I think it is a fact that, from behind guarded screens, organisations and corporates can bully us.

Accept Payment Dammit?

Over a 5 month period I have been trying to get Virgin Media to accept direct debit information from the people who are using their services, now that I have moved out.

On 1 October, these people sent in a direct debit mandate. I continued to receive monthly bills, so I called them on various occasions and couldn’t get clear answers. In fact, it was hard to even get through to them or to someone who could deal with the matter.

Understand the Situation

I was told different things by different people. On 0845 numbers, these calls were costing me on my mobile. Each call took on average an hour to get the person I was speaking to, to understand the situation. Once they did they were always keen to help and I left each call with assurances that it would be sorted out. Despite every agreed action being made on my part, done to the T, they didn’t do what they said they would do.

In December, a third mandate form was posted to the address which uses the service. This form was received and sent in, completed, on 11 January. At around this time, my email service went from being very good to appalling, awkward and my folders disappeared. There was an extra mini-scroll on the page that meant that only one line of each email could be seen at a time.

Unhelpful Excuses

I researched online for other people’s experience and, of course, many different reasons were given for the problem. I tweeted about it. @virginmedia tweeted back to defend themselves in a flimsy way,  they made unhelpful excuses, and just said to speak to a technician. Waste of time and more aggravation.

One day, I got a call from a Virgin technician who, when he discovered he had called the wrong number immediately hung up on me. Disruption followed by rudeness. Irresponsible behaviour.

Useless and Indifferent – One and All

The over-riding characteristic here is: total lack of awareness (obliviousness) about the consequences of their actions. They could not be less interested in carrying out their jobs. I’m trying to pay them!  There has to be a higher motive than receiving money. I know, people like causing others shit to make themselves feel better. If one person employed by an organisation is useless and indifferent, the whole organisation is useless and indifferent.

The problem is, each person I speaks to wants to be useful and sort things out. People must be speaking bullshit then, saying ‘yes they can’ when ‘no they can’t.’

It is impossible, with these organisations, to have a constructive 2-way, adult conversation to sort things out. Despite the fact that we share a common language, of English, it seems to be very hard work for me to get myself understood. I am trying to get them paid so the account can continue to run. I wonder why I even bother. I can also say they can’t communicate, despite being in the business of communications!

Text-book Bullying

This seems like text-book bullying. For a book I’m researching, I’ve been reading up on bullying and this behaviour is paramount. Today I got an email from Mark Davidson in charge of customer relations telling me 6 or 7 different reasons – none of which were relevant – for why there was threat of a termination of service.

I couldn’t reply as the reply email said ‘no-reply@…’ Charming way of saying **** off.  This clearly says that they don’t take responses, ie they are not responsible for their actions. This is acceptable?  Oh, saying I can’t reply means you can say whatever you want and not be accountable for it. Noreply@youaresuckingyourfatherscock.com

Trying to Pay For

Last weekend I spoke to the people who are using the service we are both trying to get paid for. They are using the same password, same name etc – and they had posted off all 3 mandates and called in on the 6 February to pay the bill (from the number on the account, no less). Virgin agreed to let them call and make the direct debit over the phone and they did so on 12 February.

We are now in late February. This attempt at paying them from a different account started in September when they agreed to send a mandate to set up a new direct debit. If it is this difficult, could they not have said so at the time? How many calls is this going to take to sort out? We’re only trying to pay them and they are making it this difficult. This can only be bullying as they want more from us than money for their services. They want to control and dominate our lives. Textbook bullying.

Shielded Behind Communication Barriers

Companies can treat people how they like, when it is so difficult to speak to a responsible person, costs so much to call them at all, and they have hidden and undeclared criteria to use to reject mandate forms that are sent in with, say, one incorrect letter in them.

It could be made difficult, or even illegal, for companies to dominate months of their customers’ time in dealing with them if they are obligated to have an adult, 2-way conversation to sort out any issues. This means that the honest person – who has other things to be getting on with – can make sure their account is up to date.

These companies are allowed to put up smoke screens, give people confusing amounts of varying messages, tell them something can be done that they don’t allow, and make it impossible to speak to a named individual to sort out any problems.

If you have a problem with an organisation or company, instead of it distracting and dominating your life for months, like a playground bully, it should be legal that you can make a telephone call to get things sorted out there and then. If they don’t allow this or make it difficult, the problem should become theirs. Not their customers’.

What else were telephones invented for?

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