Monday, 7 February 2011

Virgin's ring extension

12/12/2009 - my last entry. I never was any good at commitment. The problem is finding things to write about, and then summoning the energy to type. But now my page views have smashed through the important 60 barrier, it's time to get back on the horse.

It's been an interesting 12 months since my last entry, but little has really enraged me quite like the company that inspired the below letter: Virgin Media. They do our phone and internet. It's not a choice, because despite only living an ambitious jog's length from Guildford, the only internet we can get that can handle the important things like porn video lectures and YouTube is provided by Virgin. We can get the phone service from anyone, but thought we'd package the two to save money. It didn't really work out, but when I think about the difficulty of switching to someone else I emit this noise: eeeeeeuuuuyhhhhhhhh.

So, Virgin. Their phone service is, I suppose, fine, except for one crucial thing... the phone only rings three or four times before going to voicemail. I tried to change this, by paying an extra £2 a month, but nothing happened. On Saturday, I broke before Lia's pestering and eventually picked up the phone to call them. This letter to the Virgin complaints team was the result...

I had a simple problem - I didn't know my Voicemail Plus passcode and I needed to extend the number of times my phone rung before it cut to voicemail, because, infuriatingly, my phone would only ring three or four times. I attempted to resolve this in December, and was told then that to make my phone ring more than three or four times, I needed to pay an extra £2 a month – quite a racket you have, Mr Branson.

I dutifully paid, being the corporate schmuck I am. I was told when paying in December that my ring-time would be extended. It wasn’t. Fast forward to today. I had been putting off ringing customer services because there’s only so many times you can be put on hold for 15 minutes without tearing your hair out – and I don’t have much to spare. Today, after the umpteenth missed phone call because of your crazy three-ring policy, I contacted customer services to get it extended.

Phone call 1: Was told to extend the ring time I needed to access my voicemail via 1571 and manually change it. Fair enough. I dialled 1571 and was asked for a passcode. I was never given a passcode.

Phone call 2: Endeavouring to discover my passcode I was put through to a seemingly helpful Scottish man. He told me my passcode was 2223. Fair enough. I dialled 1571 and entered 2223 – wrong.

Phone call 3: Getting angry, I rang again, and I ended up speaking to an Indian guy. Again, he very pleasantly told me my passcode was 4828 (last four digits of my phone number) and if that failed, 0000. Fair enough. I dialled 1571. Not only did 4828 prove to be wrong, but so did 0000.

Phone call 4: With beads of rage sweat snaking down my face, I called 150 again and ended up shouting down the phone to a poor Indian woman. She couldn’t help me and put me on hold for 15 minutes. Eventually someone from your technical team by the name of Chris picked up. I was obviously being a bit terse because he decided to cut me off.

Phone call 5: Honestly, I’m delirious by this stage. My Saturday is disappearing in a fog of confusion and rage. I’m helpless. I started laughing hysterically for no reason. My family is frightened of me. They can’t understand why Daddy is crying. I call 150 again and am put through to another Indian woman. I’m over anger by now. You’ve broken me Branson. Somehow the mixture of hold music and the oddly beautiful medley of Indian and Scottish voices has me just monosyllabically and monotonously answering the questions put to me. The woman listens to me, but says she needs to call my house phone to check the voicemail system. Fine, but to keep the conversation going she needs to call my mobile. This presents a problem - mobile phone reception where I live is terrible. If I agree to this course of action, I know she won’t get through and I won’t get a call back on my house phone. I’m not prepared to risk it, and tell her we can’t do the mobile thing. I’m clinging to her – she’s my liferaft. Fine, she says, and puts me on hold. Then she comes back on and says she can manually change the password. I say fine, and give her the four digits. On hold again. Eventually she comes back on and says the code has been changed. Halle-fucking-lujah. I dial 1571, enter the passcode. IT WORKS! I listen to the voicemail options presented to me, but none mention extending the ring time. I go through every. single. option. None work. Right.

Phone call 6: After more than 10 minutes on hold I find myself back in Britain and talking to a Scottish woman, who, again, seems very nice. She tells me I can change the ring-time through my voicemail system. I explain that I can’t. She puts me on hold. She comes back a few minutes later and tells me they’ve extended the ring time from their end, to a maximum of 10 rings. This change will take effect in 24 hours, she says.

There you have it. Six phone calls, one and a half hours, and finally an answer to my original query. A result, I think you’ll agree, and a fine example of human and corporate efficiency.

One thing, though – if I don’t have 10 rings in 24 hours, I’m buying a tent from B&Q and doing a Brian Haw on you Branson. I swear to god, I will camp outside your office day and night until I get my 10 rings. I WANT MY FUCKING RINGS.

Still waiting for a reply...

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