The infuriating, anxiety-inducing, blood curdling and downright frustrating experience of being a Virgin customer!

How to handle bad customer service – without blowing a gasket!  

Can you remember the last customer service experience that left you downright frustrated, with your blood curdling and anxiety levels peaking?

Not too hard, right? We all want to be treated with a level of respect, and with so many people veering on the edge of a boiling rage these days, all it takes is one frustrating exchange with a company’s representative to send you teetering over the edge.

This is what happened to me when I had to deal with Virgin Media recently.

I am, under normal circumstances, a very level-headed person who doesn’t lose her cool; I’ve developed strategies over the years that I share with my clients in terms of managing their behaviour to get the results they desire as losing your temper really doesn’t work.

However, I am still human, and I believe that I have every right to be fuming when VERY poor customer service comes into play!

Let me explain.

Whilst I was on holiday, Virgin Media emailed me to thank me for making changes to my package (whilst doubling the price!?) 🤬

Nope, I’d not been in touch with them! And I was less than happy to see the price hike!

18 months ago, I agreed a package that was due to expire on 2nd August 2022. I was advised in the letter that if I cancelled beforehand, I would incur costs.

I did reply to the email, but I doubt I will ever receive a reply. I tried to log into my account via the website but none of the passwords that they initially provided me with or I had a note of worked.

So I turned to the old-fashioned telephone call.

I had to abandon the first hold session after 10 minutes to join a meeting; I called back later
and after many ‘press this for that’ numbers and more waiting as my passwords wouldn’t work, followed by – yes, you guessed it – more waiting on hold, I got through to person number one.

I spent nearly half an hour on the call explaining clearly why I wanted to cancel my service with effect from 2nd August. The representative, however, continued to ignore my request and kept trying to sell me other packages, options etc and when I did think that I’d eventually successfully conveyed my message (let’s face it – the folk in the call centres are smart – I know they are, I’ve seen their CVs over the years!), she tried to put me through to another team to set up my new payment arrangements – oh good grief!! 🤬🤬🤬

I kept repeating that I wanted to cancel.  The message simply wasn’t going in.

She eventually told me that she could not authorise it and told me to call a different number and speak to someone who would be able to do this for me.

So, onto the next call. I duly rang the number and again made my request perfectly plain, to which I am told that I’ve been put through to the wrong person and need to speak to someone else! 🤬🤬🤬🤬

I got transferred.

To person number three, who also can’t / won’t authorise the cancellation of the contract with immediate effect and insisted that I have to give 30 days’ notice and that I would need to speak to someone else!

I asked to be transferred to a manager.

The representative can’t do that though, as she works from home! 🤬🤬🤬

I then ask her to confirm the cancellation with the 30 days’ notice, which is outrageous enough without the trauma of attempting to bloody cancel it!!!  I said that I would be taking it further and talking about this charade on social media.

I shared the experience on LinkedIn earlier in the week and got a huge response to it.  This clearly demonstrates how many other people out there have had the same experience with either Virgin or other corporate giants, particularly those operating within the telecoms sector.  You can see the comments and get involved in the chat, particularly if you have similar experiences to share here:

I still have the 30-day notice to sort out on a contract that ends on 2nd August 2022.  Go figure how you need to give notice on a contract that has ended in accordance with their own terms and the only point that was highlighted when the initial contract was confirmed was that I would have to pay money back if I cancelled early.

Everything they do is hidden. You can’t even find a number to call them on easily.  And, stupidly, after I’d spent half an hour on the phone to the first number I called, and following a call with my mum later, I discovered that it was costing ME to call them!  On further investigation, it turns out that it was costing me up to 19p per minute.  FFS!!  And it didn’t resolve anything.

I also discovered that my parents are paying even more for their Virgin service, or lack of, but due to a whole host of things going on for them right now, my mum doesn’t want something else to have to sort out.  Understandable, but it is simply not acceptable that Virgin take advantage of people like my parents, and others who don’t have the capacity or understanding of how to do anything about these things.

I now have this link to lodge my complaint and the following email address belonging to the Virgin CEO – I will be following this up.

In short, their customer service is NOT what it says on the tin.  And to further back this up, I have ignored 8 calls over the last couple of days from this number 020 3743 6946 and then today I decided to answer it to get rid of it.  I get SO many unsolicited calls that I generally ignore them as I know if that person really wants me, they will leave a message.

So, when it rang this time, I answered.

Caller: Hello, this is …. from Virgin Customer Service.

Me:  Oh interesting, you must have received my email, my complaint or seen my post on LinkedIn!

Caller: ………………………………………………………  (they had hung up!)

I think that ends and sums up my case, your honour!

What can we all learn in reflection:

  • Keep on top of your service providers and stand your ground when you want to leave unless you are happy to sign up with a CONSIDERABLY improved package.
  • Shout out about your issues and find a way to resolve them – if we ALL work together, they will have to bring about change.
  • Look at other options in terms of accessing the TV Freeview services, particularly if you are paying for Netflix and Amazon too. And if you don’t know much about it, ask around, I’m sure a friend will be able to help, or they may know someone who can.
  • Keep a check on all your utilities, contracts, insurance policies etc, and make changes. They rely on inertia and the ‘oh it’s too much hassle’ or, ‘I don’t know what I am talking about’ brigade amongst us.
  • Think again and take control.
  • Change your behaviour.
  • It takes long enough to earn the money, don’t let them hold you hostage or send you down a rabbit warren like they tried to do with me.
  • Stand firm.
  • It’s likely to be a pain in the ass, but the upshot is that you will feel better afterwards, and you will have solved the issue, saved money, got a better service / product / experience at the end of it.
  • And you WILL feel vilified once the anger and frustration has gone.
  • And share your experience. It helps others in knowing that they are not alone and that they can get help if they ask for it.

Stay tuned to find out if I have any joy / response from my official complaint!