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back to article Virgin outsources techies, pulls plug on Trowbridge call centre

Virgin Media has announced a major overhaul of its IT operations on the same day it revealed plans to shutter a call centre in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, which has almost 500 staff members. The winding up of the call centre is part of Virgin's plan to shift its Mobile operation into the Virgin Media operation, which will mean a …

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FAIL

typical

VM prove they are no different than any other firm - screw the IT bods.

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WTF?

UK's rain capital?

I'm no fan of Manchester, but it's not nearly the rain capital of the UK. Although the following are 2004 figures, I'd be surprised if it had suddenly got wetter there and drier elsewhere:

Swansea 1361mm

Londonderry 1122

Glasgow 1033

Plymouth 1009

Cardiff 981

Preston 970

Belfast 940

Bristol 894

Manchester 856

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It's not the volume...

... it's the continuous drizzle.

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Go

Indeed... but...

... it's the rainiest of the 'big' cities, London, Birmingham, Manchester... most people outside Britain won't have heard of Preston for example. Oh did someone just say 'Untied?'....

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Happy

Mancunian adage...

...from a Mancunian I knew - "If you can see the Pennines, it's going to rain shortly. If you can't see them, it's already raining."

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Troll

No brain-er

Cheap labor with credentials form Xerox (copier) University beats actual ones lately.

Look for accounting discrepancies at Virgin soon as this tends to follow that.

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Go

Damn !

Those cost cutting/efficiency minded bean counters are at it again.

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Silver badge

Cost cutting & efficiency

Funny how the department of bean counters never gets outsourced...

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Oddly

They do, I used to work at a place that was an accounting outsourcer.

I think of a couple of reasons why we don't read about them in here, though:

1) It's rarely more than 10-15 people these days because of computerisation (ironically)

2) This is an IT news site, not an accounting news site.

Mind you, the further you get up the food chain, the less likely you would find outsourcing - could be an interesting business idea, outsource board of directors and CEO to company who will make the same daft short-sighted choices but for less money. Could be a winner.

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WTF?

Bastards!

Vodafone already stuck the knife into Trowbridge several times.

WTF have mob operators got against the place?!

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Worth it?

Has this type of IT outsourcing ever been profitable? Every instance I've heard of or actually been involved in becomes a huge cluster%!$k resulting in lost customers, doubling the time of new projects and the inevitable reversal in 3 to 5 year's time.

What is does do is make the CEO look good as he temporarily reduces costs and collects his bonus.

Can any readers tell me of a win/win IT outsourcing example?

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mmmm

No not me, having seen outsourcing in the City one with a dutch bank and another with some public body it has been a total failure (not far from a joke).

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Unhappy

Re: Worth it?

"Can any readers tell me of a win/win IT outsourcing example?"

You answered you're own question.

"What is does do is make the CEO look good as he temporarily reduces costs and collects his bonus."

Most, if not all of them are win/win, in terms of the CEO who got his bonus then moved on with extra brownie point on his CV which demonstrate how good he is at cost cutting and so dazzles the next victim^W company

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The problem is...

It's increasingly difficult to "vote with your feet", all the big operators are the same. And if a few hundred do de-camp the operator just says "good, those are the demanding customers, expensive to support because they actually expect to get what they paid for! If we make them our competitor's problem our cost base goes down, our competitor's goes up."

From the operators perspective it's an advantage to use overseas call handlers with poor English language skills not just because they can pay peanuts and don't have to deal with annoyances like employment legislation but also because they know that we will only place a support call to a rubbish help desk as a final resort.

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Anonymous Coward

On the other hand...

They might not be too pleased about where they can locate to, but from what I remember of living in the southwest, they might not be too sad about leaving Trowbridge; ISTR that in the early nineties it had become a bit of a dump, with nothing for the local yoof to do apart from attacking the police.

It seems to have "redevelopment" plans now, a bit like bombsites do.

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Went through there a few months back

The redevelopents involved flattening the brewery and building executive flats there. Bowyers has shut too. Just another Swindon or Bath Dorm town now, which is a shame as when I lived there over a decade ago it wasn't too bad

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Grenade

Not just a dorm town!

Check: http://www.swiftboot.com/swiftBoot/Contact.html

Not that they can possibly be recruiting from the local 'talent' freed up by Bowyers/etc - but I'm sure their lunch money must add up to some positive input to the local economy!

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Flame

Wiltshire is not effing in the southwest

Neither is Gloucestershire either.

The Southwest is Avon, Somerset, West Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

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FAIL

If only there was some sort of technology...

... which allowed these guys to carry on working remotely, say some kind 'inter-net' provided by a network service provider that allowed the staff to work in one area whilst supporting technology in another area.

'Relocation options' are an accountants way of saying - fuck off, we don't need you, but its not our fault you are now unemployed since you chose not to move your entire life and family to the arse-end of nowhere to work for a company who just fucked over all of your colleagues.

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Unhappy

That's a shame

I used to live near Trowbridge when I was growing up, even went to school there. I remember when VM opened its call centre, quite a few people coming out of college or GCSEs who didn't want to do the Uni route were given their first opportunity into work (including a couple of my friends) and it sounded like a pretty good place to work from some of the stories I heard.

This last little bastion of locality means they might as well just port all their customers over to T-Mobile and be done with it, there's no real value left in the Mobile part of the company any more AFAIC. Will be sad to see more jobs leave Trowbridge too, it's not the prettiest of places but I still kinda like it.

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Paris Hilton

Always safe with a bigger company, eh?

If I had a quid for every time I've heard someone say "Working for a big company = job safety", I'd have ... well, about 200 quid, but still...

There's still a myth around large companies and job security which is, in this recession, complete crap.

The reality is, your better off working for a small, viable company as part of a small team, or contracting / freelancing.

At big corporates, 90% of staff really are 'just a number' - it's also the place where 'dead wood' hangs out, especially in IT departments. The departments are often staffed by completely incompetent idiots with MCSE qualifications, overseen by a BOFH.

Paris, because she's a virgin who likes to pull plugs.

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Woooooooossshhhh!!!!

As the sweeping generalisation wafts by!

>>>>At big corporates, 90% of staff really are 'just a number' - it's also the place where 'dead wood' hangs out, especially in IT departments. The departments are often staffed by completely incompetent idiots with MCSE qualifications, overseen by a BOFH<<<<<

You're right about the job security bit though. I prefer to think of it more as 'wage security' (i.e. at least I know I have 'X' coming in every month until I get made redundant, and then the insurance takes over)

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Anonymous Coward

Job Security

No such thing.

I used to work for a small viable company. Then we were bought by a large company who promptly laid off most of our staff. Some argued they were foolish because they were losing our expertise. However most of us knew they weren't interested in our product, but in our customer base. And that their medium term plan was to migrate customers to their product. Actually it turned out to be the case in the short term.

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and then the insurance takes over...

I think you will find your insurance is unlikely to payout. So best ask for your money back

See: PPI claims could cost Lloyds £3bn. BBC News

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thats just scaremongering

I know of two people, one of which was family, who needed to call on their PPI. They both paid up no bother. As long as you know what its actually for (and I do) there's not really a problem.

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FAIL

Bugger

There goes any semblance of helpful tech then :(

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Bronze badge

Helpful?

Just experienced how helpful these teams can be. OK it was their broadband team but all tarred with the same brush these days. Was having intermittent dropouts which meant having to reset the router, not the end of the world but not really acceptable either. Reported it with no great hopes but they fixed it.

No more dropouts

Well you can't have a dropout if you can't connect can you

After a whole day chasing around their little empires (yes I have switched off/on the router, yes I have tried clicking on connect etc etc etc) it seems that I had the wrong connection type set in the router. Of course it was exactly the same settings I had in there for over two years, but when they have changed it their end to fix the problem the fault was now mine!!!!!

I would change provider but is there really that much difference between them?

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haha

i thought virgin already had a bad rep for customer service? i cant see how its going to get any better from this news!?

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Anonymous Coward

Virgin No More

Arthur Andersen will screw them for sure.

Lovely suits the sales force wear, though. I guess that's enough to get a contract.

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Arthur = no more

Accenture are the re-incarnation of Arthur's spinoff company - Andersen Consulting.

Essentially it's the shark-tank for the sharks without the moral and ethical compass of the parent - as Arthur found out when they tried to shaft them and got a serious kicking in the courts before they were officially divorced in 2000.

Arthur then went on to try and replicate their success by dumping their own ethics, but as they weren't as clever or evil as their offspring they got caught in 2002.

"Arthur" still exists, but their reputation was so badly damaged that they can't even get a job counting the change in the till at your local corner shop these days.

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Flame

Telco stuff was outsourced...

A few years ago to some bunch called BT.... So one of the ex Teleworst switch techs told me (he should know he works for BT on the 'Virgin' network)... Apparently there were 'cuts'...

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Silver badge
Happy

Well well

Seems Virgin just manage to steal a lead on the race to the bottom.

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I'll miss the trowbridge team

While it'd be nice to have integrated billing, I have spoken to the trowbridge people on the phone and they were always helpful and competent. Something to treasure.

Of course, now I've moved to 3 for their data, it's less of an issue

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Paris Hilton

Hell Desk and 50MB

Recently upgraded to 50MB which required a new router. All went well apart from the cost. Saw a £30 increase in each monthly bill. Was on VIP XL and seemed the 50MB fell outside of that package.

I called the "Desk" and got rooted through to India. All they seemed to want to do was upgrade me to 100MB and either pay the same or get a £6 increase (I had explained I wanted to save money). I also got put on hold three/four times and cut off once!

I have had no help from the Indian call centre. The line is not good, it's difficult to understand on both sides and they don't seem to have had sufficient training. You keep getting put on hold whilst they consult with someone who possibly knows a little more than they do.

Eventually I got put through to a Customer Relationship chap in the UK. Couple of key taps later he'd saved me £30 a month for the same services with no mention of upgrading to 100MB! The same thing has happened over some other issue...

On another occasion my connection in the box had been disconnected. I phoned the "Desk" and they offered me a visit the following week (Mon I believe). I said wasn't there anything else (as in later in the week) and the person on the other end of the phone started to get shirty saying that was the only appointment that was available. I had to explain that Mon wasn't convenient and a later appointment would be better for me.

The sales lady who phoned from India about a cheap VM SIM card was also laughable. She asked if she could use my Christian name and included it at the start and end of most sentences. In the end I got fed up, told her I didn't want it and hung up.

Virgin Media in my experience and I've been with them since the NTL days, do offer a good service but in my opinion the off shore "Desk" is a waste of space. If there is no option to get put back through to a contact in the UK then I hope I don't have any reasonably complex questions as they don't have the skills or expertise to be able to help!

Paris because she wouldn't accept such a shoddy service.

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Agreed

The only way to deal with anyone halfway useful at VM is to ring up and select the "I'm thinking about leaving" option - then you can get them to transfer you to tech support and get one of the lovely, helpful and actually knowledgeable scouse techies ... granted, they're only marginally more intelligible than the staff in India ;)

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FAIL

I only had one option yesterday

Advised the direction of the door! Along with a few colleagues.

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Silver badge

Accenture ?

Isn't that the company that regularly loses customer confidential data on misplaced laptops ?

I'm betting we'll hear about this again.

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Never mind, it could have been worse

They could have been re-located to London. Was there any need for the snide comment against Manchester?

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FAIL

nthell

I have phone and net from nthell and the name is accurate.

The big trick with support is to ring the free number and each time you get an "injun", hang up and try once more. You eventually get someone in the UK with at least a brain cell who listens and either connects you to the real techies of sorts your problem out, Talking to the injuns is very very risky. A friend who had been cut off for months because VM techs had pulled a new cable through a duct and wrecked her service rang and asked for the mobile redirect to be stopped. The injun disconnected her phone service instead! :-)

I suppose the beancounters have seen all the "short" (longer than a termination, ended by customer so "positve") calls to the injuns (compared to much longer calls to UK support desks) and assumed this means the injuns are doing better!

VM business - paper tiger?

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

Also they seem to have already "outsourced" thier sales effort as I recently tried to price up a 10 line virtual sales desk from VM and they would not give me an estimate of the price, tell me the features of the service (they did not even accept it existed until they had a look at their own website) and then told me (upon each phone call attempt) they would ring me back. Ha!

After a hours of calls I believe that this VM service does not exist - or is only for large scale (1000's of lines) customers.

Hey beardy - please stop advertising things you are not prepared to deliver.

It might help the share price, but it pisses off the prospects - and wastes my time!

Jacqui

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FAIL

I can save VM a fortune

All they need to do is replace the Indian call centre with an automated system which allows an engineer to be booked as that seems to be the only solution they ever offer.

I also call VM numbers until I get someone who can speak English clearly and is able to have a conversation rather than only stick to a script. It's amazing how much more pleasant it is and financially beneficial for VM. The worse thing is it seems VM know this but don't care.

When the Indian VM MObile Phone Sales Droid called and started with "Don't worry, I'm not selling anything" which was quickly revealed as a lie, I kept them on the phone for an hour. At least it kept me amused and someone else from not suffering :-)

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Trowbridge support was good.

This is a stupid move. Like several above, I have nothing but praise for the techies in Trowbridge, but am unable to understand a word the people on another continent say. "May I speak to your supervisor, please?" repeated until they gave in, proved to be the only way to get anything useful from them. The supervisor has a Wiltshire accent, and fixes things in seconds.

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Accenture?

A) NOOOOOOOooooooooo!

B) Perhaps they start running Symbian on their routers ;)

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Probably explains the spin email I got yesterday

Hi got an email from Virgin yesterday containing the following guff:

We wanted to let you know that we’re here to help. Here’s how…

Virgin Media Technical Support is free for any Virgin Media service or equipment issues. For help with your computer or anything digital, we’ve got another service. It’s called Digital Home Support and it gives you instant access to a team of technical experts 24/7.

Digital Home Support:

Get's rid of viruses

Gets rid of any virus your computer has

Helps speed up your PC

Helps you speed up your PC

Deals with Windows errors

Deals with Microsoft Windows errors

Email on your Smartphone

Sets up Virgin Media email on your Smartphone

Connects your gadgets to your network

Connects your games console, printer or other digital gadgets to your home network

It's just like having your very own IT help desk!

Yeah, right. I guess it can't get any worse than it currently is though. I lost Internet connectivity last week and the script following call centre staff clearly never heard of traceroute or ping.

Tried saying XP was too old now and I should upgrade to Windows 7 to fix the problem. Erm...

When I said I also could not access the web on my Linux machine, Android phone or tablet she said that they did not support Linux or Android and then just hung up!

So I assume they can also only help set up Virgin email on your smartphone if you've got a Windows one.

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Flame

A word of advice...

DO NOT install VM security suite, it's actually the radial-point security suite which spams you with ads and has several production issues which can leave your system needing an OS re-install.

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We need to save money!

Corporate twats: We need to save money! Employees: Why? We have money in the bank and we made a profit last year? Corporate twats: You're fired.

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