Virgin Media mess – Very Impressive Package? Not right now it isn’t.

Well, a fun start to the weekend, being confronted with a £300 online bill by Virgin Media is always a wake up call. Let me explain…

A couple of months back, I needed to transfer the name on my Virgin Media account and the Direct Debit details, nothing else. I’ve always been pretty happy with the VIP package that I have, including 20MB broadband with no limits, V+ with Sky Sports and Sky Movies and ESPN (and previously Setanta), an extra digibox, plus the landline phone. The V+ service by itself is far better than Sky + and generally, the Virgin customer services and service availability have always been pretty agreeable.

So where did it all go wrong? Well, when phoning to transfer name and DD details, I was told they would need to post a pack out for me to complete, they couldn’t do it over the phone. Fair enough I thought, signatures would be needed, so it seemed fair.

When the pack arrived it mentioned that there was a £20 service charge for the transfer. Now, I’m not tight, but £20 to change two things? Hmmm, could that be because if you don’t pay by DD you get charged £5 a month to pay over the phone or online, so they need to recoup the money somehow?

Anyway, I completed all the relevant forms and sent them off. Pretty quickly, I received back a letter saying thanks, received, everything sorted, but also mentioned that on the day that the transfer actually went through, there may be a short cut out of my services. I phoned Virgin Media to check what this meant exactly and they said it wouldn’t be noticeable.

So, I came home from work one day, tried watching a recording on the V+ box, only to find a message saying I wasn’t subscribed to V+. Why should any of this have changed?!?!? I phoned again, went through the usual drill of pulling out the V+ card, re-inserting, etc etc, eventually it was sorted. I then got onto my laptop to find no broadband. Okay, so I didn’t need to call again but I did have to re-install my broadband service.

I then thought it was all sorted. My first bill came in and was slightly higher than normal, but mainly because it is billed in advance so I expected it. The payment was due out by DD last week, according to Virgin Media “on or after” a particular date. I checked my bank account a few times but it hadn’t appeared which I thought was odd but presumed it was just more of the “after” than the “on.”

Then yesterday, I received another email saying my new bill was ready, and that I owed over £300!!!

When I checked my online bill I had been charged a £10 late payment fee, £5 per month non-DD charge plus none of my VIP package discounts had been applied.

I phoned again and, to give them credit, I was connected straight away. I explained that the supposedly simple transfer for which I had paid £20, obviously hadn’t worked. The guy apologised but basically said he couldn’t do anything as I was late in my payment. After arguing the toss, he advised me to speak to customer care and threaten to leave – he said he shouldn’t really tell me to do this but there was no option. Does this mean that frontline Virgin Media advisers are often put into this position by processing issues beyond their control?

Anyway, he put me through to Jim in the Sheffield office who looked at the account, admitted straight away that it was a mess and asked if he could phone me back in three minutes.

He did just that and advised that no Direct Debit was set up, none of my VIP discounts had been applied and so he re-worked it all to reduce the cost considerably.

Upon asking if the transfer fee had also been refunded, he said it wasn’t possible, until I pressed harder and eventually got it taken off. How could they even think about charging for a mess of a service?!?!?

I have now paid half of what was outstanding and will pay the other half later this week. Only once the balance is zero can they set up the DD ready for January’s bill.

Total mess, and I expect this happens more times than they would care to admit to. Luckily I class myself as suitably tech savvy that I would notice all these errors, but how many people would not and so Virgin Media could get away with all of this.

I think that Virgin Media are really dropping the ball. Their service, generally is superior to Sky’s and their UK advisers have always been helpful and efficient. I don’t hold it personally against these frontline guys but surely Virgin need to look at serious issues in their processing if they are ever to consider themselves a real challenge to Sky’s dominance?

2 thoughts on “Virgin Media mess – Very Impressive Package? Not right now it isn’t.

  1. Found your post via Twitter. You’ve been reasonably lucky from the sounds of it.

    A couple of weeks ago my internet, TV and phone (though we don’t use the Virgin phone service, so the latter didn’t matter) went down. Called Virgin, and after lots of waiting and extremely unhelpful people we were given *two* different times for two different people to come look at our broadband and TV, even though both failing at the same time pretty much guaranteed it was the cable. Whatever, I thought, I can understand they don’t want frontline staff making judgements like that.

    Sure enough, the two people came at different times, both said it was the cable. They promised it’d be fixed by 5pm same day. Nobody came or called or told us anything. So around 7pm we called. Was put through the same round of questions before anyone would even listen to the complaint about lack of follow up.

    Was then finally told that someone would fix it by 6pm the following night. 6pm next evening came and went. No word from Virgin.

    Called them again, and was told that “oh? nobody told you? They need to schedule repair for December 8th”. Two weeks away. At which point I lost it. It was bad enough that their estimate was so long, but I *might* have accepted that, had I not by then had to endure hours of waiting in call queues, and repeated broken promises about being called back.

    So I told them they had until the following morning to get someone to call me and try to find another slot.

    Needless to say nobody bothered calling.

    So I looked around, and Sky turned out to be *half* the price of what I was paying for my broadband and TV, with more channels. Downside (or so I thought)? Having to deal with BT over ADSL.

    Install date? December 3rd and 4th.

    So a few days later I wait for 40 minutes on a call centre line to cancel Virgin. Get through to some very unhelpful woman that wants me to call back to the *same number* because she can’t put me through to the same people. I say no. Not my problem. I’ve had enough. I’m notifying them that I am cancelling the service. It is not my responsibility to work around their broken calling centre system when they could take a message and pass it on later.

    After ten minutes of arguing, she finally just puts me through to a supervisor – without asking me first. I explain to the supervisor, argue with him, points out I’ll just cancel my direct debit. Is finally promised that someone will call the next morning to confirm my cancellation.

    Nobody calls.

    So I fill out a complaint form.

    Later that same day, on the 3rd, a Virgin repair guy show up with no warning to dig up our front garden and carry out the repair that was “impossible” to do before December 8th… Eh. If they’d treated me properly first time around and told me 3rd, I’d have still been a customer (and paid over the odds for the “privilege”). Of course we told him no, we’re no longer Virgin customers.

    Same day BT enabled our Sky ADSL. Or so we thought. Line is broken (as in, our landline stops working). I file a fault, gets told December 7th, gets pissed off and figure this is the BT I’ve learned to loathe.

    Complain on Twitter the following morning. Btcare on Twitter gets involved. 4 hours later an engineer is at our house, and the line is FIXED shortly thereafter.

    At the same time Sky installs our new TV service, and the installation guys laughs of the familiar story when my wife recounts our woes to them.

    Now we’re up to this morning. I receive two phone calls. First one:

    Virgin Media complaints department: A rude woman starts arguing with me over whether or not I’ve cancelled. I point out that after dealing with their dreadful call centre there’s just no way I’m dealing with another one after I’ve notified them both by phone and by e-mail, and had her confirm to me on the phone, that they’ve received my cancellation. It’s not as if they can claim in any shape or form not to have received it. Argument goes on and on, until she just hangs up on me.

    BT: Calls to apologise profusely over not dealing with our

  2. … oops. got cut off there.

    BT: calls to apologise profusely over not dealing with our problem sooner; wants to make sure the engineer fixed our line properly; wants to find out what might have gone wrong in the first place.

    Truly the only problem was that I got a long-ish repair estimate, which was annoying but I wouldn’t have been that pissed off if I hadn’t had to deal with Virgin’s mess for two weeks prior

    Overall, in BT’s case their fault reporting on their website needs to improve a bit, but once someone got wind of me being dissatisfied the problem was fixed *quickly*.

    With Virgin, on the other hand? Insultingly rude and arrogant calls, and apparently they still think I’m their customer.

    I never thought I’d see the day when I did this:

    BT actually did well. Problems happen. They responded properly, and while I was a bit angry initially I’m very happy with how it turned out. The call this morning was a nice touch.

    Virgin on the other hand managed to turn me from a devoted customer who wouldn’t even consider Sky, to detesting them beyond what words can convey in two short weeks.

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