The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Friday, 19 August 2011


Having just moved house, I thought it would be sensible to stay with the same internet service provider, Virgin Media. I'm not quite sure what madness possessed me to do this, given that last time I moved, they deleted my email account without warning - including the entire contents of my 'inbox', emails which I hadn't had the chance to download, including dozens of messages relating to work.

They told me that there was broadband available at my new flat - this was one of the things I checked before moving, as it would be a deal-breaker - and informed me that it would be installed on 17th August.

About four or five days before the 17th August, two blokes from Virgin Media turned up at the flat to check the broadband connection and declared that all was well.

On the 17th August, another bloke from Virgin Media turned up at the flat and declared that actually there wasn't a broadband connection available at all and that one would have to be fitted. He then contacted some colleagues to fit the broadband cable and left, promising to return later that day to finish the installation.

Three more blokes from Virgin Media then turned up at the flat and - without calling to let me know they were there, or even ringing my doorbell - began trampling over the lawn and ripping up my neighbour's rose bush in search for a broadband cable that didn't exist. Realising their mistake, they then put in a broadband fibre optic cable, connecting it to the Virgin Media box up the road. They then left the other end of the cable dumped on the lawn and then vanished without another word.

The first guy, the guy who had promised to return, did not return and has never been heard from since.

Wondering quite what was happening, the next day I called Virgin Media, and eventually got through to a helpful lady at the call centre called Kim, I think, who was quite rightly appalled by their incompetence. She told me that they wouldn't be able to finish the job until September 2nd. I pointed out that the fibre optic cable they'd left on the lawn would almost certainly be damaged by the rain by then, assuming it hadn't been stolen, and that perhaps their staff should actually finish the job now, as they had said they would when I first notified them; at no point did anyone tell me that the job would take longer than expected until I phoned up Virgin Media to find out why they hadn't finished it.

The helpful lady said she'd get an area manager to call me back later that day with a view to getting the installation fitted at an earlier date. Nobody did call me back.

And now today, I've spent approximately two hours on the phone to Virgin Media trying to chase up this mythical area manager - which has cost me over £40 as I'm using a mobile phone, as Virgin Media didn't install my telephone either.

I started with Laura, who was very helpful, then got put through to Joe, who informed me that all he could do was appraise me of the installation date. I commended him on his excellent installation-date-appraising abilities and then got put through to Anush, who transferred me to a phone queue for a manager which then eventually hung up on me before I was put through.

I should point out this took two hours; at every step of the way, I had to inform the customer service people of the situation,. Each of them informed me that it was impossible for a company of Virgin Media's size and means to be able to finish installing a broadband connection before September 2nd; I might as well be asking for a bottle of unicorn juice. That was the earliest possible date, I was told. Before being put on hold for twenty-odd minutes listening to Your Song by Ellie Goulding and One Week by the Barenaked Ladies until either they hung up on me or I got put through to someone else.

The latest person I spoke to, Siobhan, promised me that an area manager would call me back. I pointed out to her that I'd been given precisely the same promise yesterday and nothing had happened. So far today, I haven't been contacted by an area manager. I'm not holding out much hope.

UPDATE 20 AUGUST: I was never called back.

So there you go. It seems to be standard Virgin Media policy for them to leave a job half-finished, dumping cables on lawns and leaving wall-sockets open, and for their employees to then leave without so much as a word as to when it might be completed. They will not bother to contact their customer but instead, when their customer contacts then, do everything they can short of anything that which might constitute fulfilling their contractual obligations.

I should make it clear that all the call centre people have been as helpful as they could, bearing in mind they had no direct responsibilty nor ability to resolve the situation. I feel it is the company itself which is displaying both incompetence and contempt for its customers.