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Virgin Media, Sharp practice or outright discrimination?

  • 05-03-2021 11:00am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 14,301 ✭✭✭✭ banie01


    Following on from a recent ComReg ruling that has required Virgin Media to issue €3 million in refunds to 141000 customers.
    Virgin Media chose to do this via cheque, and issued via paper and post 141000 cheques which is hardly either best practice or "green" ;) which lets be honest does matter and also put wholly unnecessary extra strain on our postal system at a time of continuing peak demand.


    I probably should have better things to do with my time and, I really do.
    But Virgin Media's choice to issue crossed cheques as a means of refund during a pandemic lockdown? Has wound me up.

    What made it worse is their refusal in the course of my contact with them to offer any alternative.
    So after escalating internally with VM and getting nowhere.
    This morning I opened cases with ComReg, the CCPC and also forwarded details to my local TDs.

    The stance taken by VM on this issue really is a discriminatory one IMO.
    If you are unbanked, infirm or unable to attend a bank outside your 5km for who knows however much longer?
    Well VM get to keep your money!

    It's only a small amount, but in light of the recent ComReg finding VM are issuing 141000 cheques in addition to however many there usual refund cycle entails.

    Issuing refunds via cheque an outdated and obsolete process, and knowing a proportion won't be cashed suddenly becomes quite a little moneyspinner!
    I'm not going to let it lie, it's only €17 in my pocket but the principles of fairness should apply.

    People should be refunded by the method they paid, not a cheque that Virgin Media hope will never be cashed.
    Being unbanked or infirm should not mean that a corporation is excused refunding your money.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,365 ✭✭✭✭ McMurphy


    banie01 wrote: »
    Following on from a recent ComReg ruling that has required Virgin Media to issue €3 million in refunds to 141000 customers.
    Virgin Media chose to do this via cheque, and issued via paper and post 141000 cheques which is hardly either best practice or "green" ;) which lets be honest does matter and also put wholly unnecessary extra strain on our postal system at a time of continuing peak demand.


    I probably should have better things to do with my time and, I really do.
    But Virgin Media's choice to issue crossed cheques as a means of refund during a pandemic lockdown? Has wound me up.

    What made it worse is their refusal in the course of my contact with them to offer any alternative.
    So after escalating internally with VM and getting nowhere.
    This morning I opened cases with ComReg, the CCPC and also forwarded details to my local TDs.

    The stance taken by VM on this issue really is a discriminatory one IMO.
    If you are unbanked, infirm or unable to attend a bank outside your 5km for who knows however much longer?
    Well VM get to keep your money!

    It's only a small amount, but in light of the recent ComReg finding VM are issuing 141000 cheques in addition to however many there usual refund cycle entails.

    Issuing refunds via cheque an outdated and obsolete process, and knowing a proportion won't be cashed suddenly becomes quite a little moneyspinner!
    I'm not going to let it lie, it's only €17 in my pocket but the principles of fairness should apply.

    People should be refunded by the method they paid, not a cheque that Virgin Media hope will never be cashed.
    Being unbanked or infirm should not mean that a corporation is excused refunding your money.



    Would you believe I'm literally after receiving a cheque through the door, not even five minutes ago from them for €21.77!

    No doubt that'll prob be put in a drawer somewhere and forgotten about FFS!


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,301 ✭✭✭✭ banie01


    McMurphy wrote: »
    Would you believe I'm literally after receiving a cheque through the door, not even five minutes ago from them for €21.77!

    No doubt that'll prob be put in a drawer somewhere and forgotten about FFS!

    Thats exactly what VM and other companies that issue cheque refunds want you to do.

    I know it seems petty on my part, but I've been on the other side of this argument and managed the cheque issuing process for a large telco.
    Its done for precisely the reason that "we" knew we would have a delinquency rate on the cheques that amounted to additional retained funds for our bottom line.

    Same company spent quite a while refusing non-irish IBANs too.
    I led a project to implement ETF refunds process that was successful but not implemented due a director instruction.

    Its a ridiculous process that only benefits the company.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,827 ✭✭✭ $hifty


    banie01 wrote: »
    The stance taken by VM on this issue really is a discriminatory one IMO.
    If you are unbanked, infirm or unable to attend a bank outside your 5km for who knows however much longer?
    Well VM get to keep your money!

    First of all, I've no idea how confusion still exists over this but the 5km limit doesn't apply to banks. It is for exercise only. You are allowed travel outside of 5km for any number of other reasons.

    Secondly, they issue cheques because they can't issue cash by post.
    Some of them don't get cashed, that's a) hardly their fault and b) something that works in their favour, hence part of the reason why they do it.
    Another part is that it's quick and simple.....running a mail merge of a database of 140,000 people takes a couple of days, max
    If you did it via bank transfer, which is what I assume you'd like, it takes probably 10 minutes per transaction. That's more than 2.5 years worth of labour for that amount of customers. Completely unfeasible.

    I've no idea how you can find that discriminatory. If someone is "unbanked" in this day and age then how the hell do you expect them to refund you? Via carrier pigeon?

    Edit: Forgot to add, VM are a bunch of scumbags, and there's plenty of reasons to give them stick over their business policies and practices. Them not bending over backwards to facilitate your choice of unsafe payment is not one of them, IMO.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,301 ✭✭✭✭ banie01


    $hifty wrote: »
    First of all, I've no idea how confusion still exists over this but the 5km limit doesn't apply to banks. It is for exercise only. You are allowed travel outside of 5km for any number of other reasons.

    Secondly, they issue cheques because they can't issue cash by post.
    Some of them don't get cashed, that's a) hardly their fault and b) something that works in their favour, hence part of the reason why they do it.
    Another part is that it's quick and simple.....running a mail merge of a database of 140,000 people takes a couple of days, max
    If you did it via bank transfer, which is what I assume you'd like, it takes probably 10 minutes per transaction. That's more than 2.5 years worth of labour for that amount of customers. Completely unfeasible.

    I've no idea how you can find that discriminatory. If someone is "unbanked" in this day and age then how the hell do you expect them to refund you? Via carrier pigeon?

    Edit: Forgot to add, VM are a bunch of scumbags, and there's plenty of reasons to give them stick over their business policies and practices. Them not bending over backwards to facilitate your choice of unsafe payment is not one of them, IMO.

    Can't do point by point as my mobile is glitching.

    Unbanked can refer to any of a range of situations.
    From not having an account at all, to a non-Irish account, through to using a non-irish or digital provider.
    For example if you bank via n26 or Revolut as a means of avoiding charges?
    Well then your cheque is worthless.
    A growing number of people, particularly lower income folk have shifted to digital banking platforms as a means of controlling expenses.

    Your point regarding 2.5yrs labour.
    Is ridiculous, as I said in a later comment this particular area is one I have professional experience of.
    This isn't a manual process, Telco CRM software of any modern iteration allows for reports on credit balance to be pulled, actioned via refund to payment account on a mass basis.
    It can probably even be done via brio reporting.
    Pulling the data via .CSV for mail merge and posting a cheque is antiquated practice that is perpetuated in the main for mass refund in the hope of a % delinquency.

    Further regarding the issuing of cheques. A cheque is not legal tender, it can only be accepted in settlement of a debt by the acquiescence of the debtor.

    As for unbanked or infirm, it happens, far more than you would think.
    I'll give you your point on 5km, but again even with that?
    Should an infirm person be expected to risk attending the bank in the 1st place?
    Should customers on fixed or low incomes be exposed to the relatively high charge of 0.60c on top of a monthly/quarterly account maintenance fee?

    Further, refunds are generally made via the original mode of payment.
    If a foreign bank is good enough for a company to take payment from?
    It's reasonable to assume it is good enough for a refund to be issued to same.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,732 ✭✭✭✭ Mrs OBumble


    Some people will have changed bank accounts since they last made a payment to VM. Some cards will have expired. Some pay in cash at a Payzone outlet. For all of these, automated payment would fail.

    It's not their problem if you choose to use a bank which doesn't accept cheques. You must surely have a solution that you use for other cheques, eg the health insurance Covid refunds.

    And if someone is infirm, they can post a cheque to their bank, or ask whoever is handling their affairs to deal with it for them


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,773 ✭✭✭ LorenzoB


    So maybe both the infirm foreigners without a bank inside 5km can get a family member to cash the cheque for them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,301 ✭✭✭✭ banie01


    LorenzoB wrote: »
    So maybe both the infirm foreigners without a bank inside 5km can get a family member to cash the cheque for them.

    The cheques are crossed AC payee only, so no.
    They can't.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,763 ✭✭✭ Patrick2010


    Some people will have changed bank accounts since they last made a payment to VM. Some cards will have expired. Some pay in cash at a Payzone outlet. For all of these, automated payment would fail.

    It's not their problem if you choose to use a bank which doesn't accept cheques. You must surely have a solution that you use for other cheques, eg the health insurance Covid refunds.

    And if someone is infirm, they can post a cheque to their bank, or ask whoever is handling their affairs to deal with it for them


    VHI refunded to my bank account


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,326 ✭✭✭ baldshin


    I'd hazard a guess that a good percentage of those who incurred cancellation fees did so because they were moving house. In this scenario, not many of them are going to have their cheques forwarded to their new addresses, so VM won't be paying a cent in these cases.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,301 ✭✭✭✭ banie01


    Some people will have changed bank accounts since they last made a payment to VM. Some cards will have expired. Some pay in cash at a Payzone outlet. For all of these, automated payment would fail.
    Some will have changed address, it's the same difference.
    The other payment methods can be addressed by the same report pulled that will allow automatic payment reversion.
    Non DD payments can be addressed by multiple means rather than scattershot.


    It's not their problem if you choose to use a bank which doesn't accept cheques. You must surely have a solution that you use for other cheques, eg the health insurance Covid refunds.
    My health insurer refunded directly to my account.
    Again, if my bank can make payments via DD to VM, VM have a means of reversing partial payment


    And if someone is infirm, they can post a cheque to their bank, or ask whoever is handling their affairs to deal with it for them

    Reply above


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  • Registered Users Posts: 903 ✭✭✭ Wetasanotter


    I'm after trying to lodge my cheque in my local PTSB branch which only offers automated banking. The machine rejects the cheque, which means I'll need to take time off work and travel approx 15km to lodge a cheque for €9.35.

    Anyone else had any luck getting the cheque lodged?


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