Vladimir McTavish: Getting kicked out of my email account was just the start . . .

Vladimir McTavishVladimir McTavish
Vladimir McTavish
I have had the same e-mail address for the last twenty-odd years. In fact, it’s the only e-mail address I have ever had. When you are a freelance artist, this is important. It’s a vital tool for staying employed. People know how to get in touch with me, because I have always had that address.

It is how I am contacted about work, and how I send out invoices. It is also how I file my copy for this column.

It’s not all good, of course. Every day I open it to find my inbox is full of countess junk e-mails from companies who sold me something years ago.

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On top of this, my e-mail account has all my personal and business contacts. Furthermore, it is my username for utility bills and online transactions.

Or at any rate it was until last week, when Virgin Media overnight locked me out of my own e-mail account, for no apparent reason.

They offered a list of suggestions as to how I could re-activate the account online, which I followed to the letter, but which always ended with Virgin informing me I had entered “the wrong username or password”.

Eventually after a couple of days of this Kafka-esque merry-go-round of going down digital cul-de-sacs, I decided it would be best if I could talk to an actual human being.

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So I phoned the customer helpline, which is based in China. After a forty-minute phone conversation, during which the line would go dead for minutes at a time, I was told that they could not help me.

I thought surely there must be someone I can talk to about this face-to-face? So I googled “Virgin Media store Edinburgh” and found a listing for a shop in Hanover Street.

When I turned up at the address, it had a sign in the window informing me that the laser eye clinic had shut down.

That will be the laser eye clinic that moved into the premises when Virgin shut down and have themselves since packed up.

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That’s the trouble with Google. Modern technology can give you some remarkably out-of-date information.

I then phoned a different customer helpline which re-directed me back to the call centre in China.

After a further hour, I was told that someone from their IT team would phone me within five working days. Over a week later, I’m still waiting for that call.

In the meantime, I was getting phone calls from Scottish Power about an overdue electricity bill.

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So I went to make an online payment. When I logged into my account, they asked me to enter my e-mail address and password.

A message popped up on screen to inform me that they had sent me an e-mail, with a link to click to prove it was me.

I do appreciate Scottish Power taking my security so seriously, but at the end of the day if someone wanted to hack into my account and pay my electricity bill, I wouldn’t really be too bothered.

If anyone out there wants to try to do so, you’re very welcome.

I’m still locked out, by the way. This saga could run and run. I’ll keep you posted.

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