This is a continuation of my previous trials and tribulations with Virgin Media’s business arm in relation to a simple query.
I spoke to a bird called Gemma at Virgin Media a month ago and based on the fact we’d been paying £100 per month too much on our contract with them for 4 or 5 years she agreed to give us a discount on future bills. She promised to send a contract through which we were to sign, and then we’d be saving this £100 a month. Great.
No contract arrived, and we received another invoice for the old amount, which would be taken, automatically by direct debit on the 14th of September. So I phoned them up again.
Initially I spent 9 minutes on hold listening to funky electro jazz. This is quite good for Virgin Media as it is usually about 20 minutes (or in this case, 35 minutes). I spoke to a guy and explained that I would not be paying this invoice and I will only pay £40 a month. He said he could see I had spoken to Gemma about it, and that he would put me through to her again. Fine. 15 minutes later, still on hold, he comes back to me and says Gemma’s not answering and that he would get her to call me. I asked when, he said as soon as possible. I asked whether that meant today and he said it did.
Naturally, I wasn’t expecting them to call, because places like Virgin Media never do. And they didn’t.
My day yesterday started with a call to BT about some other telecoms packages we wanted to change to newer pricing. After a couple of rings, a lady with a Yorkshire accent picks up and I tell her I’d like to cancel and change a few of our packages. She says no problem and puts me straight through to the relevant department, where I spoke to a Geordie called Mark (after 10 minutes on hold listening to the 1812 overture on repeat). During our conversation I asked him which ISP he thought was the best, and he obviously concluded BT but he did make some comments about other ISPs.
He said some people don’t realise that when they are with some of these other companies they have a 90 day cancellation notice, so if you’re in the last month of a contract and you want to cancel then you have to take out another contract with them to see out the 90 days. But then you’re locked into a longer contract, whereas with BT you carry on with a rolling contract. I commented that it sounded like something Richard Branson’s ISP might do, and he started laughing and said it was.
So anyway after I had dealt with BT, I called Virgin again and spoke to a guy called Phil Jones who in fairness was quite helpful. I gave him the story and initially he said it was simply my word that I had spoken to Gemma and agreed this contract with her. He said that there was nothing in the system to suggest any contract had been agreed or sent, but said he would look into it and call me back in 30 minutes.
He actually did, and said that his colleague had found my original call on their system so it proves that I had been chasing it up for over a month. I was thinking great, at least you’re not going to accuse me of lying any more.
He said it appeared that the contract was £50 per month not £40, so I queried this. Now, I didn’t realise we were currently paying £140 per month for 4MBit downstream. I assumed it was 20. But no, this £50 charge was for an “upgrade” to 10MBit. But I had just agreed 20MBit packages with BT for £25 per month..
I figured that it’s easier to keep what you’ve got and just get them to change the billing, so I said to him look, she said £40, so go and ask her. He said he would, but asked whether I was thinking of leaving and whether I’d like to speak to their loyalty department. I told him there would be no point since if it got to that, I’d be cancelling. He went off for another half an hour to ask about this.
He did phone back again, which I was astounded by. He said Gemma never said £40, and it’s a non-negotiable £50. After I had told him I was not prepared to pay that he again asked if I’d like to speak to “loyalty”. So I agreed to.
I spoke to a woman called Natalie Ash. I explained the issue, and she simply said there’s nothing we can do, that’s the price. Then to back herself up she said, “but we are rated the best ISP in the UK”. My response to that was to laugh and say, “by who?!”.
Apparently it’s on Ofcom’s website, but that didn’t come as much of a surprise given Virgin Media’s love triangle with the BPI and Ofcom. Money talks, as they say.
After noting the cancellation details, Natalie Ash said there is a 90 day cancellation policy, to which I just burst out laughing. I couldn’t fathom what the point was in a loyalty department that wasn’t able to offer anything other than the product, as-is. You would have thought given we’ve paid them thousands too much over the years they could have given us a little discount. But no, nothing doing there.
The cancellation letter is in the post, and hopefully this will be my last ever dealing with Virgin Media.