Monday, October 29, 2012

My complaint to Virgin Media

I am posting this here along with the complaint address for the Virgin Media complaints department in case anybody else is looking for it. This letter was posted today and speaks for itself. I will update this page with any progress as it occurs. Some personal details removed.

Anyone who knows my background in customer service will know why this sort of thing annoys me so much. This has gone beyond the point where an apology will suffice.




Complaints
Virgin Media
PO Box 333
Matrix Court
Swansea
SA7 9ZJ


30th October 2012


I have been telephoned by somebody called xxxxxxx from a company called Moorcroft Debt Recovery who are looking for settlement of a debt to your company. I had previously had a call about this by a company called CSL. I had explained the situation to them and they had referred it back to Virgin Media. I have since heard nothing from them.

I have never received any letters from you about this and you have not provided me with any services so I am at a loss to understand why you are now pursuing me through a debt collection agency.

Here are the issues I need you to address:

1. Before I can consider settling this debt I need you to provide me with the legal basis for this charge. In other words, you are going to need to provide me with evidence of a contract and technical evidence you actually provided a telephone and ADSL service on the circuit number that serves my flat at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

2. I require you to pay me a sum as compensation for all the calls I made to your 0845 number on my mobile phone while trying to get the service to work in July. The sum is just under £30, but since then I have spent a lot of time dealing with Moorcroft and generally worrying about it, and you need to reflect this in any offer of compensation you make to me. This payment to be made by cheque or BACS, not in vouchers.

3. I require an undertaking that you will not make any report to any credit reference agency which is detrimental to my credit rating.


Background
The background to this case is that when I lived at my old address - xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx -  I used your cable service (account number: xxxxxxxx). In June 2012 I ordered a move of service from you to my new flat, but you were unable to do this without a change to your “national” service as there was no cable service in my area. I agreed to this and it was all arranged. However, on moving to my new flat the service did not work even though you had contacted me to say it was. I called you on numerous occasions, running up a bill of nearly £30 on my mobile phone doing so, but got nowhere. You were even unable to locate my new account in your system.

It is clear that it had not been provisioned correctly at all:


  • The phone socket in my flat continued to be live on the previous owners number. 
  • I had been promised a modem from you. which never arrived, in spite of Yodel showing it as having been signed for (it wasn’t).
  • You have not been able to spell my name correctly.
  • At the time the move was ordered your operator had significant problems entering my new address, because your database could not accept my address format (they had to try and enter it manually). According to Moorcroft you have my address listed as “xxxxxxxxxxx”, which is incorrect.


Consequences
In the end I had to contact BT and they were able to get me connected, but I was left without a phone line for six weeks - something which was entirely your fault. To be pursued by you now in this aggressive manner via a third party without so much as a letter is not the way to treat a long standing former customer who left his previous account in a positive cash balance.

This whole issue has been caused by a problem with your provisioning system. I did my best to resolve it and had a number of lengthy (and expensive) phone calls to you, followed by the inconvenience of being left without a phone line or Internet access for six weeks.

I await your response.

Yours etc.


Update 30th October 2012
Found an interesting web site here with a reader comment indicating that Virgin Media or their agents are leaving default notices on people's credit records even after the bill has been paid:

I wrote to customer complaints. They cut the bill in half and apologised. So I paid, wanting never to talk to them again.
However, what they wouldn't do was remove the default from my credit report. I have since spent days on the phone, written to everyone imaginable and still they refuse.
This is beyond incompetence and into malice. Completely vindictive and unnecessary persecution of an everyday consumer.
My credit record was impeccable. Now I can't even get a small loan. All because of Virgin Media. For a service I could never receive and for a bill that I have actually paid. Astounding.
RMC - 30-06-2012 http://www.notvirginmedia.com/Comments/Comments_p01.html

Judging by all the stories documented there it looks possible that I might have to take preemptive legal action. Being no stranger to litigation this does not frighten me, but it should not be necessary when I am dealing with such a large customer facing organisation. We will see.


Update 6th November
I received a holding letter from Virgin Media. However, it was addressed to my old address not my new address - which was the address I sent the letter from. Fortunately I have a redirection from the old address.

I have also received a letter from Moorcroft Debt Management saying they have suspended their activity because I am in dispute with Virgin Media.


Update 12th November
Well, I got a very nice phone call from Virgin Media this afternoon stating that they can find no record of an account and con firming that they have never provided me with any services at my current address and they can find no trace of ever having done so. They will be writing to me confirming this and will tell Moorcroft to stop pusuing me.

However.... A few hours later I got home to find a letter from Moorcroft on my doormat which included this:

Further to your recent communication in respect of the above account, we write to confirm we have been in contact with Virgin Media who have advised us that the services were successfully installed at the property and that there is call usage on the bill which conforms this.

Of course, they have not forwarded me any of that evidence. I assume they can't as Virgin Media say they never installed the service. So who can Moorcroft provide me with copies of their correspondence with Virgin Media and can they provide records of these calls? I suspect not.

So I am back to square one.

I am now going to make clear to Moorcroft Debt Recovery that I will not be paying them anything without a court order and they should not bother contacting me again until they have obtained one.

Second update 12th November
I decided to call Moorcroft and make it clear I would not be paying them anything.

Here is an edited recording of the call. I have clipped out the name of the person I was speaking to, and the section where I had to prove my identity and a lot of gaps where he was typing up notes.

The section from 2 minutes onwards is very interesting. Their representative claimed that Moorcroft were not asking me for any money, that it was Virgin Media asking for money, until I pressed him very hard on this issue.


Or download the recording here.

I will be continuing to pursue my request for compensation from Virgin Media and will let readers know how I get on.


Update 16th November

I have now written a further letter to Virgin Media:


I refer to your letter of 1st November which was sent to my previous address rather than the address I had written from, and which is stated at the bottom of this letter.
I received a telephone call from you on Monday 12th November stating that you could find no record of me owing you anything and that you would attempt to recall the debt from Moorcroft. I returned home on Monday night to find a letter from Moorcroft stating that they had contacted you and you had confirmed that calls had been made on a line assigned to me and that I was therefore liable. This contradicts what you said to me.
In order to satisfactorily deal with this complaint I require you to:
1. Write to me stating I owe you nothing, send a copy of the letter to Moorcroft and recall the debt from them.
2. Pay me a sum in compensation for all the calls, time and inconvenience I have suffered in this issue since July, and which you will find detailed in my previous letter.
3. Ensure that no default is registered against me with any credit reference agency in relation to this.
Please reply within 14 days or I shall be instructing my solicitors.


It is sad that an organisation the size of Virgin Media does not have the ability to resolve something like this, but apparently they don't.


Update 22nd November
I have received two letters today:

  • One from Moorcroft stating they have contacted Virgin Media, who have (once again) confirmed that I owe the money.
  • One from Virgin media confirming I owe them nothing and that they have recalled the debt from Moorcroft.

Are Moorcroft lying to try and get me to pay them money? Remember, they have already admitted that the money was to be aid to their account not Virgin Media. I don't know, but I have reasonable doubts that they have ever spoken to Virgin Media about this account.

The main issue now is that Virgin have failed to compensate me for my time and phone calls dealing with their error since July. They have also not given me an undertaking that they will not register a default against me at a credit reference agency. This is what I am really concerned about because there are reports online of them doing this to other customers who were not in debt to them.

My only option now seems to be legal action.

Update 23rd November
It appears that Virgin Media breached the data protection act twice by passing my personal details to Moorcroft.

I have written to Virgin today repeating my previous requests and detailing the two breaches of the DPA:


I note your letter of 16th November, but am not satisfied. 
I had asked you to: 
  1. Write to me stating I owe you nothing, send a copy of the letter to Moorcroft and recall the debt from them. 
  2. Pay me a sum in compensation for all the calls, time and inconvenience I have suffered in this issue since July, and which you will find detailed in my previous letter.
  3. Ensure that no default is registered against me with any credit reference agency in relation to this. 
Although you have addressed point (1), you have not given me (3) an undertaking that you will not register a default against me at a credit reference agency.  
You have also not dealt with (2) my reasonable request for compensation to cover my  out of pocket expenses incurred through:
  • Calling your 0845 number on my mobile phone during the period when you had left me without a phone line - due to your incompetence.
  • Dealing with increasingly aggressive overtures from Moorcroft - including their claim on 19th November that you have confirmed that I do owe you money.
  • My inconvenience for being left without a phone line for six weeks - which was your fault.
In addition to this there is the risk to my reputation and credit rating as well as the stress involved in dealing with this. 
Fortunately I am well educated, articulate and able to robustly defend myself against Moorcroft. An elderly or infirm person would probably cave in and pay them. In fact they wrote to me two days after your last letter stating that you had confirmed the debt to them and they will continue to pursue me. I had paid them they would presumably not have passed the money to you. They also send repeated letters to me and continue to call me.  
I should also point out that you breached the terms of the Data Protection Act by passing my details to Moorcroft. Specifically that you did not satisfy the conditions for processing my personal data by not having a “legitimate interest”. If there had been a real debt and you had failed to recover it from me by normal means this would have constituted a legitimate interest. As there was no debt and you had not asked me for the money before passing it to Moorcroft you did not have this and therefore breached the act.  
You also required my consent in order to pass my personal data to Moorcroft. From the Office of the Information Commissioner: 
Consent is not defined in the Data Protection Act. However, the European Data Protection Directive (to which the Act gives effect) defines an individual’s consent as:
“…any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes by which the data subject signifies his agreement to personal data relating to him being processed”.
The fact that an individual must “signify” their agreement means that there must be some active communication between the parties.  
As you had not written to me about the alleged debt no such communication had taken place and this is a second breach of the Act. 
I am sorry if this letter appears heavy handed, but I do not appreciate being hounded by debt collectors and I would prefer to be treated by you as a previously valued customer. 
I am surprised that a company like Virgin Media are unable to deal with a complaint  like this in a satisfactory manner.  
I await your response - in writing - on the two issues you have failed to deal with.

We will see what happens next.


Update 4th December
Its 11 days later and I have received a holding letter from Virgin Media as if it was a fresh complaint I had sent in. I have submitted my complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner under the Data Protection Act. Their advice leaflet can be downloaded here (PDF file) and the form can be downloaded here.

Update 6th December
A further letter has arrived from Moorcroft. Play close attention to the words in bold:
If you do not contact us following receipt of this letter we may have no alternative other than to recommend to our clients that solicitors issue legal action against you which may follow.

This is designed to frighten people into paying, but read it again and you will see its an empty threat.

It also proves that Virgin have not recalled the debt from Moorcroft - which they have told me twice (once by phone and once by letter).


Update 21st December
Its now several weeks since I last wrote to Virgin and they have not responded within their own seven day promise.

I have, however, received a letter from Midas Credit Services (just another name for Moorcroft):

We are now reviewing the account prior to the possible recommending of legal action by external solicitors acting on behalf of our clients.

Interesting to see where they go with this. I know that they never actually take anyone to court, but I do harbour a fantasy of humiliating them in court by calling their client as a witness in my defence. Meanwhile, in the real world, I need to escalate my virgin complaint as they still have not given me an undertaking regarding my credit history.

I phoned Virgin and was put through to the debt department who have sent another recall form to Moorcroft. I then got a call from the complaints department stating that this issue may refer to a "national account" which has a different complaint address to the one given to me by Moorcroft at the beginning of this process! I would need to contact them with my address details (which were in my original complaint letter)  and account number (which I have never had as the service was never provisioned).

I then got a second call saying they had found my national account number.

I am now going to raise this with the independent adjudication service www.cisas.org.uk.


Updated 4th January 2013
I have now submitted my complaint to CISAS for ajudication, pointing out again that no line was ever provisioned on the BT circuit serving my flat. Hopefully this will be irrefutable enough to get some action. I will have to wait and see.

One aspect of contract law that affects this is that if both parties agree to a contract, but the supplier fails to provide the service then the contract becomes void, this would mean that if Virgin failed to provide me with a service then any cancellation fee applicable under the contract would be unenforceable.

Incidentally, I received another letter from Moorcroft today saying the debt had been passed to their home collections division and that a representative "may" call on me. Clearly they have ignored my previous statement that I will pay nothing without a court order.


Updated 14th January 2013
CISAS have replied confirming receipt of my documentation and stating

We acknowledge receipt of an application for adjudication by the customer, a copy of which
is attached for the attention of the company.  Please note that any further documents submitted after this date may lead to your
application being restarted in order to give the company time to consider them.
In accordance with the rules of the scheme, the company is now required to submit two
copies of their response to the claim, which should be returned to us within 14 days of
receipt of this letter, that is, on or before 24/01/2013. The company should list all papers
being submitted, and where possible submit their response by email.  A copy of any
defence to your case received from the company will be sent to you and you will be given
the opportunity to make any comments about it which you wish to make.
Please be advised that the company may contact you in order to negotiate a settlement of
your claim.  If they do that but no agreed settlement is reached they must still submit their
defence to your claim by the due date above.
The company may decide to settle your claim in  full, ie to give you everything you are
claiming in your application.  Under these circumstances the company will notify us and we
will write to tell you.  We will close our file at that time because the adjudicator has no power
to award any more than is claimed.  

Updated 17th January 2013
CISAS have dropped the case after Virgin objected on the grounds that Virgin claim I have never been a customer. Meanwhile the debt collection letters keep coming.


Updated 25th April 2013
I thought I would update this article given the publicity today of the bill that Virgin media sent to a dead person.

I have not heard anything from Moorcroft for a couple of months but I have had calls from a company called HL Solicitors which I am ignoring. I think the debt has been sold on to them.


Update 17th June 2015
Over two years later and it's not over yet. The debt has now been sold on to a company called NCS!


























10 comments:

  1. Am I really the first to comment and is this what I have to look forward to with Virgin Media and Moorcroft Debt recovery? Oh My goodness.

    My story - I took out an 18 month contract with Virgin Media for Telephone, TV and Broadband Services in March 2011.
    In March 2012 they wrote to me stating they were increasing my charges by £2 a month. Not much I know but its the principle that is wrong. I contacted them via email stating "No Way" were they legally able to do this. I had taken out a contract with them to pay a set amount for a set period of time and if they increased the charges they would be breaching their side of the contract.
    As a result of my complaint, as a gesture of good will they gave me a discount of £4 a month valid until March 2013. At no point did they mention that to have this £4 discount my contract had been extended to March 2013 instead of ending in September 2012 as per the original arrangements.
    In July/August 2012 I contacted them to find out the exact date my contract would end in September 2012 only to be told my contract would end in March 2013.
    I complained again and spoke with a female at Virgin Media on 28th August 2012. My complaint was upheld because the person making the £4 discount offer had failed to put in writing that my contract had been extended/renewed. I had to give 30 days notice of termination of my account and it was agreed my services would end on 28th September 2012. With the orginal contract it should have been 9th September 2012.
    I had my new services installed by Sky on 24th September 2012. Virgin Media terminated my phone line on 25th September 2012. As for TV and Broadband I didn't know at that point if they had been disconnected as I was no longer using them. Then my shock to find Virgin Media were adding end of contract fees to every service to my final account and also still charging me into October and November for services I no longer had. Again I complained and also cancelled my direct debit to stop them taking an amount I did not owe. I told them I would happily pay them exactly what I owed. That was on 8th October 2012. i waited and waited and got no response at all from Virgin Media.
    Then I received a letter from Moorcroft Debt Recovery for the amount I was supposed to owe Virgin Media. I rang Moorcroft on 21st November 2012 and they took onboard my grievance with Virgin Media, stated they would suspend any action until they had gone back to Virgin Media.
    I also rang Virgin Media the same night and eventually they apologised stating in fact that they in fact owed me money. The person stating this had to get the refund to me approved by a manager and due to her work pattern they would ring me in the afternoon of Saturday 24th November 2012. Guess what? Your right. No phone call and no other communnication from anyone as yet. So I wait!
    Perhaps Moorcroft will work for me to pursue Virgin Media for the money they owe me!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Sheena
    You have a very similar story to mine.
    In both cases Virgin cancelled the contract and in both cases they did not write to us asking for the money before passing it to Moorcroft.

    This was a breach of the data protection act, as they had no legitimate interest. See my notes above for an explanation.

    I have a note in my diary to raise a formal complaint with the Information Commissioners Office on Friday if I have not had a satisfactory response from Virgin.

    The important issue for both of us is that there are stories of Virgin registering defaults on people's credit reports even after dropping bogus debts. I can't allow this to happen so I am preparing legal measures to protect myself.

    The actions by Virgin and Moorcroft in combination are a form of blackmail with the threat of affecting my credit rating as the lever for getting me to pay up.

    I would never have any dealings with any Virgin related company again.

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  3. Hello Gordon

    Thank you for your comments. To date I have heard nothing more from either Virgin Media or Moorcroft. All my communications with them have been by phone or emailso far. I will start putting it in writing to them from now on.

    Can I use the issue of their breach of Data Protection in my case against them? I will not quote anything you have said but I did not know prior to your reply that what they had done was a breach.

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  4. Hello Sheena
    Feel free to use any of my material.
    I have had no response from Virgin so I will be submitting a formal complaint under the Data Protection Act. I have the form filled out and will post it tomorrow.

    I will add a link to the forms to this article later this week. However, the information commissioner can't impose any sanctions. What the reporting will do is frce Virgin Media's data rote cation compliance officer to get involved. It's always additional pressure which could help get a response.

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  5. This case has now gone for arbitration at the independent internet services arbitration service CISAS. I have updated the article with full details.

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  6. Hi Gordon,

    Came across this very useful posting on what is, by the way, an excellent blog!

    I was wondering if there have been any further developments in the past 2 months?

    Thanks for the useful material: I have used some of it this morning in my letter to Virgin Media, trying to get it through to them that it isn't reasonable or legal to bill my wife for charges when we have not been, are not now (and now never will be) customers of Virgin Media....

    They really are utterly useless.

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  7. Hello Iain,
    I am currently overseas with limited Internet access so just a short reply. I will be updating this article shortly.

    My complaint to the independent arbitrator was thrown out because Virgin told him I never had an account with them. The debt has now been sold on to another debt collection agency so I am back to square one.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Please see my complaint to Virgin Mobile. Any comments and feedback as to next actions are welcome.
    I upgraded my contract at the end of July 2013 for the new S4. This was delivered in the first half of the WB 05 August. On 10th August my camera packed up. This was exchanged the following week by the company Yodel for a new S4. On 07 October I complained to customer services that my battery life was poor and I had gone through the phone fix online. They agreed to send out a new S4 which should have arrived on Tuesday 08 October. This did not arrive. The tracker says inadequate address and did for the next 3 days despite physically checking it with Virgin and Yodel myself and making sure that the information was correct. I received a £37 credit towards my account on Wednesday 09 October for the inconvenience suffered from 07 October to that date. The 'wrong' item was finally delivered on Friday, the driver also informed me that it was the first time the item had gone out for delivery. The driver of Yodel was very rude and arrogant and refused to give me his name as he stormed off when I refused the delivery of just the handset, which isn't much use when I'm sending the charger back with my already exchanged phone from August. Virgin then sent out a new S4 which was supposed to be delivered on 12 October, this was their last chance. The driver had the same disgusting attitude as the first one, refused to hand over the parcel and stormed off. I have complained to Virgin several times but I don't get any responses only 'sorry' which doesn't go far enough for the upset and distress that they have caused me. I entered into the new contract when my phone was first upgraded in August. I have asked them for options that would be available but I only get redelivery or redelivery. I have asked them if I could leave early but they said it would cost me £880 (roughly). I don't see why I should pay for something when they have continously treated me like this. I have tried negotiation but no one seems to know how to handle these serious failures within the company. As a result of this I am moving to another company who deserves my 9 years loyalty. Someone at a Virgin store has also agreed that he wouldn't pay to end this contract were he in my shoes and £37 credit doesn't go far enough. Someone needs to find out exactly what this 'delivery' company think they are doing. Had this delivery company delivered when they were supposed to I wouldn't be ending my contract. Had they delivered the wrong item on the Tuesday, Virgin would still have sent the right item to me which I would have received by Thursday at the latest. Someone needs to accept responsibility and accountability for these issues. I also switched over my TV, Phone and Broadband to them based on the service I had received up until last Monday. Why shouldn't I cancel that as well. I think I have been more than fair and patient with them over this past week. The stress is having a physical and mental impact on me and no customer deserves to go through what I have. Virgin even agree that the phone is 'not fit for purpose' under the Sale of Goods Act and whilst I appreciate that they have an obligation to repair or replace, them and their delivery company are in my eyes refusing to do this and they have messed me around so much and the drivers have been so rude that I don't think I could put myself through the stress of seeing another 'driver'. I haven't heard a word from Yodel not even a sorry. I sent them a complaint but they only responded to half of it so I sent it back to them to complete properly.

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  9. Dear Catherine,
    A long time ago I got into a similar situation with an industrial supplier. They had failed to deliver so I stopped paying them and had to find an alternative supplier. Several years later they sent me a big bill so my solicitor told me to write to them asking them what the legal basis of the charge was. I heard nothing further from them. I have since used this technique with other situations. It may work with Virgin. The only problem is that they tend to go straight to a debt collection company. I have braved out this situation and the debt just keeps being resold. It has not affected my credit rating and it has damaged Virgin's reputation amongst my friends and family. I certainly would not do business with them. If for one reason, that they never sent me a bill, never attempted to debit my account via the direct debit they had and went straight to a debt collection agency. This just smells of vindictiveness. Then they got out of having to pay me compensation by claiming to the ombudsman I had never been a customer. This is a very shady business. I see that Richard Branson has now become a tax exile.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just had another stand off with Virgin who keep saying redelivery or pay. I said take me to court youl look the tits not me. The fact they contracted to Yodel on my behalf makes them in breach of this. So ive gone straight to Yodel. The complaints already with a manager there who im just waiting a call back from. Im not paying for Yodels consistent and disgusting mistakes. UP THE REVOLUTION

    ReplyDelete