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I have come to a point recently where by I feel the need to put a formal complaint in writing regarding long standing ongoing and new problems with my Virgin Media services particularly with reference to the Billing/Customers Services departments and to the overall quality of the Virgin Broadband service.
Having been a customer from September of 2006, which is where the problems started, each and every month we provide Virgin Media with our Bank Account details in order to pay for our entire account via Direct Debt to enable us to receive the full Direct Debt discounts, these Direct Debts have never been correctly set up and therefore we subsequently then have to pay for our services via Credit Card which now means that we incur the following extra charges:
1. Interest on the Credit Card 2. Late Payment/Handling Fees charged by Virgin Media 3. Loss of our Direct Debt discount
So on top of our normal account fees we then have a series of additional monthly fees to pay out, now I could accept this happening once maybe twice at the outside, but this has been happening month by month since September 2006. On numerous occasions (too many to mention) we have spent time calling customers services to attempt to ensure that the Direct Debt instructions have been acted upon in order for use to avoid the above additional charges and we are informed that the Direct Debts have in fact been applied to our accounts.
However every month we find that these haven’t in fact been done, despite the fact that we inform Customer Services that we have checked with our bank and that they do not appear on our account.
As you may expect this issue would be annoying enough, but unfortunately we have more issues to contend with Virgin Media. So at this point I would like to move on to departments within Virgin Media and outline some issues we have had to encounter when dealing with the Customer Services and Technical Support departments.
On numerous occasions when calling Customer Services to discus the above Direct Debt issues (after our services have been cut off for non payment) we have to explain the issue to three or four different people, that after wading our way through the push this push that system for ten minutes and also having to be subjected to what can only be described as the single most depressing repetitive piece of music that Virgin Media choices to use whilst they keep customers on hold for times well in excess of twenty to thirty minutes.
We are treated with distain by Customer Services staff who obviously by there tone of voice do not believe what we tell them regarding the Direct Debt issues, in 95% of cases we are spoken to like idiots and blamed completely for Virgin Media’s errors. Even to the point where on two occasions now I have been clearly told by Customer Service staff:
“If you paid you bill on time, we wouldn’t cut you off would we”
Can this type of comment by your staff really be justified as a quality Customer Service? Then after spending an extortionate amount of our time trying to rectify these problems we are then told: “it can take up to 48 hours to reinstate your services”, so now we’ve been insulted blamed for Virgin Media’s errors and now have to wait for potentially two days to get our services back, services that we pay for and have never attempted to avoid paying for.
Now I would like to move on to Technical Support (Broadband), again since taking out Virgin Media Services in September 2006 your Broadband service has constantly failed to deliver on its promise of Super Fast Broadband.
We initially started with a 4mb line which was shared across our three computers, it quickly became apparent that we were not achieving anywhere near the 4mb level of service, after spending possible 100+ hours attempting to explain the issues to your Technical Support staff at the Indian call centre only to be closed down at every attempt to explain the problem as they wanted to stick to the “Standard pre-prepared script” and are NEVER happy to deviate from it, what we as customers say to the staff is ignored and the conversations normally follow the following pattern:
1. Push this, push that (didn’t work) 2. Push this, push that (didn’t work) 3. oh oh oh err try this, push this, push that (didn’t work) 4. Well sorry it’s your fault our system is working perfectly, we are sending you the exact correct signals it has to be your computer. 5. Turn everything off for 24 hours (and DON’T turn them back on at all) then everything will work just fine 6. Get a computer engineer to come and fix your computer as it must be a fault with your computer as it can’t be our systems because they are functioning perfectly. 7. Re-Install windows as Windows always causes theses faults so it’s Windows fault.
So as you can see from the above it NEVER seems to be a fault of Virgin Media, it’s always either the customers fault or it’s Microsoft’s fault that the Virgin Broadband system isn’t doing what it says on the tin.
Now stupidly I have actually done what you so called Technical Support staff advise, I have turned everything off for EXACTLY 24 hours and I have also re-installed Windows (which wasted two days of my life rebuilding the system afterwards), and can you guess what happened ……. Well NOTHING we still had EXACTLY the same problems, slow unresponsive Broadband Connections, intermittent connection and download speeds.
So again we call back Technical Support who go through the same old routine as listed above, even when we tell them I’ve just spent two days re-building my system after re-installing Windows they still insisted that it was our fault and couldn’t possible be Virgin Media at fault because the all mighty Virgin Media Broadband is way to superior to have anything wrong.
I won’t go through all the gory details of wasted Engineers Visit’s as I have sent these details on previous occasions to Virgin Media and also to Mr J. Smith in the Chief Executives Office, who to be fair has been the only member of the Virgin Media staff that actually made a serious effort to try and fix the problems we have, so there is some hope that staff at Virgin Media actually do care about customers and resolving there issues.
We where advised by Technical Support to have two broadband lines installed in an attempt to resolve the issues with connection and download speeds, so we decided to go ahead with this suggestion and subsequently had a second line installed, but at the same time we decided to have 10mb lines because we thought what the hell if we are going to do this we may as well have the best we can get.
But now we had the same problem but twice over this time, so now we are paying for two 10mb Virgin Broadband lines and in actual fact at best we are getting one 10mb line split across two line, and in plain English that means each line achieved at best 5mb each, then at peek times that would be reduced to 2.5mb per line (more about this later)
So after many many more phone calls and hours wasted on the phone and pointless engineers visit’s we are finally informed of what the actual problem is and guess what after being told so many times its our fault and its our computers at fault it turns out that its actually Virgin Media’s fault and that the Cable system in our area isn’t up to current specs and is also over subscribed which is why we are stuck with poor service. Ok this isn’t the answer we wanted to hear but at least we actually have an answer and one that we know can’t be improved on UN till the cable system is upgraded.
So Mr J. Smith makes us an offer of discounts and credits applied to our account by way of an apology, we accept and feel happier that we have now received some form of explanation to explain the problems, so we are happier Virgin Media customers.
But that didn’t last for long, as we then shortly after discover that Virgin Media and Sky have decided to play “My Dads Bigger Than Yours” over channels being carried and how much each side should pay to buy content from the other.
Many people have expressed there personal views on this childish spat, so I would like to take this opportunity to give my opinion on this:
1. Virgin Media were offered a what they see as pathetic rate for the UKTV and Flextech (now Virgin) content, in some respects I agree that it was and is a low offer, however Virgin Media (NTL:Telewest as it was at the time) accepted this offer and did the deal. 2. Virgin Media’s contract for Sky basic channels expires and Sky decided that hey they’d like more money now because Virgin now has the marketing and pulling power of the Branson Virgin brand, again I agree in some respects that Virgin Media attempted to get a better deal, but there was absolutely no need for the argument which has in effect become a media power struggle because each side wants to be seen as the nice guy in all the arguments. 3. However whilst the kids are playing at the Media Heartstrings the customers are the ones that are suffering for this, we are the ones that are losing out and not being offered a fair choice, and also now not getting what we paid for.
So what did Virgin Media do after Sky “Took its toys and went home” they decided that the removal of the Sky Basic channels did not warrant a reduction in customers subscription charges, and that Virgin Central the all new all singing channel from Virgin Media would be more than enough to compensate for the loss of some of the world biggest prime time shows.
Well in my opinion this is rubbish, Virgin Central doesn’t have the content to compete with the loss of prime time shows, the content available on Virgin Central is OLD and basically repeats, if I want to watch repeats I’d watch UKTV Gold because at least they advertise themselves as such by the name UKTV Gold that says all the shows that are old are what the broadcast, Virgin Central advertises itself as a brand new channel offering customer TV On Demand the Shows they want to watch when they want to watch them, yeah right it is but only if you feel the need to watch repeats of shows.
So anyway again moving on, we then decided that we needed to move to a bigger place and found just the place we wanted, so we sat and talked about our options in terms of Broadband and Digital TV suppliers baring in mind all the issues we’d already faced with Virgin Media.
We decided that we’d give Sky a go and use another broadband provider, so after booking all these new installations we called Virgin Media to cancel our contract, we were put through to the Home Movers department (odd I though I said we wanted to cancel) but hey ho that’s Virgin Media for you lets go round the houses un till we get to where we wanted to be in the first place.
After speaking to a representative of the Home Movers section who asked the new postcode that we were moving to, said that the cable system in that area was of the newer type and therefore the problems we’d had with our broadband connections wouldn’t exist and that they could assure me that all the other issues would be fixed as well.
So we ended the call there and talked between us (my partner and I that is), and decided that no we’d had enough and wanted to stick to our plan to change, so we called back to cancel and again were connected to Home Movers, this time we spoke to a nice lady Miss E. Gray after a 10 to 15 minute chat she assured us again that services would improve and made us an offer to remain with Virgin Media, so again we took time out to discuss the offer and decided that it was in fact a good offer and that we’d been assured twice now that the new address we were moving to had a better quality cable system and that our Broadband would finally start to give us the performance its advertised at.
So we go with it and cancel the other services we’d agreed to have installed, we have to wait for two weeks after our move for the re-install, but ah well we thought at least we’ll have a better quality service once its done.
But how wrong we were, on the install day the install engineer says to us you’re joking right you won’t get any better performance from this area the cable system is even older than the previous address and it’s also oversubscribed so don’t expect things to get better, damn another Virgin Media let down.
So this time we are getting 6mb at best from each line, this time we decide there is absolutely no point contacting Technical Support as it will never get any better anyway so why waste hours trying.
But then the next set of problems arise, just before we moved home we owed Virgin Media a total of £24.99 as our main account was in credit to the tune of £34 (ish) one broadband account was also in credit so we had an outstanding balance of £24.99 which was confirmed to us at the time.
However two weeks after moving in we are presented with bills totally some £348.00, so here we go again with another round of Virgin Media phone calls and problems (however this time we are stuck into a bloody 12 month contract with you), so after hours on the phone telling six, yes SIX different people the whole story we are told that they will get Miss E. Gray to call us back and resolve the issue.
Two weeks later, our services get cut off, so we called Customer Services who told us that we needed to speak to credit control because we had an outstanding balance in excess of £348, so after 75 minutes on the phone to Credit Control they agree that we should be reconnected and that they will now get E. Gray to call us back as soon as possible to resolve this problem as she hadn’t applied all the discounts and the terms of the deal we were offered to our account.
So ok we though we’ll wait for the call, two days later one Broadband line is cut off, aarrgghhhhhhhh it’s getting worse again, we call in again only to have to jump on the entertaining Virgin Media merry go round of fun and blame anyone but me game, this time they refused point blank to reconnect the broadband line as we hadn’t paid regardless of the fact that we had been advised to wait for the call from E. gray to get it all sorted out.
So after another argument and hours of waiting Miss Gray finally 3 WEEKS later calls us back, and starts to attempt to resolve the problems, she says ok I’ll get the broadband line back on and 2 minutes later it’s done. Now she says I’ll look at the rest of the account and get the discounts and deal information applied now, she did offer her apologies for the delays as she’d had to take unexpected time off which is why it wasn’t some three weeks prior.
We accept the apology (because she meant it and was now going to fix it), but then 2 days later the other Broadband lines goes dead, aaaaarrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Jesus Christ here we go again.
But this time Miss Gray calls and we spend some 90 minutes on the phone and finally work out where all the billing issues had gone wrong, and promises that they are now fixed and everything will be just fine (we are currently waiting as advised for the next set of invoices to arrive before we make any payments, just to ensure that things are in fact sorted out).
But yesterday 4th May 07, I was paying my daily visit to CableHell.co.uk where I saw an article relating to Virgin Media’s new “Traffic Management” policy, on reading it I found that hey this may actually improve our connections but then reality strikes me in the face like a wet kipper on a Sunday morning, let me think about this says I …… ooooooo hang on that’s total crap we have 2x 10mb broadband line that during the day reach a maximum of 5mb and between the “traffic Management” times we are cut to 2.5 to 3mb at best, so I thought oops are we in this top 5% of massive down loaders? So I check our logging system and oh no we are not, one line doesn’t even download the specified 3gb in one week let alone daily between 4pm and midnight as stated on the Virgin Media website.
The other on average downloads 2-3gb’s in a 2 day period maybe on the odd occasion it will hit the limit during the 4pm to midnight time scale.
But the website states that should you reach the 3gb limit you connection will be cut to 5mb for 4 hours, this is again total crap from our perspective because this is what happens to us EVERY SINGLE DAY 7 DAYS A WEEK
4pm (exactly) Our connection speeds are cut from an average of 6mb to 2.5 to 3mb.
12 Midnight (exactly) Our connection speeds go back to there average of 6mb each
So how is that inline with the new Virgin Media “Traffic Management” policy, to me that’s an obvious slap in the face to a customer who has already been having high rates of problems with Virgin Media Broadband and doesn’t when calculated on average usage go over the stated amounts maybe ore than once a month, so why are we automatically hit every single day of the week and NEVER for the stated four hours but for the whole time of the “Traffic Management” programme, that’s not “Traffic Management” that’s capping and capping EVERYONE not just the high users.
So now we DON’T HAVE 2x 10mb UNLIMTED Super Fast Broadband lines we have 2x half service broadband lines. Are lines are unlimited as long as you allow us to use it, but then we can only get the best when you say we can, how is that offering us the service your website promises?
I posted the following comments on the CableHell.co.uk website:
Shauny-shaun – “As I've said previously I believe that the Traffic Shaping will hit EVERYONE regardless of whether you DL 3gig or not as ours is. Everyday at 4pm exactly our line speed is reduced to 2.5-3meg, and at midnight it returns to average 6meg (never reached 10meg yet)
Now we are paying £74 per month (for 2 lines) and we will effetely only be getting one of those 10meg lines EVERY day between 4pm and midnight, this means a quarter of the advertised 20meg for 56 hours per week on 2 lines that’s 112 hours per week at 5mb (max if were lucky).
448 hours a month = 16 days a month of a quarter service, DO I GET COMPENSATION FOR THIS 16 DAYS eeerrr like hell do I.
So people that are sticking up for this change can you justify that amount of loss of service to a customer hacking out hard earned cash for what was sold to me as 10mb UNLIMITED SERVICE which is soon to be taking the 'Pee Pee' even more once we are switched to so called 20mb service.
So now I will be paying MORE MONEY for LESS service.
Justify It Please.
And as previously stated one line DOESN'T DL 3gb a week, and the other averages 2-3 every 3 days, so tell me why we are cut down in the first place and why we should be cut down even further when we don't step into the realms of the top 5% at all.”
And here are a few more quotes from the CableHell.co.uk website by other Virgin Media Customers:
Cars – “from day 1 of virgin taking over the speeds has haled at least, and sometimes even less than that.”
Adam07 – “This 5% spoiling it for others I think is rubbish, people use broadband for whatever they want to do online and unlimited/unhampered should mean that instead of unlimited until you reach a cap. This is another way of saying 40GB usage cap per month the way I see it!”
So as you can see the “Traffic Management” programme isn’t a “Traffic Management” programme it’s a “CAP” applied to what seems to me like EVERYONE between the hours of 4pm and midnight, and on the CableHell.co.uk website you will find MANY MANY more comments like those.
I myself as an extremely dismayed annoyed fed up customer if Virgin Media have felt the need to let people know about the level of service I have received from Virgin Media and have started my own website about Virgin Media services to allow other people to show there complaints about the service. www.myvirginmediahell.co.uk is the website I have started to tell everyone that wants to see it the treatment and problems I have had (a copy of this letter will be on that site, along with a copy of any replies I may receive to this)
I will also make a copy of this letter available to the currently 32,414 Virgin Media customers registered on the CableHell.co.uk website, I have also completed the online form with the BBC’s watchdog Programme and I will also send them a copy of this letter should they request it.
So in conclusion to this extremely long letter, I hope you can now get a feel of what I as a Virgin Media customer have had to contend with since joining in September 2006, I so wish that we hadn’t in fact stuck with Virgin Media and that we hadn’t accepted the deal that was offered to us to stay.
But we are now stuck with a 12 month contract with Virgin Media, and to be honest I won’t cancel it even if offered as this for me has now become personal and I am determined to receive the best possible service from Virgin Media for the money we pay you.
I would appreciate a swift reply to this letter.
We have been so frustrated by Virgin Media that I've even started a website for people to complain about Virgin Media @ www.myvirginmediahell.co.uk
However,you state the price of the basic package, is £100, which I feel is a little exaggerative :)
chris1986 04.02.2008 13:57
Great review. I am on virgin media for convenience, as the points were already installed and i needed phone and internet quick. Although i must say that i cannot stand the company they are useless! Sky and BT are much, much better.