Monday, 24 November 2008

Customer Services... Hell – Part 2 (The Sequel)!!!

Following up from my previous post, Customer Services... Hell!! (Part 1); I feel compelled to share my experiences of another well known organisation's Customer Services department. Unfortunately for me this was going on during the same time frame as I was coping with my Orange Customer Service episode... all truly exhausting!

Part 2: Customer Services Virgin Media

I have an eee PC, a great device, very portable and I take it with me practically everywhere I go, in fact it's the tool I use to write most of my blogs. So the one thing that would make this device even more useful is an Internet connection and I have been thinking for some time about getting a mobile broadband dongle. However, many of the deals currently on the market are either too expensive for my budget, tied to a lengthy contract, or with a provider who has limited network coverage.

Recently a colleague of mine saw an article in the press ( stating that Virgin Media were launching an offer that would allow existing cable customers with Broadband in their home, to get a dongle for just £5 per month plus the cost of the dongle and a contact of just 12 months. Perfect!!

I was on the phone to Virgin Media on the day the offer launched, but the first guy I spoke to knew nothing about the offer and asked if he could call me back when he had the details. No call back was received, so I called again, this time I spoke to someone who knew about the offer and it appeared that I would need to upgrade my home broadband package in order to qualify! After doing some sums I decided to go ahead with the deal. Payment of £25 was taken there and then from my debit card for the Broadband device, only it turned out later that they also took payment for post and packing a further £5! I was annoyed that I hadn't been informed of this charge, but decided to accept it as reasonable and looked forward to receiving my dongle.

The courier service attempted to deliver the parcel the next working day, but obviously I was at work, so just a notice through the door on this occasion. I tried to ring the number to rearrange delivery only to be told that calls are charged at a premium rate and that I would need to hold, after 5 mins I hung up. I tried again later to be told that they were closed for the evening and that I would need to call back in the morning. I called back the next day, to be told that I couldn't rearrange delivery to an alternative address because all mobiles had to be delivered to the billing address. I said that I would pick the parcel up from the depo and asked for directions, apparently this was not possible either because the parcel was already out for delivery. I mentioned that the package was not a mobile phone but a broadband device and they said as this was the case I could in fact rearrange delivery to a different address!!!????

In the meantime I receive a number of voice mail messages and emails from Virgin Media explaining that the direct debit for my mobile broadband had not been set up correctly and therefore my dongle would not work even when I did receive it! Sigh! I made a few more calls to Virgin and eventually managed to set up the direct debit. Although, this involved speaking to 3 departments and having a battle over a password, which appeared to be correct on one occasion but strangely incorrect on the second occasion... Very odd!

2 days later the dongle turned up and I was VERY excited!! I rushed to plug it in to my eee PC whilst I was still at work, nothing happened... I plugged it into my office Mac and it was working within seconds, odd! I asked to borrow my colleagues Vodafone dongle, which I knew worked, but it didn't work anymore. Grrrrrr!!!

Some of my techie colleagues kindly had a go at trying to make either of the dongles work and eventually after a system update the Vodafone one just started working again, but alas the Virgin Media one, would not.

So, I went home and tried to get the dongle working on my old XP laptop, it was up and running in seconds. I then went back to the packaging to see if there was any instructions for trouble shooting, only to discover that Linux was not supported by the Virgin device. Doom!

I rang customer services, nobody was available to help!! I wrote an email to the person that had been provided as my contact, no response. I rang customer services again, this time I spoke to someone who tried to be helpful, but the official Virgin Media line is that they don't support Linux. However, Virgin Media tech support did have some unofficial hints and tips which could be read out to me, but not emailed because that would be classed as official support. I tried the suggested tips, but they were way too technical for me, I sent the info to my techie colleagues, but still no luck in getting the device to work with my eee PC. Sigh!

Next I scoured the eee PC user forums and found nothing, I posted my own comment and received a couple of suggestions (, but we couldn't get any of these to work either. Sigh, sigh!

Finally, tired and frustrated I decide to return the device, I call Virgin Media customer services, go through the security check and I am then told that the Mobile Broadband department is closed for the evening and that Virgin Media Cable cannot help me! I call back in the morning, I get through but the operator cannot hear me. I try again and the operator still cannot hear me. I hang up and test my phone, which appears to be working fine and call again. Finally this time the operator can hear me. I am pretty annoyed at this point, so much so that the Virgin Customer Services agent tells me to 'calm down!', this acts like a red rag to a bull! Anyway in the end I request a returns bag and end the call. 4 days later this has still not arrived, so I call Virgin Customer Services again, this time I am told that I need to wait 5 days and that the returns bag is on the way, I wait 8 days, still no returns bag. So, I call back and I re-order the returns bag, explaining that I am worried that very soon my 28 days return period will have expired, meaning I will be tied into their contract. I am reassured that my request for the returns bag has been logged even if it hasn't been received and therefore there will be no problem getting released from the contract. A new returns bag is requested for dispatch...

I have now been waiting a further 5 days, still no sign of a returns bag and to add insult to injury they have now started billing me for the service!! I am exhausted!

As 'Globus' commented on the first part of my rant (in this blog post:, why is it that all of these service providers appear to deliver such poor standards and low levels of customer service, it is quite simply unbelievable and unacceptable!!

So, any thoughts guys? Am I the only one to experience this type of Customer Services Hell?? What should the providers be doing to improve things? What level of service would be considered 'enough'? I look forward to hearing from you all :-)

As a side note; I am also extremely annoyed with my Linux based eee PC, it seems that absolutely nothing is compatible with it, my blackberry won't sink with it, neither will my camera, iTunes doesn't work with it, neither does 4OD, I have had problems with Star Office and now the Virgin Media dongle doesn't work. I think this is the last straw and I am seriously considering installing XP over the Christmas break!!

1 comment:

KrishaLiva said...

Oh' that was really bad! I really wonder why there are people who don't understand the real meaning of customer service. Anyway, thanks for the post. Looking forward for your next post.

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