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back to article Customer exodus hits Virgin Media

Virgin Media (VM) took another sound kicking from Sky last quarter, losing customers and money in the battle for broadband and pay-TV supremacy. The firm's cable network surrendered 70,300 net customers during the three months to 30 June. VM estimated 40,000 of the refugees were motivated by Sky's withdrawal of the Basics …

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Anonymous Coward

About Time they went under for pennies in the pound.

About time too they went under ! For a long time VM has fleeced customers with high prices and appalling service. Guess its the price we pay for monopolisitc attitude. Any self respecting cable company would (like in USA) would have set up their own news networks and channels and content providers. And also their reach into maximum homes.

What has VM done ? f*** all. Ive heard from the horses mouth (an engineer) that they couldnt give me cable broadband where I live due to cost constraints in digging up the street. So they were saving money.

Just kept increasing prices to fund more acquisitions of small cable operators and now cant pay the debts. And MOAN. BTW, where was the need to offer Virgin Mobile phone with the package and pay Richard Branson abt a billion pounds, when they cant even get basics right?

Serves them right. I am so glad for Sky to have come up with Broadband as part of the package at a reasonable cost.

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Sky package

I wonder by what factor the lost revenue outweighs the extra money it would have cost VM to pay Sky's asking price for their basic channels? Of course, now they can't back down because they don't want to lose face. Hopefully, when the High Court tells them to stop whining and pay to play in the free market, they'll suck it up and get Sky One back. Hopefully that will happen before Battlestar Galactica Season 4 starts. I'm already missing the new season of Weeds.

(Can't get a dish: restrictive covenant. And the 20MB broadband is sweet, even if most of the bandwidth is eaten up by torrents of Sky One shows.)

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Anonymous Coward

Television Addicts

This shows the power of the addiction to television.

There's no way I would ever swap my Virgin Media phone and broadband service for anything which relies on having a BT line. Even if it's then moved to an alternative supplier, it's still BT that have to look after things if they need fixing. I've had so many awful experiences with BT professionally there's no way I would ever use their provision at home.

Yet so many people think they need Sky.

Give up the tv and see how much better use of your time you can have! I did and I don't miss tv at all.

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Well

If it's anything like as poor quality as the old NTL service used to be (we're talking 2 years ago) then I'm not suprised, I moved to Sky because I was sick of the set top box (and we tried 3 different ones) freezing images and locking up.

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Best Internet for the home

I'm with Jamie on this one. If VM goes under they'll have to prise my cable Internet from my cold, dead fingers. Figuratively speaking. There's just no substitute for fibre to my door - I've even rejected quality apartments on the grounds that they don't have cable! I can't stand television, but I'm positive that even during the days when I watched Lost and 24 religiously - if it was cable or TV I'd keep the cable every time.

Maybe VM need to recognise customers like me (there's plenty of us) and play to their strengths.

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Leaving VM

I wonder if the people leaving are going to Sky or actually just giving up on the both VM and Sky and going to Freeview, or plain old analogue terrestrial? A fair few of my friends in the last few years have left both NTL/VM and Sky, just because they can't take their minds being nummed that much any more.

@Captain Jamie - You use VM because they are better than BT? What did BT do to actually be worse than VM? The catalogue of errors that I have suffered because of NTL/VM is incredible, I won't bore people with the details...

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Only their TV sucks

Not long after the Sky dispute I canceled the (expensive) TV package I had with Virgin. Did I switch to Sky? No! Went back to freeview, it's amazing how little I used the service. (Granted I miss Discovery and the Sci-Fi on SkyOne but I might just start watching through iTunes)

X00 channels of dross with a little good content thrown in. (And the less said about the Sci-Fi channel the better!)

I'm still using their phone and (Cable) broadband service though. Besides DNS problems (which I resolve by using OpenDNS) the service is OK. Then again, having used AOL at home and BT in my Halls at Uni (they had an exclusive deal so I couldn't use an ISP of choice) anything looks good. Well that and I no longer trust ANYTHING that comes down a BT line!

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Dan

Tantrums VS arrogance

The pair of them are each as bad as each other. Sky keep pushing up their product price forcing VM/NTL to push up theirs, and Virgin Media/NTL throw a strop. Tbh I think NTL should have had their whinge and whine and complained but given in at the end but stressing that it was under duress.

Then take Sky to court for monopolizing.

As the only channels we watch really are on Sky One we had no choice but to switch to Sky for TV. Which has actually been an improvement in some ways, but a monumental annoyance in others. Yes we get a more improved signal and our tv listings come up faster and cover a longer time period. But we can't flick through channels and get info on one channel whilst watching another channel. Plus the selection of Pay Per View films and shows is severely limited on Sky. VM/NTL had a fantastic idea with their Anytime system. Being able to pause a movie if the door rings is so much better than Sky's "You Vill Vatch it NOW !!!!"

We kept our broadband and phone with NTL though. Especially as we used to be with BT but their service is utterly appalling. No one answers the phone, no one has a clue what to do, you get bounced around half a dozen departments before being dumped back at the first one again which was the correct department afterall. And if you have a non-BT phone line then they charge you potentially up to £120 to put a phone line in. Whereas NTL come out and do it for free.

Add to that the horror stories I've heard about Sky/BT's broadband package. I've never had any problems with NTL Broadband, other than the one time I rang their Broadband helpline in India to tell them to send a guy to the box at the top of our road as it had died again, (known problem,) and the muppet I got kept telling me it was a problem with my Firewall, and then told me it was my cable modem that was dead, so he booked me an engineer to bring me a replacement cable model for 3 days later. (Useless prat, but again NTL beats BT as NTL are quick, whereas BT can't come out for 2 weeks in most cases.)

I'll be intrigued to see how this progresses, but basically its one bully, and one whiner telling on the teacher.

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Anonymous Coward

Lost another one

I terminated my VM contract last night, cost me £80 to do so (£10 per service per month for the remainder of the contract) despite being assured by a telewest sales representitive when I bought the service in January, that if I only wanted an 8 month contract then I could take out a 12month one, and then pay them £5 per month to put the service on hold until the end of the contact. It was this same £5 per month offer that I took advantage of last year on my old telewest contract when I moved house back to my parents for 4 months. anyways after a call to customer services last night, the manager informed me that I was lying and that I could have possible had such a deal last year because it never existed, and that the sales rep in January wouldn't have been able to offer that so I must have made up what they said (great customer services me thinks, allways go down well with the customer when you tell them they are a liar) . I think I might have to take this one to ofcom.

All in all I am not very happy that I was miss-sold the product and then abused by the VM staff last night on the phone.

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Silver badge

You want NTL helldesk?

On the whole NTL as an ISP were pretty good, but when they screwed up they did it with style...

"Hello, helpdesk? Yeah, you seem to have routed your DNS requests to my IP address. I'm getting five hits a second and would you please stop it?"

"Have you turned it off and on again, sir?"

Took them a week to resolve...

Neil

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Admin weakness in depth

All most customers want is for things to stay working. When things go wrong, VM/NTL tend to make further errors, and you end up explaining a growing list of errors multiple times. This seems to affect all sections of customer service, despite the buyout. The Virgin brand name is suffering.

Since switching to Sky, I have more channels, faster broadband (and no throttling), cheaper calls and I'm paying less than I was before. But it's knowing I won't have to deal with VM's errors that's the real benefit. I wish I'd switched sooner. It was far less hassle than I feared.

Cable has a huge technical advantage. We need competition over cable as we have over copper.

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Anonymous Coward

VM

Odd - I've no qualms with Virgin Media at the moment. We have cable TV, broadband and a (rarely ever used) phone, with the only issues being the set-top box crashing once in a blue moon.

Losing Sky One is hardly a hardship - there was f*ck all on it anyway. The broadband service is very good, too.

And the obvious bonus - I'm not giving any of my money to Murdoch, which is always a good thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Stop offering a substandard service

VM needs to have a long look at themselves to see exactly what they're offering and why quite a few customers aren't happy with them.

Television service has lost a few channels yet they refuse to adjust the price of it. If it was a fairly insignificant channel then it wouldn't be too bad, but quite a few people like to watch Sky One - if their only option to see it is to move to satellite then they'll do just that.

This years broadband upgrade is actually a downgrade for the majority of users. After just 20 minutes of downloading your speed gets cut in half during evenings. People on the highest 20mbit package get cut down to just 5mbit, these people are paying a premium for the service and get hit the hardest. I'd say it wouldn't have been so bad if it reduced down to the speeds before this was implemented (from 20mbit to 10mbit), but when it drops to a slower speed than what you had months ago you can understand why people are annoyed. Instead of giving with one hand and taking back with another they should've just left the Internet service alone and worked on capacity upgrades.

Phone service is uncompetitive and has been for a long time.

VM had an advantage with being the only company being able to offer triple-play. Now Sky can do the exact same thing they need to actually offer a compentent, competitive service which should represent value for money.

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well

to quote Nelson

"HAHA"

I'm cancelling my virgin thing next week - tired of them - and I havn't watched the tele since they got rid of sky one.

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Rob
Bronze badge

Nothing more than luck of the draw...

... it seems it can't be anymore than that. I used to be an NTL customer and swore my cable was better than ADSL, I left NTL as soon as they became Virgin and solely because of of the Virgin brand.

Having just got Sky I decided to give their ADSL a go as it was about £20 cheaper than NTL/Virgin, result, blown away, did some maintaince on my master socket and my speed is pretty constant even in peak times, stark difference to my cable offering which fluctuated regardless the time of day.

Yet I still want and believe cable as the better technology, what a mess the UK industry is in.

(already swatting up on how to extend the cable that BT are upgrading from the edge of the property to the house, easy if you've had NTL installed previously., jsut got to wait for the upgrade to happen now.)

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Good. I hope they go down the pan

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I signed up with NTL ('cos Demon were happy to lose me after 11 years and BT wanted a month to put broadband into a house that already had broadband). NTL promised me no capping and a fixed price. Much to my surprise, NTL seemed OK-ish.

A few months later Virginmedia do a direct debit from my bank account for more money. That caused me some confusion. A few years ago I got stopped in the street by a Virgin salesbod falsely selling utility conversions under the pretence of arranging an appointment. 'Here we go again', thinks I. Nope, a buy-out. "Well it was in the news so you should have known". A letter might have been nice.

And the price going up? "We did announce that some time ago". Not to me they didn't. I really don't know how they got away with that one.

And then they apply capping (i.e. the 'Fair Use' Fiddle). Thieving gits. "Oh, but your original contract wasn't with us and we can change our contract anyway". But then, they're all doing it now so being provided with "up to" 10% of what you originally bought is now OK, apparently. Grrrr.

Supposedly the 'fair use' i.e. capping, only happens in the evening. Then why am I downloading at 350k/s during the day on some days when I only downloaded 1.89G in total in July?

I may as well be on dial-up.

And now it's £1 per minute to phone them up. I'm sorry, did I ring up and complain? I'll make sure I don't do that again. Harrumph. For a quid a minute I want an unintelligible conversation because of the heavy breathing not because of the ropey connection to an overseas call centre that can't help anyway.

AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

<raspberry> to VirginMedia. They clearly want to go down the toilet and they're going the right way about it as far as I am concerned.

(But then, when they do (and good riddance) who do I transfer to? Rip off Britain? Too right. I just cannot believe how utterly rubbish internet connectivity is in this country. Why, oh why, oh why is it so bad?)

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Title

I see a commenter above has fibre to his/her doorstep with VM. I'd love to know where that is - I understood it was fibre to the street mux (NOT the distribution cab) and then coax from there, everywhere. But if there's fibre into the house - wow !!!!

I'm a recent VM leaver too - not through the loss of $ky 1 etc., but throught the uselessness of video on demand - always requiring a set-top box reboot to recover. And each time you call faults, it's an "area fault" that will be fixed within 24 hours. Yeah, right.

Sky broadband (Max -synced at just over 12Mbps) is measurably faster than up-to-20Mpbs VM broadband ever was. VM is also seriously hit by the unreliability of their transparent HTTP cache farm, and that at least isn't a problem with $ky - especially as their network is builton the highly-respected Easynet.

BT CS has proved to be worse than VM - but at least they can (theoretically) provide CLID, which was more than VM could here, with no sign of an equipment upgrade to provide it.

So, all in all, at least VM are getting their just desserts. If only BT would.

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Anybody remember customer service?

I'm another one who's left Virgin, and it's nothing to do with the lack of Sky's offerings--they're crap anyway unless one happens to be addicted to cheap ads for bad finance and ambulance-chasers. I left because I couldn't face the prospect of dealing with their customer service any longer. Still, it's always easier for them to blame someone else, I suppose.

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Best of both worlds

I dumped NTL TV when I bought a HD screen and they couldn't give me a HD signal. So I went to SkyHD. However, I retained the NTL cable & phone since the cable is extremely reliable, rock solid, very fast and doesn't appear to have any capping, enforced or otherwise. My dad's ADSL line on the other hand is up and down more often than a tart's knickers.

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Hmmm the ntl legacy is the problem

I've used telewest and now virign media but where i live used to be ntl. I had no probs with telewest. All their people spoke proper english they charged what the said simple and happy me. VM here installed 3 services BB, TV and phone the BB didnt work the day they put it in due to a system outage in my area. I asked them twice to put vociemail on my phone and they havent. And the on deman part of their tv service does crash the box occasionally. They did charge me too much due to migration to a new system (apparently). I personally loathe call centres and if you could do a lot of this stuff online (like be unlimited) it would be better.

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Anonymous Coward

virgin v's Sky

hell would freeze over before I has to use BT fpr my broadband connection, come on Sky - let us have a line without BT involvement!

I used to run several BBS systems 'bak in the day' and BT were a nightmare. current ADSL provision is a joke. as for virgin TV - well, i moved to Sky a few years back and havent really looked back. even now though i am tempted to ditch the whole lot for the basic freeview channels. almost all of the hundreds of channels are 100% junk!

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Anonymous Coward

What is wrong with people?

TV = Freeview 160Gb PVR

I would get Sky iff:

No adverts on Sky 1, 2, 3, News etc. (why should I pay to watch ads?)

or

HD channels only package (ie not a premium service, on top of a premium service, on top of a premium service - just give me what I want)

Broadband = Virgin Cable

Cheap, reliable, meets my needs.

Phone = BT

There's something reassuring about having the copper there, just in case.

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Anonymous Coward

@Simon Reed

"Rip off Britain? Too right. I just cannot believe how utterly rubbish internet connectivity is in this country. Why, oh why, oh why is it so bad?"

Because together, Thatcher, Major and Blair have turned the UK into a nation of spivs whose only concern is how much money they can screw out of each other.

Why else would it be that in the US, companies have freephone numbers for their customers, while in the UK they have premium-rate ones?

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BT for ever

When BT became my ISP, Thatcher was PM, CompuServe was King and 56k dialup was a twinkle in the eye.

Well, I'm still with them. Not the cheapest, but it just works.

TV? Did a five year stretch with Sky, came to my senses, now Freeview PVR until something better comes along.

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Anonymous Coward

Where Does The Register Dream Up Its Figures?

This is the first article i have read on this where the figures for TV losses have been twisted. VM expected 100,000 losses because of the sky dispute yet it was more like 40,000 due to this. Its 'Net customer losses were 70,300' but this included a big loss in telephone subscribers...

...VM ACTUALLY had 2,200 net additions to its cable TV service with ''The number of households taking Virgin Media's DVR service V+, rose by 53,000 to 167,000, and triple play (phone, TV and broadband) penetration was up to 45.2% from 37.1% a year ago.''

Now if they got their fingers out and did something with their Telephone packages, like reduce the cost of the Talk Plans or give FREE E&W calls as standard as they do with their 'offnet' customers then the losses would be a lot less, they are hemorrhaging telephone customers left right and centre!

Increase the broadband M&L packages to 4MB and 10MB, and reduce call plans and I would expect the figures to be a lot more customer gains in these areas. They also need to hurry with the alignment of channels in ex NTL and ex Telewest areas and resolve the under investment issues is some of the network, have 1 model V box throughout the company that is not easy to be hacked and chipped like loads brag they have, and sort out the billing.

My friend told me that there billing is a joke on the harmony system as half the time they get services and have not even been billed for them, or disconnect and still get the internet free and this is a lot of the time so they prob lose a lot of revenue on inadequate billing!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

RE: POST 9/08/07 @ 03.09

''Because together, Thatcher, Major and Blair have turned the UK into a nation of spivs whose only concern is how much money they can screw out of each other.''

That is totally true, why else is the UK in so much debt?

Because people cant afford to live anymore with such high prices!

''Why else would it be that in the US, companies have freephone numbers for their customers, while in the UK they have premium-rate ones?''

Because we sit back and let it happen, without kicking up a huge fuss to the point where companies will listen. You would expect 0800 numbers to be the norm from your service provider as that why you pay them your monthly subscription...

Its the same with these 'Indian & Offshore'' contact centres, the service received is terrible VM tech support and customer care is diabolical from India yet the management WONT LISTEN when customers kick off about it, they simply keep brushing it under the carpet saying that the service provided by offshore is a good one - Bollocks, Why do these companies think customers complain so much and voice their complaints on the internet?

VM GET SHOT OF THE INDIAN CONTACT CENTRES, UK ONLY AND SUPPLY CUSTOMERS WITH THE CUSTOMER SERVICE THEY PAY FOR!!

Cutting costs from offshore is the ONLY reason why they do it, not because customers get a better service from these sites. But before long they wont have any customers, look at these companies that gain hundreds of thousands of customers each month as they brag about 'ONLY UK CALL CENTRES' does that not say a lot about this subject?

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How sad must people be?

That you have to change the provider of your tv service for 1 mainstream channel and a couple of news channels. I have VM and I dont get sky 1...and? It primarily showed repeats of programs that are on other channels anyway and while I might miss the simpsons I really dont see the need to change providers for a single program. If thats whats happening, perhaps people should get a life. I run my life, not the TV.

The cable and phone are great and I have a second box... and as for cheaper than sky... not even close.. Im about £20 a month better off than I would be with sky.

PS. Now VM includes Santana, banana, NO 3 x Setanta channels Free rather than the £10 pm Sky want

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amazing value!

for the internet that is - since having a 10mbit - now 20mbit line fitted 2 years ago, they have failed to ever take money from my direct debit - here's hoping they dont realise in 5 years time and charge me all at once.....

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Simple Solution

If Virgin want to get out this mess that they & Ntl created the solution is simple. Hand the customer service operations back to the old TeleWest staff if any are left or at least just bring it back to the UK; stop premium rate charging to speak to Customer Services, sort out the capping issues and reduce the price of XL broadband package to a more realistic level.

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V+

Got my V+ box and everything was working fine for 2 months then it started freezing and not recording programmes at random, Im going to call them today, but apart from that no problems with the service....except that I can't watch or record telly.

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Anonymous Coward

Rip off Britain

Absolutley right there Simon Reed ! BA has 0800 nos in USA and Canada. Here its all 0870s. Calling USA with calling card or 1899.com is 1 pence a minute. Calling my next door neighbour is 7 pence in daytime. Calling India is 4 pence with PlanetTalk, with BT is 25 pence. Calling patients in Hospital is 49 pence a minute! And they dont allow mobiles to protect them. B******s all.

We are all lunatics here, putting up with whatever is dished out. Britain putting up the other cheek as Gandhi did? Wow, we are in for a treat.

Next thing they will say UPTO 100 Mbps, but will give you 10 Mbps and you can do f**kall to counter this. EVen the ASA says nothing wrong in these claims ! Happy ripping offs to all.

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Bingo!

-----------------------------

If Virgin want to get out this mess that they & Ntl created the solution is simple. Hand the customer service operations back to the old TeleWest staff

-----------------------------

I was on Telewest before VM and it was great.... actually, although I can't do a comparison on customer/tech support as I've never had to ring them (yet) VMs been ok for me so far. The biggest noticable difference when the switch happened was a slight reduction in the quality of my broadband (which is a bugger as that's the main reason I'm with them) - the latency was slightly higher then under TW and variation in the quality of the connection was greater (still pinging about 50% quicker than when I was under ADSL though before TW).

Maybe they've pushed the TW infrastructure aside in favour of the NTL one (wouldn't surpise me looking at the board after the TW/NTL "merger") and that perhaps doesn't load balance or route as well the the TW system.

Recently though, the QoS seems to have improved slightly so maybe the throttling is having a positive effect (for me at least) - I'm not a big downloader (game/software patches and MP3s from unsigned bands mostly) and would have only hit the throttling once when I was downloading 2.2gigs worth of beta software for testing... but I left the download running overnight after I'd gone to bed.

The only other real downside with VM is that they never bloody tell you anything... I found out about the throttling through El Reg! Oh... and we also seem to have gained FX and Discovery Civilisation channels in the last month or so, and I've no idea why; we're still getting billed the same, we're still on the "L" tv package (which doesn't get either channel according to their website).

That's probably my biggest gripe with VM - they never tell you much - not even in their hideous (truly, it really is ugly), intermittent email newsletter - although that did tell me I can now get "extras" with broadband apparently, all sorts of "wonderful", "free" music downloads that I neither want nor need (come on, what are the odds on them having Emilie Autumn or Funker Vogt?) or some online on-demand tv that'll probably make me hit the throttler... pffff.

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Dear Dan

You said:

But we can't flick through channels and get info on one channel whilst watching another channel.

Use the up arrow and the down arrow, or to just fick through your favourites - the blue button.

You also said:

VM/NTL had a fantastic idea with their Anytime system. Being able to pause a movie if the door rings is so much better than Sky's "You Vill Vatch it NOW !!!!"

That's called pause on sky+ i.e the " key

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Dan

To alan lovedog (non-paying NTL Internet)

Bad boy lol

Actually the reason you are not being charged, and others retain their NTL/VM broadband when they get cut off for non or late payment......is because NTL/VM's broadband accounts system is on a different system from their TV and Phone accounts system.

This can work to the customers advantage, but can also be a monumental pain the arse when they screw up. I once spent 2 hours on the phone to NTL to get our incorrectly disconnected broadband reconnected, (tv and phone were still active,) and eventually a got a girl who had only started that day and had a supervisor sat behind her in their Scottish call centre. Turns out that although my paper bill showed my broadband, and I paid for it, their system was not attributing that payment to the broadband account system. Although it still doesn't explain why their system let me remain attached for a year when it thought I wasn't paying.

As for charging premium rates for phonecalls.....I was under the impression that ringing 150/151 from an NTL/VM phone was a free call ?

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Anonymous Coward

Pay for TV, you must be mad

Sorry, I just cant see a world where paying 40 quid a month is reasonable. If its worth watching, its worth downloading, it will be a long time before someone convinces me otherwise. Far to much time is wasted on TV, theres so much more you could be doing, just ask my wife who writes the lists for me.

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Anonymous Coward

Wonders of Cable

I don.t have cable tv. phone or broadband.

If cable was the only alternative for these services, I'm afraid I would do without.

However, cable does effect my life on a daily basis.

When cable was imposed on my area several years' ago I was informed that they would place three of their boxes within a few inches of one of my outside walls.

Objections fell on deaf ears, as I was informed by the local council planning department that due to a loophole in the law they were powerless to prevent them siting the boxes wherever they wanted The only criteria they had to observe was that they didn't obstruct the public footpath, didn't restrict the view on street corners and weren't sited under a window, for example, where they could be used to gain access - otherwise they could put them where they wanted!!

Since then I have had to endure abuse from the little darlings who congregate on them drumming there feet against the doors. Thoughtful "engineers" banging the doors at 11.30 pm to maintain the service to valuable customers and on one occasion the power supply to one box failed late one Friday night and a van promptly turned up with a petrol generator and parked outside with the generator running until Monday morning when I was able to complain.

At the moment because of the proximity to my wall there is a large amount of rubbish trapped between the boxes and my wall. When it rains this of course puts damp on the wall above the damp course level.

I recently expressed my concerns to Virgin Media and was told it wasn't their responsibility it was the local councils or more correctly the people who dump the rubbish?

I quickly pointed out that if they hadn't sited the boxes where they were I wouldn't have a problem - reply was that the local council gave permission to site the boxes - lies.

All these considerations were put forward when I initially objected along with the fact that I can't do essential maintenance on my property such as re-pointing, new damp course etc. because I can't gain access to my own wall.

So if Virgin Media or any other name over the door goes down the pan it won't be a moment too soon.

Cheers,

Mick.

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They now treating there staff the same way they treat there customers

If Virgin want to get out this mess that they & Ntl created the solution is simple. Hand the customer service operations back to the old TeleWest

Unfortunately most of the old Telewest staff have all been forced to leave and find new jobs with other ISPs, Virgin Media are applying a large amount of pressure upon there UK staff and forcing them to leave, they are very good at constructive dismissal

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Anonymous Coward

NTL were bad, Virgin were worse, SKY are expensive, but at least their TV works!

Having been a customer of NTL for over 2 years in Hertfordshire (excellent service, never really had a problem), I moved to Berkshire. That was when I realised that although NTL traded under one name, they hadn't centralised any of their systems at all - all the old group companies still worked as individual units, didn't share data etc. It took nearly 4 months to get access back to my original ISP account, because their idiotic service department in India wouldn't put me through to someone in England who knew what they were doing.

Their engineers are contracters who are rude and inconsiderate (The 2 SKY engineers I met during my parents' installation and my own were some of the most professional and polite people I've met in life!) NTL / VM telephone support in Berkshire is appalling (all goes to India) and their call centre staff in India don't understand you; when you work in IT, you don't need to be asked "have you tried turning it on and off again" - even when you tell them you've done it already, they insist you do it again! Aaaargh!

The final straw was when they binned SKY channels. I though - hmmm, so now I'm paying £20 a month for what I can essentially get (or would actually want anyway!) through freeview. Hence I moved to SKY. It might be £5 more expensive a month, but their TV service is 100x better - it doesn't crash, it's fast, and INTERACTIVE THINGS WORK rather than crashing the box every time you press red! VM have lost the battle already...

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Anonymous Coward

40,000 customers lost to SKY?

Yeah right - more like 72,999. Are VM really that naive to think that people will pay their prices to get only a few more channels that they could get through a freeview box!? With freeview at least you get SKY3 - not on VM :o)

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Anonymous Coward

Virgin Media Is Outstanding

I undwersatdn that some of you maybe unhappy with Virgin Medias Service/s But the fact is Sky is not all what they make out to be, you need a BT Phone line, Sky do not offer a 24hour breakdown service for either of there TV Or internet services but Virgin Media do.

You all say that Virgin Media is all bad, then that is your choice but Virgin Media will out win Sky at the end, I once had Sky, i was very disappointed.

I had given Sky another chance this year, to only find there Customer Service is worser than ever, the options to get to speak to someone you cant find and when you do it asks you to pick another option and so on, Skys service cant be improved, but Virgin Medias can, so by far Virgin is the best.

I have all services Virgin Media VM Provide and I would not change even if Sky offered me there services for free or BT, they are both out of date and poor services and customer care.

Virgin Media puts its customers first and therefore thats what matters.

I have had afew issues and problems with Virgin Media admitting, but they have said sorry and been very supportive to fix the problem, even at 2am!!!!

Sky takes between a week to 4 weeks to get someone to even come and see what the fault is and there is a chance they wont be able to repair it then, so is that all about???!!!

Sky is fooling people and they took the basic sky channels away simply to FORCE customers over to them because they knwo that Virgin Media is a great provider of TV, Telephone, Broadband and now mobile which Sky cant beat at any cost.

I see where some of you are coming from with regard Virgin Media VM but they are doing everything they can to provide customers with outstanding service and to the person who said it is £1 a minute to ring the Broadband support line, Yes it is but that is to protect customers and to only get people who have faults with SERVICE ring not with there computers, at the end of the call if you ring customer services the call will be refunded however long you were on it, this was told to all customers when it came into force this year.

As for updates and freezing, I have had Virgin Media for well over 3 years now and I have only ever had an update once a year up until this year when I have had two, when the set top box has been off and I havent been using it and freezing will happen sometimes, Skys service is poorly made, it crashes also it jams.

I dont care that Sky have taken Sky one and there other basic channels, it wont win me over and I stand by Virgin Media always, there service is great!

As for the Broadband, Capping as another person said, the speed goes slow in the evenings, you will find that is not Virgin Media but the mer fact that more people are using the internet after 5pm and downloading rather than in the day time, everyone has that problem.

I notice no one has said about the fact Sky over charges for channels and services, as well as charging for interactive services, also the fact that BT has poor customer care and support.

BT and Sky, just for 3 Services, two companys, no way, Virgin Media everytime.

I will remain a VM customer for good.

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