To whom it may concern
I have sent this via email to the CEO and COO and will post a letter version to the Complaints Team tomorrow. You may wonder why I haven’t used the formal methods to complain but I promise you I have no other real option as, for reasons that may become clear as you read, I am no longer a Virgin Media customer. I was told by three different members of your customer service staff that, even though I am no longer a customer, I could still log a complaint online. Once on your complaints page, you can click ‘Not a Virgin Media Customer’. This then leads you to a page with a web form link… which asks you to log in using your Virgin Media login. Which I don’t have. Because I’m not a customer. Yes, I have the option of phoning or being on web chat but I feel, after you’ve read this complaint, you’ll understand why I don’t want to spend any more time speaking directly with your customer service representatives.
Basically, if I had to give you a summary of what’s happened: Virgin Media installed my box on the wrong house despite having the correct address, I received horrible service trying to rectify this problem, I then cancelled my contract and two days later found a box on the outside of my house. After cancelling.
For an actual explanation of what happened, strap in. I promise you it’s so ridiculous that you’ll be surprised with every paragraph.
I signed up online for Fibre 100 on the 26th March, got a confirmation email of my internet being installed on 9th April, with a pre-installation being completed prior to this. I checked it over, including my address (this is important later), and it was all correct. All I had to do was wait.
On the 30th March, I received a phone call at 11am from the pre-installation technician asking if I definitely still wanted Virgin Media. I confirmed I did and spent the rest of the day pretty smug at the idea of being one step closer to decent broadband service. Alas, my smugness was not to last as, at 1pm, I received a text from my neighbour asking if I knew why a ‘Virgin Media man’ had drilled into her house and seemingly done the pre-installation on her house, not mine. She later told me that the engineer knocked on her door (the wrong door remember) and spoken to her daughter. The teenager replied, “I don’t think that’s right; we’re not getting new internet” and the engineer said, “don’t worry. I’ve spoken to your mum”. Now, I don’t mean to be rude, but surely, at this point, any normal person would’ve rang me back and double checked they had the right house. Sadly not and the engineer proceeded to drill into the outside of my neighbour’s (rented) property and install a box no one asked for, damaging her drive and drilling into her electrical box in the process.
Maybe, just maybe, you’re thinking ‘easy mistake to make’ and, you know what, who can blame you? You don’t know what our houses look like. In my actual complaint, I’ve included screenshots of what you see when you Google my address, on both Street View and Maps View. I also included photos of the outside of my property and my neighbour’s house. Obviously, this is a public post so I won’t be including these here but I promise you that both houses are clearly displaying their number.
It was clearly unprofessional to ignore my neighbour’s daughter and it was foolish to continue to install the box without double checking with the account holder. However, I was hoping this was just an honest mistake and I was certain that a company founded on Sir Richard Branson’s sweet, understanding smile would be quick to rectify said mistake.
Filled with optimism, I called the Pre-Installation Team at around 3.30pm. I spoke to a nice woman who told me that she couldn’t book a pre-installation on my property as it was logged on her system as already completed. I explained it was not done on my house and she said there was nothing she could do until she got an engineer out to my house. This seemed annoying but there was no other option so she booked in a ‘site survey’ on Friday 1st April. The lady confirmed that the engineer would assess the damage to my neighbour’s house and complete the pre-installation on my house. I assured that, once the properties had been assessed, the engineer would call me to discuss next steps. Not ideal but a solution nonetheless.
You’re probably thinking, “This isn’t too bad” or even “well, this is salvageable” and, you know, you’re right. At this point, the situation wasn’t so much dire as it was unfortunate. But, as you’re more than likely realising, it can get oh-so-much worse.
Friday 1st April. Good ole April Fool’s Day. Apt.
Just before 9am, I received a call from the engineer performing the ‘site survey’. He describes to me the process of the pre-installation and tells me where on my property the cables would be placed. He then asks if I had any questions. I, obviously, had several. I asked if he knew about the damage done to my neighbour’s property. He said a neighbour had come out when his van arrived (a different neighbour, across the road, probably concerned a Virgin Media box was about to be installed to their house) and explained. He then said he could see the work had been done to the wrong house. I asked what he was going to do about it and he said nothing. He had done his job: he came out and surveyed my property ready for the pre-installation. He hadn’t been told anything in advance about the mistakes the previous team had made. I expressed concern about being no further forward with the process and he was, if I’m honest, a bit bemused and unsure of what he should do. He said he would have to call his manager and ask their advice. I asked if I could be given a number to reach the manager and he assured me my mobile number would be given to his manager, who would call me back with next steps.
This is the bit in a film where the picture pauses and the narrator says “the manager never called her back” and we all have to pretend to be surprised.
As you have likely ascertained, I am not one to sit around and wait for things to happen. My Virgin Media internet was booked in to be connected on 9th April and I was worried that, if this pre-installation wasn’t complete, then I’d be left without internet when my Sky internet was cut off. I was also under some pressure from my neighbour to resolve the damage done to her property as she had tried to log a complaint with Virgin Media on 30th March and been told she couldn’t do anything as she doesn’t have an account.
At 3.30pm, having received no call from the mythical manager, I once again called the Pre-Installation Team and spoke to Janine. Janine was confused about the situation and told me she had to speak to her supervisor (I assume “you have drilled holes on and damaged the wrong house and then done nothing about it” isn’t on her script of prepared answers). While she did this, I was left on what she called ‘hold’ but was actually just silence. More on this later. After the discussion, Janine informed me that my case had been escalated to the engineers and this meant a visit would be made to assess the damage to my neighbour’s house and do the pre-installation on my house before 7pm. This was obviously excellent news. Janine also told me that she had flagged the ‘people’ who had done the work incorrectly. Finally, my new best friend advised me that, if the engineers had not arrived by 6.30pm, I should call back.
Once again, the narrator voiceover proclaims “but the engineers did not arrive”.
I called the Pre-Installation Team back at 6:30pm and spoke to a man called Surya. After discussing with his supervisor while I sat eavesdropping on the conversation (on ‘hold’), Surya told me he had escalated the case to technicians. I wasn’t sure how this was different to Janine with the engineers earlier and he wasn’t willing to explain to me. I asked why the engineers had not arrived and was told that engineers never come out on the same day. Honestly, I was made to feel stupid for believing they would come out before 7pm, despite his colleague being the one who had told me this. Surya said he “wouldn’t give me false information” (like Janine?) and that, now he had escalated the situation, technicians would call me back in the next 24 hours. I’m sure you could understand why I didn’t believe I would get a call back at this point and so asked what else was going to be done to sort the damage to my neighbour’s house and to ensure my pre-installation would be done before my internet was being connected on the 9th April. Surya then reverted to his favourite activity, putting me on what he called ‘hold’. When he eventually came back to only confirm that there was nothing else he could do and I had to wait for the call from the technicians, I was so upset at the treatment I had received I gave up. All I could envisage for my future with Virgin Media was hours of phone calls, waiting while the representatives had a knees up and gave me blind promises but actually did nothing to improve my situation. I asked Surya to put me through to Cancellations. He asked why and I said I wanted to cancel and so needed to speak to the Cancellations Team. He put me on ‘hold’ again and then said he would put me through. I was on ‘hold’ for around five more minutes and then the line was cut off.
Before I give you the final leg of this journey (oh yes there’s more), I just have to take a minute to discuss your call centres. Obviously, like most conglomerates, you outsource most of your call centres internationally. This is not my favourite trait of customer service at large companies but isn’t a problem when the service is delivered well. However, what I thought was important to any business is the professionalism and care of employees working under your name. Now, presumably, the people that answer your phones are not ‘technically’ Virgin Media employees and are instead under some franchise holder but, by God, they still represent your brand and are speaking to your customers, the people who are paying you their hard-earned money.
My first issue is something I have touched on with Janine and Surya and something I experienced with every representative I came into contact with during this absolute rollercoaster of a ride. I think it’s a system these employees have come up with to minimise the amount of time customers officially spend on hold, for whatever reason – maybe these minutes are monitored? Maybe it shows they are dealing with issues more efficiently? Whatever the reason, employees tell you you’re going on hold, but what they actually seem to be doing is just muting their microphone. Sometimes, this means you are left sitting in silence and other times you can hear the call centre in the background.
Maybe you think this isn’t too bad and sure, if the service is good, who cares if you’ve been left in silence for a bit? Well, actually, when you can hear laughter and conversations in the call centre while you’re left frustrated that you are still left waiting for Virgin Media to fix the problem they created, you do care. It is hard to feel like you are being laughed at and not the main priority for the person you’re speaking to at any given point but, when you know that you are trying to get someone that doesn’t care about you or your problems at all to solve quite a complex issue that is completely the fault of the company they represent, it becomes incredibly disheartening very quickly. Quickly is actually the wrong word here as I’d spent so long on the phone to Virgin Media at this point, I could probably recite their script word for word.
Back to my tale.
After Surya unceremoniously hung up on me, I called the normal Customer Service number myself and selected ‘thinking of leaving us’. I was on hold for a while and then spoke to Anne on the Cancellations Team. After taking my information, Anne told me she could not help as I didn’t yet have a proper account so I needed the ‘Pending Installations Team’. Anne confirmed I could complain online, even if I wasn’t a Virgin Media customer (but you can’t – remember?) She put me through to Patrick, who confirmed he was from the Pre-Installation Team.
Like me, you may be thinking that this team sounds familiar. Surya, who I was on the phone to earlier and whom I asked to put me through to cancellations, was on the Pre-Installation Team. Surya said he would put me through to a team that he knew could not help me with cancelling as his own team was the team to help me with cancelling. Classic Surya, am I right?
At this point, I won’t lie to you, I felt like I was living in some alternate universe. Utterly baffled, I explained to Patrick that Surya from the same team had just cut me off but reiterated that all I wanted was to cancel. Patrick took some of my information and then repeatedly put me on mute (he also called this ‘hold’). I could, once again, hear people laughing and chatting with each other whilst on ‘hold’ and even heard my name at one point. He then popped back on the phone asked for my email and then tried to put me on ‘hold’ again. I asked what he was doing while I was waiting and he said he was waiting for confirmation. Somehow, I didn’t believe the cancellation of an account that isn’t even open yet was this complicated of a process. I asked Patrick why it was taking so long and he said the system was slow (oh great irony when you work for a company that prides itself on speed) but then, somehow, by the end of this sentence, it had ‘gone through’ and my cancellation was complete. Sweet relief. Before I hung up, I asked Patrick multiple times if I could complain online even though I was no longer a Virgin Media customer and he confirmed I could (I can’t). He offered to put me through to complaints but, as I’m sure you’ll understand, I couldn’t face speaking to anyone else that worked for Virgin Media so, safe in the knowledge I could instead complain online.
Oh my God. It’s finally over, isn’t it? You would think.
Just to clarify – I ordered on the 26th March, you installed the box on the wrong house on the 30th March and I finally gave in and cancelled Virgin Media on the 1st April. I received my cancellation email. It was over. I was free.
Until April 4th. My Ring cameras and doorbell notify me that there is a van outside my property. Unfortunately, I was in work at the time and didn’t notice the activity until the men in hi-vis jackets with cables had driven away. Guess what they were up to? Go on, guess.
Removing the work they had done on my neighbour’s house? Apologising in person for the horrendous service both my neighbour and I have received at the hands of Virgin Media? Dropping off a bottle of champagne and a gift basket to say sorry from the whole team?
When I got home, I discovered they’d installed a Virgin Media box on the front of my house. Three days after I’d cancelled my order. Without any contact from Virgin Media to ask if I still want it (spoiler alert: I didn’t). The only reason I knew to look for the box in the first place was because I had seen workmen on my security cameras.
Unfortunately for Crystal from the Sales Team, this discovery coincided with her follow up call to see if she could talk me out of cancelling. When I explained what had happened, she was honestly pretty appalled. She agreed it had been bad service and gives me the phone number for Complaints. I explained to Crystal, like I did to Patrick, that I would rather not spend another minute on the phone to Virgin Media Customer Service and checked if I could log a complaint online instead and Crystal assured me I “absolutely” can (I can’t). She also agrees that my neighbour should log a complaint about the damage done to her house (she can’t either).
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You now have some semblance of what it’s been like to be me for the past week. I have spent over two hours on the phone to Virgin Media customer service. I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with my neighbour and her landlord about the damage done to her property. As you have now gathered, it’s been an age compiling all of the events that were each handled in their own disastrous way. And the best part? I’m not even a Virgin Media customer. I’ve never received any level of service from you. The only thing I’ve got is a box I will never use.
Your customer service is abysmal. I have no doubt there are lots of customers who have been treated like me but do not have the strength to try and get in touch with you anymore. It’s very convenient that, once you are no longer a Virgin Media customer, you cannot log a complaint about the treatment that has led you to choose to no longer be a Virgin Media customer. Likewise, your outsourced call centres are cheaper to run and are also so difficult to deal with that people just give up. Everything is designed to protect you as a company and to hurt the people you’re meant to provide with a service.
My neighbour is consulting with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and a solicitor to see how to go about getting compensation for the damage done to her property, given that she cannot complain to you directly. I will now be without internet for nearly a fortnight as the new provider I have gone with cannot fit in an installation before Sky cut me off (organised around my Virgin Media installation).
So what do I need you to do next? I need you to compensate my neighbour and me for the damage done to our properties. I need some acknowledgement of the shocking customer service I’ve received at the hands of Virgin Media and, off the back of this, I need to see you actively making some changes to the way you treat your customers and train your staff (even those based in different countries). I need some compensation for the time I have spent trying to fix the problem Virgin Media caused.
I need to be able to tell this story to people considering signing up to Virgin Media and say that you tried to be decent human beings in the end.
I eagerly await your reply.
Virgin Media Customer For Six Whole Days, Not-So-Proud Owner of Useless Virgin Media Box