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Consumer

Virgin Media–An update

If you read my last post, Virgin slower than HRT?, you’ll probably be wondering what has happened (and even if you don’t, I’m going to tell you anyway).

My actions had an immediate effect. Having sent the e-mail at about 9:45pm on Thursday, I received an e-mail response from the CEO’s office within an hour. On Friday morning, I received a phone call from the area network manager’s office to arrange a visit from the senior area network engineer to run diagnostics. This I arranged for the following Tuesday evening. On Friday evening, I checked our connection speed and found that it had picked up to an average of 9mb. This situation continued over the weekend and into Monday.

Tuesday evening and the area network engineer (Lee) arrived to run the diagnostics. Chatting with Lee while he was running the diagnostics, I discovered that the engineers had completed a major clean up of the area’s network on Friday (disconnecting ‘dead’ connections at street box level, so that they weren’t acting as aerials to feed noise into the network). On checking our speed and the diagnostic results, it looked like the engineers clean up had had the desired effect and that there were no major problems (there was a slight problem with our uplink signal to noise ratio, but Lee fitted a balun and promised to check the following day at the head end for any other problems). Since that Friday, we have had performance consistently over 8mb. Two weeks later, Lee rang to check that we’d had no further problems and to tell us that all the checks were now showing that we were getting good performance.

The performance continued through December and into January, so I decided to follow up on any possible compensation for our six months of sub 2mb performance. Another e-mail to the CEO, another phone call from his office the following day. They agreed that a goodwill payment was due and offered us a credit on the February bill which was equivalent to the difference between the price of six months 2mb broadband (which they no longer market, but is still used by some customers who haven’t upgraded to 10mb) and 10mb. This has resulted in our bill for February (we have TV, Phone and Broadband) being under £3.

We are now happy with Virgin Media, but there are some lessons to be learned.

  1. Respond to your customers and mean it – Through most of the time, I was either not getting a response, or getting a response that wasn’t followed through. I had to go to CEO level before I got what I felt was an appropriate response. What is the point of the forum and Twitter presence if they don’t or can’t respond promptly and seem unable to action an appropriate response.
  2. Keep the customer informed – If someone had been able to tell me that the engineers were trying to clean up the area network, I might have been a little less annoyed at the poor performance and a little more patient regarding the resolution. However, the standard response from the forum and Twitter were “it’s in the hands of our engineers” with no indication of completion date or what was being done. I have worked in the IT industry for nearly 30 years and can appreciate that these sort of engineering works can take time and may not be the solution, but until my conversation with the engineer, I was unaware that anything was being done.

Virgin Media, you have some wonderful staff (especially your engineering team, who I appreciate are having to try to deliver a good service over a disparate mix of hardware and network inherited from NTL and Telewest and are doing a good job), but in the field of customer service, you seem to be having problems delivering an equally good service. Satisfied customers are your best advertisement and they’re far cheaper that an ad campaign. It’s just a shame that I had to go to CEO level to get the kind of customer service that you should be striving towards to provide more consistently satisfied customers who might just sing your praises and pay off for you in the long run as ‘free(ish)’ advertising.

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