Room For Improvement

"Big companies should be seen to be squeaky and above board,
unfortunately so many of them just can't resist trying it on"

A Kind Of Fraud! One would think Richard Branson has enough money already and that companies operating under the auspices of the Virgin banner would be fair and morally decent! However, even though very helpful in some areas, it has become quite clear that Virgin Media have at least some policies in place that take advantage of their customers trust, robbing them of pennies here and pounds there, using a variety of devious ploys.

Unlimited Not Unlimited! For example, the unlimited calls that Virgin offer are not unlimited at all, in fact there is a limit of 60 minutes to each call and if you don't redial, after your 60 minutes you start getting charged quite substantially. The correct advertising phraseology should read along the lines of 'unlimited calls (up to 60 minutes at a time)'. But somewhat conveniently Virgin have consistently failed to come clean about this. I wonder how much this 'oversight' and omission in their advertising has made them over the years.

Moving the Goalposts! Virgin say they "reserve the right to vary the inclusive minutes and/or the countries included within the Talk International packages" and put the onus on the customer to regularly check the Virgin Media website where they will condescend to publish the changes. No doubt you will have to dig for them and of course most of us have got nothing better to do than to be on the Virgin Media website 'checking' every five minutes. This means they can have you over at any time and customers are completely unaware until they see the anomaly in the bills (if they do). Of course they're not the only ones that like to put the onus on the customer. Other companies, such as Santander and Virgin Mobile also like to use this ploy, knowing that customers are usually preoccupied with other things in life and can be less than vigilant as a result.

By Chance: I only found out about by chance about the excessive charges, taken without my knowledge, permission or agreement, when they tried to stitch me up on the installation of a replacement box, informing me it would be one price and then charging me substantially more, despite my previous three phone calls to make sure this didn't happen. It still did! On phoning for a fourth time to sort this out I queried my bill breakdown and was then informed that the price I had been paying per minute with my Talk International plan had doubled and in some instances had gone up to a pound a minute and was told 'tough, that's how it is. And so they helped themselves to quite a few additional pounds on that occasion. If I hadn't phoned about the other issue, it could have been substantially worse for sure. A few pounds here and few pounds there from the number customers they have, must give someone a nice little Christmas bonus.

How Rude! After enquiring as to who was responsible for this underhanded behaviour, the 'extremely hard to understand' customer services rep, probably located somewhere like Timbuktu, told me she would report my feedback. I was very patient with her during the laboured exchange of communications, but asked her repeatedly who was responsible. However, when she realised I wasn't going to be fobbed off with her limp response, her patience certainly ran out and she hung up on me!

Not All Bad! On a good note, Virgin Mobile have been especially good over the years. Customer services have always been exceptionally helpful in the past. They gave me a free package topup when I was in hospital and had used my call allowance and have helped my daughter on two occasions with data topup, where she had used her 1GB allowance whilst being away. So ten out of ten there.

Serious Money! I was caught out with the call divert from my landline to my mobile, which although it's unlimited Virgin to Virgin as advertised by them, is still limited to 60 minutes at a time. A friend of mine phoned me for a chat, it diverted to my mobile. Because i thought it was unlimited and we talked for more than an hour and I was then getting charged at 45p a minute. I was not impressed. On phoning to complain and ask why the unlimited Virgin to Virgin was limited and why isn't this properly made known, I was rebated half the substantial additional charges but, it shouldn't have happened. A now have an auto cutoff on my mobile to prevent a repeat, but they still managed to squeeze some serious additional money out me before hand.

Terms and Conditions: Customer services will normally tell you all of the information is tcked away in the terms and conditions, if anyone ever reads them, but key points should be clearly advertised up front, and that should not be too much to ask of any company that wants to be seen to be respectable, decent and above board.

Taking Advantage! Like any relationship, once you've been in bed with Virgin Media for a while you start find out about the undesirable elements. Of course they tell you want you want to hear, but it's what they don't tell you that's more the point. Once you've had some experience with them, you find out where the catches are, however, Virgin Media currently seem to have a deliberate upper management policy that says it is quite appropriate and acceptable to spin you a yarn and take advantage of you if you're a virgin!