“You should come back … now,” her neighbor said.
Even over the phone she could tell he was serious. He had only given her a few details, but it was enough that she dared to break the speed limit. And when her house finally came into view, she felt the tears come.
32-year-old Hanna Dillon loved her little home in the quiet Grimsby suburb.
It had its annoying quirks like any property, but she had happily spent the last 8 years upgrading things whenever finances would allow. Things seemed to be going well, until Virgin Media decided to send a crew of construction workers.
Hanna had been sitting at her desk, thinking the workday was unfolding like any other, when she got a concerned phone call from her neighbor.
The families that lived on either side of her house were pleasant and kind people, so if they called with a problem, she knew it was important to take it seriously.
It turned out there was a group of workers outside her home that were replacing the media junction box that literally sat on her property line.
The box in question belonged to Virgin Media – a phone, television, and internet provider. Apparently, the unit had been damaged, and the company didn’t want their services to be affected. They also didn’t ask her if it was okay.
Hanna jumped out of her car and demanded they stopped work immediately.
Not only were they adding in a unit that was far larger than the old one, but no one had told her they would be doing work on her property that effectively would make parking impossible. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand at attention as the men rolled their eyes and ignored her.
“They sent out notices months ago,” one of the muttered, flashing an annoyed glare at Hanna.
What was going on?! She never got one. It took an hour of frantic conversations with the surrounding residents before she finally got a disturbing answer.
The company had indeed sent out notices that they would be replacing the junction boxes.
But since Hanna wasn’t a customer, she didn’t get one! The insanity didn’t end there. In fact, it only got worse. After her neighbor happily agreed they could move it closer to her side of the property line, the men’s response was unbelievable.
They laughed at her!
Hanna felt the heat in her cheeks grow and the tears trickle down her cheeks – which only made them laugh more. This ugly box was now sitting in the middle of her driveway. She immediately reached out to the company.
After spending hours on hold, a representative finally connected with her.
“The box had been there for over 20 years, ma’am.” Hanna sighed, already feeling exhausted. “I’ve only been living there for 8 years.” He then put her through an infuriating run around.
“We sent out notices,” he repeated.
“But I’m not a customer and didn’t get one! And my neighbor who is a customer said it would be fine to move it over. The workers ignored this.” “There’s no drop curb there, ma’am,” he replied. She answered, “I know! I’ve had an application with the council for two years!”
It was now a maddening circle of arguments.
The old box had been smaller and possible to manoeuvre around when the driveway access went in, but the new box made it impossible. She hadn’t put in the finished driveway yet because she had to wait for the application to be approved. But that took time!
The workers had ignored her pleas because she wasn’t a customer.
But even when an actual customer said it was okay to move the box, they said that person should have contacted them when the notices went out. She didn’t think it was possible, but things actually got worse.
When she finally decided to sell the house, she was going to lose money because there was no more driveway access.
Their road was already small and tricky to drive through, but now having nowhere to put the car, no one would want to buy it. When someone finally came back with a “solution”, she wanted to reach through the phone and strangle them.
“Ma’am, the department says that they can relocate the junction box.”
It was a brief moment of relief, but then the voice on the other side of the line said “quote.” They were willing to move the massive eyesore … but they expected her to pay for it!
The company’s public response was even worse.
They said, “Virgin Media has provided an opportunity for Ms. Dillon to have the cabinet moved.” They just conveniently left out the fact they expected her to shell out thousands to do it! She was only left with one option.
Hanna reached out to whoever she could through social media.
She had seen stories where public support had managed to force powerful companies to do the right thing. Maybe this could work too? All she wanted was for it to be moved to the side a little.
It didn’t take long. The story swept across the internet and through the news outlets.
Many people supported her plight and empathized with her frustration of the corporate run-around. But there were also those who lived thousands of miles away that had to put in their two cents.
Hanna stared at her computer screen, livid and bawling.
They said since the box had been there before she moved it, she had no rights. Non-technical people tried to talk as if they new how cables should be laid out – despite the company saying it was more than possible to move it.
In the end, the result wasn’t what she wanted at all.
The responses were mixed, and the media company wouldn’t budge. When the council finally got back to her and allowed the drop curb, it was too late. She still had it put in but getting in and out of the parking space was nearly impossible if her neighbor was also taking his space.
All Hanna could do was hope her neighbors would help her with correspondences with the company.
Maybe if they kept leaning on them, they might do something. Until then, she was stuck with the massive metal box in the middle of her driveway.