@virginmedia broadband customer services woes

Virgin Media Broadband Customer Services Sucks

Update:I wanted to add that eventually my problem was resolved. FWIW I think VM do have people who are genuinely dedicated to delivering a quality product and that there are amongst their number some very good CS people. My personal thanks go out to Sam T  for her professionalism and successful resolution of my issue

So, I’ve been a Virgin Media customer for longer than I can remember ( > 10 years). I’ve just got off the phone with Michaela at customer retention who despite having heard every detail of my complaint, was unable to talk to a colleague within the company and explain things on my behalf. She advised that I should spend a little more of my precious time writing to them, so that they could make me wait a little longer and inconvenience me a little more.

I’m naturally averse to doing that, as like you and many others out there, if there’s one thing that narks me more than most, it’s corporate bullshit. Especially corporate bullshit that’s designed to wear people down and systematically pick people off through sapping their will.

My VirginMedia Broadband Slows down of an Evening

Recently I’ve been having broadband issues with a service that I pay something like £25 per month for. Up to 20 meg broadband as I believe it’s called.

The ‘Up To’ words are quite important of course, as I doubt anybody using  their 20meg services ever gets that. It’s a theoretical figure that assumes that all being perfect, you could get in theory.

I digress. If I’m honest, I’ve had issues with their services for months. Sometimes of an evening, it’s just rubbish, it slows down to the point of unusability. I’m told that this is due to throttling. Other times I’ve been told that it’s due to a cap, in that if I download x data during the day, my ability to download data during the evening will be curtailed.

Hmmn, well I’m not one of these people who download films, or music or any of that other high bandwidth intensity stuff.  I just do the whole twitter, FB and surf thing. Most of the time I’m answering customer emails or ftp’ing the umpteenth tweak to a script I’ve hacked, or reading up on quora or stackoverflow or some other obscure techie thing that weirdos like me like to play with.

On ‘fast’ days I used to gauge download and upload speed. I can’t remember what speed exactly but on such days it was around 14MBPS. TBH, I was happy with that. It was fast enough for me and didn’t leave me sitting there thinking ‘Where’s my 20mbps!!”

Over the past 5 days or so I’ve had very poor service. So poor that it’s been unusable. From 6pm it’s not even worth me trying to get online, it’s akin to the old days of 14kb modem dial up only worse. As I touched upon earlier, I’ve had times like this before, which I’ve grinned and borne which have usually sorted themselves out. Not ideal, but not really worth the short term pain of speaking to someone in India, who usually antagonise me with tech BS platitudes at best or at worst insists that I restart my modem or router to restart services.

Apparently, my Virginmedia Broadband is suffering from low SNR

The other day, having had an FTP upload ceased midflow, the proverbial straw had broke my back and  I decided that it was time to give the guys at Virginmedia a call. I explained to Ganesh that the service was not working and blah blah blahed about how it usually sorted itself out and that I’d already did the restart router/modem things and…well, Ganesh bless him, was no doubt duty bound to ask me to do it all again and after a time the answer back was that I was the recipient of an SNR issue in the area.

SNR – hmmn I thought, Signal to Noise Ratio, Subscription Network’s Rank, or Subscription Not Really worth a carrot perhaps!?

See on other times, I’ve been told other stuff.

Faulty modem, faulty router, attenuator adjustments required for signal boosting, server failure, cable failures, network faults…the list could be endless.

SNR is a new one though, so awesome, excuse number I couldn’t really care what number it is.

If I’m honest, I couldn’t really care less what the reason is either.

I pay for a service and expect to get it. I demand continued service at a level that I’ve paid money for. Whether Virgin Media care or not I do actually spend in excess of £900 per year with them. Yep, £900 to pump a few signals down a cable which includes a nice £1.50 per month for my paper bill troubles.

I’m told that my current woes will be fixed by June the 2nd. The SNR is specific to my area will be resolved and all will be well.

VirginMedia have nationwide network issues

In these days of web democracy one can quickly find out if one is alone in ones experiences.

A quick search on Google shows that people in many parts of the UK are having issues with the Virginmedia service. shows a good smattering of results bemusingly from the virginmedia community pages themselves (well done Virgin, trying to own your online rep)

A look at some of those threads reveals all manner of things relative to exchange capability, the changing nature of users (Gamers, Video, Audio etc), SNR and  Over subscription (probably the most grating, why take on new customers for a service that isn’t delivering to existing customers).

Why I think Virgin media Customer services are poor

In the world view that I inhabit, customers who pay people money to do things for them have some basic rights. Besides all the legal obligations and various duties of care, people like me believe that where a customer is inconvenienced above a certain threshold then at the very least, the company that has caused them problems should at least try to recognise that and recompense them for their troubles. To put customers through various loopholes and give them the run around is to be frank, complete and utter crap.  If a customer isn’t very happy and explains the reasons why, calmly and dispassionately the correct response is to do your utmost to find a way to help. It’ll help if I explain the sequence of events, otherwise I just sound like some rantsmith with an axe to grind.

I won’t include the previous two days of calls to Ganesh and co, as  I’m sure you’ve better things to do, but here’s how it played today.

I called VirginMedia and eventually got through to someone in…India – I explained the situation (again) and was told that technical services might be able to help. I explained that actually, no, they wouldn’t be able to as I wanted to complain about the service and not seek the same responses to answers I’d already heard. Alas, he was insistent and I dutifully waited and explained to technical support that I already knew what was wrong and just wanted to talk to customer services, they argued their corner and eventually patched me though to customer services who listened and made the right kid of noises, until that is they mentioned that I’d get a pro rata refund only.

Pro rata refund only – I typed that again because as I type it, it releases a little more adrenalin and fires me up a little bit further. So, for my 5 days (and numerous other periods of disconnectedness) I’m to receive a pro rata sum. £25 / 31 * 5 = £4.03.

I should add that yesterday I went out and bought a mobile dongle from O2. Long story short is I’ve spent £30 because I need to have services indoors due to the fact that my service provider wasn’t providing me with a service.

I explained this to the nice lady at Virginmedia and explained that I was less than satisfied with what she was offering and that in my view, the offer wasn’t that good. I’d already laid out £30 of my own money, not to mention the time spent on phones trying to resolve it or the hassle of being unable to do what I needed to do on the various evenings I’d had no service. Her hands were tied, she was sympathetic but unable to provide more than a certain level of recompense, she could pass me to customer retention who might be able to help (at this point I’d expressed a view of exasperation an was on the verge of cancelling contracts).

After some time waiting about for the next available operative – Cue Michaela at customer retention – There was no record of what I’d said previously, the nice colleague at customer services hadn’t explained my situation, so I then had to explain it all again and convey the irritation I felt at having paid money etc blah blah blah and that I was now seeking reasons why I should even continue to be a customer and pay them the £900 per year that they currently get hoping that the reasonable response would be something along the lines of “Mr Watts, very sorry to hear about all this, we don’t want to lose you and appreciate the royal pain in the arse that this must be so in recognition we’ll give you at the minimum a sum equal to your reasonable loss that we hope compensates you…we do value your business etc etc” Reasonable huh? But no, Michaela bless her cotton socks, despite being cognisant of every nuance of the situation, tells me that I should WRITE to customer services and complain!.

Me: Um, I’m doing that now, verbally, to you at customer retention. Can’t you do this for me? Can you not convey my concerns to the relevant people who can help me, and take a decision and deal with my concerns? I’ve already invested a considerable amount of my time trying to resolve this.

Her: No Mr Watts, I’m in customer retention, the procedure is that you complain to customer services by letter and an appropriate person will deal with it.

Me: I really don’t understand why despite listening to all I’ve said,  that you expect me to waste even more of my time trying to resolve this! This call is recorded right? Can’t you just forward the audiofile so they can listen?

Her: More petty obfuscating nonsense determined not to help or resolve

Me: Ok, thanks.

I’m not astounded by all of this, I’m simply flabbergasted that a system designed to help customers who have issues could be used in a way to frustrate and aggravate. Changing services to another supplier is fraught with all manner of headaches. Unknown quantities, time out to e there when they turn up being but two that spring to mind.

I’ve thought about writing to Virgin media customer services, I’ve thought about writing to Neil Berkett or Richard Branson, or OFCOM  even but…really, to continue with this merry go round of nonsense serves little purpose other than to waste even more of my time. Customer service shouldn’t be a revolving door of buck passing and annoyance. It should deal with customer issues and get the problem resolved. Customers don’t want to know about policies designed to restrict company loss, they want to be treated fairly and efficiently with no nonsense. There are of course exceptions. Rude people, chancers, conmen and liars should be given short shrift, but I like to think that I’m neither of the above.

Naturally, I’m a little pissed by all this – It’s a lovely day out and I could have been out in the sunshine or reading a book or doing some work but…

Consumers have few tools these days, the most effective are those that get eyeballs and get brands to sit up and take note.If you want to help me, or maybe make others aware of the kind of things they can expect from Virginmedia when things don’t quite work or go wrong, then you could share this post on Twitter or Facebook or wherever else it is you hang out online.  Maybe someone else will get some insight in to what they can expect.

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