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back to article Premium rate Virgin Media cuts tech support jobs

Virgin Media's recent decision to slap a premium rate charge on its technical support line seems to have had the desired off-putting effect on callers, as dozens of redundancies have been announced at its IBM-run call centre. Sources say about 90 workers and managers have been informed they're for the chop at the site in …

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Ash

Sod their tech support

First sign of trouble, I won't be calling a 25p per minute support line to be asked if i've restarted my modem, i'll be calling a free sales line to say "Cancel my subscription. Now."

BlueYonder was phenomenal. The Virgin Media / NTL buyout was a travesty.

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Anonymous Coward

How Strange...

... The part of the article at the end "Virgin Media said it didn't want to comment"

Not good enough to make comment for the public now due to fear of loosing more customers, especially if the rumors on certain forums on the net are true that Virgin Media plan to outsource more technical support to India as well as customer care, and remove the quality teams!!

Like I said, just rumors at the moment but if it is true I cant expect to see virgin media last much longer as customers are infuriated to hell at the moment with the service or lack of it received from India, and the level of customer care. May as well just bang that last nail in the coffin.

Maybe everyone should stick together and send some strong worded letters to Virgin Medias main shareholder Sir Richard Branson and the disgust at outsourcing, loss of UK jobs and the overall state of the company!

Useful Address For Richard Branson Found On The Net:

Virgin Management LTD, 120 Camdem Hill Rd, London, W8 7AR

Maybe a petition to withdraw from India and outsourced IBM to get technical support back to the high standard received by Telewest, would also be useful so he can actually see how many thousands of customers are unhappy with the crap NTL practices STILL in place before the hole place goes down the shitter. Even the rats are getting as far away from this sinking ship as possible, and staff are quitting left right and centre!!

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Pffffft.

Why did Telewest have to get involved FFS!

Not surprised at this - But seriously Virgin Media, Stop being total twonks.

I can't even ring them when THEY are the sodding problem - I aint being charged for their fault.

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Anonymous Coward

Mixed feelings

An a VM ADSL user, I can say I have always avoided calling them because they always seem to want to charge me for pointing out problems on their systems (or BTs - BT do not allow me to talk direct as they are not the direct provider)

The email support is pretty useless as well - you report an issue and they say check your outlook settings when the issue you have reported is nothing to do with email and I don't use outlook....

Note to self - change ISP....

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair

VM refund the cost of the support call if it is about a valid issue.

The purpose of the call charge is to discourage callers from using their tech support staff to resolve issues with thier computers, not related to VM Products/Services.

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Anonymous Coward

The only number I'll need...

... is the one for disconnections. I'm leaving VM in October, and can't wait.

Has anyone else noticed that their TV signal is becoming more and more compressed by the day?

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Anonymous Coward

Tech Support

They are sodding useless (and in India the last time I had the misfortune to ring them). Trying to force your customers through the support steps for the second time in 15 minutes, before being told that I needed to "reinstall my TCP/IP stack" and that I should refer to my computer manufacturer because my PC was faulty, was just trying to rub salt in wounds.

Strangly enough, the engineer who eventually came out (after I flatly refused anything else) fixed the modem (faulty) in 5 minutes.

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Silver badge

Nice little earner

25p per minute + less staff = more time spent on hold = £££££

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Bloody annoying

As I've had to phone their bloody tech support quite a lot recently due to the broadband being down, I can't help but wish for the days of a scouser on the end of the phone.. the outsourced service is a joke, the indian call centre seems to be staffed with robots who can't seem to understand that someone might have a clue about about computers and comms in general. "Can you please unplug your modem" gets to be tedious after several repetitions.

I really don't see why companies are going down the foreign outsourcing route still even though it's now known that it just creates huge amounds of bad feelings towards the company.

Come on Mr Branson, your company's support is currently virgin on the ridiculous.

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Cable=Good, ADSL=terrible

FYI: I found NTL/VM's cable offering to be wonderful.

However, the same cannot be said of their ADSL offering - which suffers terribly from their lack of investment in BT centrals.

If you want a service that is slow during peak-periods, with 280ms latency and 5-10% packet loss, then get ADSL from Virgin Media

You just have to pop over to the VM ADSL forum at ThinkBroadband/ADSLguide.org.uk:-

http://bbs.adslguide.org.uk/postlist.php?Cat=&Board=virgin_adsl&page=0&view=expanded&sb=5&o=7

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I left Virgin a couple of months ago

Was on Virgins 20mbps service and receiving an horrendously slow service between 4pm and midnight.

I've now gone over to ADSL24 and am lucky in that I live quite near the exchange so get a 7150 profile.

Although I'm now only connected at less than 1/2 the speed I was with Virgin, I'm downloading 5 times as quick.

Why are they cutting UK jobs at Virgin, their BB support has been in India ages before they introduced a charge for it? Surely if anything India jobs should be going?

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Anonymous Coward

Exchange problems

We've had some problems with the broadband service we get from Virgin, but beleive it or not, it's not there problem, or mine. Due to the two local exchange boxes getting vandalised (I.E. little bastards got bored during the holidays), our service is being routed through the next closest box, which is almost 1/4 of a mile away, and very busy.

The two local boxes can only be replaced by BT apparently, and only after getting permission from the council. Last time this happened, it was ages till BT pulled there finger out, so I decided to phone them up and get the ball rolling.

"Would you like to sign up for BT broadband?"

-"No, I want the local exchange box fixed."

"But were very competitive in the price market."

-"Makes no difference if the local exchange box is busted now doesn't it."

"Well, you should realy ring up your broadband provider then."

-"Why? They don't own the local exchange boxes, they rent usage on them from BT. Therefor your company are the ones who have to repair them."

"Thats not my department."

-"This is the number I was given for faults on the system. This is technical support right?"

"Only for customers of BT, all other complaints are handles by our enquieries line."

-"Your joking right?"

"No sir, now would you like any other services?"

-click

I managed to stop myself asking for Satans extension number, I had other things to deal with. Funnily enough, the second number I dialed did get the desired result, and I have been told an engineer has been to the sights, and has got it marked in the system as a pending job. However, its going to be "anything upto a month" before work is started. So until then, I'm debating if I should ask Virgin Media for a refund for the two months that the lines been screwed.

Think i'll get my money back?

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Surprise surprise...

The PR line from Virgin Media when they "launched" the premium rate broadband support line was that it was to improve the response and support given to customers by cutting out inappropriate calls.

Hmm...let's see...that would have been a big fat LIE then! No wonder no-one from VM is available for comment - tricky one to spin while choking on one of your own press releases issued a few months earlier.

One of the unfortunate ironies of this is that quite a few bright-eyed and bushy-tailed VM tech support people (most of whom are half my age or less) have been busy trying to justify VM's premium rate rip-off on the various cable broadband/VM forums and newsgroups saying how few silly calls they now get and how they are now able to spend plenty of time solving customer's problems. Well not any more you won't, not with a P45 in your hand.

Shame on VM.

Ian

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Anonymous Coward

I wouldn't mind 25p a minute...

...if I got through to Liverpool.

I once spent 4 days trying to get my cable box reset. Everytime I got through to someone in India I had to say everything twice and then spell it, I had to read them some 20-30 digit number from the back of the box (there were two of these and they didn't know which one they wanted) and then they informed me there was a problem with my line/box, took my number and said I'd be called back the next day.

On the fourth day, I somehow got through to someone in Liverpool and he had it sorted in half an hour.

If you're going to bill me in this country's currency, the least you can do is have someone with a reasonable command of this country's language answer your phones.

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Anonymous Coward

Is this news?

Frankly I'm surprised anyone bothers posting any 'news' stories about Virgin Media's customer/technical support any more. It was crap for years as NTL and by all accounts (I fortuitously jumped ship before the merger) it has not improved since.

Truly the only news worth the name on this story would be if you could find the one luck person whose call was answered in less than five minutes AND received some helpful advice!

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Anonymous Coward

Complete and utter dorks

They are so busy 'right sizing' their tech support they've missed the fact that customers are 'right sizing' their own choice of provider. The only beneficiary appears to be Sky who are increasingly 'right sizing' their expanding customer base.

Anyway, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact it's not run by Branson - he's just renting the Virgin brand out and probably ruing the day he decided to do so.

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Anonymous Coward

There's Tech Support in Liverpool?

What's their number?

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Anonymous Coward

Use a different number

Try this web site, it gives alternate phone numbers for a majority of companies.

All the 08 numbers have underlying normal numbers and this site tries to list them.

http://www.saynoto0870.co.uk

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Yeah just tell them it's the video on demand

usually if it's a fault at their end you'll end up paying for some idiot who can't understand you telling you to reboot your modem even though you've done that 20 times. However if the modem light on the tv box is flashing, just log the fault under no VOD. They should drop the indian call centers, as i've never had a spot of bother with the UK based support. And considering we pay more for "unlimited" metered broadband, how can they also justify 090 support numbers.

As soon as adsl can get rid of broadband monthly limits, Virgins days will be numbered.

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Right-size their associate headcount?!

Ugh!

I'm just off to agitate some H2O molecules and then filter them through some dehydrated vegetation.

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My mate works at Liverpool tech support...

...and he is a very good engineer and an excellent communicator. Problem is, the pay is crap, conditions are as bad as a sweat shop (targets etc.) so he's just handed his notice in.

Shame really, because they need people like my friend who listen and try to diagnose a customers' problem without reading from a script, but they want better 'performance' out of him ie: answer more calls, rather than fix the problem of every call he gets.

This problem isn't just a Virgin problem, it's the same throughout every point of contact service centre - managers always want more for less.

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to be fair poster.

When I rang tech support at the weekend regarding no service I was told VM were having a problem in my area, so I said to the 'support associate' "I take it you will be crediting me for this call", to which he replied "I don't have the authority to do so". So stick that in your VM loving hat and eat it.

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Anonymous Coward

I work there

I work in TS in Liverpool

Some of my friends have been given the chop over the last couple of days. It's not nice to see, even though I seem to have survived this time around. I won't be waiting to let them have another go though.

To top it all, someone I work with spoke to one of our Indian NTL colleagues today, who cheerfully told him they were being cross trained from NTL to Telewest starting next Monday.

Ooh, I could crush a grape.

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"25p per minute + less staff = more time spent on hold = £££££"

"25p per minute + less staff = more time spent on hold = £££££"

If the number is an 0906, then you legally can not be placed on hold. And I beilve that VM do not have an IVR and its agents cant place you on hold. Read up on things because you post mornic statements :)

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Anonymous Coward

Best broadband i've seen

As someone who's working supporting numerous companies around the south of england for the past few years, i've seen all my clients loose their connections periodically - be it due to problems at the exchange, problems with bt, problems due to ddos, whatever. in all that time, the only connection that has never, ever gone down is my telewest/virgin bband.

it has been disconnected twice in 3 years, both times because of power failures in the house.

their tech support may be rubbish, but their's is the only tech support i've never called.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

oh well

I've just left virgin media and started working for carphone warehouse, i was based in the liverpool center and i have worked there for 4 years, the place is just rubbish now.... its no longer tech support.... they dont really care if you can sort the fault anymore, but as long as you use the customers name 3 times or more on each call... and all that crap then they are happy... i miss the days where i could reinstall winsock and do some real tech support... oh well I guess NTL/Virgin really ballsed it up this time. stuboo

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Really ?

'FYI: I found NTL/VM's cable offering to be wonderful.'

Having just spent the last 3 months using a cable connection, I would love to know what number I have to call to get a service that actually approaches the 4mb that is sold. Packet/Traffic shaping is so bad that after about 4pm the service is almost unusable. No way am I going to call tech support only to be charged 25p a min to be told that the reason the BBC website is timing out (on the frontpage FFS, not a streaming media page) is the Beebs server problem ! My 512k Pipex connection was faster than this POS !

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Anonymous Coward

sqeezed out

I, like many others still working at the IBM center in liverpool are very concerned about whether our jobs are safe. though i think no ones' job is safe at all - Virgin havent commented because they dont really care about the customer's experience or quality of service. Virgin now just wants to rinse customers but reduce costs wherever possible. I dont think richard branson has anything to do with it but if he knew how virgin customers are about to be handled by india he would be gutted. No more ISP of the year awards!

We just want to carry on working at the superior quality to india but how can we compete when AP hemorages money but india charges by the second making more money again.

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Worst ever support!

I recently needed to call regarding loss of service. After 10 minutes of not communicating with someone from India we established that it was a fault in the area and that it would be resolved sometime in the next 24 hours. It only took 18 hours but they would not refund the call.

VM will not be in business for much longer if they charge their customers like they did with me to bring to their attention a problem at their end.

PS: I wish I had of stayed with Zen and not been suckered into a contract with VM. 8mb on Zen flogs the 20mb on VM hands down.

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Anonymous Coward

Head's I win, tails you lose.

Well, so far I've had three encounters with VM's support:

1. Cable TV box PSU blew (complete with loud bang and bad smelling smoke) on a Sunday night. Got India (I think). Guy was a total muppet - gave me about five different versions of power-off/power-on. Eventually had to put my foot down and insist on getting a new box.

2. Cable TV box (yes, the replacement for #1) stopped getting EPG, TV on Demand etc. Phoned Tuesday night and got Liverpool. Problem sorted in <5 minutes. :-D

3. Cable Internet stopped working (last night) right in the middle of a browsing session. Took five minutes of ringing the hell-line to get someone to pick up the phone, got India (uh-oh!). When did get someone, we worked through the problem and eventually got it sorted. This needed a call from my end in excess of 11 minutes, and Indian Gent did cut the call short and offer to phone me back (to save me money) which he duly did and finished the fix. Now I'm wondering if - given that the problem seemed to be fixed by changing the frequency on the modem itself (not something I'd know to do by myself) - whether I'm going to see a £3 entry on my next phone bill, or whether this'd go down as a freebie?

So from my limited experience it's seems like the degree of support is pretty much a lottery. #1 was hopeless, but #2 and #3 were okay, (#3 less so, but I'm willing to be generous). At the risk of sounding like a VM apologist, I agree that they shouldn't pick up the tab for some cretin phoning their help line up with a "I can't print a document from Word" type question. Oh, and to all those folks who are slagging Richard Branson off - as has been said before, this isn't a proper "Virgin" business - it's NTL using the Virgin name to cover up their continually shoddy business practices!

I'll be sticking with them for the moment - although the cable TV is a bit naff (unreliable boxes, an EPG that works when it feels like, etc) - the cable internet has proven (up until yesterday) very reliable and certainly better value for money than I can get from Sky, BT, etc over ADSL (I'm so far from the exchange that - according to BT - I'll be lucky to get 512Mb/s, and my VM service is 4Mb/s).

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Anonymous Coward

@ squeezed out!

Then the only way we can try and get Virgin Media's major shareholder on side and tell him how thousands of customers will leave because of this, how staff are treated, and how the whole company is going down the pan is to tell him...

As the 2nd post on here, try this address:

Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Management LTD

120 Camdem Hill Road

London

W8 7AR

Its all fine and dandy us all complaining about it, but unless we pass these concerns and complaints on then they will never change. Maybe he can do sod all, maybe he can sit down with the board and say this is not on, but its worth a try. That is why I think a petition would be worthwhile, start a revolt, if they can see that thousands of customers are fed up with India tech support and the shit that goes with it and send it direct to the major shareholder rather than Virgin Media management them maybe something will be done!

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Anonymous Coward

VM and india

Having recently needed to reinstall the broadband for a new vista PC, before moving I found a FAQ on VM on how to do it on the day vista could see the VM site but it would not respond to my PC.

So I called the first number on the FAQ and was told to phone the new support line (25p) ---- I got India and after 2/3 minutes of being asked customer account related questions I pointed out I thought I had verified who I was and wanted the technical help I had phoned for.... the lady hung up on me!

I went back to custoner support complained (credited the call to me) but was told I had to call again - second time I got a lady in the north uk and in 2 minutes was up and running (hope she still has a job tho)

I have since complained again re the india issue and my only thought is it will cost 10p a go but if you get india just hang up and phone again hopefully there is still a UK support desk somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Do customers know if it is a broadband fault or not?

They said that using a premium rate support number would reduce the number of calls that were not related to broadband. I can remember the times when NTL was always saying that its customers knew nothing about the broadband service. I would agree that there are a large number of VM customers who know next to nothing about computers or the internet. In their eyes it will be a VM fault whatever it is that causes them problems with their email or surfing. They will still call even if the fault is something like their patch lead has been removed from the back of the computer. Unless of course the cost of the 09 number is putting them off calling in which case they are likely to soon become another churned customer.

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Fair enough

I migrated from BT ADSL (Paid for 8Mb, got 7 and a bit, but service was up and down like a whore's drawers and their CS made me want to cry) to VM a couple of months ago (pay for 10Mb, get 20Mb - shame about the 3Gb/day cap; that's about 20 minutes downloading time heh). Had no problems with the service, so I'm well happier than I was with BT. Haven't had to come up against VM customer service in India yet, but I imagine it's no worse (or better) than BTs Indian CS, so I've lost nothing and have a faster, cheaper service.

The fact is that most ISPs who have outsourced to India have crappy CS and a too-small second-line support. It doesn't seem like a VM-specific problem to me. BT CS had me tearing my hair out on a frequent basis. Mind you, they weren't charging me for the privilege, that's pretty cheeky.

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Dear Cretins

I've had Cable/Telewest/Blueyonder/Virgin Media for six years at the house I currently live at, and I've had less than 7 days of downtime. I'm actually quite happy with the service I receive.

But that's because I'm a Telewest customer, and not an NTL customer.

Yes, you may have to jump through hoops and lie to them about not having a router and yes you're definitely using Windows, but the odd occasion that you get through to a person that knows what they're talking about, the problem is resolved or an engineer booked to come out and tweak your connectors.

I've got friends on BT Yahoo (what a joke that is), BT Openworld, BT Broadband with the talk package, and I also had a line at another premises with Wanadoo/Orange.

Even though VM are crap, their lines are crap and the throughput is usually crap, they are by far the most reliable provider I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.

- Orange staff are largely unhelpful and rude.

- BT Yahoo/Openwound/Broadband staff are Indian CS based and don't seem to have access to the actual fault diagnosis tools, and don't know what an exchange is and why they should send an engineer there. Queue times of 45 mins were not unheard of with a fault that was their problem.

They're all as bad as each other, but I can see the managers getting annoyed with people phoning up to complain about popups, viruses, etc, and the fact that when they water the plant that's resting on their monitor that the monitor starts smoking.

So, does anybody fancy starting a cable-modem-based broadband provider for experienced computer users that need a decent pipe and someone on the end of a phone to reboot servers/routers/etc when told to do so? The admission questionnaire can go like this:

Q: "Do you read The Register?"

A: "Yes"

Q: "Fantastic, welcome aboard."

PS - "Dear Cretins" - read this... http://www.geocities.com/antryan2000/ntl.html

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Anonymous Coward

Its Rumored VM Are Also Increases Telephone Prices?

Just read a leaked email from VM by someone that obviously works there n digital spy that they are planning to increase their connection charge to 7p from 6p and that they are also increasing their 3p/min charge to 3.25p/min.

In the same post it also says they are decreasing their talk plans but not by much, obviously the 75000 phone customers they lost last quarter and continue to loss as their phone plans are expensive, uncompetitive and damn right complicated (per minute billing, now 3.25p min, 7p connection charge etc)

They obviously dont think it would make sense to REDUCE the 6p connection charge when it does not cost VM 6p to connect a call, keep per minute charges at a rounded figure (3p not 3.25p) as you cant get .25 of a penny so its obviously going to be rounded up, or reduce talk plans significantly to be MORE competitive than the likes of BT to AVOID loosing 75000 customers a quarter and actually attract phone customers!!!!

Check out: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=662550

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Anonymous Coward

If you want BB with a UK Customer Service...

This is going to sound like an advert, but bear with me .... its worth it.

The choices are getting ever-more limited. But in complete contrast to Virgin Media people should take a look at Sky Broadband. Even if you've got a bone up your botty against the Murdoch empire - try to be utterly selfish, objective, and see what's in it for you. I've done much research and think that this lot are going to be hard to beat.

All of Sky's support is UK based and will most definitely not be moving to India any time soon. The service proposition is underpinned by a strong and corporate-wide commitment to providing a solid service delivery. Sky fiercely protect their brand and won't trust it to any Indian Call Centre. But, like any ADSL provider, Sky are currently constrained by BT Openreach and so there is the potential to suffer any of the usual ADSL issues.

For those who don't like capped services - the Sky Max (upto 16Mbps) package is fully uncapped, and at £10 a month on top of the satellite bill is incredible value.

So there is a very real alternative to Virgin Media's service (whether it is NTL or Telewest rebranded).

For my part, I am a VM (Telewest) customer who has had a superb service delivery over 7 years. Only two calls have ever had to be made, one to get a blown modem replaced and another which turned out to be the modem shifting frequency which had to be reset by guidance over the phone. But I'll be dammed if I am going to subject myself to the abuse which is the typical Indian IT Call Centre. I had enough of that nonsense with the first UK 3G provider and won't allow it to happen to me again at the hands of Virgin Media.

As someone else has said above - the first time I need to call for Tech Support it will be to their free number to cancel my service with them and move over to Sky broadband.

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Anonymous Coward

Never BT. Ever.

I've been a Telewest/VM customer for five years or so. And generally pretty happy. However I'm beginning to wonder just how much longer that happiness will remain. When I called VM to tell them that I wanted only internet and phone I got put through to an Indian call centre.

Drone had never heard of Linux so could only fob me off with "You'll have to ask the customer services team that question" when I asked a couple of simple questions. That's the quality of tech support the Indian centre provides. Compare this to the service and support I've had from call centre operatives based in this country, who have been more than helpful even when I've mentioned Linux.

But, compared to the s**t I've endured from BT in my professional life over the last ten years that's competent! And what the BT staff I've talked with have said to me about their Indian helpdesk operation isn't fit to print.

So the idea of an alternative ISP may be tempting but the idea of going through anything which involves BT getting any money at all from me - even a penny - sticks in my craw. No. Never anything involving BT. Ever. They've caused me so much hassle, stress and crap they don't deserve anything from me. Other than regular reminders of how bloody awful they've been to me.

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