Friday, 4 April 2014

From Bad To So Much Better

Last week my mother’s telephone line suddenly went dead. “OK”, you may say, “These things happen”.

However, in this case the situation was somewhat more worrying, as my mother has dementia and relies on the phone to ring me to ask the simplest of questions. How does she operate her TV? Has her electric bill been paid and should she worry about being cut off? What day of the week is it and is there anything that she should be doing? I also need to be able to check in on her.

The phone provider concerned is Virgin Media, so once I was aware of the problem, I proceeded to try and contact them. This proved to be a far from easy task. Two different telephone number provided on her bill only gave automatic responses. An appointment slot could be allocated via this system, but I needed to negotiate with a ‘real person’ to make them aware of my mother’s condition and the way we would therefore have to approach the situation.

In frustration, I started down the email route. Some hours after the first email, I receive an automated reply, once again giving a time slot that did not allow for special instructions. Somewhat exasperated I sent a reply back to the email address from which the appointment was sent. This obviously went to a different department, because within a reasonable time frame I received a telephone call.

The adviser who phoned was polite and apologetic and actually very helpful. He realised this was not a ‘normal’ situation and offered repair within a few hours of the call. However, it had taken so long to get to this stage, that my mother would have been in bed, so we arranged for repair the following morning – astonishing in itself as this was Sunday!

My next concern was as the allocated time slots span four hours, would I have to go and twiddle my thumbs for all that time? But no, it was arranged that the engineer would call me when he was ready to go to my mother’s so that I would meet him there. OK that was the theory.

Sunday morning dawned, and lo and behold theory became practice! A friendly engineer rang giving me a full hour’s notice of his visit. We met as arranged and the fault was promptly fixed (apparently her line was damaged when the council cut her grass, but that’s another story).

In the early stages of attempting to contact Virgin my opinion of them had been very low, such was my frustration. But once I had broken through the system and could interact with human beings, they suddenly became much more helpful and efficient and we received good service.

What’s more, we are now to be issued with a form, that once signed by her doctor, will put my mother on a fast-track system, which means in future her phone line will always be repaired within four hours of reporting the fault.

So thank you Virgin for rising to the situation!

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