Chess champ blackmails Richard Branson over data dirt
There's a new consumer crimefighter in town and his name is David Connolly. His mission? To blackmail Virgin Media and stick it to 'clinically psychotic' Richard Branson. Connolly has emailed Branson (and cc'd various newspapers and websites) to make his demands - £5,000 in compensation which may increase 'to High Court levels depending on how much interest the national media takes'.
So what's this all about, then? In his email, Connolly claims to have suffered an exhaustive list of problems with Virgin Media; some of them appear to be legitimate - failure to deliver services, breach of contract, incorrect charges - and some of them less so - 'been arrogant and rude on the telephone', 'refused to escalate the problem past the level of general dogsbodies at head office' and so on. Connolly's ace in the hole is an alleged gaffe which saw a database containing '40,000 pieces of information about Virgin Media customers including listing rude/insulting nicknames... such as "a common woman" and "a prick"' dumped in his wheelie bin.
Because of these alleged grievances, Connolly has started his Virgin Media Watch email - 'information on Virgin Media customers [sent] to national and local media every week adding new customer info, Virgin Media insults and adding more and more media/watchdog sources until they pay up what is rightfully mine'. In other words, Connolly is attempting to blackmail Richard Branson.
But who is this heroic consumer champ? His return email address identifies him as the sales manager of NWS Media which publishes the Bolton Directory, a free paper in the town. In addition, Connolly is also a 'former England chess squad member, IQ 185 and former student of Intelligence'.
As emails go, it's a little confused. He opens by plugging his upcoming book to Branson, then invites the tycoon to sue him because he's already in court anyway, then attempts extortion and all the way through is undecided whether to refer to himself in the first or third person. Since the email was distributed for publication, you can read it for yourself here.
Intriguingly, there are several examples of customer accounts and details attached to the email (we haven't published that bit). It's possible that for all his bluster, he does in fact have a comprehensive database of Virgin Media customers. What happens next? Stay tuned for next week's exciting installment of Virgin Media Watch!