If you live in the United Kingdom, chances are you will have to settle with a less than impressive internet connection and over the last 3 months I have been chatting with some Virgin Media customers, who are less than happy with their ‘premium’ service.
I use Virgin Media myself in the UK and generally during the day the connection is fine, but after 5pm it is almost as if 50 people are using your wifi connection to all download warez files. My download speed will often drop from 100mbit to around 5mbit, even before I download a single file in the evenings.
Kitguru reader Jacob Langing said that the service in Manchester is just ‘abysmal’. He said that for a couple of days last week he was unable to access the internet at all.
When he rang support he got a less than helpful response. “I called Virgin Media tech support from 151 on my phone and got put through to an Indian support representative who told me to reboot my router and he then took over my computer with a software program they ask you to download. He accessed my router from the admin interface, then said he would make some adjustments and to try again. He would call back tomorrow to check on my status”.
Sadly it didn’t resolve his issue Jacob added “No one called me back, and my internet was completely down next day. After calling back I spoke to another representative who said there was a problem with my signal and that an engineer would have to be called out. I do appreciate that problems will happen with any ISP, but my big problem with Virgin Media is that they seem to change their responses every time you call. One support guy will go through an automated process while the next one might find an issue with the signal strength or the way the wind is blowing. When I got my connection back, after 5pm my connection speed dropped to around 300k download, its dire. It is just excuse after excuse”
Jacob said since that incident he has called to cancel and is going to try another provider.
Another reader, Ken Hanson from Liverpool says his Virgin Media connection is good one day, then terrible the next.
He has complained so much that Virgin Media have refunded him 6 months service as a ‘gesture of goodwill’. He said “I have never really had good internet service from Virgin Media, the line speed is up and down all day, and at night, you are better just investing in a 3G dongle and surfing online with that. I haven’t been able to use basic sites like ebay or Amazon in a week now’.
When I asked if he had raised the issue recently with Virgin Media he said “Yes, I complain every other day, I even know most of the support staff now but they never seem able to resolve the issue. I think they are oversubscribed and there is no way they can deliver the speed they advertise. This is why they say ‘up to’. No other industry in the United Kingdom would get away with that. It is almost like buying a car and the sales guy saying ‘The car may start some mornings, but not always, deal with it!’”
Weeks ago Virgin Media sent out letters to all their broadband customers claiming that many of their routers would have a power supply which could catch fire. There was a diagram of the power supply in the image with a hotline number to call to get a replacement. When I called it to check, it registered your phone number and said that a replacement, safe unit would be with me next day. Virgin advised their customers to turn off their router and not use it until the replacement arrived. I called on a Thursday and it arrived Tuesday the week after with the Home Delivery Network, one of the worst courier companies you can use in the UK. I didn’t turn my router off, but could you imagine being left in a situation without internet for almost a full week? No offer of a partial refund either when I complained.
Yesterday The Register in the UK published an article about connectivity issues. They say “The Register has learned that a “sizeable” number of VM’s subscribers are frustrated with the ISP for failing to offer a workaround to the ongoing connectivity nightmare. Stack Overflow – a popular forum for computer programmers – is just one of the websites cut off on the network.
A Virgin Media spokeswoman told us:
We’re aware some of our customers are having difficulty connecting to stackoverflow.com and we’re liaising with the network provider to understand what may be causing this specific issue and help resolve any problems. We’ll update as soon as we can.”
The company forum manager Mark Wilkin said “We’ve done extensive tests inside our own network and we’re confident that it’s an issue between us and the affected site. At that point all we can do is contact the networks down the line where the problem appears to be happening and ask them to investigate.
Also for reference the majority of the internet (excluding dedicated peering connections) still operates on the basis of ‘you pass my traffic along and I’ll pass yours’ agreements that operate on a ‘handshake’ basis.
So in this case we don’t have a SLA [service level agreement] with the network where we think the issue is. We’re talking to internap at the moment and we’re also currently attempting to contact stackoverflow.com as well to talk to them about getting this sorted out.”
So basically all in all, Virgin Media is still the same mess it was when we raised the issue way back in 2011.
Kitguru says: Have Virgin Media customers got good alternatives? post a comment or email me firstname.lastname@example.org