Is there a good broadband and telephone service for disabled people?

Can anyone recommend me a good, reliable Broadband and Telephone provider?

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I was with Plusnet for eight years, very happily, until they became part of BT and service plummeted.  I would be promised “an Outreach Engineer will be with you before 6 pm this evening”, when – as I live near their depot – I knew they had all gone home at 3 pm.  Plusnet seemed scared to challenge BT, so I left.

Virginmedia

Then I tried Virgin.  Of course, they promised me the earth. As they were much more expensive than Plusnet, I thought this would mean more reliable service – how stupid can I be!!!  For weeks my Internet has been going off for hours at a time;  each time I wait, and wait to talk to someone – but why I bother I don’t know.  Apparently the ‘outage’ will last for another four days (how can they tell?) and then be OK, when I am then due a minuscule refund – ha! Obviously their Engineers don’t work over the weekend.

Today I start asking for compensation.  Virgin has this all worked out!  I am told that as soon as the problem is fixed, someone will call me.  But as they NEVER bother to call me back, I know this won’t happen and I won’t be compensated for anything.

In order to sign up for Virgin’s service for disabled, I had to pay my GP to write a letter to confirm I was disabled, and I was then on Virgin’s register.  The services they could offer sounded so good I got onto their Press Office and said I would like to write about this.  But, as I have discovered, this means only my phone is supposedly attended to urgently – but for anything else forget it.  The promised team of ‘Virgin’s own expert engineers’ don’t seem to be around.

Incidentally,although Virgin supposedly has me on its ‘disabled’ register, its ‘customer service staff’ are hopeless at dealing with us.  We have to wait – and wait – to report a fault, and then go through a long list of unhelpful time wasting questions before they will answer simple enquiries about when service will be restored. And as for SORRY – Virgin don’t understand the word.

And the stupid questions!  What is the point of asking “are you the account holder?” Suppose it’s a Carer phoning?

NHS wants us to use IT.

I had set up a good system with most of my 12 Consultant’s offices sending me emails about appointments, tests due, info after my last appointment, etc.  This could work well, but if I can’t access the Internet it won’t.

I did get Virgin to refund me the GP’s letter fee as they had mis-represented their service, but if there is a problem I get onto a call centre that assumes I am fully able and can go to alter the hub (in another room) etc. without having to worry about getting up and moving around.  Or go and find my account number – again filed away in another room.  OK, I could carry this info around, but I often phone lying flat on my back from bed as it is most comfortable position as one usually waits a minimum of 20 – 30 minutes to be connected, and I don’t have any way of carrying this stuff around.

And the stupid security question:  Are you the account holder?  It could be a carer phoning – then what?

And then, after trying to explain for the umpteenth time what’s wrong, I keep on being asked “what’s the 2nd and 6th words of your password?”  Really easy for me, when I can’t even remember which password I used to set up service!  And ask the call centre, “did I use xxxxx?” They unhelpfully say they can’t help.  Just to find out what’s wrong.

Of course, they are hoping you will close the call out of frustration and then they are off the hook.

Last month my Internet connection went down for over a week;  Virgin gave me a derisory discount and basically told me that although I have been repeatedly in touch – no-one had bothered to note my calls, so I would only be credited from July 28th – the date I had finally exploded.

Helpful staff

In all my interminable problems with Virginmedia, I have made contact with some staff who were incredibly helpful – and honest:  Rick Astley, Andy Mochaf and Shane, and Ken.  All told me if I had more problems to get in touch;  but as a lowly customer you are blocked from doing this, and each time the service goes down you go through all the rigmarole of security checks, are you the account holder?  and other time wasting, etc.  Last time I asked to speak to one of the helpful lot I was told “you are not allowed to talk to them” .

I  sent a desperate email to the address on their website for the CEO;  it itemised major phone calls I had made and spent a lot of time veryfying dates etc.  (never received a reply from him).

Last year I was 4,000 feet up in a little clinic in the  Austrian Alps, turned on their WiFi and it worked immediately.  If a tiny village can manage to offer a competent service, why can’t Virgin do this in the middle of London?

What would help

  • Provider work with the NHS, who are trying to get us to use IT for communicating
  • Open an office to deal with disabled customers and work out what ‘security’ questions we can answer easily  e.g. get someone from Scope or Age UK to check. But of course this will cost money (albeit a tiny amount);  Virgin know how to charge, but not give.
  • Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
  • Provide an email in case callers find it difficult to hold a telephone for the half-an-hour it takes to answer.  FYI it might be contactus@virgin.com – but I don’t hold out much hope as the call centre weren’t sure!

Does anyone know if there is any company that offers a reliable WORKING Internet service?  Let me know on verite@greenbee.net.  Virgin’s idea of an apology is to send out an automated telephone message to tell subscribers that the service that was down is now up and running – but couched in terms that makes it out to be nothing to do with Virgin.

 

 

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