April 30, 2013
Man Receives Bill From Virgin Beyond The Grave
Computers can be a big help by automating thousands upon thousands of monotonous sequences.
This is especially true in the world of social media/networking where companies are asked to carry on millions of conversations simultaneously. Ah, but even the best laid plans of mice and men can result in some tacky aftermath. Take, for instance, the terribly insensitive Tweet by @CelebBoutique immediately following last year’s horrific shootings in Aurora, Colorado that claimed the term “Aurora” was trending because so many people were buying their dress. More recently, Epicurious fell into the automated pit when they suggested whole-grain cranberry scones “in honor of Boston and New England” following the Boston Marathon bombings.
Across the pond, Virgin Media has fallen prey to the automated demons and, as these things often go, the blunder was an instant viral hit.
The story goes that earlier this month Jim Boyden received a bill from Virgin Media addressed to his father-in-law who had passed away. The first line of the payment detail shows a charge for £63.99; the second line reads “D.D Denied-Payer deceased” and continues to show the charge for £63.99.
The third line shows a charge of £10 for “late payment.”
Mr. Boyden was understandably upset by this, so he did what anyone in his position would do: He posted the picture on Facebook.
“I am intrigued – how exactly did you imagine him paying this extra fine from beyond the grave?” wrote Mr. Boyden on his Facebook page, according to the Mirror.
“I’m simply not paying it, as ever since passing away, I have noticed a sharp decrease in the amount of television my Father in Law has been watching.”
As it turns out, Virgin issued the charge to Mr. Boyden’s Father-in-law’s bank, which returned a message, claiming that he had passed away.
Somehow this automated process hiccuped, resulting in a bill with the “Payer Deceased” message printed in black ink, which was then mailed out.
Virgin Media has profusely apologized, saying the entire thing was a mistake and Mr. Boyden should have never even seen the second line of the bill, much less the bill itself.
“We offer our sincerest apologies for the wording that appeared on the bill. Automated responses from banks should not appear on customer bills and we’re investigating how this happened,” explained Virgin in a statement.
“We have a team in place to ensure bereavements are managed sensitively and will ensure this wording is removed from our billing system.”
The account for Mr. Boyden’s father-in-law is now closed, and Virgin apologized once more for good measure.
That’s the thing about large corporations; though they’re often seen as a faceless “The Man,” they’re powered entirely by regular ol’ people like you and me. This makes them inherently flawed, and while sometimes little goofs like this make them look like terrible heartless monsters, it’s only fair to give them a little room for grace.
After all, could any one of us do much better in their shoes?
Image Credit: Photos.com