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admin | Want My Ex Back | 19.09.2013
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I moved into my flat in London on the 8th of November last year and I still find myself without broadband, despite being promised it on three separate occasions by Virgin Media. For those of you with a good memory, you may recall that about two months ago I wrote a report on how Virgin Media and EE – two of the UK’s main broadband providers – had shown spectacular levels of ineptitude and poor customer service, leaving me without internet in my zone 2 London flat for a number of weeks.
Well, here I am, over four months after having moved into my new home, and I still find myself without a broadband connection (I am currently paying ?6 a day to use a BT WiFi hotspot, which is accessible if I sit near the window in my living room).
This is a story about how Virgin Media has failed to redeem itself and is a shining example of how not to approach customer relationship management. It is clear to me that Virgin operates in silos, its departments don’t talk to each other, its processes are hit and miss, it is happy to make empty promises to its customers and is mostly concerned with sales, rather than providing a good service.
By way of background, after moving to Harringay in November last year, I researched which broadband providers could offer me a super-fast internet connection on my road and was somewhat surprised that despite being pretty centrally located in London, Virgin Media were the only company that delivered fibre connections. However, pleased that there was a fibre connection on offer, I went ahead and booked a Virgin Media engineer to come and install the broadband in the first week we moved in. After talking to the engineer, then having to ring a construction team and phoning customer services, who had to call an area manager to find out what was going on, I managed to establish that there was a problem with the cables in my area and Virgin were going to have to come back and do some work on them before connecting us up. I was told that planning permission would be needed from the local council to dig up the road and this could take four to six weeks. However, we were written to and informed of the date it was being completed, a few days before it happened.
First question: why did Virgin Media’s install team not have on file that the work was being completed on the date the construction team were being sent out and call me a week or so in advance to arrange an engineer to come and connect us up shortly after the problems were fixed? But having waited this long and having put a considerable amount of effort in to getting this broadband connection, we decided that we would wait the few more weeks and get the work completed. After this, confusingly, we then received a letter confirming our install date for the end of January, where the letter was dated after the conversation I had had with customer services team telling me that more construction work was needed. The construction team came and did their thing and then the next day I get a call asking when I am available for an engineer to come and install. Just as a reminder, this is over FOUR MONTHS after we booked the original engineer to come and connect us. So, on the 18th I made sure my meetings were in the morning and that I would be home between 1pm and 6pm.
Why was I told that I would need to be at home and an engineer would be coming and that the work had been completed?

Four months without internet when you work from home and are paying for it on a daily basis is more than an “inconvenience”.
However, thankfully I finally managed to cancel the contract and have now booked myself a Sky engineer, who is arriving to install on Thursday (finger’s crossed). For me, this is a perfect example of having all the elements of good CRM in place, but still failing spectacularly. And having had this experience with them, I will now never go back and will tell anyone who asks how poor the service has been.
What amazes me more than anything else throughout two and half decades of writing about telecoms utilities at the same time as relying on their services for my livelihood is the smug assumption of their executive management that they have some kind of special expertise in managing customer relationships.
In fact, some people are not happy and have taken to forums to explain their concerns over delays like in this thread. Some customers have been wondering if an additional cost will be added to bills and if the work will be done on time and not delayed like previous speed increases?
It is worth noting some people have been having WiFi issues with the same broadband provider, which you can read about in our recent article reporting problems for users in selected UK areas.
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Not entirely Virgin Media’s fault that it has inherited some dodgy networks from days gone by. First of all, from what I recall, we ended up waiting around 8 weeks for this first piece of construction work to be done, rather than the four to six weeks we were told. Once the team had come and gone, I then got a call from another team asking when we were available for an engineer to come and install – which turned out having very little to do with my availability and more to do with theirs, considering I had to then wait another two weeks or so for a slot.
Instead, what appears to have happened, is the construction team have sent a note to the install team AFTER the work was done, with no communication happening in between visits, resulting in a longer wait for us, the customer.
And whilst their social media support was actually very good, it meant that I was having conversations with them, customer services on the phone and occasionally the construction team – depending on what needed doing.
Having then arranged a new install date at the end of January, we then get a call a few days later informing us that actually the work wasn’t completed on the day (erm, so why tell us it was completed and arrange a new install date?) and that planning permission would have to be applied for again to come and finish the job.
So, again, I rang customer services to find out if they were now actually coming out at the end of January and I was told that the letter had been sent out in error and I should just hang tight.
Eventually, at the beginning of this month, we were sent a note in the post informing us that the construction team would be in the area over the next day or so and finishing off the work. I received written confirmation of this and received a text in the morning telling me to be at home during this time – hilariously, the text also told me to ask my engineer about getting ?50 credited to my account if I refer a friend. Needless to say, as time edged closer and closer to 6pm, I started to feel a bit anxious that maybe, just maybe, the engineer wouldn’t actually be arriving.

So I then go about ringing the customer services team – again – to find out where my engineer is. I told the guy on the phone that I no longer wanted anything to do with Virgin Media and that I wanted to cancel my contract with them – now.
And despite my angry tone and being adamant that I wanted to leave, I had to have a 10 minute conversation with a guy trying his best to persuade me to stay! Virgin has social media support, text reminders, they do keep in touch with you, they have helpful people when you speak to them, and yet all the processes fall down because no-one seems to be talking to each other. I would be absolutely livid if I had experienced this and demanding a meeting with the CEO.
The same business that you dealt with, then called ntl:Telewest although it was already part of Virgin Media at the time. I carefully explained that I had not published the story to get a refund, what mattered to me was, were they going to change their procedures to make sure this didn’t happen to anyone else in the future?
This has been made clear in a few videos that Virgin Media offer detailing how supercharge broadband makes life better when online, one of these you can see below this article, although not all UK households can receive this service just yet. We tried a few areas local to us like Broadstairs, in Kent, and there’s no service in this area among many others. It seems clear that Virgin Media will be supercharging broadband speeds up to 152Mb from 120MB at no extra cost, which will take place between April and June 2014, again this is another reason there is renewed interest in Virgin Media speeding up broadband.
The answers came from a member of Virgin’s forum team, in which they explain there is a February price rise and that no guarantee has been offered in relation to work being completed on time. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. The guy on the phone then tells me that the engineer has been rescheduled for a later date.
Annoyingly he also tried to offer me three months free service as compensation, which I had already been offered after the first incident back in January – so hardly going to convince me to stay. I’m on such a short fuse with stupidity that I was already using capital letters after just SIXTEEN HOURS let alone the FOUR MONTHS you endured.
There was clearly a note on my account from the construction team highlighting that more work needed doing, but this had obviously not registered across all departments. Because the construction team HADN’T actually completed the work for a second time and would need a THIRD visit, with planning permission required again, with you guessed it, a four to six week wait.

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