So it all started about a week ago when we noticed that our internet speed had dropped considerably. At first we thought it was a temporary blip but when the sluggishness continued we decided to contact Virgin Media and report a fault. Sarah phoned them and after about 30 minutes someone finally answered.
When the conversation turned technical Sarah handed the phone over to me but while we were waiting I had been conducting an online speed test which showed our download speed was currently 0.3 Mb/s – well short of the 10 Mb that our line should run at. The “technician” asked me to unplug our Ethernet cable from the modem which I did. He checked 3 times that the cable was unplugged before declaring that we needed an engineer to call. I handed the phone back to Sarah and one was duly booked – for the following Monday!
So we had to put up with slow internet speeds all weekend and were glad when Monday came around. The “engineer” arrived and started to fiddle about. before asking what the problem was! Sarah phoned me and I outlined the issues and what had happened up till that point. He fiddled a bit more and said that the incoming signal was too high and fitted an attenuator. When this didn’t work he then declared that our signal to noise ratio was too high.
A little aside at this point – OUR signal to noise ratio! Like it was something we had control over!
Anyway he decided that the problem lay elsewhere – in what ever the fibre version of the exchange is and as such it wasnâ€™t something that could be sorted that day. So he left promising that he would escalate the issue to the people up the line and assured us that the problem would be gone within 24 hours.
Twenty six hours later I rang Virgin again. After being in a queue for about 20 minutes the call was answered by someone who was obviously in an overseas call centre. I explained the situation to her and she said that â€œAccording to her records the issue had been resolved and as far as she could see our modem was working normallyâ€ – I assured her it wasnâ€™t because I had just done a speed test which showed our download speed to be 0.03Mb/s. At this point she insisted that she needed to do some tests and pointed me at a website which I had to enter a code into and when I pressed the button an exe file started to download.
Another little aside – if youâ€™re going to make me download a file you should a) warn me and b) explain what the file is going to do.
Anyway 5 minutes later and much discussion went on before the file eventually downloaded – it was just over 1Mb and the download time on itâ€™s own should have been enough to tell any competent person that there was an issue but no. At this point she asked me what I could see on my screen – I asked why this was relevant as she hadnâ€™t asked me to do anything with the file I had downloaded and what was on my screen wasnâ€™t going to help her diagnose the issue. She started to get really stroppy with me – At one point I had to say to her â€œLook I am the customer so why donâ€™t you just shut up and let me finish what I am trying to say to youâ€. After a while I got really annoyed with her and I then asked to speak to a supervisor. She agreed.
The â€œtechnicianâ€ really had a very poor command of the English language which was illustrated a few minutes later when she returned briefly to tell me she was going to cancel the call. I said Iâ€™m sorry what do you mean to which she replied she was going to cancel the call through to her supervisor!
I think I must have caught the supervisor in the toilet or at least thatâ€™s what it sounded like the line was so bad! I explained what had happened up to that point and he said he would put me through to someone in technical support (well who the hell was I talking to before?) – I then got some awful music on hold to listen to. After a few minutes the music stopped but no one answered. I waited and was just about to hang up thinking the call had dropped when someone finally said hello. At least it sounded like there wasnâ€™t going to be any language issues this time.
In fact he was quite helpful – he said that the work that the â€œengineerâ€ had mentioned had been done but obviously wasnâ€™t the cause of my problems. He told me he was going to log into my modem and when he did he said that there was a low power level and that we would require another visit from an â€œengineerâ€ – he told me the earliest he could get someone to me would be Saturday afternoon – another 4 day wait! I said I wasnâ€™t happy with that and he suggested I call back in the morning to see if they could get anyone out to me sooner – so I said I would and I hung up after just about 45 minutes.
The next morning I called again and when the phone was answered I spoke to someone who obviously had a listening problem (another one?) I explained about the previous nights conversation and how I had been told to phone back in the morning to see if they could get anyone out sooner. He replied with but youâ€™ve got a visit booked for Saturday. I pointed out that he obviously hadnâ€™t listened to what I was saying and repeated what I had said. He said he couldnâ€™t get anyone out any sooner so I asked to speak to customer service.
The phone call to customer service went as you would expect – there was lots of sympathy and apology and had the conversation ended there or with an offer to get someone out sooner or some sort of compensation then it would of been fine. However the conversation ended with the lady talking to the technical people to see if they could get someone out sooner and then putting me through because and I quote â€œthey canâ€™t see what is wrong with your modemâ€.
The lady I spoke to then insisted that we do a whole load of tests and explained to me that Virigin donâ€™t support my Belkin router (I donâ€™t recall asking them to) and she told me the only way she could check my modem was by me disconnecting the router and plugging my computer directly into the modem. I pointed out that two previous tests had been carried out by Virgin without me having to do this and she got stroppy with me and told me that an engineer shouldnâ€™t have even been sent out without this test being performed.
I was reluctant to do so because a) the computer next to the modem wasn’t even turned on and b) I knew it wouldnâ€™t work. The reason I knew it wouldnâ€™t work was that my network is set up to use the router as a DCHP server and it allocates ip addresses Â when you power up. If I plugged the network cable directly into the modem the pc wouldnâ€™t have an ip address unless I changed the configuration. Anyway I decided to do as she asked and then see what happened but while the pc was booting the line went dead. I waited to see if she would come back but after a while decided I had been cut off so I hung up and rang back.
When the phone was answered I thought at first Iâ€™d got back to the same person as the Scottish accent was very similar. Once again I explained what had happened and that the previous person I had spoken to had said she could see a problem with my modem whereas the person last night said that he could. She looked and told me straight away that she could see 2 reasons why I needed an engineer to come out. She said that my upstream power level was too low and that my modem had failed to connect to the server over 500 times in the previous 10 hours. She was really annoyed that the previous person had messed me about and hadnâ€™t picked up on these indicators. So much so that she said she would e-mail her and tell her where she was going wrong and also said she would go and speak to her manager about the situation! But sadly she couldnâ€™t get anyone out to me any sooner
So on the Saturday despite the fact that I had asked for between 12 & 4 and specified that it not be before 12:30 as i had to pick Sarah up from her OU tutorial the phone rang at about 11:45 and it was the engineer to say heâ€™d be with us shortly! I pointed out that I had to go out and he got quite stroppy with me and the upshot of it was if he didnâ€™t come now he was saying it would have to be rebooked and weâ€™d have to wait another 4 days. So naturally I told him to come and sent Sarah a text to explain.
To give the guy his due, despite the above exchange, he was very very good once he arrived. After a quick run down he looked at the attenuator that the previous guy had put in and said â€œwell that ainâ€™t going to do anythingâ€ and very quickly agreed that the modem needed to be replaced. He went to get one. While he was out I suddenly remembered about our broken tv remote that wouldnâ€™t control the TV volume so when he returned I asked him if he could have a look at that as well.
I explained that I knew the code for the TV but that it wouldnâ€™t accept it. In typical Virgin fashion this was ignored and he set about trying all of the codes for our make of TV (there are loads thatâ€™s why I wrote the correct one down) while I sat on the sofa rolling my eyes behind him and wishing theyâ€™d believe me just once!
Anyway he gave up and we set about replacing the modem. The new one turned out to be a router as well so he suggested that I might want to ditch the netgear one that had been connected to our old modem. The network came up and while he tried to test the TV remote I downloaded one of the files that Iâ€™d been testing it with for the previous week or so. Whereas it had been downloading at 250b/s and estimating a download time of 10 hours it now downloaded that speeds in excess of 350kb/s and had finished by the time he had come to the conclusion that the problem was also with the TV remote.
He went off to the van to get a new one and came back and entered the code Iâ€™d given him and hey presto it worked. In fact he gave us 2 remotes which will come in very handy when Ben misplaces one. So as it was all working I went off to collect Sarah from college.
So there we have it 12 days, many phonecalls – some lasting in excess of 40 minutes, much pulling out of hair, fustration, a delayed OU assignment and much fustration for the A level and GSCE students and much more finally sorted. I have many questions I would like to ask Virgin Media about their service but frankly Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™d get anyone who would understand, care or be able to do anything about it. As far as I can see the company are a national laughing stock who nobody has a good word for and frankly they donâ€™t seem to care. Big business in the 21st century – shocking really!
I think the thing that annoys me most is the assumption by almost all of Virginâ€™s technical team that the person who is calling them knows nothing about computers or networks and that they have to start from the beginning and work on the assumption that they have to do everything in the most basic fashion. While this may be true for a great majority of their customers there are obviously going to be a number who do know what they are talking about and really resent being talked to as if they are stupid – particularly when the person doing the talking actually knows nothing and is simply following a script on the pc at their end. I also donâ€™t understand how you can get one person who canâ€™t see a fault and then a minute or two later someone else who can – surely theyâ€™re all looking at the same data – Iâ€™m guessing some of the people donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re looking for!