VIRGIN ON THE UNBELIEVABLE
We’ve been Virgin customers since Virgin was NTL. We’ve always had the 3-deal package with them (TV, Phone, Internet) and 2 years ago I rather fancied having a Blackberry phone to keep up with the rest of the world. And the deal was great – even cheaper at £15.00 per month than I was paying for my trusty old top-up and go machine. 2 years with something you love isn’t time wasted and the only hiccough I’ve had with it was about a month ago when my ‘alt’ key stuck which meant I could do nothing with it whatsoever. The nice lady we spoke to told us she’d post us a prepaid envelope to return it and if it couldn’t be mended then I’d get a replacement.
All of this happened. And happened efficiently.
So the other week, when we got a flyer through the door about the latest Virgin delicacies, my husband was pleased to see that there was a great deal involving the HTC Invincible (or whatever it’s called) mobile at £20/month. His current contract with ‘Three’ was a mere 6 weeks away from ending anyway and as my daughter has this very phone (at £30.00 with another supplier) he was understandably hot on the phone asking Virgin Sales if he could have one.
My husband, who is a self-employed carpenter, was advised that they’d ‘run out’ of this particular phone (even though it couldn’t have been more than 24 hours since we got the leaflet through our door) but suggested he might like to try the Samsung Galaxy at £25.00/month. He listened to the sales pitch, said it sounded just what he needed and details were taken. Amongst which was the overriding proviso that he could transfer his existing mobile number which he had on contract with ‘Three’ as this is his business number. He was told, yes, this could happen; all he had to do was get the PAC number from ‘Three’, tell them he was ending his contract with them and within 48 hours of receiving his new phone, his existing number would be transferred.
At the same time he enquired as to my own mobile phone contract, which we’d been told was due for upgrading (when we’d called with the ‘alt’ key technical problem) and was told that yes, I was due a new phone and so husband asked them if it could be moved to the £9.99/month tariff as this was also on a special deal at the moment. Not a problem – my phone would be in the post tomorrow and my husband’s would be delivered 3 days hence.
My phone arrived in all its beautiful glory and I stroked it half to death. I love my Blackberry. I love it even more now it’s £5 cheaper a month than my original contract. We have felt the pinch of the recession quite badly and are selling our house to downsize and hopefully free up enough capital to help with daughter’s university fees.
On the Saturday my husband’s Galaxy arrived and, with daughter’s help, he downloaded all sorts of apps that he’d never had before and found it perfect for his use. He couldn’t wait to get everything finalised so he could use his existing number and he’d already contacted Three to get the PAC number and cancel his contract with them, paying an early settlement fee.
On the Monday he telephoned Virgin to say thanks, he’d got the new phone, could he now have his number transferred please? He gave his PAC number and was told it would be another 48 hours before this was working, and that he would be contacted when everything was ready to switch over.
So on the Wednesday, my husband rang Virgin to ask what was happening as his existing number wasn’t working (just a dead-tone when dialled) and did this mean the transfer was happening?
He was asked to hold.
He spoke to somebody else and repeated the same thing to them. He was told there was ‘an issue’ and to please hold.
When he spoke to somebody else they told my husband that his existing (Three) mobile number had been transferred to the mobile number ending 890. This is MY number. My husband explained that, no, this number was mine (his wife’s) mobile number and nothing to do with his new phone or his existing number, but he was told, well this was what was happening. The new Galaxy phone would retain the new number issued with it and my Blackberry would be taking his business number.
Obviously my husband was not pleased. He asked the adviser what his name was and he was told ‘Ken Smoke’. He asked Mr Smoke if he could speak to somebody else, a Manager, somebody in a higher Authority and Mr Smoke said that he could pass him to somebody else but he would only repeat what he’d just said to him.
He was passed to another guy who gave his name as ‘John’ and said he wasn’t allowed to give out his surname. Clearly Mr Smoke was a bit of a Maverick.
John, as advised, repeated everything Mr Smoke had just told us. My husband’s new phone had the number attached with it and his business number would be transferred to my Blackberry.
We told them that No, we did not want this to happen, and could they please sort it out but they said that it was too late, my old number had been transferred and it was an irreversible process.
We asked where exactly my number had been transferred and they said ‘deleted’.
We couldn’t believe it. We told them that this was ridiculous, that at no time did we instruct Virgin to carry out this; after all, my husband’s business relies on this phone number – why would he want to transfer it to me and have a new one?
We asked them to please find the recording of the telephone conversation he’d had to the sales team when he requested his existing number be transferred to his new phone and it went quiet for a while. When ‘John’ returned he apologised and said if we had a complaint that we should follow the correct complaints procedure detailed on the internet and that we would be given 2 months’ free services for our mobiles. We said that this was not nearly good enough and that they had messed up.
We asked them if they were going to pay to have all the numbers changed on the business stationery, the 1,000+ business cards, and the signwriting on my husband’s van – not to mention contacting all his existing customers and we were told to again, we had to follow the correct complaints procedure.
We don’t often sit in stunned silence of an evening, but that night was different.
Eventually we decided that although we’d been treated appallingly and had every right to seek legal action and sue Virgin for wrongdoing, we’d have to suck it up for the meantime and contact all my husband’s customers to let them know his new number.
So we spent the rest of the evening doing just this.
However, we noticed my phone was still using my normal number. I hadn’t got my husband’s old number, so we assumed this would either happen the next day, or else it was just another cock-up on Virgin’s part and they’d got that wrong too.
I wrote and posted two letters to Mr Branson c/o Virgin at 2 different addresses informing him of this circus of catastrophe and asking him what he intended to do about compensation for my husband’s business (reprinting business cards, stationery, details on his van re-painted etc) and sent two e-mails to Virgin via their ‘official complaints procedure’ on their website. I also tracked Mr Branson down on Facebook and informed him I had an urgent complaint. To which somebody called ‘Vicky Angel’ replied with an e-mail address asking me to revert to her and she would make sure somebody dealt with our complaint.
Unsurprisingly I heard nothing from back from her after I’d e-mailed her.
We did, however, receive a lovely ‘welcome’ letter from Mark Davidson – Executive Director of Customer Care at Virgin a day or so later, saying that congratulations, everything had been transferred. The phone with the number 890 had taken my husband’s business number and his new phone had a new one, just as planned. As who had planned, please?
We especially enjoyed the last line of this letter which stated “We’re looking forward to looking after you”. Oh how we laughed.
Needless to say, I wrote an equally nice letter back to Mr Davidson, informing him of the massive mistake on Virgin’s part and asking him what he intended to do about it.
Then, last night, nearly 8 days later, I started getting text messages and phone calls from people I didn’t know. We worked out that, lo and behold, my husband’s number had, indeed, as foretold, been transferred to my own phone. So then I had to go through the rigmarole of contacting all my own contacts and telling them I had a new number as well.
We are totally disgusted with what has happened to us. It’s unprofessional, unforgiveable and will cost my husband many hundreds of pounds to put right. We, quite rightly, believe we are entitled to at least compensation to cover the costs of having his business number changed on everything it’s written on aren’t we?