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Irate customer launches scathing online crusade after five days without Virgin Media broadband

Tuesday, December 6th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A Virgin Media customer is so angry after only one week without broadband that he is compiling a blog page of “disgruntled tweets” by other customers.

Paul Thewlis, from Birmingham, says it is now his “personal mission to save innocent consumers from the misery of being a Virgin Media customer”.

Mr Thewlis, 42, the managing director of a printing, design and communications company, has had an intermittent broadband service since 16 November and no connection at all since the 25th.

But despite the fault being ongoing for more than a fortnight, Virgin has said it will be another week before it can send an engineer round to fix it.

“I had a quick look on Twitter and saw that many other customers were also having to wait about a week for an engineer’s visit,” Mr Thewlis told Cable.co.uk.

“I think this is an unacceptable time to have to wait, especially if, like me, you need broadband for work.

“This prompted me to set up the page of disgruntled tweets – out of sheer frustration and also to warn potential Virgin Media customers what they’re letting themselves in for.”

On the page, ‘Don’t buy @virginmedia products’, Mr Thewlis says he will spend the six months he has left on his Virgin contract finding as many potential customers as possible on social media and convincing them to buy elsewhere.

“It’s a personal mission to save innocent customers from the misery of being a Virgin Media customer,” he writes.

'Think very carefully'

Mr Thewlis said providers don’t seem under any compulsion to fix problems quickly for residential customers.

“I read that your broadband has to be broken for four weeks before you can cancel your contract. This seems to be unfairly weighted in favour of the providers; it’s no wonder they’re in no rush to fix things.”

Under measures introduced by Ofcom last year, broadband customers can leave their contract early if they suffer from persistent low speeds or problems that can’t be resolved.

Ofcom imposes what are known as ‘service maintenance levels’ on Openreach, requiring the company to fix most faults within two days of them being reported. This protects the customers of providers that use the Openreach network such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

But there is no alternative imposed on Virgin Media, nor indeed any other provider with its own network.

Complaints that aren't resolved within eight weeks can be referred to one of two alternative dispute resolution (ADR) schemes – all broadband providers in the UK are members of either Ombudsman Services: Communication, or the Communications & Internet Services Adjudication Scheme.

Mr Thewlis said people who rely on a broadband connection because they work from home “should think very carefully about whether a residential contract is right for them”.

He said that, as he has lost confidence in Virgin’s ability to provide a reliable service, he has signed up for a business contract with Vodafone, which promises a 24-hour response time to fix faults.

Virgin Media has been approached for comment.

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