Thursday, February 24, 2011

You could have been receiving me

Yesterday I posted a lament about lack of access to RTÉ channels. It included the following:

Cable had to be Virgin, formerly NTL. To our surprise, they didn’t include RTÉ channels in any of their packages.

It now turns out that we were misinformed and you can get RTÉ1, RTÉ2 and TG4 on Virgin.

How did this happen?

In February, we received a leaflet through the door, quite by chance given the situation with the chimney and Sky as described yesterday, informing us that we were already connected to Virgin Media. It suggested we might like to switch, proposed a special offer until 31st March, and gave a number to call or web site to visit. The number was 0800 052 1216.

That was the number Nick called, and he was told there was no RTÉ service available.

I called the same number this evening, and was put through to a very helpful woman who confirmed that when my postcode was typed into her system, it did not say RTÉ was available.

The web site is no better. It provides a list of channels available which doesn’t include RTÉ, no doubt because the service is only available in Northern Ireland. I checked that myself at the time and again this evening.

The leaflet suggested a third option for getting more information: ‘pop into a Virgin Media store’. Now whoever on earth does that nowadays unless you know what you are going to buy once you get there, after having checked it out on the internet? Of course we didn’t pursue that option - until this evening. So where was the local store? No details in our brand new phone book, delivered a few days ago. But the Virgin Media store locator on the otherwise useless web site told me that there was a Virgin Media store in Castle Court. The phone was answered almost instantly and the sales assistant confirmed that yes, RTÉ was included and we should come into the store to arrange installation and discuss a number of current special offers. Through gritted teeth, I explained why we were not in a position to do that.

I am steaming mad about this. So how can I complain? With great difficulty:

• The call centre woman couldn’t find a phone number for me to do so.
• The web site includes a complaints form that only accepts complaints from existing account holders. I want to complain that I wasn’t able to get that far. So I can write a letter – come on guys, this is the 21st century!
• Ofcom requires me to take the matter up first with the supplier – which in this case is not my supplier.
• Most ludicrously, the local store doesn’t accept complaints to Virgin as a company because ‘we only sell and install their products’. I’m sure we are not the only customers they have lost due to misinformation and they are not prepared to do anything about it.

So what are we going to do? I intend to write to Virgin but I don’t expect to get a response. The practical issue is that we have to decide whether to write off £134 and go for a Virgin service anyway, now that we know we can get it.

Problem is – after all this, do we really want to become their customer?


Alex Brown said...

Hi Jenny

Sorry about this. If you can drop us a line with some details we can look into this and workout what was wrong (and fix it).

Best to use the contact e-mail address for the Twitter 'tweam' (twitter at virginmedia dot co dot uk) and the guys can then pick it up and address it.

The tweam will also be able to help get you signed up if you are still interested in joining VM.

Again, sorry about this.


Customer Experience
Virgin Media

Jenny Muir said...

Dear Alex,

Thanks for your quick response. I thought I made it clear in the post what Virgin needs to do, but if not, then here it is:

(i) Make sure the leaflets and personalised letters you deliver in Northern Ireland refer to RTE recption

(ii) Make sure your web site (URL provided in the personalised letters) lists RTE available from NI, and in which packages

(iii) Make sure your call centre operatives have access to the correct information about packages available in NI and that they are different to elsewhere in the UK (I gather RTE is only available in NI)

(iv) develop a channel of communication between Virgin Media as a company and your shops, to allow complaints and comments to be passed on

(v) allow complaints/ comments to be made on the web site from people who do not have an account with you, to cover problems at the inquiry stage.

I really can't see what you can do about our personal situation, as the damage is done. We are not prepared to pay out twice in quick succession and so we are 'taking references' over the next few months about the quality of service from people we know who are Virgin customers, before deciding whether to ditch the Freeview.