The Virgin saga continues

Damn, I can’t post a comment here.  Both Firefox and Chromium browsers complain of a bogus certificate somewhere at wordpress, and I haven’t the time to dig into that.  Let’s see if it works as a new post.

Feb. 22nd, 11:32

More this morning. A call from a number apparently associated either with Virgin Media or with a scam impersonating them, but it stopped before I could get to the phone. And a text message threatening cut off.

Investigating the phone number, https://who-called.co.uk/Number/08451112735 is inconclusive as to whether it’s Virgin or a third-party scam, with some comments offering evidence of the latter. There’s also a thread here on Virgin fora at https://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Forum-Archive/Scam-calls-from-Virgin-Media/td-p/3093322 raising precisely that question. It’s nearly two years old, but no reply from the Virgin team. Presumably another facet of the no-communication policy I’m trying to complain about.

I also replied to the text message. Unsurprisingly, my reply was flagged undeliverable.

I’ve also now blogged about this: https://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/customer-service-the-kafka-model/

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Posted on February 22, 2018, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Testing, testing.

    If this comment appears (using the 4g connection) then it’s not a problem at WordPress, but some crap from Virgin’s network (an actual MITM) that prevented comment.

    Or else it was temporary and now is sorted.

  2. Feb 26th, 14:47

    Oh my, that was quick. Threat on the Thursday, cut-off this morning (Monday).

    Except it appears the cutoff wasn’t. It was just down for something in the ballpark of three hours. That is, so far as I can tell from the router’s “network log” – which unhelpfully wipes itself as soon as the connection comes back up, perhaps to erase traces of downtime. Disconnected around 11am, which I discovered something after 12; reconnected just after 2pm.

    So I guess that’s just regular unreliable service. Which wouldn’t be so bad if Virgin’s status pages told me anything. Or even if I could contact them to find out what’s going on. Virgin’s “Chat on line” is, as ever, telling me to try later.

  3. Feb 27th, 00:31

    And down again since about midnight-ish. This is beginning to look like the run-up to https://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/cut-off-again/ Good thing I’m not totally reliant on this sick joke of a non-service. Four weeks since posting: that’s halfway to the eight weeks where I can take this to the Ombudsman.

  4. March 2nd, 01:12

    New month, something different. This morning (March 1st), a call from an actual human. Probably genuine, though someone having read this thread or related posts elsewhere might have been trying an elaborate scam. The number it came from was the same one as in my post of 11:32 on Feb. 22nd, that Virgin had neither confirmed nor denied when explicitly asked. Though I only found that out after the call had ended.

    He was very clear on what he could and couldn’t do. And his manner was firm, like the man in the shop: evidently Virgin Media employees are well trained to deal with angry customers. If I’d had this call when I first tried to contact Virgin in January, or if it had been (say) a week rather than a month from my first posting here, all would have been well. I think I was mostly coherent, but insufficiently focussed on the issues, and I also said things I shouldn’t have. For example I probably prejudiced any comeback I might have on their libelling me with credit reference agencies when I dismissed that threat as a non-issue. Well, I don’t foresee wanting credit in my lifetime, but neither do I want my name blackened.

    He wanted my money. I told him I’d be happy to restore my direct debit once my issues are resolved. He told me that’s not sufficient, and I dithered over how to react. The pressure was on to pay today! I mentioned confusing bills for conflicting amounts, including one for about £75 (against about £25/month I signed up for in 2013, and £33/month they’ve pushed it up to with frequent rises). He told me that was for two months, which is not credible. Indeed, that bill was followed a few hours later by one for £33, suggesting that their billing department is too confused to deal with through an automated system (as I could have tried at any time). I’m sure he’d have given me a verbal assurance of exactly what I’d pay and what they’d rebate for non-service. But I still remember the empty promise of a rebate last time my service died for a prolonged period, and in the face of conflicting information I wasn’t going to trust his assurances over what the system might subsequently do without something in writing.

    He point-blank refused all requests for a means of communicating in writing. No address I can write to, and he refused even to acknowledge this forum when I asked him to address my issues. I guess that means that, despite the misleading links from Virgin’s contact page and what posters have told me here, this forum has no meaningful status?

    He also offered to put me through to their faults people. I got confused about that: at first I thought that was going to get me a resolution, then I realised that the only problem it would solve would be the one outlined in my first post above, now long since overtaken by events. And that only if he really could bypass the menus and forever-on-hold and the extension that just hangs up, and get me a human – preferably one more coherent than the one I eventually managed to speak to back in July 2014.

    We agreed on one thing. This is going to the Ombudsman, once the eight week period for a resolution is past.

  5. March 8th, 13:32

    As ever (since Feb.19th), posting both here and to the blog.

    I replied last night to Heather_J, and will see where that leads. Meanwhile, we have another couple of possibly-significant events to record here:

    (1) I had a ‘phone call from an unknown commercial number on Tuesday. I was in a lesson at the time, so didn’t take it. It came to both my mobile and home numbers within a couple of seconds, which is unusual as I don’t generally give the latter out. Subsequently googling the number, it appears, on balance of probability, to be some debt collector associated with Virgin Media (reference https://www.unknownphone.com/search.php?num=03444729340 ).

    (2) This morning, a letter bearing the signature of one Mark Davidson, Executive Director – Customer Care. Happy to restore my service if I pay £76.91 – a sum no-one has made any attempt to explain (but is the same as I recollected as “about £75” in a post on March 2nd). The letter, as with earlier communications, offers me no means of replying – though plenty of ways to pay are suggested. And of course no indication that the service will be any different to the unreliable nonsense that has repeatedly let me down, nor any working means of contacting them.

  6. More developments.

    A letter yesterday (dated March 15th) from Clare Alonze, that may be a followup to the phone call of March 1st (it delivers on the promise made in that call to tell me about the Ombudsman). And another this morning (undated) from Mark Davidson, threatening a range of things most of which – like cutting me off and calling in the debt collectors – have already happened.

    Elusive as ever, the first letter bears a Wythenshawe PO Box address but came in an envelope marked Swansea. The second bears no address, but the envelope shows a Worthing PO Box address.

    The first of those letters is the somewhat-interesting one:

    It introduces a “Complaint Reference”, though no clue as to where that originates. Possibilities I can see are either this thread here, or something opened during the phone call on March 1st. Whatever it is, this is the first I’ve heard of it.

    Ms Alonzo refers to “… your conversations with my team”, which must refer either to my reply here to Heather_J or to the man who ‘phoned on March 1st. She goes on to say “I have reviewed your case and my findings are as follows:

    * You have been advised on numerous ways you can contact us, including over the phone, online, email and in writing.”

    That (her only “finding”) is, on the face of it, an outright lie. I say “on the face of it” only because internal failure of communication at Virgin Media might present an alternative explanation.

    1. Failure of phone and online contact are precisely what drove me to try other methods and eventually raise my issue here.
    2. Despite repeated requests I have been persistently and firmly refused any email address. The caller on March 1st told me Virgin Media keep a recording of the call so that, along with the absence of any suggestion of an email address here, should be abundantly clear.
    3. I neither requested nor was given a postal address. It is not a medium I would choose, and my experience trying the Virgin Media high street shop in person on Jan. 30th was, as reported in my original post here, entirely unproductive.
    4. To compound all the above, all the addresses from which Virgin Media have written to me are undeliverable. This PO Box might be an exception, but I only have it yesterday, and …
    5. On the basis of the false finding, she declares my case closed.

    Ironically, having refused throughout to offer contact details for Virgin Media, the letter does supply full contact details, including an email address, for the Ombudsman. Though I have yet to try it: we’re not yet at Ofcom’s prescribed eight weeks.

    Oh, and I also took a phone call from the (presumed) debt collectors on March 9th. I didn’t chronicle it at the time, because nothing interesting was said. Ironically the caller seemed more pleasant than the (presumed) Virgin caller. I have a faint memory he said something about supplying an address (presumably just billing, so not of interest) at the end of the call, but nothing happened.

    (no timestamp on this post: Virgin’s RSS feed – from which I’ve taken the timestamps on earlier comments – seems to have stopped. It was about 14:30 on March 20th).

  7. Friday March 23rd (no timestamp)

    Another call today, from the same number as March 1st.

    This one comes as a pleasant surprise. The man on the other end is polite and practically apologetic! He started by asking if I was me, which I confirmed. I then asked if he had authority to discuss a complaint or was merely from billing, and he confirmed the latter.

    Interestingly he also shared a couple of nuggets of information, none of which come as any surprise. It is indeed an automated dialler: my details only appear in front of him when I have answered and he has picked up. He suggested I ignore any future calls from that number, as they will only be his department. When he saw my details, he saw notes from the previous call, that they were supposed to be sending me a letter (probably the one dated March 15th).

    If we apply Occam’s razor, these calls are genuine (despite Virgin’s refusal to confirm the number), and they have an internal communications system that works. What a shame they won’t let customers communicate!

  8. This morning (9th April), about 10:46

    So now new contact from the apparent debt collectors. First a text on Thursday, then a letter today.

    The text is unreplyable (which I consider an abuse), but contains a URL for their website. On Saturday I checked the website, and it offers an email address. So I emailed requesting they read and respond to this thread. No idea if my email will be read by a human capable of acting on it, but its mere existence puts it ahead of Virgin.

    The letter is obviously a standard form letter, and feels rather less hostile than Virgin (going right back to the attitude I encountered in the Virgin high street shop on Jan. 30th). The premise of the letter seems quite preposterous and utterly patronising: if I had difficulty paying £110 (a sum that is stated but has never been explained) then surely the first thing to go should be frivolous entertainment, which they offer to help me “restore”. Well, for the record, ability to pay is not an issue, and neither is entertainment which I never had nor wanted from Virgin in the first place. The only service I ever wanted from Virgin is broadband, and it wasn’t even failure of that broadband that drove me to cancel the direct debit, it was inability to contact them to report a fault!

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