cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

vworp
Grafter
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎23-07-2011

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

I already have a ticket open for this in the help centre, but I would like some general advice on how to proceed here from anyone who can help. The situation is this...
I recently transferred my broadband service from Virgin to Plusnet. I requested a MAC code from Virgin and had no problems getting one, and I used this MAC code when I signed up from Plusnet. According to the terms and conditions from Virgin this should have terminated my account there. However, my account has remained open and I have been charged for a further month with Virgin (outside the 30-day notice period from when I requested the MAC code. I phone Virgin today and was told that Plusnet never used the MAC code when they started my service, and simply put their service on the line "on top of" my Virgin service. As a consequence my account was never cancelled and so the charges continued. I have now cancelled with Virgin, but because the MAC code was not used and it's therefore a manual disconnection, they have charged me a further fee for that. It should be pointed out I haven't actually paid these final charges yet as they say they will send me a bill. However, I contacted the Plusnet help centre online and have been told (surprise surprise) that they did use the MAC code, and have confirmed the correct code with me.
So how should I proceed here? Either a) Virgin are lying/mistaken, they should have shut my account according to their T&C, and these charges are false, or b) Plusnet are lying/mistaken, didn't use my MAC code when they should have done, and I should probably have a legitimate claim for some sort of compensation for these charges I incurred as a result.
But obviously what will really happen is that both sides will continue to blame the other side, I will be stuck in the middle with no evidence either way, and as such I'm not really in a position to refuse to pay these charges, nor am I in a position to ask Plusnet to pay them for me. The guy on the phone at Virgin told me I could contact Ofcom if such a situation arose, but checking their website tells me that Ofcom don't get involved in individual disputes, so they can't help me. Apparently, if I go through the proper complaints procedure and it is unresolved after 8 weeks I can approach some sort of ombudsman/dispute scheme, but the problem is.... how can I even start a complaints procedure when I have no idea which company is in the wrong? I obviously need some 3rd  party arbitration, but it seems the only way I can get that is to start a complaint with either one of the companies, which I can't really legitimately do as I have no actual evidence either way that either of them have done anything wrong, other than what I have been told from the other side.
This seems to be a rather stupid situation to be in, but I don't really see any way out of this, but I am VERY reluctant to pay nearly £40 for something that was definitely not my mistake, I just don't know whose mistake it was!
22 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,320
Thanks: 86
Fixes: 3
Registered: ‎08-01-2008

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Can you just confirm please:
Was your Virgin Broadband provided on ADSL (telephone line to BT exchange) rather than via Virgin Cable? AFAIK MAC keys do not apply with cable based services.
Was the MAC key used within 30 days of being issued?
I cannot see how PlusNet could take over an ADSL service without a valid MAC key so I know where my suspicions lie.
Call me 'w23'
At any given moment in the universe many things happen. Coincidence is a matter of how close these events are in space, time and relationship.
Opinions expressed in forum posts are those of the poster, others may have different views.
vworp
Grafter
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎23-07-2011

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

I know where my suspicions lie too. Yes my Virgin broadband was ADSL on a BT landline. It IS possible to sign up without a MAC code though, they just say it will take a little longer and won't be as smooth, so it must be at least possible that it was done without use of the MAC code. However, surely I will need some sort of concrete evidence that it was used in the form of copies of emails or logged phone calls or something (I don't actually know how the MAC code system works, or how automated it is), but at the moment all I have is word of mouth from both sides.
Plusnet tell me they wouldn't have been able to take over the line without using the MAC code as BT would reject the order.
Virgin tells me there is no question that the MAC was used as, if it had been used, it would have been automatically cancelled when it was used, but it remained active until the 3rd of August (my Plusnet service became active on the 9th of July).
I'd lean towards believing plusnet on this one, but at the same time as I say, I need something a bit more concrete than that before I can refuse to pay Virgin.
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 6,969
Thanks: 999
Fixes: 60
Registered: ‎30-07-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Quote
I just don't know who's mistake it was!

Almost certainly BT Wholesale. What is supposed to happen is that when PlusNet give the MAC to BTw they should inform the losing ISP (Virgin) that the transfer has taken place. Sometimes this doesn't happen, PlusNet will not be aware of this since its BTw's responsibility. So in fact both PlusNet and to some extent Virgin are telling the truth. Well Virgin aren't really, since they must know that you have not connected to their ADSL service since you moved to PlusNet. Also they can not charge a disconnection fee since you are no longer connected to them and if they tried to get BTw to disconnect they would know that. Bottom line is you need to complain to Virgin, I'm sure PlusNet will provide you with evidence as to when your service transferred if you ask for it, and armed with that you should be in a good position.
vworp
Grafter
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎23-07-2011

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Well... if this is the case then I can certainly see Virgin telling me that the fault is not theirs at all, and I'd have a hard time arguing it was. The only slight straw I can clutch at is the phrase in their Terms and Conditions....
"Your account will be Cancelled if:
    i. you provide the MAC to your new service provider and they use the MAC to migrate your broadband service; or..."
Which says "if they use the MAC" and not "if they use the MAC AND we are informed of this". But that really is a very small straw to be clutching at.
As a matter of interest, my MAC was issued on the 28th of June, and expired on the 3rd of August according to Virgin. But as they are only supposed to be valid for 30 days, then is this even possible?
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 6,969
Thanks: 999
Fixes: 60
Registered: ‎30-07-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Quote
Well... if this is the case then I can certainly see Virgin telling me that the fault is not theirs at all, and I'd have a hard time arguing it was.

Yes, technically its not their fault BUT how can they charge you for a service that they haven't ( and could not possibly have! ) provided since you migrated to PlusNet. Also as I said earlier they can not charge a cancellation fee since in order to do that they would have to put an 'cease' order on the ADSL via BTw and they can't do that because they don't 'own' the ADSL service on that line anymore, BTw would not accept their order.
I'm not sure how long MAC's are valid.
I'm sure one of the Digital Care Team will spot this post tomorrow and hopefully assist you to sort out the mess.
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 5,296
Thanks: 624
Fixes: 5
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Hey.
This morning I logged into BT's ordering systems and have 100% verified that your order was placed with that MAC code.  I got Ben in my team to phone BT Wholesale and double check and they confirmed it as well.
Have you actually paid the charges from Virgin?

Kelly Dorset
Broadband Service Manager
vworp
Grafter
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎23-07-2011

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

No I haven't paid any charges to Virgin yet, they are sending me a final bill through the post (allegedly). I also took the precaution of cancelling my Debit Card when I left them and getting a new card number in case something like this happened, so they can't actually take any money from me without permission.
At the moment I am thinking I will definitely dispute the charges with them when they do send the final bill, and in light of what you've just said I am even more inclined to do that. I'm just suspecting that they will dispute my dispute and probably start sending me letters about debt collection agencies and things. Both Virgin and Plusnet have recommended I contact Ofcom, so I suppose that is an option although they can only offer general advice and can't actually arbitrate any dispute.
If it comes down to it, will I be able to get any reference numbers or dates or any other sort of concrete information from Plusnet to provide to Virgin in any dispute? At the moment, although I personally am fully convinced, all I can really say to them is "Plusnet have told me this..." to which they will probably say "well they are wrong" and then I don't have anything else to back it up.
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: ‎18-07-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Hi vworp,
I've raised a ticket on your account and attached a screen capture of the order record from BTs systems on there for you. It confirms the order was placed with the MAC and also the date it was placed and the date completed.
It's not possible to have more than one ADSL service on the line, so there's no way we could have installed our service 'on top' of your own.
I hope that helps,
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 6,969
Thanks: 999
Fixes: 60
Registered: ‎30-07-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

It should be interesting to hear Virgin's response to that screen dump Smiley
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 27,350
Thanks: 1,896
Fixes: 175
Registered: ‎14-04-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Oh...Err...I'll have a word with the agent responsible for the mis-information Lips are sealed

Customer and Forum Moderator. Windows 10 Firefox 64.0 (64-bit)

vworp
Grafter
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎23-07-2011

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Thank you very much, I got the screen capture. At the moment I'm still waiting for my final bill to come from Virgin before I dispute it with them. I'm still not expecting them to back down quietly, but this should certainly strengthen my case. Thank you again.
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 6,969
Thanks: 999
Fixes: 60
Registered: ‎30-07-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

You might find this useful if you need to complain http://www.ispreview.co.uk/new/complain/official_isp_complaints_handlers.php
vworp
Grafter
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎23-07-2011

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Thank you Smiley I may try one final phone call to Virgin to explain the situation as I now see it once I get my final bill. If it isn't able to be resolved quickly by phone then I think I will start with the official complaints recorded delivery letter route as life is too short to be spent on the phone being bounced around from department to department. But I won't get too far ahead of myself just yet.
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 27,350
Thanks: 1,896
Fixes: 175
Registered: ‎14-04-2007

Re: Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Do keep us posted Smiley

Customer and Forum Moderator. Windows 10 Firefox 64.0 (64-bit)