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My shocking experience of Virgin Media
Member Name: alyson29
Date: 28/07/10, updated on 23/06/11 (502 review reads)
Advantages: None as far as I'm concerned
Disadvantages: Where do I start?
I would state that this review discusses the personal experiences of both my husband and myself with Virgin Media and I cannot comment on the company as a whole.
Approximately 4 years ago, my husband and I were contracted to NTL for both Broadband and our television package and they provided us with an exceptional standard of service. As a "valued customer", they upgraded our internet usage without our permission, but as it was free of charge, we didn't mind.
However, little did we realise that our high level of customer service was soon due to change when NTL transferred their business to Virgin Media. Initially, we were extremely happy, as we noticed no difference, other than the fact that Virgin Media were now our service provider.
We were more than satisfied as we found the service provided to us was of an exceptional quality, particularly due to the fibre optic broadband, which meant no interruptions should the telephone line become affected. For a few months, all went well and the correct monthly direct debit payment was taken from my husband's bank account.
However, on our next monthly billing, we noticed that Virgin Media were now charging us for the "free upgrade" provided to us by NTL. It was an astronomical difference to what we had previously been paying and due to the fact that we did not use the internet as freely as we do today, we did not want the chargeable upgrade.
As a result, my husband telephoned Virgin Media for the very first time. He waited and waited and waited and some 50 minutes later, after listening to the most annoying music, he was eventually transferred to an operator. Surprise, surprise, the operator in question was unable to assist and informed my husband that he would need to be transferred to another department, which resulted in a further 20 minute wait.
Eventually, after 70 minutes of waiting, he was able to speak to an operator who could help (or should I say, that's what we believed at the time!). They apologised and agreed that the "free upgrade" should be exactly that - FREE! They assured my husband that the correct payment would be debited from his bank account and that he need not worry (famous last words!).
Imagine our horror when we discovered that Virgin Media had taken more from my husband's bank than what they were entitled. Whilst I cannot remember the exact sum of money involved as it was a few years ago, the problems associated with this company will be ingrained in my brain for the rest of my life!
As a result of the unauthorised debit, my husband again found himself on the phone in an attempt to speak to an operator, which on this occasion, took over an hour and a half to be connected! He was given the same lame excuses that it was a "computer error" and wouldn't happen again. However, low and behold, the identical problem occurred with the next monthly payment with Virgin Media taking too much money.
Consequently, my husband had no choice but to inform his bank of the unauthorised debit and cancel his direct debit. Whilst the bank took care of the direct debit side of things under the conditions of the Direct Debit Guarantee, we still had an ongoing issue with Virgin Media.
To cut a long story short, Virgin Media wrote to my husband several times a week regarding the cancelled direct debit and threatened late payment charges and fees for the administration of letters etc. We held a huge file of correspondence as we were able to evidence that we had made dozens of attempts to both ring and write to Virgin Media to resolve the matter for once and for all. By now, our bill had risen to well over £100; of which the largest proportion was their "admin charges".
Unfortunately, during the long battle, my husband, who was only 46 at the time, suffered a heart attack and underwent major surgery, which resulted in him becoming extremely depressed. Virgin Media continued to harass him for many months, which was now by telephone and my extremely poorly husband was receiving up to a dozen calls a day where staff would threaten him.
It resulted in us having to pull the telephone cable out of the wall, as I feared he would suffer another heart attack due to the continuing stress. Out of sheer desperation, I wrote to both Watchdog and Richard Branson, but neither responded. In fact, Richard Branson's A4 envelope containing copies of the extensive correspondence was returned to me after being opened. Who opened it will always be a mystery to me, particularly as they didn't need to open the envelope to find my name and address as I had provided this information on the rear of the envelope.
My final attempt to resolve this matter for once and for all was with the Financial Ombudsman. It took me quite a few days to photocopy months of correspondence and provide everything in a respectable format, but I was determined as I was not going to let a bully company, such as Virgin Media win this battle, particularly as they were totally in the wrong.
The Financial Ombudsman agreed that we had a case and set to work. He wrote to Virgin Media with a list of our issues and asked them to respond. Unfortunately, they provided a three line computer print out which made no sense whatsoever, which was subsequently sent to us for comment. I responded with three A4 sheets of typing and was delighted some two weeks later, to receive a final response from the Financial Ombudsman.
His findings were that Virgin Media were at fault and as they had provided incoherent information and that mine was concise and explained all the facts, he had ruled in our favour.
Consequently, The Financial Ombudsman wrote to Virgin Media who were compelled to write off the "alleged debt" and provide us with a fixed amount of compensation. I will never forget the wording the Financial Ombudsman used in the copy letter he provided to us, namely "due to the harassment you have caused an extremely ill man and his wife ...".
Would I recommend Virgin Media? What do you think? They were nothing but bullies towards us and in my opinion, their customer care was absolutely useless. They did not care about their customers' needs and were simply in it for the huge profit. The company is too big and no one knows what anyone else is doing.
It was such a relief to be rid of this company for once and for all and we would never return, even if they offered a free service for the rest of our lives.
Whilst this review discusses the personal experiences with Virgin Media of both my husband, their customer service and billing process may well have improved. I can only speak from personal experience, which unfortunately, in our case was abysmal!
If you actually a customer, I would urge you to thoroughly check your bills for accuracy to ensure you are not being overcharged. If you are experiencing problems, don't be bullied. Initially you should follow Virgin Media's Complaints Procedure and if you have not received a satisfactory response (or any reply at all) within 8 weeks, you should then contact the Financial Ombudsman.
The service of the Ombudsman was superb and the problem was resolved within a matter of months. This was an absolutely horrendous time for both my husband and myself, particularly as he suffered a heart attack during the process and in my opinion, Virgin Media exploited this as they were well aware of his extremely poor health.
I would like to award Virgin Media zero stars, but unfortunately, I cannot, so they get just one from me.
I hope you found this review useful and would thank you for reading.
Summary: A company that provided us with an absolutely shocking service