Virgin Media, or how to make your customers hate you 2009-12-05

UPDATE: I e-mailed most of the below to Neil Berkett, CEO at Virgin Media, earlier today. Neil had a guy called Peter call me to apologise and to confirm that they will arrange to have my account cancelled right away, as I had requested. Thanks to both of you - it goes some way to improving my impression and shows that at least some of you do care about customer impression. Just get the message through to your front line staff as well. I've posted this elsewhere, but it really belongs on my own blog too. I've you follow me on Twitter you've probably seen me complain loudly about Virgin, and briefly about BT too. The difference being the BT listened (following me on Twitter, getting back to me and fixing my problem within hours of becoming aware of it) while Virgin's behaviour so far has just gotten worse and worse. Here's the background: A couple of weeks ago my internet, TV and phone (though we dont use the Virgin phone service, so the latter didnt 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 dont want frontline staff making judgements like that. Sure enough, the two people came at different times, both said it was the cable. They promised itd 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. After I'd already waited several days. 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 when the problem was supposed to be fixed or when I would be called back (fort that matter this is not the first time I've had to deal with Virgin's poor excuse for customer service) 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 called. 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. Not great, but contrary to Virgin they had the excuse that they were signing up a new customer, not fixing a problem for someone who had already been a loyal paying customer (paying through the nose for their top of the line packages) for years. 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 I've just waited 40 minutes to get through on, because she cant put me through to the same people. Despite the fact their menu system doesn't work. I say no. Not my problem. Ive had enough. Im 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. (Newsflash, Virgin: Companies with decent customer service does this. When I deal with my bank, or my other utilities, if something takes to long, I ask to get called back or for someone to pass on a message, and surprise, surprise, they actually do.) 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 Ill just cancel my direct debit and that since I've already notified them that I'm cancelling I'll sue if they try to keep charging me (threatening to sue has an amazing effect in most cases). I'm finally promised that someone will call the next morning to confirm my cancellation. Nobody calls. Yeah, I'm not surprised, because if they'd called back they'd have broken a pattern of excessively bad service. So I fill out a complaint form on their website. 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 theyd treated me properly first time around instead of jerking me around for 3 days, and then had told me they could repair things by the 3rd, and called me back when they promised to, Id probably have still been a customer (and paid over the odds for the privilege but not particularly cared). So of course we told him no, were 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 Ive 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 about the familiar story when my wife recounts our woes to them. Now were 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 Ive cancelled and proceeds to talk over me and then turn around to repeatedly interrupt me to complain about me interrupting her, forcing me to gradually raise my voice to even be able to explain the situation without having her constantly talk me down. After minutes of that I'm finally given a chance to speak long enough to point out that after dealing with their dreadful call centre (and her!) theres just no way Im dealing with another one after Ive notified them both by phone and by e-mail, and had her confirm to me on the phone, that theyve received my cancellation. Its 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. Way to deal with complaints, the Virgin Media way: Have your biggest asshole call up the customer and talk over them and repeatedly tell them they're wrong and practically taunt them into hating you and your company. Then BT calls: (pay attention to this Virgin) They call to apologise profusely over not dealing with our problem sooner (time from initial fault report to problem was fixed: 24 hours; time from complaint over handling to problem fixed: 6 hours; time from complaint over handling to engineer was at our door: 4 hours); wants to make sure the engineer fixed our line properly; wants to find out what might have gone wrong in the first place to make us upset. Truly the only problem was that I got a long-ish repair estimate (four days; still miniscule compared to Virgin), which was annoying but to be honest I probably wouldn't even have bothered to complain about it if the treatment Virgin have given me over the last few weeks hadn't made my fuse incredibly short to begin with. Overall, in BTs case their fault reporting on their website needs to improve a bit (indicate that the problem will be fixed "no later than"; inform of how to contact Btcare; make it clearer that you'll only get regular updates if you sign up for SMS, not e-mail too), 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 Im their customer. I never thought Id see the day when I did this: BT actually did well. Problems happen, I accept that - I work with technology all day. What matters to me it how a company responds when they do. BT responded properly, and while I was a bit angry initially Im very happy with how it turned out. The call this morning was a very nice touch. Virgin on the other hand managed to turn me from a devoted customer who wouldnt even consider looking around (I honestly had no idea how much over the odds we were paying for Virgin, because price didn't really matter to me as long as things worked), to detesting them beyond what words can convey in two short weeks..

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