Why you should never use Virgin Media

(Hey Virgin PR folk, this is an honest report, verify with account 097533109)

Thinking of switching to Virgin Media? Here's free advice: don't do it.

Here's why Virgin Media will screw you over; and to preface this: I'm a tech-person (engineer), with a business degree. I know my technology, and I know how a business and customer support works (or is supposed to work).

It all started with being referred to Virgin Media by our friends. We brought their account number and everything to the shop, mentioned to £50 referral fee to the clerk, who assured as we'll all be credited with it.

We were not. Neither our friends, nor us. We never saw the credit. I followed up on this for 3 more months, on the phone as well as visiting the same shop (and person) twice after this. This was two years ago, nothing.

Okay, never mind the fee then. Just get on with life then.

Now, recently, I had to fly out for work, and I always leave my computer online. I have secure files on it, and I can access them from anywhere I am.

Turns out, the internet went down as soon as I had left. Called up Virgin Media from abroad, and only by the 3rd call someone was willing to hear me out and understand that rebooting the router isn't possible as I am not in the flat, physically.

Regardless, I kept being assured that rebooting the router will fix the issue for me, there are no defects in the area. This rings my technical 'bullshit' bell, but I had no other options at hand. So, after the project I was working on required me to have access to those files, I had to take the next flight back to London.

To reboot my router.

I did. And you've already guessed the outcome: the internet did not return. A few more calls, and the next possible fix? About a week out, at the earliest. I kept calling and asking if there is anything I could do, to speed up the process. I would be willing to pay hundreds of pounds straight off the bat to get someone to fix this sooner. I called the sales team to offer myself up for any and all kinds of upgrades they wanted to sell, just so I can get an engineer here sooner. Nope.

So I went out and bought an expensive 3G dongle and data plan.

Next morning, suddenly my appointment was moved forward and scheduled to happen within 24 hours. Okay, that'll do.

Engineer doesn't show up for three hours, time for which I had to be home and wait to let him in. Once he does show up, he's puzzled and on the phone, unable to sort out the issue. I ask him to check the green box (that's where Virgin collects all cables from the area to link them up to their network). He checks it, sees nothing. Then, he leaves.

After a blitzkrieg of calls, I am told there's nothing I can do.

Later that night, an appointment SMS arrives, engineers will come once more. And they do, with a two-hour delay (I've been off work the entire morning to wait for them).

They eventually find the culprit. A noise-dampener was put on our line by another engineer, likely while testing interference issues on other lines, and he forgot to take that thing off again. They took it off, the internet came back instantly.

I ask them, once more, if this was the fault of a Virgin engineer. They say yes. I ask them once more, if the guy who showed up the day before should've spotted this: yes, sure, easily.

At this point, they leave. Within an hour's time, my connection drops.

I call them up again, to sort this out. This is call #17. They make some magic changes (i.e. switching through line channels to find a line that has less traffic) and this eventually resolves it.

17 calls, one last-minute flight, one 3G dongle and a data plan.

I figure, this is enough to ask them for a meagre refund of this month's bill. Which amounts to a lousy £31 — I paid ten times that, to get this resolved.

They're all about the customer, so that surely can't be too much to ask for.

I call them up, call #18. It takes 22 minutes to speak to someone who understands the issue, and offers me a refund of £6. I try to stay calm, and ask to speak to his supervisor. Another 15 minutes later, I talk to the supervisor, a cold and harsh female voice, with a very hard to understand dialect. She informs me that I am asking for more than I am entitled to, and all they can do is £10.

10. Pounds.

I slightly harshen up my tone. I explain everything from the referral fee they kept ditching, to the noise dampener, from the flight I had to take, to the yearly price increases (If I recall correctly, we started with less than £20 two years ago, and now pay a 55% increased price).

I ask to be transferred to her manager, she says there's no point as I will never be getting more than those 10 pounds. It's their policy not to credit me any more than those magic 10 pounds, ever.

She transfers me. I am connected another 10 minutes, then someone picks up, and just before I can say Hello, the person hangs up.

Virgin Media is outsourcing their entire tech and billing support to CSC / Accenture in Manila, two nutcase bureaucrat consulting companies (trust me, I know people working for them), with a poorly trained call centre in the Philippines. And while I'm happy for the people there to have a job, something tells me they're not nearly getting paid enough to work for such an entirely and utterly shit company like Virgin Media.

Virgin Media, you are a prime example of why Britain is going down. You simply do not care. You don't.

I never wanted my monthly bill refunded for the money, fucking keep the money and give it to charity. Do something worthwhile with it. Or refund it, and I'll donate it in your great leaders name. But to entirely disregard what I just had to go through in those four days of lost time, and nerves, and money, to completely ignore it and not care for a customer who's been with you well past the minimum contract term, all that simply shows how your corporate culture has failed.

I pity every single employee having to work at such a terribly sad place.

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