Friday, 21 December 2007

I've Tried Ringing You....

Typically, my best intentions to say lots have been scuppered by work commitments, but I should improve soon. For now, I thought I'd pass on part of an e-mail that nearly amused me from good ol' Virgin Media, formerly ntl, now "the UK's first quadplay provider" of digital TV , broadband, phone and mobile services. You would think that would mean they knew a bit about communications.

My Virgin landline phone service has been out for over a week now(!), which has been fun in the run up to Christmas. I first reported the fault by e-mail because the fault is that my phone line doesn't work. I realise that's a complicated concept, the fact that I can't use the phone when the phone is dead. Virgin's eventual response started, "I'm just writing in reply to an email you've sent us regarding the loss of your telephone service. I've tried ringing you for a chat about this but can't seem to get hold of you."

Aren't they sweet, if not very quick to grasp these technical matters. The message ended by asking me to telephone a number to make an appointment for a technician.

Yes, I know I could borrow a neighbour's phone, but in London many of us wouldn't impose on people we generally only nod to when we pass in the street, and working in London means my close friends are spread around the home counties and not easily accessible, nor would I want to run up someone's bill ringing Virgin's call centre on the other side of the world. And my old-fashioned love of a peaceful life with no desire for people to be able to reach me anywhere at any time means I only have a pay-as-you-go mobile (usually switched off) that needs topping up and could never afford to spend an hour listening to a recorded message of someone saying how much she values my call and that they're very busy but please hold.

When I finally got to my office, I was able to make the appointment only after said call centre spent an age (once I reached a human) politely trying to suggest the fault was mine until I swore on my great-aunt's grave and promised to hand over my first born if I were wrong, which I wasn't. So now my week of feeling like I was in one of those old horror films where the phone line to the house is cut before the scary villian breaks over. And I feel free and safe again.

Virgin's reaction, though friendly in their e-mail, opens a whole world of possibilities in customer service. Perhaps next we'll come across a motor insurer that refuses to honour your claim that your car was totalled when it flipped over a cliff and burst into flames....unless you drive it into their garage to be examined. Perhaps that's happened to you.....

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