Virgin on the Dishonest

Well, earlier this year when I was having problems with my broadband, I was told that my broadband speed was soon to be increased at no extra cost. I was told this would happen by October 2012. This was also confirmed on their website

Well, its now October and I’ve not heard anything from Virgin Media and my broadband speed has not been increased. So tonight, I have checked upon their website and it appears the upgrade has been delayed. Now its going to be done by August 2013, only some 10 months after they claim it was going to be done.

Never mind your adverts telling us how superfast Virgin Broadband is Mr Branson. Never mind your love affair with Usain Bolt. How about actually doing what you promised and upgrading the broadband speed?

It wouldn’t be so bad if you would bother to keep your customers informed as to what was going on.

I find it incredible that a 10 month delay in providing an upgrade when you are only on an annual contract is significant is it not? Clearly not to the Bearded self publicist.

The Virgin Media website states

Do I need to do anything now?

No, there’s nothing to do right now and no need to contact us. We’ll let you know as soon as there’s any news about your upgrade.

Clearly the 10 month delay is not “any news about your upgrade”

Could it be the lack of concern for customers that caused the Rail Regulators to reject sister company Virgin Trains application to renew their franchise?

I’m Spen666 and I’m an Addict

Tonight finally brought me to the realisation that I have an addiction. I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Well in the last couple of weeks, my cycling has not been as far as I wanted, but there is reason for this. The weekend of 11/12th February, my son came down to visit me. I had high hopes of lots of cycling, but the weather was against us. We had planned to ride to LVYCC meeting on the Saturday morning and then ride around Redbridge Cycle Centre during the club session. We also had plans to go out with some of the club committee on the Sunday Morning for a ride into Central London. Unfortunately, the weather meant the circuit at the cycle centre was closed as it was too icy.

Tom and I rode to/ from the cycle centre and did around 9 miles getting there and back. That was the only riding we did. It was decided to cancel the Sunday ride as it was likely to be too icy.

As any good parent would do with his student son, Tom and I hit the alcohol. A Stella Cidre session on the Friday night and then on the Saturday afternoon and night we had a jar or ten around Liverpool Street Station with some of the lads who had come down for the Newcastle game at Spurs.

We met them before the game and drank then and again after the game. In fact if truth be known, Newcastle were so bad that we were back in the bar during the second half of the game. Friday night we had 12 cans of Stella Cidre for £9 from the supermarket. On Saturday, 2 bottles of inferior cider cost £10. Is it any wonder that so many pubs are closing down. Ten bottles of cider in a pub would cost £50 but only £7.50 from the Supermarket. Hmmmm had to figure it out as to why people are not going to the pubs as often as they used to.

Tom left on the Sunday to head back to Sheffield for his University course in alcohol and women studies. I expect him to get a first in alcohol, but like most males, he’ll be luck to get a third in women studies. It was good to see Tom and spend some time with him. No longer do I need to be looking after him. It has moved from a father son to a friendship . But if you are reading this Tom, I’m still the boss.

On the Monday (13th Feb) I was only working a 1/2 day and had the Tuesday and Wednesday morning off work as well. Why you ask? Well, I had arrange with Michelle’s parents to surprise her for Valentine’s Day. I got the train to Newcastle on the Monday afternoon and then cycled the 10 or so miles to Michelle’s house. Her parents had arranged to visit Marks & Spencer for me and get their Valentine’s Dine at Home meal deal. Elizabeth had even cooked a meal for us on the Monday night so ensuring their was enough food for everyone.

Michelle’s face was a picture when she came downstairs in her house to answer the phone and heard my voice, eventually realising it was coming from the kitchen, not from London! A very pleasant Valentine’s Day was spent with Michelle, involving, visiting the rubbish dump oh and lunch at a lovely little coffee shop in Hexham.

(Still not the Hearth though is it Michelle? For around 18 months Michelle has been promising to take me for coffee in the Arts Centre in the Village she lives in, but not delivered yet!)

Then on Tuesday night we had the M&S meal which was fantastic value. It was good to spend time with both Michelle & Josh for dinner. Whether by design or by accident, Josh had arranged to be with one of his friends during the day on Tuesday, thus allowing Michelle and I time alone.

It was great to travel to Newcastle to surprise someone very special for Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday brought an early  start and a bike ride back to Newcastle Central Station for my train back to work. Sadly, I never got to work.

Despite feeling good on my ride to the station, as the train headed to London, I felt distinctly ill. I felt completely drained, so instead of heading to work I headed home to bed. Thursday was even worse and I never got out of bed. I felt a little better on Friday, but in the morning was not well enough to go to work. Fortunately, I continued to improve during the day as Michelle was coming down for the weekend.

We had a great weekend, spending  time in the pub and then a romantic meal for two from Dixy Chicken – actually I cooked a meal for us and surprisingly for Michelle it was edible. On Saturday, I treated Michelle by taking her to the greasy spoon cafe at Leyton before a no expense trip to see Orient lose at home to Scunthorpe.

“No expense?” I hear you say. Well that’s right as I got a free ticket for Michelle from my friends Tony & Lisa.

Saturday night we had a night in, just Michelle and I and three bottles of vodka. Admittedly not all the bottles were full at the commencement of the night. By the end of the night none of them were full. Once again, I had cooked a meal that was edible. Is there no end to my culinary talents

Sunday sadly meant Michelle had to go home, but before she did we spent a pleasant couple of hours in Greenwich. If you ever get the chance to go to Greenwich, I can recommend the food stalls there for your lunch. Its fantastic fare and so varied as well.

Monday was another day off the bike. This time because I was waiting for a plumber to arrive to fix the boiler. Did I say it wasn’t working over the weekend. Not sure how Michelle and I kept warm! The plumber arrived mid morning, but was unable to fix the heating as he needed to get a part for the boiler. So I took public transport into work as plumber was to return on Monday evening. It saved a bit of time to get public transport. The plumber returned on Monday night, fitted the new switch, but that did not fix the problem. So I have to wait until Friday to get the job finished. This is partly my fault as I was not available today, Wednesday or Thursday.

Still today I did manage to cycle to work and back Smile

So what about this addiction? Well if I said it was alcohol or football, then you’d all groan and say you knew that. No, at 11pm tonight I was out in the back garden cleaning my bike chain and washing my bike. As I was doing that, it dawned on me that these were not the actions of a reasonable sane man. These were the actions of a man with an addiction to cycling.

So in the style of Alcoholics Anonymous, My name is Spen666 and I am an alcoholic, sorry I’m a cycling addict.

Well Michelle, you were  wrong, I’ve managed to do a whole post without complaining or whinging on this blog about my repeated problems with Virgin Media and their doubling of my broadband speed from 10mbs to 20mbs which means I am now generally getting between 0.15mbs and 9mbs. Before they doubled my broadband speed ( at additional cost to me), I was generally getting nearly 10mbs.

Damn you Michelle, you made me mention this, and so I lose the bet.

Customer Service

Right, its back by popular demand, the Spen666 rant.

Today’s blog post is going to be a rant at several companies and their tactics or lack of customer service.



Recently, I came home to find a card from the Royal Mail saying they had tried to deliver a package but it was too large for my letterbox. The card said the package would be available for collection at the local delivery office. No problems, its only a couple of miles away. So the following day, after my post had been delivered ie > 24 hours after the card was left, I went to the Ilford Delivery Office to collect my parcel.

I joined the queue after having ensured that I had paid for my car parking and that I had the necessary proof of identity required by the Royal Mail. Eventually, I got served, only to be told that they did not have my package. Apparently the postman(woman) had not returned it to the delivery office, but not to worry “leave us your phone number and we will ring you to collect it when we receive it”. Not much good to me when I have to take time off work to attend at the delivery office as it is some 10+miles from my work and is not open when I return from work or set off for work. I therefore left empty handed, they did not even return the card, so I now cannot collect the parcel if I have another morning off work.

So, my questions to the Royal Mail are:

1. Where the F*%k is my package? If it is not at the delivery office, then who has it and what has the postman(woman) done with the same?

2. Why deliver a card telling me where and when I can collect the package and then you don’t have the package or know where it is?



I received a call recently at home from X at “American Express” purporting to tell me about their latest service for cardholders. He asked if it was convenient to talk now. I told him no, so he said he would ring back later. I said not to bother as I do not wish to have whatever the service was as I do not deal with unsolicited callers. I was then challenged quite aggressively as to how I could know I did not want the service. I’m not prepared to stand for my refusal to accept their service being challenged in an unsolicited call, so I spoke to a supervisor and made a formal complaint. All was going well when the supervisor said he would deal with the complaint and accepted my decision should not be challenged.

I asked for the outcome of my formal complaint to be notified to me in writing in accordance with American Express’s complaint’s procedure. Initially I was told this was not possible. When I referred him to the American Express complaint’s procedure, I received the surprising admission that he was not calling from American Express even though they had said they were initially.

So, it seems that not only do they screw up the economy, companies in the financial services are happy to have 3rd parties lying that they are American Express and mislead you.

I think this is a matter that the Financial Services Ombudsman may be interested in. I will wait to see what American Express have to say first to my formal written complaint, which I sent to their address, not to some 3rd party marketing company



This happened to me on Thursday evening when the CSMA telephoned my mobile number

“ This is X from the CSMA. Can I speak to Spen 666?”


“We are calling regarding our recent letter to you” [ Incidentally, I have not received a letter from them]


“Before we go any further can you just confirm…..[insert numerous pieces of personal data]

“ I do not give out personal data to unsolicited callers” [ I have no idea who the caller was and it could easily be a phishing]

“We are not asking for personal data”

“Ok, then what are you calling for”

“ we need to confirm ….[asks again for personal data from me] before I can proceed”

“I have told you that I do not give out personal data to unsolicited callers. How about if I ask you for…[requests same personal data from caller as she asked from me]”

“I’m not prepared to give you such information sir. The information I have requested I have in front of me.”

“well then, if a) you are not prepared to give me the same data, then I am not going to give you my personal data and b) if you have the information, you will not need me to tell you it”

“Ok sir, can you please call CSMA?”

“No, I have no reason to call CSMA”

“We need to speak to you regarding our letter”

“Well, speak away”

“I can’t”

“Well, if you are not prepared to discuss matters, then please stop calling me”

“I am prepared to discuss the matter sir”

“well go ahead then”

“I can’t until you confirm …[requests again personal data”

“I am not going to give personal data to you”

“We’ll call you back later then sir”

“What part of I’m not prepared to give personal data do you not understand. The answer will be the same whenever you call”


So, I have no idea of why CSMA (assuming it is them) called me or why they think I should call them. It would be a good call

“Hello CSMA”

“Good day, I’m calling you”

”why are you calling sir?”


Now CSMA seem to think the data protection act prevents them from speaking to me on the telephone, citing the need to ensure they are speaking to me. However, they are quite happy to put matters in writing and send it via the Royal Mail. Its not as if letters or packages have ever gone astray is it? I mean it has never been know has it? (who said see above)


I had a similar situation with E-on Energy when again they refused to speak. They sent me a letter which started “Dear Spen666, I refer  to our conversation of today’s date…” and went on to set out in writing the matters they wanted to talk about. So by their letter they accepted knowing it was me whom they were speaking to.


CSMA and other organisations, if you are not prepared to speak to me, then stop ringing me. I am not going to give out personal data to unsolicited callers, nor am I going to call your 08XX number to pay for the privilege of you speaking to me.

“I have no idea”


EAST COAST MAINLINE 1st Class Complimentary Offer

I travelled 1st class back to London tonight. now in first class their is supposed to be a complimentary food and drink service served at your seat. Indeed they announced this as the train left Newcastle.


Now I imagined that the complimentary food and drink service would perhaps include a drink of tea/coffee or water and perhaps say a sandwich or similar. Seems I was wrong.#The menu on the tables indicates that they would serve, sandwiches, crisps, cake and drinks. However, at the foot of the menu it says

“We may have to substitute or alter some items on the menu at short notice…”

So, it appears this have happened on my train.

The tea/coffee/ soft drinks have been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

The sandwich has been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

The cake has been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

The crisps have been substituted by NOTHING AT ALL

I’m sure that I am being unreasonable in not thinking the substitute items are equally worthy. I’m sure also that I am ungrateful for  not thinking it was worth the extra cost to receive nothing at all extra to those in standard class.

Than you East Coast for allowing me the honour of travelling at rip off cost on  your trains. I would call it a  train service, but it seems that the service element has been forgotten.


VIRGIN MEDIA – my request to increase my broadband speed

Don’t get me started again on Virgin Media. I rang them last week to ask the cost of increasing the broadband speed. When I was given the price, I said that BT could do it cheaper. I was told to go with them then! So much for customer retention. When I spoke to the customer retention (aka disconnection) team, I was told that I was wrong to ask to upgrade my broadband speed and that I did not need it and should stick with the slower speed!


Now to me, that’s a bit like going to Tesco’s to buy a pork joint and having the checkout staff tell you to put it back and to choose a vegetarian option instead as “its what you want”.


Virgin Media complaints section says on their website that they prefer to deal with complaints on the telephone rather than in writing, but they apparently do not have a telephone number for customers to use, nor can the customer retention team put your call through to the complaints team. I want a job on that team. It must be great dealing with complaints over the telephone when you do not have a telephone. Sounds as busy as the life of a public sector worker.


Still, all’s well that ends well with Virgin as I eventually called back & spoke to a nice gentleman who has doubled my broadband speed immediately and it will increase again in October to be 6 times faster than it was last week. No more buffering when downloading those ahem special films


NEWCASTLE UNITED FC – claiming to be a football team

This time Brighton did not need Trelford Mills to win a cup tie…….enough said.

Getting Close to a Virgin

Yes, I know what you are thinking, its another blog mentioning that company. Well, read on as this post is not what you’d expect to hear from me.

Lets go back to the dim and distant past of early December 2010 when I first reported a problem with my broadband connection. After weeks of being told the fault was with my computer or my connection, a visit from an engineer that still hasn’t turned up etc., I was told there was a fault in the area and it had been known about since at least 13th December.

Well over the last 2 months, I’ve had numerous conversations with Virgin and promises to refund each months broadband charges. However, I discovered last night that no refunds had been provided. I rang up and was told the fault would be fixed by 14th February and that a credit of £25.25 for February’s Broadband would be applied to my account. I was told I had to speak to customer services re the previous months.

I was put onto them and was told that I could only be refunded £30 of the £50.50 for December and January as there was a company limit of £55 credit on an account. I pointed out that if they had put through the refunds in December and January as they had promised then this limit would not have been reached!

I was then told I could not have a refund until the fault was fixed. Apparently I am expected to pay for something that I am not getting and can only have a refund if they ever fix the problem! So if they never fix it, I have to carry on paying for something I’m not getting.


Well, suffice to say I was not impressed with this. I was also less than impressed that my complaint of 26th January had not even been acknowledged.

So, I decided to email the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Virgin Media. I located his email address thank to this website CEO Email Listings. I emailed Neil Berkett the CEO at 23:22 0n 9th March. This morning at 08:47 I received an email from the CEO apologising and promising to get his team to look into this.

By 10:00 I had receive a call from Penny at Virgin Media to apologise for the lack of service and to discuss the issue and promising to

a) resolve the credit issue

b) find out why the problem exists and why it has not been fixed

c) call me back by 18:00 today to update me.

By 13:30 today, Penny had left 2 messages on my mobile phone. When I eventually was able to return her call, she advised me:

a) my account had been credited with the 3 months broadband charges . In fact credit was £80.50 even though charges were £75.75. [ This money will be added to the sponsorship total for the Police Unity Tour . Than you virgin, this is another £80 to add to the total]

b) what the cause of the problems are

c) when the problems are expected to be fixed by (18th February 2011)

Penny promised to keep this matter under review until I am satisfied the problem is resolved. Thank you Penny for doing what you have done.

This matter has been handled very well today. It is simple to get it right:

1) An apology for what you have done wrong

2) An explanation of what you are going to do to put it right

3) an appropriate offer of compensation – in this case simply refunding the charges made during the time the service was not working properly.

Virgin have got it right today and the CEO and Penny deserve credit for this. Hopefully the fault will indeed be fixed by next Friday, and even if it is not, I have been told how Virgin will resolve the issue then.

Well done Virgin Media and thank you.

There you go, its something you never expected to hear from me!

Watch this space for more on the Virgin saga. Hopefully next week I will be telling you its all resolved and I have a proper working broadband again.

More of My Family & Other Animals


Well last night, I arranged to meet my Auntie & Uncle who live in Blackburn. I was staying in nearby Preston so it seemed a good idea to see them for tea. Fortunately they were able to join me.

We arranged to meet in a local public house near my hotel. When I got there, I had a pleasant surprise as their eldest child, my cousin Chris was there with his wife Linda. They were over from Ireland for the week and off to see Chris’ beloved Blackpool at home to West Ham on Wednesday night.

It was good to see Chris and chew the fat about football. Chris was eyeing the pub TV all night desperate to know if Charlie Adams was to leave Blackpool – fortunately for Chris, he wasn’t. Shame the same couldn’t be said for Andy Carroll and Newcastle.

I was right that is was a good idea to see my auntie and Uncle. sadly I get to see to little of them. My life seems to not have enough hours in it to fit everything in. I seem to spend a lot of time travelling to and from  places at present.


Well, I was going to write today’s blog entry on the train as I speed back from Preston aboard the Virgin trains service. Sadly, the free Wi-Fi service appears to be about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Normally Wi-Fi is available only to first class users, but for a limited period, the hoi polloi in 2nd sorry, standard class are able to access it free as well. Sadly, the capacity does not appear to be sufficient for everyone to use it. It reminds me of how far the internet has come in 10 – 15 years. Remember dial up modems and waiting ages for pages to down load? Well the Virgin Wi-Fi is obviously a retro service!

So, I’m typing this off line and I will post it when I get home to my rather good Virgin media broadband service. Sorry , for “rather good” please read “totally bloody useless”. I wrote to Virgin last week inquiring how many months they intend to charge me for a broadband service they do not provide. I wonder what their reply will be, if they reply at all?

Well, I’ve had two days in Preston working as part of our review of the capacity and capability of the CPS Complex Casework Units. It is interesting to be reading some of the more serious and high profile cases that are prosecuted and to learn the real facts behind the stories in the news re court cases. The truth rarely bears and resemblance to that which is reported in the media. It seems to matter not what the politics of the newspaper are. Sensationalism is deemed more important than the truth. The headlines on a story again often bear little resemblance to the detail in the story.

I was in the East Midlands on the day the Complex Casework Unit discontinued the case against the last six power station protestors. The case has had many column inches in various media outlets, including in the Guardian . The reality is very different from some of what has been published, but the reality would not make for sensational stories and lurid tales.

Today’s media is a good example of this. The transfer deadline for football passed at 11pm last night in England meaning no transfers can be done between now and the end of the season. There were a number of high profile transfers involving silly amounts of money. The papers are all trying to outdo themselves with ever more sensational accounts of what happened. Few papers seem to be looking closely at what happened and holding the protagonists to account. I have to make an exception to that for Sam Wallace in the Independent newspaper who has tried to look beyond the headlines and spin to report on and make sense of the hype surrounding the transfer of Andy Carroll aged 22 and holder of 1 England cap and scorer of only 11 Premiership goals in his career for a record breaking £35 million pounds from Newcastle to Liverpool.

This is an incredible amount of money for a player that last season was struggling to make the centre forward position his own at Newcastle then in the Championship (2nd tier of English football). He has not played European football and has recently been in court twice for drink related violence. [He was acquitted on one count I have to put the record straight]

Having read the comments on social media sites regarding the deal, it appears that for most people the art of thinking through what they read and reaching a considered judgement is something they are not capable of. There are many knee jerk reactions to news headlines. It seems that many people do not get beyond the headline of a story before jumping to a conclusion. This applies to all areas of life, not just football, but to celebrity news stories, politics, the economy and the law.

You can see why people place such a high priority on spin and media sound bites. Its part of the dumbing down of society in general. People want their media like everything else- instantly and requiring no effort.


Well, after returning home from Preston, I had time to open my post and then head back out to Leyton to watch the O’s against the table toppers Brighton. As many of you know, Brighton is famous for the number of gays living there. Well last time they came to Orient, their away kit was a lovely shade of pink! nothing like like living up to your reputation .

This time they did not play like anything other than a bunch of thugs in their white kit. Appropriately really as they looked kit wise like Leeds under Don Revie who were nothing more than a bunch of thugs!

I have to mention the referee tonight who was rather poor to say the least. In the first half after the Brighton keeper tipped a shot over the bar, the referee applauded the keeper!!!! What is that about? I thought referees were supposed to be neutral.

The referee gave very little Orient’s way, and in the second half he turned down a stonewall penalty appeal when An Orient player way pushed over in the penalty area. The referee had a good position to see the incident, but for some reason he did not give it. It was the clearest penalty I’ve seen in a while.

The game ended as a 0-0 draw, which before the game would have been a result I’d have taken. This is partly because Brighton are top of the table and partly because they beat Orient 5-0 on Boxing Day. As Orient have announced that priority for tickets for the cup tie with Arsenal is to be given after season ticket holders, to those who have ticket stubs from tonight’s game and the next home game, it was no surprise that Orient suddenly have gained a few more so called supporters. The crowd was nearly 3000 higher than last Tuesday’s home game.


Wednesday night its off to Fulham to see Newcastle v Fulham in the Premiership.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Media & The Truth–”Yet to be Acquainted”

Those of you who have followed this blog will be aware of the on going battle I seem to be having with Virgin Media to get them to provide the broadband service I am paying for them to supply.

I realise that it is totally unreasonable of me to expect that when I pay Richard Branson to provide me with broadband, that his company should be expected to provide it. Clearly, Virgin Media will make more profit if they take the money and do not provide the service.

The fault is such that at times, I can’t get internet access, at other times, I get very slow internet access or intermittent access. It means that it is difficult to use it for internet banking or to buy things online as the service is likely to suffer outages whilst doing the transaction.

So, despite ringing several times since early December reporting this fault and being told: –

  • a) was a modem fault
  • b) was a line fault now fixed
  • c) was a fault with my computer
  • d) there was no fault at all
  • e) there was a fault in the area that would be fixed in next couple of days (this was weeks ago)

Well tonight, I decided to check the faults section on Virgin Media’s website. The message below was what is on the website after I logged in and entered my account details.

Service status

Your Service Status for telephone number 020 XXXX XXXX Saturday 22 January 2011, 21:44
There are no known problems affecting your Broadband service.
  • If you are still having issues with your services why not try to find your answer in our help area.
  • Alternatively you could search questions and answers from other customers in our
    Help & Support Forums.

However if these do not solve your problem then please let us know by contacting us free on 151 from your Virgin Media Phone or call 0845 454 1111 from any other phone line.

So, when I rang Virgin Media and spoke to the obligatory overseas call centre representative, I was surprised to be told there was a known fault in the Area affecting broadband services and it was likely to be so until at least February. I queried this only to be told the website was correct! I then queried why I had just been told there was a fault in the Area if there are no known problems affecting my broadband service. I was told there was a fault!

Confused? So was I (and I still am). According to the Virgin representative both statements are true. There is a fault, it is known about and yet it is not a known problem.

I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told that I could not speak to one! Interesting idea of customer service? The call was terminated.

I called back and asked to speak to a supervisor and again spoke to someone in a foreign call centre once again. I was once again told that there was a fault in the Area and it had been this way for several weeks. I was also told the website was correct. I was still confused. I asked to clarify the issue as to exactly what they were saying as this matter was heading to litigation if it was not resolved. At this point, the supervisor terminated the call!

Yet another call back to Virgin Media and this time a very sympathetic female at the foreign call centre. She told me there was indeed a fault and it had been known about since mid December. She offered me a credit to my account – I said I did not want money, I just wanted the service repaired. The matter was left that she would raise it as an escalated complaint.

Whilst I was on the phone in the last call, there was a missed call on my mobile phone. There was a voicemail message from the supervisor I was speaking to in the last call saying inter alia that “the line had dropped during the call” – strange it was immediately I mentioned  possible legal proceedings. He also said he would call me back in 30 minutes. this message was left at 22:17. So, it would be reasonable to expect a call around 22:47? Well, its now gone 00:17, some 120 minutes later – and guess what? Yes, you’ve guessed it, no call.

What to do about this? Well, I already have one county court action against Virgin over their missed appointment last December. I think this time I will be putting a letter to them and see what they have to say for themselves. If they do not respond, then I will issue proceedings. I have already had to buy a mobile broadband dongle to ensure I have internet access. The cost of this and using it I will be recovering from Virgin.

I have been wondering to myself if part of the problem with Virgin Media is their use of foreign call centres. I am convinced that their call handlers do not understand English. Perhaps this explains why they seem to think it is correct to say on their website there are no known problems, but say on the phone there is a known fault. Perhaps it would explain why they then argue repeatedly that the two statements are not contradictory and both are true.

I’m sure the language issue cannot help and Virgin Media may find its customer satisfaction rating rises above 0% if they had call centres staffed by people who speak English as their first language.

So Bearded one, are you going to introduce your staff to the truth?

[tweetmeme only_single=”false”]

Virgin on the Ridiculous (Aka Virgin are ridiculous)

Well, its been a while since I last posted on here. I know some of you will be glad for that. Why the silence? Well contrary to rumours following my last post, I have not gone yet. Nor is it because I have done nothing – its never stopped me blogging before.

No, the reason is because those clowns at Virgin media are unable to supply an internet service that works. Those of you with a long memory will recall me posting about internet problems before Christmas and how Virgin arranged an engineer to call out and then on the day cancelled the engineer despite telling me originally he was on his way, but running late when I queried why he had not attended. Good old Virgin Media not only fail to do what they agreed to do, but they lie about what they are doing. After the engineer had been cancelled, why tell me he was on his way but running late?

Well since I returned back to London last Monday, the internet problem still remains. I have made at least 6 calls to Virgin on 2 separate days in the last week. Every call results in me being told a different story about the issue, from it being my computer at fault, to there is no problem and that having an intermittently working connection is all I can expect.

Tonight, I was told that apparently there was a fault in this area and their engineers were working on it and fault had existed for 2 days. When I pointed out my problem was initially reported on 18th December , i.e. some 22 days ago so this could not be the cause of the problem, more waffle occurred before the call handler went off to carry out another test and never returned. Perhaps he was coming here in person from India.

A second call going over all the test  the initial call had done was also unsuccessful as the cordless phone went flat as a result of being used so long today to call Virgin.

A third call again repeated all the other tests etc. before I was told the reason for the problem was that Virgin engineers were apparently improving my service by increasing the server capacity. So, improving service is done by providing a service that doesn’t work? Interesting idea Mr Branson- seems your media service is as successful as your balloons were.

Further questions were asked

Me “ Why is it taking so long to fix my service?”

Virgin “It is taking so long because we are working to increase the server capacity”

Can you explain how that answers the question?

Me “ Why if the problem existed only a couple of days ago have I not had a reliable service for 22 days?”

Virgin “ Our engineers are working to increase capacity”

Would it surprise you to learn that the call handlers were not from England?

The matter was left that Virgin are to refund me the last month’s broadband fee and claim they will have the problem fixed in 3-5 days. As I am busy over the next few days, I’ll wait to see. I am prepared to wager a large sum that it won’t be solved though. I will wager an even larger sum that Virgin won’t even reimburse me the money that they promised.

Oh and as for the missed engineer’s visit last year: –

a) Virgin have not yet arranged a new appointment, or even offered to arrange one

b) Virgin have filed an acknowledgement of service indicating they intend to defend the claim I brought against them. It will be interesting to see what there defence is. Firstly they never notified me of the cancellation of the appointment and then they lied on the day to claim the engineer was still coming but running late in a call at approximately 12:30 when engineer’s appointment was between 08:0 and 12:0. So they clearly must have deliberately lied in the call at 12:30.


Happy Customers

Another Satisfied Virgin Customer

Well, what else have I done? I managed 3 days cycling this week. Tuesday and Friday return commutes to work and on Saturday I rode up to the club session at Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club which is held every Saturday at Redbridge Cycle Centre . I wasn’t due to be there on Saturday, but I realised I had not dropped off the diary for the recording of club sessions etc. So, to rectify this I had a quick ride up there and dropped off the diary.

Once there, I remembered there was to be a visitor from Evans Cycles to discuss their Ride it weekend in March when they want to use Redbridge Cycle Centre for their event. They however seem to have forgotten that we at LVYCC have the circuit booked for the morning and Evans cannot simply flex their muscles and expect us to simply cancel our session for the day. After some negotiations, I think we have reached a compromise solution that all can be agreed upon. We are waiting for Evans now to confirm the heads of agreement in writing.

A consequence of my being at that meeting was I missed a text message from my Barnsley mates John & his daughter Hannah who were coming down to East London to see Barnsley play at West Ham. The supporters bus had stopped in Ilford for drinks before the game and John was inviting me for a drink. Sadly, by the time I saw the message, there was insufficient time to get there for a drink before they set off for West Ham’s Upton Park.

Saturday was the day I was going to Stevenage to watch Premiership Newcastle, fresh from their 5-0 thumping of West Ham, progress into the 4th round of the FA Cup. It was to be a certainty as Stevenage only got into the football league this season and are struggling in the 4th tier. Drinking in the bars in Stevenage brought the great news that the Mackems had lost at home to league 1 Notts County and the Child molesters from Middlesbrough had thrown away a lead to lose at league 2 Burton Albion. This had all the makings of a great day out.

It got better in the ground when the legend that is Kevin Keegan came past the away end walking to the main stand. He still gets the reception that befits a Toon legend. I have to say he is still my hero. Could the day get any better?

Sadly the answer is no. The 11 players representing Newcastle were a disgrace to the shirt and produced a performance lacking any  effort or skill. It was still 0-0 at half time only thanks to luck. I think Newcastle had one chance in the whole half. Never mind Alan Pardew would sort the team out at half time and we’d win comfortably. Well 10 minutes into the 2nd half, and I was heading back to the town centre for the train home. We were 2-0 down and looked like we would never score in a month of Sundays. It was dreadful to watch and I had no intention of staying to watch.

By the time I had walked back to the town centre and got a quick pint the situation had got worse. Newcastle were now down to 10 men after Tiote was sent off. By the time the game ended, I was already on a train back to London and Newcastle had lost 3-1.


The Newcastle players should be ashamed of themselves. Losing is one thing, but to lose in the manner they did, with no commitment, passion or effort displayed by any of them. The players do not deserve the support of the Toon Army who supported their team for the full 90 minutes.

Wembley it ain’t

What else has happened in the last week?

Well, I have managed to just about figure out how to use my head cam. I need to adjust the angle of the camera slightly but think I have it sussed now. It is not brilliant at night time. I think a camera with a much higher frames per second rate is needed . I may of course be completely wrong. The filming during the daylight however is excellent and I can’t wait to use it more. Sadly (or fortunately?) there was nothing to post of any interest from Friday/ Saturday’s ride.

Re work issues – matters there are still on going. I have taken some advice on things. Unions do have their benefits. Yes, those of you who thought I was to the right of Genghis Khan politically will be shocked to know I am a paid up card carrying member of a trade union.

I had to break the news to Michelle that I was not going to be in Newcastle for work this coming week. Sorry baby- sometimes life is sh*t. Instead, I will be heading to Newcastle at the weekend to:

a) See Michelle – which is the highlight of the week

b) See Spennymoor Town play at Ryton supporters-club-002-255x300

c) See Newcastle United at the Mackems – the biggest game of the season. They will be desperate for revenge after the 5-1 humiliation in October. Both sides were of course humiliated on Saturday in the FA Cup and will be seeking to bounce back.



Hopefully the weekend will produce lots of scoring opportunities Winking smile



A bloke walks into a brothel and says: “I’m a bit kinky, how much for total embarrassment?”
The madam replies £150.00.
“Wow, what do I get for that?” he says.

She says: “A baggy green cap and an Australian Cricket XI shirt.”See more

The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth?

I was watching the television today when there was an advert on for Tetley tea with the following slogan:

‘Tetley, We don’t make tea for anyone else’

Well I thought to myself, that’s bullshit I know at least 3 other people who drink it.


It set me thinking about the other lies and misleading statements around us. For example we spend 11 1/2 months of the year terrifying our children about paedophiles and the remaining time we encourage them to get excited about a fat old man with a beard coming into their bedroom in the middle of the night. Just what are we teaching children?

Virgin Media and the truth are two things that are not known to each other very well. I am currently experiencing problems with my broadband connection. I called Virgin on Saturday and they arranged an appointment for an engineer to call out today (21st December) between 0800 and 1200.

Yesterday morning Virgin called me to confirm the appointment was still needed. So far so good. Yesterday, I got something like 40 text messages from Virgin between around 1700 and 1800 all stating Virgin were having problems in keeping their appointments. Some stated that Virgin would call if there was a problem with my appointment.

So by 1230 today, no engineer had called, so I rang Virgin, spoke to someone who spoke to the engineers team and told me the call was live and the engineer was running late but would be coming today. When I asked when and asked why I had not been called given they could not keep the appointment slot, answers came there none.

I called back almost immediately, spoke to a different person in the same department who told me the appointment had previously been cancelled.

a) He could offer no explanation as to why I had not been called to be told this.

b) He could not advise when the appointment was cancelled

c) He told me the people who knew the answers to the above questions were the engineers team, but I could not speak to them as they were not taking calls! Yes they were refusing to tell people what was going on.

d) He advised me the previous person I spoke to had typed in the notes to say they had told me the appointment had been cancelled.

e) He advised me Virgin Media would not consider any compensation for the missed appointment nor for the failing to call. This despite the fact they accept I have had to take a day off work to be here, and will have to repeat this again at a future date in the event that Virgin do bother to re-arrange this appointment.

So, Virgin Media, I would ask you: –

1. Why did you cancel my appointment after confirming it yesterday and texting me last night repeatedly?

2. Why did you not contact me at any stage to advise the appointment had been cancelled?

3. When exactly was this appointment cancelled?

4. Why when I telephoned you, after the appointment slot was I told the engineer was on his way still, despite it having already been cancelled?

5. Why do you employ dishonest staff who record on the notes they have told me that the appointment had been cancelled, when they had done precisely the opposite?

6. Why do you think you can ignore the loss you have caused to your customers, and refuse even to consider any compensation?

Whilst you are thinking of the answers to these questions Mr Branson, you can deal with the small claims court summons that has now been issued against your company. I am not prepared to waste my time in correspondence with your company when you have told me point blank that you will not even consider compensation for your causing me to lose a day’s work unnecessarily.

I am repeatedly amazed at companies that have no idea of how to treat their customers. This situation would never have arisen if :

A. Virgin had rung and said “sorry we can’t keep today’s appointment owing to the weather”.

B Having failed to ring, they hold their hands up and make a token gesture of apology, say 1 months free broadband. This would cost them perhaps £25 or less.

Instead they lie about what is happening and then refuse point blank to consider recompense for their actions (or lack of them).

I think too many companies rely on customers inertia and the customers failing to pursue matters. Write to many companies complaints departments and you get generally unhelpful letters fudging the issue and refusing to compensate customers.

As consumers, we need to fight back and remind companies who is in control. The simple remedy is to issue a claim in the small claims court. This can be done online at It costs £25 to issue a claim for up to £300. This court fee is recoverable from the other side. There are no other costs involved. If you lose the case, you do not have to pay any costs of the other side and vice versa. The small claims court is designed to be simple and to keep lawyers out of it.

Simply put, it is rarely worth companies defending these claims as it will cost them more than the amount you are claiming. The  small claims court is a very underused process. All you do is:

a. type in your name & address,

b. the name and address of your opponent (if Ltd or PLC, then their registered office address)

c. State your case in less than 1080 characters

d. Pay the issue fee online

The court will issue the proceedings and serve them on the opponent. The opponent then has 14 days to file a defence. The process is on the website I gave you, if needed. However, often after issuing proceedings you will be contacted by the opponent looking to resolve the matter.

Fight back against bad service, take control and issue proceedings in the small claims court. Don’t accept second best or bad service.



Well, apart from fighting with Virgin Media, what else have I done today?

I know some of you won’t believe me, but I have done some work. Quite interestingly, I have had to look up some references and stories online relating to recent criminal cases and finds what references there have been to a couple of people involved in recent criminal cases. This was quite interesting as it brought up references to criminal cases that I had forgotten about.

I have also spent a couple of hours wrapping Christmas presents. Given that Michelle has assisted me in Christmas shopping and has numerous presents for people from us at her house, I seem to have more presents here than I have ever had before. I think I must have gone for quantity not quality this year.

I will confess that I am the world’s worst present wrapper. Its only matched by my lack of skill in choosing presents. Michelle, a sister and a mother to guide me, as well as good help from my ex wife. Where would we be without females to help us choose presents.




A Muslim wearing a rucksack walks into a bar. He orders a pint of lager and everyone realises that he’s integrated perfectly well into society and has been out hill-walking