Friday, 4 March 2011

Boycott Virgin Media

This post marks a departure from the usual policy of only targeting the companies of the 35 business people who made their support of the cuts known in an open letter.

No one at Virgin Media signed that letter, so why am I now asking for people to boycott their services? Quite simply because they are absolutely useless.

Virgin Media provided my broadband until the end of January but the story begins in December

On December 16th the phone service stopped working. This was reported to Virgin Media via their online forum as I had no other way to contact them. The broadband was still online.

This forum is full of complaints from hundreds of Virgin Media customers who are not getting the service they have paid for.

Subsequently 4 separate appointments were made for engineers to attend to fix the problem before one finally turned up on 3rd January and fixed the problem which was in their control box a couple of street away.

All of the previous 3 appointments were cancelled on the day they were supposed to take place and notification of cancellation on two of them was only received after the time of the appointment. Two of those days involved me taking time off work to make the appointments. The reason given for one of the cancellations was the weather. It is true to say that we had some snow over that period, but I do not live in an isolated cottage in the middle of Dartmoor, I live in an out London suburb where the roads were gritted, the buses kept running and binmen collected the rubbish on schedule all through the winter.

I was without a phone service, which I had paid for, over Christmas and New Year during one of the coldest spells we have had in years. With two children in the house, one of whom is registered disabled, this was a situation that involved more risk than I found acceptable.

Within 5 minutes of the phone being re-connected I had a phone call from someone claiming to be from Virgin Media demanding my account password. This was not given of course.

These phone calls continued daily , and sometimes up to 5 times a day until I posted a notice on the forum telling Virgin Media that if they wasted any more of my time I would charge them. During one of these phones I was threatened by an employee of Virgin Media and demanded to speak to his supervisor. On this occasion that occurred and he agreed to end the calls. The calls continued but petered out shortly after.

During the time the phone was out of action I hadn't paid my December bill as that was my only leverage to ensure that a repair would eventually be completed.

After the third appointment was cancelled on the day it was supposed to take place I contacted Virgin Media from work and cancelled all my services with a switchover date of 31st January.

During that call, or a subsequent one around that time a closing balance on the account was agreed between myself and someone at Virgin Media that would cover my alleged services oup to 31st January.

Since then I have had threatening letters saying that I owe them a small balance.

The fact is that they owe me.

Their customer service is appaulling.

I phoned them on receipt of the most recent letter to try to resolve the issue by referring them to the previous agreement on the closing amount. The person I spoke to was abusive, rude and was unable to provide me with the Register Office address of Virgin Media so that I could formerly issue legal proceedings of my own. All Limited Companies have to have a registered office address. She also refused repeated requests to pass the call on to someone who could answer the question.

It took me one Google query to find out that Virgin Media's Register Office is Virgin Media Limited 160 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QA.

One thing you should know about Virgin Media is that if you use the service you pay for they will cut back of your bandwidth. They advertise 'Speeds of up to 20MB' but as anyone with some technical knowledge of broadband knows this is rarely achievable and in Virgin's case is never reached. If you use your broadband a lot, by say letting the kids watch programs on the BBC iPlayer they will throttle back your bandwidth to a half or a quarter of what you pay for. They will not of course reduce your bill when they do this.

So basically, with Virgin Media we have a company that sell services, prevent you from fully utilising them, cannot fix faults within a reasonable period of time, threaten their customers and provide totally crap customer service.

They may not have signed the offending letter but those are enough reasons for me to advise anyone to steer clear of them.

There are other cable broadband provider if you wish to avoid paying BT phone line rentals charges. let me know if your experience with any of the others is similar to mine with Virgin, or if you would positively recommend someone.