Friday, 23 March 2012
Like a Virgin.
The broadband service obtained via Virgin Media became slower, and slower, and slower and virtually packed itself up. This was some weeks ago. I was left without Internet access for several weeks, because at first I thought it was my computer and it cost me £50 to confirm that it wasn't.
But then Virgin Media told me there would be a charge of £170 to call out an engineer if that same engineer decided it was not a Virgin Media problem after all.
On the advice of the computer technician who had identified the problem I decided to change to BT broadband. He knew of other people in this area who had experienced the same problem of Virgin Media service slowing to a standstill, and had the same problem of the threatened call-out charge.
Fair enough, still?
I did the right things. Virgin Media supplied the MAC code to enable the change, and the process went ahead with only a few glitches.
Then I received a message from Virgin Media Payments, saying I owed them just over £30, about £6 for telephone calls, the remainer as a cancellation fee. I wrote back, enclosing a cheque for the £6 worth of calls, although I did point out that these were incurred by making calls to their Customer Services department, where I received repetitious, inaccurate information. I also pointed out that, according to Virgin Media's own terms and conditions, the cancellation fee did not apply in my case, as the MAC code had been supplied by them and used in the setting up of the new account.
Still fair enough?
No, apparently not.
This letter was deemed to be a Complaint, and was sent from Virgin Media Payments to Customer Complaints. I have now been promised someone who will take personal ownership of my complaint, attempt to resolve it in full, and make contact with me within two weeks. They want me to be a happy Virgin again.
Unfortunately no one at Virgin Media Customer Complaints seems to be in contact with Virgin Contact Management who, within six days of my letter and cheque, are threatening to send The Boys round to collect what they reckon to be their money from me, in person, at my home.
I telephoned Contact Management, explaining that someone in the same firm, different department, was investigating the situation. Was it reasonable, I wondered, to threaten in this way while a complaint was being investigated? Especially as I had paid what I actually owed?
Could I be given any sort of guarantee that these threats against me (there are more than just sending in The Boys) would not be implemented while there was an investigation apparently in process?
No, there are no guarantees. It's standard Virgin practice, I was told.
I am a fairly articulate 72 year old, living alone, but with two very large sons, one of whom is a lawyer, and the other with amazing strength gained by wild-water swimming. Both of them are exceptionally tall.
Don't mess with My Boys, Virgin Media.
But even I, with all these assets, feel threatened by the idea of a stranger arriving on my doorstep, demanding money. It is ridiculous to fear a knock on the door in the evening, but I do now.
And if I can be made to feel this over £24 which I reckon I don't owe anyway, what must more vulnerable people feel?
It is tempting to simply pay to get rid of the bullies. This is how bullies always work, by frightening people into submission.
So I write this nasty little cautionary tale on behalf of others who are bullied and frightened into submission, while I try not to be so myself.
Six hours after publishing this I received a message from Virgin Media Customer Complaints to say that I no longer owe them any money.
Thank you, Customer Complaints, but have you told Virgin Media Contact Management this, or is there still a risk of The Boys coming round to visit and attempt to collect payment?
And, just for the record, I didn't owe you any money in the first place.