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Seeking Karen Ingham's Email
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Old 29-12-2016, 10:24   #1
Shahbahraz
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Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

I see from her LinkedIn profile that Karen Ingham is:

"Responsible for helping lots of wonderful people in four countries to have fabulous conversations with customers"

Sadly, these commendable sentiments have, in my case, translated into frustrating conversations with people in at least two countries, and spending considerable time trying to understand a billing system that, to me, verges on unconscionable.

I would mail her via InMail, but I don't think that's the appropriate channel. However, I am trying to contact the Customer Head for clarity on the situation, which I outline below.

I work largely from home as a Consultant; having been recruited to return to the UK in a senior government role.

I rely on a VM internet connection, which to date has at least been reasonably reliable, if not the fastest. Last night, 28 Dec, the services were 'restricted' - all internet access blocked. I checked my billing cycle, and was fully paid up. I rang VM - and despite the frustration of the automated system, managed to get through, and get it turned back on. As I said, I was fully paid up to date. I was given no indication of why it had been restricted at all.

This morning, 29 Dec, service restricted (aka blocked) again; this time, when I called I was put through to Collections which appears to be Philippines based. It seems that although I was fully paid up to 28 Dec, a new set of phone calls made overseas over Christmas, post 8 Dec, but not included in the 28 Dec Bill, had exceeded some limit, and VM decided I had run up too much of a bill so they 'helpfully' stopped my service.

Effectively they suspended my service (which I rely on for my 'Digital'
job) for non-payment of a non-bill that did not yet exist and was not due for a month.

I don't mind paying, (and did so, they were commendably prompt in the service being restored), but that was 29 minutes 43 seconds this morning after the 10 minutes last night, because:

1. It seems VM left hand doesn't know what the right is doing, why do I have to call twice to get a service restored?

2. It is less like a billing service than a credit arrangement - this was never made clear when the product was sold to me - I was advised I would simply be debited the owed amount at the end of each month.

3. There is no prior notice of suspension before this happens; yes it would seem that you could monitor your usage daily, and 'top-up' as required. This is not how I expect a reputable company to behave with an internet/home phone/TV bundle.

4. There is no way to know whether you are reaching any notional 'limit'
thanks to the impenetrable (and utterly outrageous, > 1 GBP a minute!) billing charges VM applies for a range of phone calls from the home phone.

I found this quite an incredible way to do business, and surely the suspension of a service without prior notice is unconscionable?

What if I had been in the position of being on a tight budget over the holiday season, and had my critical internet service (on which I rely for my employment), withdrawn without notice, potentially for up to a month, and with no means to pay, before the next direct debit was due?

It would seem to me that arbitrarily suspending a service agreement without notice would be skirting perilously close to a breach of what used to be the Trade Practices Act. So that's why I am trying to find an email address for Karen Ingham.
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Old 29-12-2016, 10:45   #2
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

The restriction you talk about would have been part of the unknown usage / fraud prevention processes that are in place to monitor out of pattern usage on either your Phone or TV services (as applicable).

When a high number of unusual calls that might be unauthorised or fraudulent, or a high number of PPV / VoD paid ordering events happen, then a restriction can be placed on to the account in order to stop anything happening until Virgin Media can talk to the customer and ensure they the calls or event orders were authorised by them.

There can then be a need to pay for an amount towards the usage in question to ensure that the overall balance of the account remains manageable, and to ensure that it isn't call fraud. By call fraud I mean someone taking out or gaining access to a Virgin Media landline, and then using it to dial foreign or premium numbers without paying Virgin Media for the calls. Virgin Media have to pay the originating network and so are defrauded of the payment due to them.

I don't believe it's usually the full amount of usage in question that needs to be paid, as some will then be added to the next bill as expected.

I do agree that you shouldn't really have to had to call twice to get the service restored (although as you don't say when you used the automated payment service, it could have been outside the time you needed to speak to someone that could explain the restriction), but apart from that the situation seems valid to me - the restriction was due to a high number of foreign calls, and so Virgin Media would want to ensure these were authorised.

One thing to note is that if you have TV, then you're on a residential service, and the guarantee of service availability is not the same as if on a business connection.

If working from home is as critical as you suggest, then you should be on a dedicate business service for Phone and Broadband from Virgin Media Business, which would come with different terms and processes appropriate to a business level service.
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Last edited by BenMcr; 29-12-2016 at 11:05.
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Old 29-12-2016, 11:00   #3
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

Welcome to the forum.

Bear in mind that VM run a forward billing system: For example I pay off the bill at the end of the month, but on the 2nd of the next month the account will show the full forthcoming months bill again as the balance. Then VM apply a credit limit to that bill so that if you exceed it with calls, VOD etc the service may be suspended. I don't think you get prior notice?

You can of course make an on-line payment into the account so as to prevent the balance exceeding the limit before the payment due date or direct debit if you know you've made heavy use of the extra charge services.

Access your account on-line at www.virginmedia.com using the default e-mail addy and password as login.

HTH
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Old 29-12-2016, 11:14   #4
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

Which would be reasonable if:

1. Virgin Media had tried to contact me to talk about potential fraud. Instead they just suspend my service - several days if not weeks after the 'suspect' phone call(s).

2. The pattern of usage didn't historically already show extended duration calls to South Africa and Australia prior to this billing cycle.

3. This had been brought up on the first call, last night, that I made to Virgin Media, this had been discussed, or I had been invited to pay.

I draw my own conclusions based on these three things.

Finally; I fund my own connection, I have no business use for the landline, (frankly, that's like a fax in my business.. obsolete). The various business products are priced beyond what I consider reasonable for me to pay, especially as it is still not a proper FTTP connection. I am also fortunate to have the option to use one of our offices across the country if required, or a work mobile. Sole Traders don't have that option. It's hard to run a distributed digital economy under those circumstances.

Just as an aside, if I were running a sole trader business entirely from home, then I worked out it is actually cheaper for me to use serviced premises with a shared connection than try to run a home business using the VM products.
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Old 29-12-2016, 19:16   #5
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahbahraz View Post
Which would be reasonable if:
Just as an aside, if I were running a sole trader business entirely from home, then I worked out it is actually cheaper for me to use serviced premises with a shared connection than try to run a home business using the VM products.
I believe VM business broadband starts at 40 a month, so I would deem that reasonable....
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Old 29-12-2016, 19:53   #6
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

As you work from home I would've thought a business line would be more attractive due to the differing SLA. I suppose it depends how important you class your connection.
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Old 29-12-2016, 19:57   #7
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

Quote:
Originally Posted by pip08456 View Post
As you work from home I would've thought a business line would be more attractive due to the differing SLA. I suppose it depends how important you class your connection.
I run my business via a domestic connection but I also have a separate backup connection through the mobile network for the odd time that VM goes down.
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Old 31-12-2016, 19:40   #8
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

Quote:
Originally Posted by vm_tech View Post
I believe VM business broadband starts at 40 a month, so I would deem that reasonable....
There is now a 25 +VAT option for business 50 Mb/s this does not come with a phone line which has been stated as not required, but does come with a business SLA. This is actually cheaper than the residential equivalent, however it is a 24 month commit.
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Old 31-12-2016, 19:48   #9
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Re: Seeking Karen Ingham's Email

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccarmock View Post
There is now a 25 +VAT option for business 50 Mb/s this does not come with a phone line which has been stated as not required, but does come with a business SLA. This is actually cheaper than the residential equivalent, however it is a 24 month commit.
That sounds like the perfect option for those working from home.
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