling monthly £85 bill will go, before reading the breakdown. TV. Broadband. Sports. Movies. Outstanding balance from previous month. GNGH!!
Dave. Phone. Scottish rep. Explain. Once again, rep #247 agrees there is a mistake, credits my account with £70. I manage to regain my calm and decide we need to get to the bottom of it. I ask him to find out where my telephone line install is (reasoning that the problem is caused by having no telephone, so if I somehow manage to get a telephone line it will all go away). He spends a couple of minutes doing something and comes back: "I'm sorry sir, I can't book you a telephone line install". I ponder this, waiting for him to offer a reason, but he offers nothing. I ask why and he replies, "there's an IT fault on your account". There's an awkward moment of silence between us where neither one wants to speak. I break first, and ask him what exactly needs to be done. He replies, "it needs to be fixed". I calmly, politely ask him if he expects me to fix it. I'm pretty sure he considered asking if I might not mind, but instead he came back with "I will raise it with IT". I ask him what would happen next, he tells me that once the fault is fixed he would raise it with installs. I would hear back from them shortly.
It is, at time of writing, now five days later. I haven't heard from installs. Nor have I heard from the manager I demanded to speak to. Nor the IT department who were going to fix my account. I don't expect to. I do expect to call again on Monday, go through the same process, talk to the same monkeys, end up with a lie about installs phoning me. I expect to get a bill next month for £175 and go through the same process again. I expect to shout at Indians and Scottish people. I am, after all, a Very Important Person with a Very Important Package.
Clan, help me. What can I do to sort this out? Who should I call? Who should I threaten to call?