I may be going slightly (or very) mad, but I’ve composed yet another letter of complaint. I feel like David fighting Goliath except that I know that this is a battle where David never even manages to land a shot, let alone kill Goliath.
Dear Mr Branson,
I hope that as a highly successful businessman you feel pain when any of your customers experiences poor service from one of your companies. I fear, however, that ta combination of the Virgin brand being attached to so many different companies in different sorts of businesses and you spending most of your time in your island paradise in the Caribbean means that, to be crude, you “don’t give a monkey’s.”
Nevertheless, I’m going to tell you of my pain—partly in a probably vain attempt to ease it,
I get my broadband, television, and terrestrial phone services from Virgin Media and have done for several years. I’ll gloss over the crackling on the phone line and the extreme slowness of the television service (“I don’t know how you stick it, you should switch to Sky,” says my son when he visits), and concentrate on the problems with broadband.
For a long time, over a year, it worked almost all the time, but now it goes down every day, often for a long time.
Some months ago it went down for days—after, I was eventually told, somebody mistakenly sliced through a cable. I complained then not so much about the service being down but about the very poor and often conflicting information I received. I didn’t have to pay for when the service was down, and I received a long letter of apology, written, I suspect, by an Oxbridge graduate in English literature wasting his or her skills in composing such letters in the hope that it will allow you to sleep easily and comfortably on your island.
Over the past weeks, as I’ve said, the service keeps going down—but is usually restored within minutes but sometimes hours. I’ve had “complain to Virgin” on my to-do list for months, but once the service returns I’m busy catching up with my work. Today when the service went down I rang and the distinguished voice of an actress told me that “Virgin is working hard to improve your service, and as a result your service will be down until 3pm.” (It was 10 am at the time.) This Orwellian statement makes it sounds as if your company knew that the service was going to go down. I worry too that, as has happened in the past, 3pm may be hopelessly ambitious.
If your company is genuinely working to improve the service and so knew that my service (and that of others) would be interrupted why did you not tell me? You will understand that access to the internet has become a utility as important as access to water, electricity, and gas, particularly for people like me who work from home. I am now left high and dry, unable to work. Instead, I amuse and comfort myself by writing this letter to you, which, of course, I won’t be able to send until 3pm or well after.
You know that it will be a hassle for me to change to another company, but I think that the time has probably come.
Even if you bother to read this letter, which I doubt you will, don’t feel the need to answer. Simply share my pain.
Professor Richard Smith CBE, FMedSci, FRCPE, FRCSE, FRCGP, FFPHM