Virgin’ on the the ridiculous

This post: circa 1,750 words, estimated reading time: 9 minutes

That time of year when…

Actually it is more like “that time of year AGAIN”, as it feels to me like Virgin are putting their prices up twice a year now! They are about to up our bill another 5% – but offering new customers the best deals ever. I wrote about this a few years back too. It annoyed me then, it annoys me as much now.

Note, while the passages below remain pertinent, a deal was done in the end. They will haggle, if you are persistent, you just have to be firm, but polite, but also actually ready to walk away. Plus find the right person.

The latter makes a difference, some of them act like it’s their own money you are negotiating for. As I mentioned in another post, in the past I had one sales tell me to get stuffed and said the only thing he’d give me was a slower connection and less channels – for the same price, as a contract! I declined and phoned again to cancelled with Virgin. It was passed to a manager, who was furious at the guy. He gave me a better deal on the spot, plus credit for the upset.

At the end of the day, if they can give the bundle you are on to a ‘new customer’ for less than half the price you are paying, they can move on price. If they won’t move, either you got someone Jobsworth like I ran into, or they are playing you for a mug. If I was on ADSL I would change regularly for the best deal, but only Virgin have cable broadband in the UK and if you use the Internet a lot, it’s worth the extra. Within reason.

If you call sales, you are connected instantly. When you tell them you are an existing customer and wish to cancel, they hang up on you. So you are forced to go through channels. Channels whose soul purpose is to fob you off. Rudely if necessary. If you are adamant and persistent (it can takes several days or even weeks!) you will finally be told, “Sod off then, but you’ll have to go through cancellations!” (This is after being transferred to the cancellations department!) This isn’t just poor service, it is top down instructions on how to ignore customers. The rudeness in just a side-effect of people following orders in a more honest way.

As so it continues.

It is hugely noticeable that your upgrade options are strictly limited and a fraction of the options to NEW customers, and downgrade options and cancellation options do not exist. You are FORCED to faff about and hang on the line for weeks. This is not – as they claim “because of Covid” – this their SOP – standard operating procedure; Covid just makes a terrible service even worse. “Make it as hard as possible to cancel or downgrade so people give up and continue paying over the top for services”.

Don’t get me wrong, most Internet providers in the UK vary between poor and outright diabolical. I’ve written about some of them here. BT are high on the list of companies I’d never use again.

Compared to the rest, Virgin are – sadly – the best, no-one comes close, and they ask a premium for this. So far, so good, not going to knock Virgin for a premium price for a premium product. HOWEVER, if they tell me I can’t have an upgrade, because the good stuff is only for NEW customers, then I tend to get annoyed. It’s a statement that loyal customers are second-rate to them!

At this point we are not talking about prices and offers, we are talking about connectivity. As an existing customer I can have an upgrade to m200 for free (if I sign a new contract). Or I can have an upgrade to m350, for an extra £6 a month. Again, not a bad offer.

Or I can upgrade to m500 for… Ah, no, I cannot.

Still, I have their store page up now, and I can order gigabit. Woohoo!

 

Virgin gigabit interest at 62 quid a month

 

Or not!

(The upgrades may be possible via sales or other departments, but they are not possible via the Virgin media store or customer offers, and it is effectively not possible to contact Virgin, so it stands!)

If you notice, I am not logged in. I used a neighbouring house number to pretend I was a *drumroll* NEW customer. As soon as I log in, and they check – pttt, filthy muggle – it is purged from the basket and I am transferred to the offers they want me to sign up for. It’s actually rather devious, and aggravating.

What is even more aggravating, given we neither have, want, nor need the bundles of TV packages, is that the gigabit offer is ten times faster than our connection – and cheaper. I do not like getting the raw end of a deal!

“Introductory” offers needs labelling for what they truthfully are – entrapment attempts! Broadband, Gas, all the companies try it on. It’s a legitimate scam, basically. It’s not a scam in as much as you are getting what you are told, nothing nasty in the small print, and the contrast terms are set. But it is a scam in that they do not expect you to leave once they jack the price up to ‘normal’ rates – and up it once or twice a year thereafter. AND simultaneously make it infuriatingly difficult to leave, even outside the contract. Or especially outside the contract, perhaps.

Amazon do the same, as do many others. Sign up to the deal, free for x months, then leaving is not an option, it seems!


Business 101: leave them hanging on

This time around, it’s been around four hours on hold so far. Drained the battery on our phone, then I tried the web chat with instantly connect me – to a bot.

You’re now in a queue to speak to someone who can help. Our team is available every day 8am – 10pm. We aim to respond within 4 hours

 

Virgin media chat bot

 

Covid or not, waiting for hours on end is annoying. Now I’m sat twiddling my thumbs and waiting.

Yet if I call sales (as if a new customer), 3 seconds later a bright and happy voice is happy to help, which tells us just how little Virgin truly values it’s ‘captured’ customers!

We know that anyway, we are just fodder to them, to be milked by monthly direct debit forevermore. Otherwise they wouldn’t use foreign call centres to try and fob us off, while saving themselves money. Ho hum.

I look at all the many, many options available as a ‘new customer’ – offers far cheaper than that offered to a loyal customers. Then I look at the paltry selection of upgrades – (never downgrades though, is it) – and think, yep, capitalism at its worst.

PlusNet, £25 a month, Sky, £25 a month, Virgin, £27 a month. For the first 18, 24 months, that is. But after that, hike the price up to £63, or over £100 a month.

Well, about that, chum…

I don’t need the extra speed but it is annoying me inordinately that – because I’m already a customer and thus unworthy – I cannot upgrade to m500 or gigabit even if I wanted too. On which point, even 1,000Mbs, 10x faster – it cheaper than my monthly bill. Seriously?

So far, while hanging on the line, I have played on a computer game, worked on youtube videos, helped prepare the evening meal, and eaten it. Then I created artwork for this blog, wrote and proof-read it. Also fixed another page. And I am still waiting. And there it sits on the screen, mocking customers –

We’re here to help

Call us on 0800 064 3827 now, lines are open from 8am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 8am – 6pm on Weekends.

That’s sales by the way, not cancellations and complaints. They most certainly are not ready to help. Covid may well impact, but it has been like this for years. The bigger they get, the worse the service.

Heard it that before, sales are a different department, blah, blah, blah. Tell it like it is, sales puts money into Branson’s pockets, the rest, not so important, eh!


It is what it is

This awful level of service is a management decision, a cost-saving exercise. I know this because in the past it has taken me WEEKS to get that lot to answer. Chat, email, twitter, Nothing. I call sales, “Happy to help.” “I’ll like to cancel, “SLAM.” Not so happy to help. If you Google it, you see it’s a common complaint from customers and ex-customers, going back years. The bigger companies get, the less they care. It’s a numbers game, if the are small and need your money, you matter, over a certain size, you are cattle to them, less even than that. You are a number on a spreadsheet. Lose 100 customers, keep a million, gain 125 more, happy days. How it is.


Update and haggling

I most certainly was ready to walk away, if only for `18 months, but in the end, I appear to have got a deal, albeit slightly more expensive instead of a discount, but we’ll see.

First offer:

Mix tv ( upgrade 190+ channel)
weekends calls
M/100
48 pounds for 18 month.

Tempting, but I was intrigued by the lure of faster broadband. m100 is nice, but I used to have faster.

Second offer

Maxit tv package(240+ hd channel)
bt sports
M/100 broadband
weekends
60 pounds for 18 month.

Not so tempting. I had already explain we don’t really much scheduled TV, so paying more for scores of channels you wouldn’t watch is not a good deal, though it may be for others.

Also, apparently the phone app My Virgin Media is the easiest way to stay on top of your Virgin Fibre, TV and phone account, on the go. Maybe it has offers the regular web store does not. I neither have nor want a phone, so I wouldn’t know, but there if you use it.

You can access your bills, check the service in your area and find out what’s included in your package.

Second offer

Big bundle
Mixit tv package
1 Gig broadband speed
weekends calls
69 pounds for 18 month.

Might have been tempting to haggle further for the Maxit package (230 channels, including up to 50 channels in HD), but it’s not important to us or we’d have it already. Used to have it in fact and cancelled. The HD was nice, but you need a good TV for it, and better eyesight, alas.

 

 


See also: Brexit? Vexit? Walk away from a bad deal!

Ack

Been playing with computers since the stone age, online since the '80s, and developing websites since the '90s.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: