Virgin Media; Overcharging and Sending the Bailiffs

When I moved house in August, I needed to get a broadband connection in. For a while I managed to use my neighbour’s unencrypted wireless, but I concluded I really needed to get my own connection.

I would have got Be Unlimited; which is very fast, and a very good deal. Unfortunately, BT said there was no line installed (even though I can see one….) and it would cost me £150 to install a phone line. The only option to avoid this charge, was get cable internet, now available through “Virgin Media” (what used to be NTL, Blueyonder, Telewest and the rest of them).

At the time Virgin Media were running an offer, that would provide 2Mbit cable broadband, for £10/month (for the first year) – this is a really good deal. I was unsure, because of reports of how terrible Virgin Media’s customer service was, and also talk of them throttling users during peak hours. In the end I decided to bite the bullet and ordered!

I ordered online, and was expecting my “Welcome pack” within a few days. In the end it didn’t come, so I called them up. Something had gone wrong, said the lady on the phone, because of them transferring their computer systems. She sorted it out, and promised that I would have my welcome pack in a few days. Sure enough, it arrived. The only thing was there were two of them! The courier noted this too, and we decided that he should take one of the welcome packs away.

So I get to installing everything… it didn’t work. Each welcome pack contains a cable modem, each of these has its own unique ID number. Unfortunately I sent back the one with the right ID number, so until I spent about £30 on phone calls to Virgin it didn’t work. They did sort it out eventually. During all these phone calls, it was obvious that they had created two “back office” accounts in my name – for one of these my name was “Lintley” rather than the correct “Lindley” – I told them several times about this, and they assured me that they had fixed the problem of the two accounts, they were very sorry, and everything would be fine.

At this point; I have paid Virgin Media a £25 one-off debit card payment. They told me this would be deducted from my bills. I had also given them my bank account details to set up a direct debit payment, and got confirmation back from them about that.

On the 24th October (according to my bank statement) Virgin Media took £34.80 from my account. This is in addition to the original £25 one-off payment. So since ordering at the end of August, I have paid them £59.80. Remember this contract is meant to be £10/month!

The next thing I know; I receive two bills. Photos of the two bills I got (at the start of November) are below. Obviously Virgin Media had not fixed the dual-account problem; each bill has a different account number. And they say drastically different things.

virginmedia-bill-1-medium.jpg

According to this bill, Virgin Media owe me, £28.35. I don’t know how they arrived at this figure, but I think it is probably correct. I had had the service 3 months, so that should have cost me £30. If you subtract what Virgin Media say they owe me from what I’ve actually paid; it leaves you with £31.45 – very close to what it should be.

HOWEVER!

At the same time I received the above bill I got this one;

virginmedia-bill-2-medium.jpg

As you can see, it is a different account number, and they’re claiming that I owe them £15. Given that the monthly bill should be £10 – I had no idea why they were saying £15. I decided I would ignore this, and let Virgin sort it out themselves, as it is obviously their mistake.

That was the wrong thing to do, 10 days late I got this letter, with reference to the £15 in the second bill, saying that my services will be disconnected and the file passed to debt recovery agency. Immediately I telephoned Virgin’s customer service people to ensure that they did not do this. They said (again) that they had fixed the double-account problem, and cited the merger of computer systems as the cause. Ok, I thought, the bailiffs won’t be calling, my credit file will be untarnished and so on. Think again…..

disconnection-letter-medium.jpg

When I spoke to Virgin about this they assured me that they understood it was their problem, and that it was all sorted out. They said I would not have my details passed to the debt recovery people, and they acknowledged it was not my fault and I did not owe them any money.

Lo and behold a few days later I get this letter;

debt-recovery-medium.jpg

So, it seems, Virgin Media have not ‘called off the dogs’. There will be plenty of angry phone calls flying out of my phone on Monday!

All of these errors are very annoying, scary, and potentially will end up with lots of ‘black marks’ on my credit file. However the shambles doesn’t end there. During my telephone correspondence with Virgin Media last week; they claimed that the offer (£10/month) that I signed up for never existed. “I’m sorry sir, we never had any offers at that price, your service costs £18/month”. There is plenty of proof available on the internet that the offer did exist.

I’m at a loss, this feels like Virgin Media are willfully trying to steal my money.

A few phone calls later; for no apparent reason the agent I was speaking to decided that the offer did exist, and said she would apply an £8 discount to my account, for the next 6 months. At which point I will have to call up again, and ask for the discount again.

I’ve found out I’m not alone, there are hundreds, if not thousands of very dis-satisfied Virgin Media customers writing about their experiences all over the web.

I’m extremely angry about being overcharged, but that seems to be the lesser of the issues. Effectively Virgin Media have stolen my identity. They’ve created two accounts in my name, at my address, and they’re threatening to come into my house and take my possessions. This if pretty rich, considering at the moment; they owe me money!

I’m in a right old Branston pickle, and I’m very angry about it.