We have published several articles on the poor state of the internet in the United Kingdom, focusing recently on Virgin Media. Since we published this article last week, we have received more emails from readers who wanted to share their opinions.
We pinged Virgin Media about this, and are waiting for a reply from the company. If the services are as bad as we are hearing then it seems they need to address them rather than brushing them under the carpet. One overriding factor we are reading is that many of the customers who are complaining received refunds, or partial refunds for the bad service. We are just publishing a few letters we received, verbatim, giving our readers and Virgin Media customers the platform to address their concerns.
Phillip Hilton sent this email over the weekend “Hi Carl, Just reading your post on Virgin Media.
I’ve had virgin media for little over a year, and when we first took up the service it was fantastic. I mean there was virtually nothing i could complain about even the wireless worked flawlessly. Unfortunately as time has gone on problem after problem has plagued us, and the last 3 months in-particular for me and my partner have been a nightmare.
First of all we received a letter in the post notifying us that Virgin Media are going to be cutting our internet for 1-2 hours to make way for upgrades in our area. Of course we are happy to oblige ( better quality is better right?). Little did we know this would be the start of worse things to come.
I do like to refer to myself as a hardcore gamer, As i do spend too many hours of my day playing games such as Battlefield 3 religiously. But with ping times around 120-200ms those split reaction times i have picked up over the years are useless. Surely 60MB broadband with 200ms+ ping is just wrong?
Now unfortunately, and i only say unfortunately, for the problems its caused me. I live in a shared house, Which is reliant on me sharing my internet with 2 other members of the house. And after hours of frustrating experiences trying to fix it, Gaming is impossible if another computer is on the network. Ping time reaches over 400-500 in any game.
The number of phone calls Ive made over the months to Virgin Media are too many to count. Ive had technicians take over my PC, Technicians come to my house, Contractors drilling and pulling new cables outside. At one point they were telling me it was my PC that was the cause of my game lag. You can probably guess my reaction to that advice. I spent a lot of money making sure this computer could eat games for breakfast. All in all, it wasn’t just game lag though, Skype would randomly disconnect, eBay was barely useable.
I have since threatened to cancel, and told them i would let them take me to court over the fees for cancelling as i feel within my rights as a customer to get just a portion of what they advertised me in the first place. They have refunded me 3 months of service, and this was HARD to get so don’t expect an easy time. Overall i rate Virgin Media’s customer service and reliability 2/10!
Thanks for reading, Phillip Hilton”
Jeff Bloom sent in this email from Manchester. He said “Carl, I read your post last week and I have to say that since Virgin Media took over Ntlworld and Telewest the service has gotten gradually worse. I am on the 100mbit service which seems to be closer to 120mbit this week. Whats wrong with that, sounds good? Sure, its good, if you go online between 11am and 3pm when its rock solid. After 3pm the line performance drops like a rock and after 5pm im down to 1mbit download. I can’t even stream a 720p video without it juddering like dial up. I ring them all the time and they are quick to offer refunds or partial refunds, which has kept me with them, but why don’t they just fix the bloody service and stop making excuses? They must be handing out hundreds of refunds every month because I know other people close to me who complain all the time.
The problem is they are sharing too many people on the same server. With Telewest and Ntlworld it was 20:1. I have heard now its well over 50:1 on some servers and they just don’t have the bandwidth to cope. Get more customers and promote the ‘up to 100mbit speeds’, but only offer it when most people are in work or at school? I am calling to cancel this weekend and move to BT.”
Nicholas Bridge sent in this email “Hi Carl, I have to join in the complaints with the other readers. I was on the slower line speed for months and moved to the 100mbit hoping it would cure my terrible speeds in the evening. I like to come home after work and watch some Youtube videos but I have to watch them in SD or the bandwidth is too high for the line to cope – even 720p on a Core i7 system! Virgin Media need to advertise their 100mbit service with a more realistic tag such as ‘Virgin Media broadband is so fast, we can comfortably stream compressed 480SD movie clips’.
My upload speed at night to my FTP is 10k on a good night.
I have had arguments with their support staff in India for months and its a waste of time. I took a day off work last week and the engineer never even appeared. A ‘booking glitch’. They offered me 3 months of free internet, but i told them to stick it and cancelled my direct debit.
They either need to drop their speeds over the network and uncap/unfilter it, or spend money getting in better more capable equipment”.
Another email arrived a couple of days ago from reader Daniel Rogers, who says the best way to get help is to bypass the phone support and to post on the forums. He seems quite happy with the service.
“Hi Carl, I read your article on Virgin Media today and thought I would pass on my feelings.
I was with VM when I lived in Wolverhampton. They didn’t send a router with the modem, so we were stuck with only having 1 machine online and no wireless (this was pre-superhub days). It took them 2 weeks to send us out the router to go with the modem, after that the service was excellent. A few months later the line became unstable, dropping out completely. After investigating the modem config, I discovered the signal-to-noise ratio was out of whack. I contacted VM via their forum. I had a response within a day or so saying they had verified the problem and will send out an engineer within 2 days. Was sorted within 20 minutes of the engineer turning up.
I also got upgraded to a Superhub for free when my wireless failed on the first router they sent out. When I phoned to activate it they read my notes and saw I knew what I was doing so didn’t treat me like an idiot, and gave me the direct number for his office for any future problems so I didn’t have to get put through to India. This is the reason I will be returning to VM when I need a new connection.
My advice to anyone needing support with VM is to use the forums. Post in the right area, don’t bump your post (they deal with oldest post first) and it will get dealt with without having to phone the dreaded 151 number.
Outsourcing tech support to India is one of the biggest tripping points with getting actual support, it is a shame companies are allowed to do it. As soon as I found a way to bypass it with ANY company, I’ve had great customer service.
tl;dr – Bypass call centres, recieve decent support. Daniel Rogers”
Kitguru says: So there you have it, more complaints from the public, but what are the company doing to cure the problems? Last we heard they are putting even more strain on their network by upping the 100mbit customers to 120mbit. That’s logical.