Resistance isn’t futile

I’ll make this short as I really should be putting the finishing touches to TMA01 (which in turn requires me to have done a first draft, but that’s another story). I have had a small victory against the forces of darkness this week and wanted to share it.

I have been a Virgin Media (formally NTL) customer since 2001, when we had broadband installed. Its been a good service. Until Thursday morning that is, when they turned it off. I found out when I had a text from home to tell me. My wife is studying at the moment so she had to go round to a friend to continue studying.

When I got home I did geeky things with the router which picked up an IP address for us, so I then thought “Great, sorted”. Fired up the browser and got a message saying “Welcome to Virging Media, you now need to register your new cable modem, please ring this number”.

Hmm. Unless the pixies had been in the night and replaced it, the cable modem had been sat on the shelf connected to the cable for the past two years (since VirginMedia last upgraded it). So, like a good boy, I got on the phone and called the number suggested. I won’t bore you with a complete recital of the following two hours which left me absolutely incandescent with rage, but merely provide a glimpse into the dark hell which is called Virgin Media customer support.

I went through five people, two of whom were very rude, before I got to anyone who knew what the real problem was. We found out quite quickly that the problem was that the MAC address of my modem was not on their system. From a number of the VirgninMedia staff the clear implication of their questions was either that I was incapable of reading a MAC Address and repeating it over the phone correctly, or that I had somehow obtained a different modem and was trying to have them over. So, insult my intelligence and my integrity. Those who know me well will understand that these are not two good buttons to press.

So, finally to the fifth man. I finally got through to this guy by starting again and choosing the “I want to cancel my account” option from the phone menu system. Sounded like a Dutch guy, so probably second or third line support, he actually realised that there might be a problem for them if MAC Addresses were suddenly disappearing from their system. After a while he came back with the news of what had actually occurred. It seems that there are a batch of VirginMedia modems (of which mine was one) that are in someway faulty. So VirginMedia just locked them out of their system and WAITED FOR CUSTOMERS TO PHONE AND TELL THEM!!!!!!!!! Yes, I was a bit cross by this stage. “Sorry” said Dutch guy, “but there is nothing I can do. The system has been reprogrammed not to accept this range of MAC addresses. It can’t be reprogrammed. Your MAC Address can’t be put in. I have now requested that you get a new modem and it will be with you in 3-5 days”.

I have to say, I did remain remarkably calm. Ok, that’s not actually true. I did rant a bit, but no raised voice or bad words. I left Dutch guy with the option – either the system was reprogrammed and my MAC Address was reinserted into their system by morning and they send out the new modem now, or they lose my £1,000 a year (broadband, TV, phone) and I make it my life’s work to rage against the Virgin machine.

Friday morning. Shock, horror, gasp. The internet is back. The system can be reprogrammed. My MAC Address can be put back in. So, thank you Dutch guy for realising that humans control the computers and not the other way around.

Rage against the machine. You can win.