Congratulations, Virgin Media, on attaining such a high standard of incompetence!

Warning: long/verbose

No, really, I mean it. Most companies just dabble with incompetently dicking their customers around, but you guys have turned it into a full-blown service.

OK, so here’s what happened:

My internet connection at home was provided by Virgin Media cable. Every 12 months or so, it would become intermittently unreliable and this would take a series of support calls to resolve - usually taking something like a month to deal with - it would usually have to develop from an intermittent fault into something more persistent before they could find it and fix it (which always consisted of reseating the connections at the local cabinet - which they wouldn’t ever try at my suggestion the next time it occurred).

So anyway, about six months ago, it happened again; this time, it took a lot more than a month to resolve, in fact it took many months and never did get resolved.
Every time I called technical support, after holding for up to an hour in the queue, I was made to go through the same dumbass diagnostic steps over and over again:

“Could you try turning it off, then back on again? - that usually fixes it”
(No, it doesn’t, I’ve tried that already and it didn’t work, and it also didn’t work last time you suggested it, when I called two days ago)

“Could you try unplugging the cable?”
(Yes, we also tried that last time, and the time before, and it didn’t work, and you told me the fault must be elsewhere)

When I finally got through all the repetitive diagnostic bullshit, they’d say they had to send an engineer out - the first available appointment would be 10 days or more in the future.
So I’d book that, take time off work to let the guy in, he’d visit and find that it seemed to be working OK and leave, closing the call. Ten minutes later, it would go wrong again, but there was no way to call the engineer back - so I’d have to call tech support again, go through the diagnostic steps AGAIN and book another engineer visit, this time, two weeks in the future.

Repeat for about four or five cycles of that and having taken several days’ worth of leave, and having spent hours of my time waiting on hold on the phone (not to mention the bills for that), the earliest engineer visit date they could manage was 28 days in the future and by this time, the connection just wasn’t working at all, so I told them to transfer me to someone who could close my account.

They couldn’t do that, but gave me the number for accounts and billing - so I called up and told them to terminate the account - that part actually went fairly smoothly, until they said it would take 30 days to come into effect - I asked if this meant I would be billed again and they told me I would. I said I thought this was unacceptable, given that the service I was terminating wasn’t working at all. “Nothing we can do here, I’m afraid, if you want your last month’s payment credited, you’ll need to contact technical”.

So I contacted technical, who told me I should have called accounts and billing - I pointed out that it was accounts and billing that sent me here - the guy went quiet for a minute, then said he’d transfer me (So you CAN do it!) to the right department - he put me through to a very helpful lady who took all my details, then told me she couldn’t help, because my problem was with internet and she only deals with telephone accounts, but she would transfer me to someone who could help - she transferred me to a line that gave the busy signal - I had to hang up.

So I decided to take affirmative action - I logged into my bank account and cancelled the direct debit, then I wrote an email to Virgin Media’s accounts department telling them I could not afford to spend any more hours trying to reach them by telephone, that I considered if anything, they owed ME money for wated time and lost service and that having closed the account, I was stopping the direct debit and that I trusted they would find this acceptable.

I got a phone call a week or two later from customer Services, asking if everything was fixed now - I told them that actually, no, it wasn’t, and I had terminated the account and stopped the direct debit, and could they please confirm that my account would be credited to zero balance in view of all the inconvenience. They agreed.

And that was the end of it, for more than a month, until a little over a week ago when I received a letter from Virgin Media, acknowledging my emailed complaint and saying (words to the effect) “We’re so sorry you decided to leave, someone from Customer Services will contact you soon to discuss whether there’s anything we can do for you”. That’s nice, I thought - I won’t mind telling them how I didn’t think they could possibly have handled it any worse.

Except… They could have handled it worse! - and they did! - a week after the grovelly ‘sorry’ letter (and no phone call), I got a letter from a debt collection agency, telling me to pay £17.63, or they’d send the boys round (actually not saying that, but the wording was still pretty menacing).

So I called the agency and they treated me like a lying sack of shit and also said there was actually nothing they could do and that I should contact Virgin Media. So I did that and (after holding for 15 minutes) got through to accounts and billing. “Oh, no, your account balance is zero” they told me, “It must be some kind of mistake”.
I was just about to thank them and hang up, when it occurred to me to check if they had any record of the credit for my final month’s bill - a short silence, followed by “Wait! I see it now! - you actually owe us £17.63”.

I did remain perfectly calm, but explained in no uncertain terms that this was the most atrociously incompetent series of cock-ups I could remember experiencing. Eventually, they agreed to process a further credit to zero my account. I phoned the debt collection folks again and confirmed that it was all resolved now. They treated me like a lying sack of shit again.

So, I guess, it’s all settled now, but seriously, what the fuck?

Funny, they can fuck you so hard, and yet call themselves “Virgin.”

Perhaps they should change their name to something more appropriate, such as “Comcast.”

Good customer service is more expensive than shitty customer service, and that money can be used to advertise for new customers.

Yeah, it’s fucked up.

I humbly submit “Cox” instead. :eek: :wink:

You know, it’s odd, I feel your pain but 'tis the other way round.

I tried to get Sky installed, I’ll not go through the whole story but basically it stretches out for months, involves many mornings off work, incompetent engineers and … well basically Sky are wankers.

I know Virgin/Telewest/NTL have a terrible reputation for customer service but I’ve always been pretty impressed with their broadband offering. I’m probably just lucky – you were unlucky.

It’s all part of a bigger issue. Customer support for these things is lousy, and in the end they don’t really care. Because, hey, what’s the worst one pissed off customer can do? They’ve decided at some level it’s not worth their time to get a 100% record, mostly because people will put up with a fair amount of shit – it’s the British way.

They should be providing teams of people proactively fixing the difficult or longer term problems. Looking for people complaining, etc, etc. But it’s not worth it to them.

Did you find a different provider then? Have you tried sending a (good old fashioned dead tree) letter to Richard Branson telling him this? If not, you should do, it’ll be fun.

I might write a carefully factual letter, probably not directly to Branson though - that seems like it might be an overdramatic gesture.

The reason I stuck with NTL/Virgin so long was the hassle of switching from cable to DSL - the cable modem was on my computer desk - the phone line over which my DSL is delivered is across the hall and not readily accessible - So I not only had to buy a new router for the switch, but I had to set everything up as wireless - which still isn’t quite finished - my machine is dual boot XP and Ubuntu - and wireless networking on Linux is a bit of a quagmire.

I don’t see why not, one letter sent to people at all levels. Chances are it gets binned. Best case a lacky reads it, boots some heads and sends you a bunch of vouchers.

I’ve read that people writing to James Murdoch, the boss of Sky, have got a decent response and action taken. I didn’t write to them as they’re not getting any more of my time. That and I can’t write a letter without calling them wankers. Because they are.

Really, I thought it was much better nowadays. I seem to recall getting wireless running on Ubuntu without too much hassle (but I did need a wired connection to download the updates which kinda defines the point).

It’s getting better, but only some hardware is natively supported (for some of the others, it’s necessary to use a wrapper for the Windows drivers, which is less than ideal) - but the problem is that when buying hardware, you need to know the identity of the chipset and this information is hard to get - even if you buy a specific model of adaptor, the manufacturer might have changed the specs or revised the version or something.

I ended up buying a Linksys WRT54g router, on which I have installed dd-wrt (alternative firmware) and I will be using this as a wireless client bridge for the computer desk - so the Ubuntu machine will just see a wired ethernet connection.