This is the letter of complaint I sent to Virgin Media this morning. I’m afraid I got rather carried away. Keith’s illustration does not appear in the letter I sent. It’s for your eyes only.
On April 9, according to the bill I received from Virgin Media dated 11 May, I spoke for 14 minutes to what I can only presume was a member of the opposite sex, employed by cruel swine to talk dirty to lonely idiots. Explicit in your accusation is the further presumption that whilst talking to this woman, I manipulated myself to emission. Or at least tried to.
I find all of this extremely offensive.
I am not a proud man. On the contrary, I am on occasion deeply ashamed of many of the acts I commit on a regular basis, and many of the things which ooze unbidden, unpunished through my mind.
You know in The Information, where Martin Amis describes a couple’s bed as having ‘the towelly smell of marriage’? I always found this rather charming. Awww, I thought, marriage. All comfy and safe and warm and fluffy. Maybe not massively sexy, but still, I always rather fancied the idea that one day my own bed would have a towelly smell of its own. Instead, to my eternal shame, my bed has a bowelly smell. The bowelly smell of desperation. And I’m here to tell you, it isn’t pleasant. My whole room smells like the inside of an acutely irritated bowel, tempered, nay, chastened with the toffee-like tinge of freshly congealed manseed.
Do you see where I’m coming from?
What I’m saying to you is that my life, like my bed, is a fairly unspeakable combination of gastric mayhem and – not to put too fine a point on it – cock-toffee. It wouldn’t be so bad if the self-abuse to which I subtly allude actually brought with it any pleasure, but really, in the cold light of my overflowing navel, it doesn’t. Rarely. Rather, sometime it feels like I’m enslaved to this rather soulless instinct to just hammer out the desire. It’s really unpleasant if you think about it in a dark light, and sometimes, frequently, it makes me feel ashamed.
But the important thing is that deep deep down, I also have some pride mixed in with the shame and there are some things that I would never ever do. One of those things is that I would never ever pay damn fine money to an unscrupulous reptile house of low rent pimps, in order that they might then pay paltry peanuts to a woman who despises me, so that she, in turn, might then spit bald and lazy, vagina-heavy platitudes – or, if you will, twatitudes – into my plump, unlovely ear.
I would never do that. And I’ll tell you why.
For the simple if not sole reason that there now exists a tool which renders such venal pursuits wholly obsolete. That thing, my Virgin Media friends, is the internet. I know you’ve heard of it because you serve it to me by the month – occasionally uninterrupted for an entire month at a time! – for an obscenely inflated sum; a sum which, like a loose-cheeked imbecile pleasuring a dandy highwayman, I pay with nothing more than muffled imprecations.
And I pay it because my life without the internet would be worse than useless. Unlike the TV – which I also rent from you – the internet offers a good deal more than large bald men yelling at yokels, and disabled women parading their broken bodies before weak-willed homosexuals (although the internet has these things too, and in spades). The internet also offers 24-hour free and uncensored footage of everything from able-bodied lesbians French-kissing one another’s anuses, to webcammed conversation with damaged middle-aged women in Asshat, Arkansas, getting wasted with their tops off and oiling their bacon.
More than that however – as if anyone, in an ideal world, would ever really need any more than that – the internet also offers a veritable myriad of opportunities for ordinary consumers to share information.
For example, if I type the number of the sex line I am accused of calling – 09090271146 – into Google, it delivers me, in a chillingly efficient 0.11 of a second to a website called Cable Forum, and more specifically, a discussion entitled ‘Have you been charged for premium calls that you didn’t make?’
This discussion begins with the words ‘I am a Virgin Media customer…’, followed by four pages of anecdote – or evidence – from various Virgin Media customers who have been falsely billed for ringing sex lines. Some of them paid up to £400, and are still fighting to be reimbursed. Evidently then, I am far from the first Virgin Media customer to have fallen foul of this nasty scam.
Therefore, under the circumstances, it really peeves me that I have had to write this letter. I was already on the phone to one of your employees when I was originally informed that I had been panting away on a sex line. I pointed out that I do not use ‘adult services’ over the telephone. Then I asked her what she was wearing. I’m joking of course. Rather, I asked how this might have occurred. What was afoot? I asked. In response, I was treated to an almost amusingly high level of ignorance – especially considering that this scam is already well-known to at least some members of Virgin Media’s customer service department.
So, clearly, it doesn’t take a man in a canoe to figure out some kind of system to deal with this known problem. That’s all I’m saying.
Actually that’s not all I’m saying. I’m also saying that, if you have any claims to being a respectable and law-abiding company and any idea whatsoever about decent customer service, then I would ask you please to deal with the following glaringly obvious problems immediately.
1. Please pay me back the money you have taken from me. Immediately. It’s theft, and I really don’t care for it at all.
2. Also, please reimburse all the other people you’ve taken money from too. God knows how many complaints you’ve received and casually fobbed off. Stop pretending you don’t know what’s going on and play fair. For the sake of common decency. The fact is, whether deliberately, with malice aforethought or merely through sloppiness, you have taken money which doesn’t belong to you and you really ought to give it back.
3. Also, while you’re about it, please offer me a refund for the extended periods of internet outage which occurred last some time month. One of your customer service staff said that if I asked for compensation, I would get it. So I’m asking. Please don’t ask me to call your helpline again. I will implode.
4. Also, please learn to use email. I mean, come on. In this day and age. It’s embarrassing. Anyone would think you’re deliberately making it difficult for disgruntled customers to make you accountable for not doing your job very well.
5. And please show the last two seasons of Six Feet Under on TV Choice On Demand. I choose it. I demand it. And The Wire too. And Dexter.
I would appreciate a prompt and considered response, if not from you, then from your superior.
I will not hesitate to take the matter further if you do not at least have the courtesy to grant me a decent reply. (I will be using the aforementioned internet as the chief tool in my 'taking the matter further'. Please do not cut me off.) (I will implode.)
Yours in keen anticipation of some semblance of humanity,
Now I guess I wait and see.