Data protection, a mad inventor, Mr Methane and the Commonwealth Games

After spending the period July 29th to September 30th trying and failing to move my landline and broadband to O2, I gave up. Instead, I signed with Virgin Media’s cable system.

The day before the switch-over, I got a call from Virgin Media saying they wanted to talk to me about the installation but, first, under the terms of the Data Protection Act, they had to ask me for my security details, including my address and the password on my account. I refused. They said, if I did not answer the security questions, my installation would be cancelled. I told the woman I had no way of knowing for certain who she was but that I would tell her my security details if she told me her bank PIN number and home telephone number and I would then check them. She refused, which I thought was a tad unreasonable. I refused to give her my security details. She said, as a consequence, they would cancel my installation. So I phoned back a Virgin Media number where they confirmed it was, indeed, Virgin Media who had called but that they would still install the phone and broadband service. Their previous phone call had been because they had wanted to check if there were any parking restrictions outside my house which might affect the installer’s van.

I complained by e-mail to Virgin Media that they were asking me to give my security details to any caller who claimed they were from Virgin Media. Two days later, I got a call from the Virgin Media Complaints Dept to discuss my complaint but first, the guy told me, I would have to answer security questions including my password. I refused. He seemed surprised.

He then sent me an e-mail saying that, under English law, Virgin Media had to ask for my security details before discussing subjects with me. Virgin Media tell me the Data Protection Act forces them to ask me to give out my security details if they cold call me and want to ask me if I have parking restrictions outside my house. And the Data Protection Act forces them to ask me to give out my security details if they cold call me and… erm… want to inform me that they have to ask me to give out my security details if they cold call me.

Have Telecom companies in the UK been secretly involved in organising the Commonwealth Games? It somehow seems likely.

Virgin Media should think themselves lucky. When I was having trouble with BT and O2 I had pre-emptively arranged for eccentric inventor John Ward to come down to London one afternoon and be photographed with his Bullshit detector (labelled B******T Detector) outside the BT headquarters building. The next day Mr Methane, the world’s only professional farteur, had agreed to come to London in costume and fart at the BT building to see if it made any difference to the hot air emanating from the building. The third day would have involved a farmer whom I know slightly with a large muck-spraying machine.

My current Virgin Media service is erratic. John Ward, Mr Methane and the agricultural muck-spreader remain on standby.

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Filed under Comedy, Consumer Affairs

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