Sometimes you have a boyfriend who is lovely really, there’s nothing wrong with him, you just don’t click.  Or it (whatever the ‘it’ is you’re looking for in that particular relationship) just isn’t there.  Those break ups are really hard because they almost always end in the most awful and overused sentence – “It’s not you, it’s me”.  And then there are break ups that are easy.  No brainers really.

That is how I would characterise my break up with Virgin Media.  I had been with Virgin Media since they took over from my cable provider in the 90s.  Steadily their prices increased, and the service decreased to the point that everything I was watching was like one of those game shows where they de-pixillate and reveal the picture slowly allowing you time to guess what the image is supposed to be.  Every time I called, they would come and say that the problem was not a real problem.  (Of course, as with my car, every time the engineer would come round, the TV would be working fine.)  The problem was this:  At the time when everyone is home watching TV, the TV would pack up.  We would miss vital goals, not to mention all of our favourite TV shows with ruined punchlines and cliffhangers. To add to our frustration, the adverts always worked just fine.  Several times, we called them, only to be told that the problem was in our area.  Like that makes it better.  Knowing that it’s not just us, but also our neighbours who are watching bad TV.  Oh, the comfort. Perhaps we needed to consider moving in order to improve our service?    The truth is, Virgin Media were like the worst kind of boyfriend:  the boyfriend with no redeeming qualities.  Sometimes we put up with guys because even though they don’t  float our boats on every level, they have a redeeming quality.  They’re good with kids, or in bed, or they always do those jobs you hate doing.  After all, uses for a boyfriend in my opinion are limited to – in no particular order – sex, cuddling, moral support, cuddling, handiwork, arachnocide and heavy lifting. Oh, and cuddling.  Virgin Media was the boyfriend who did none of the afore-mentioned, and shagged your best friend because she lived in a better neighbourhood that is easier for him to get to.  In short – world’s easiest break up.  The conversation went like this:

“Hello, I would like to terminate my contract with you.”

“Are you Mr (insert last name)?”

“No, I am the bill payer, Ms ….”

“Do you know the password to the account because we can’t talk to you if you don’t.”

“Yes, it’s blah”

“That is correct.  What relation are you to Mr…  “

“I am his daughter.”

“We really need to speak to him.”

“He lives abroad now, and since I pay the bills, and know the password, you can talk to me”

“If you wish to change the name on the account that can be arranged for £20”

“I wish to close the account.”

“What seems to be the problem?”

“You’re rubbish” (I toyed with the idea of sugar-coating it, but at this point, I was really annoyed.  Step aside British reserve – Greek bull in a china shop approach is taking over.)

“What can we do to change your mind?”

“Nothing, short of providing me with a decent service free of charge for fourteen years.”

Nervous laugh “You will have to pay two months from now as that is the notice period”

“Fine.  Whatever, anything not to have to deal with you any more.”

“Thank you for being a Virgin Media Customer, and we hope you will consider joining us again in the future”

“Only at knifepoint.”

The truth was, I had met someone else.  I had been swept off my feet by Sky and this promotion they had for half price Sky+ HD for a year.  They came over, put the satellite dish on my balcony and then voila – seamless television which you can pause, rewind, forward and best of all series link all your favourite shows.  Sky had come into my life at the right moment.  I was unhappy with my previous provider and they swooped in, making me giddy and full of the first flushes of young love.  Everything about it was amazing.  We sat in front of our television enthralled each night marvelling at the ability to watch un-pixillated TV, where the protagonist didn’t look like a criminal whose rights were being protected by the media.  For as long as we were at my previous house, Sky were the perfect boyfriend.  The ‘beginning of a relationship boyfriend’, the one who finds all your peculiarities cute, listens to every story you tell with bated breath, and never complains no matter what you ask him to do.  You test him, you ask him for outlandish/impossible things:  Can we record Hawaii Five-0 but watch Downton Abbey?  Yes!  Can we record two things simultaneously?  For you my darling?  Anything!

It was true love and I thought it would last forever….  So when we had a moving date (end of February), I called them in mid-January and asked them what the form was.  They asked about the building etc. and told me they would be there on March 4th.  On the morning of March 4th, I realised I hadn’t had a time from them.  I called and asked them what time they would be here.

“You don’t seem to have an appointment Madam.  Or at least, the appointment has been cancelled.”

“Who cancelled it?  Not me, I am home from work, waiting for you.”

“Sorry, we can get someone to you on Thursday”

OK, I thought, everyone makes mistakes, Thursday isn’t too bad.  Thursday it was.  The guy called me on Wednesday night, just to let me know he would be here between 10 & 12.  I was not going to be here, but someone was, so I said ok.  At 1:30 that someone calls me.

“I want to go home and they haven’t come yet.”

I called them.

“Sorry, I am just parking.  I’ll be right there”

Ten minutes later, I get another call.

“You are not connected to the dish” he says.

“I know, that’s why you’re there.”

“No, you have to get connected to the dish first and then I’ll come and hook your box to the cable”  (Seriously?  I think I can do that by myself – I knew this one was too good to be true)

I called the porter of my block.  What is the deal with the communal dish? I asked.  He told me there was a guy who comes and does it.  He would be here next week and he could sort me out.  Great, thanks I said, let’s do it!

Later that night, about 7:30pm, my doorbell rang.  I wasn’t expecting anyone.

“Who is it?” I asked into the intercom.

“Sky TV”

“Did you forget something?”

“Can we discuss this upstairs?” he asked, clearly annoyed, like I had asked him to come back and talk to me through the intercom for a while – just til I fell asleep.

He came upstairs and there followed a bizarre conversation where he just repeated that we weren’t connected to the dish and his team leader had sent him back to fix the problem but there was nothing he could do.  Eventually he left.

The cable guy came round on Tuesday.

“ I have to go upstairs and bring down a cable from the dish to your roof.”

“Ok, that sounds alright.  Will it take long?”

“The thing is – it’s a bit windy.  I don’t think I want to do it today. I’ll be in touch.”

I was left speechless and television-less until further notice.  Today my mobile rang.  It was the porter.

“The thing is M, you never told me you had Sky+ HD.”

“OK, I’ll tell you now.  I am paying for Sky+ HD and I have been without TV for about 3 weeks now.  What is the problem?”

“That cable costs £300 to bring down and into your flat. Regular Sky is free, but Sky+ is extra.”

That’s extra – my two favourite words.

I am locked into a contract with sky+ so not paying was not an option.  I swallowed hard and said ok.

“But is it going to happen any time soon?  After all, I have been paying for 3 weeks not to watch Television, it seems a shame for that situation to continue”.

“Sure, sure” he said.  “The guy said he’d come back and some point and sort you out, but I have to make sure you knew about the payment.”

Presumably I have to wait for a bright sunny day, not too cold and not too windy for him to get up onto the roof.  I assume that my TV will be sorted out in June which is handy because I am moving again in July.

Oh Sky, the honeymoon is definitely over.  Please tell me you have a redeeming feature.  My preference?  World class cuddler.

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