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back to article Virgin Media sees 36,000 cable customers scarper in Q2

Virgin Media lost 36,000 customers in the three months ended 30 June, but the ISP isn't that bothered about what it described as "lower-value single and dual-play" punters. The company claimed it was happy to shed such customers in favour of tailoring "superior services" to those willing to shell out more cash in return. "The …

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Nice to know

What beardy branson really thinks about us.

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Beardy

Beardy simply recieved a lot of shares in exchange for permission to use the "Virgin" brandname. He has no say in the day to day running of the company.

The day to day running of the company is still NTL at its core.

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Haha

Or maybe it's something to do with the piss poor service, foreign callcentres and data throttling?

Just a thought y'know

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FAIL

you don't get data throttled

if you get an XL package. the cost difference is so little i cannot believe there's still idiots on the loose not seeing the light to escape metering.

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@Twisted

Currently on Virgin Broadband. My connection is as reliable as a party manifesto pledge during a recession. But I'm not worried because I have the ever helpful Virgin Support Centre on hand:

"Hmmm, is the router plugged into the mains sir?"

"Yes."

"Is it switched on, sir?"

<cue grinding teeth> "Yes."

"Have you plugged the router into the phone socket on the wall?"

"YES!"

"I'm sorry sir, I'll have to escalate your call to one of the senior team."

<cue 15 minute wait>

"Hello sir, is the little internet icon visible in the toolbar?"

<headdesk>

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WTF?

Escalation?

"I'm sorry sir, I'll have to escalate your call to one of the senior team."

Escalation????

You must have a special VIP package to get escalation!

Before the inevitable "can you turn it off, wait 30 seconds and turn it on again"?

Or "it must be your windows settings" to which the reply "But I dont use windows" gets a concluding "Oh sorry, only Windows is supported. Bye." <click> dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Or, if they are getting bored

"I'm sorry sir, I'll have to transfer you to one of my colleagues." <click> dunnnnnnnnnnnnnn

And yet after I swtiched to BT and Sky they still spam my (physical) mailbox with their crap. Every week is a new leaflet. I am awaiting the day they dare to send a salesman round so I can explain to him first hand exactly what I thought of them.

(And although I agree with the comment that Beardy isn't at the helm, just lending his name, surely he should step in at some point before the Virgin name is trashed by these NTL cowboys for good?)

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Anonymous Coward

yeah...

It's alright if you can actually get the connection they tell you can get. I mean, mine says it's 50mb most of the time, but there's this horrible little gremlin called packet loss that keeps making the connection basically unusable.

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Erm, yo do

I get my SSH connections throttled on the 50M service.

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FAIL

Errrr, fail

@s. pam

Errr, fail. You get traffic throttling on all packages except then100M service. Even the XXL 50M service has a caveat that they may throttle the upstream.

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Ymmv

I've had to put in a support call a couple of times in three years. Last time I got through to the usual indian call centre. I said i was using ubuntu and expected the usual response. Instead I ended up having a really good conversation (that ultimately pinpointed the problem) with a young woman who knew more about linux than me. Maybe just lucky, but I was chuffed.

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Paris Hilton

Sounds like the 30MB+ uptake is a misleading claim.

Since all new customers get put on the 50MB service for three months free, and they will bill you if you move off that package for even a day of those three months. What they actually deliver is a different story altogether.

As an aside, I've actually found their foreign call centre staff to be well-trained and actually quite helpful when doing my own configuration. And also, this has nothing to do with Branson. NTL just bought the name 'Virgin' to hide under.

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WTF?

It has nothing to do

With Beardy , wake up and read the Reg more

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50 meg down and 5 up is great

I've been on the XL package for close on a year and have been very impressed at the speed and reliability. Upload speed is faster than I used to get as download on Plus Net (not blaming Plus Net, their service was excellent but they relied on BT). Various speed tests show I am getting exactly what I've been sold :-)

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WTF?

Speed tests

Various speed test websites are prioritised so you will get much faster speeds to them than you will get when downloading real content from actual sites...

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Do they also prioritise...

...routing to my remote web servers in the US and Australia, routing to the downloads directories of pretty much every major (and not so major) hardware/software manufacturer I've grabbed an update from in recent months, and routing to, umm well, pretty much every other site I've downloaded large amounts of data from?

Because on *my* 50Mb/5Mb connection, I see the advertised speeds being attained for both up and downstream transfers on a regular basis when using the connection as normal, not just when doing speed tests. Do I hit those speeds all the time? Of course not. Hell, I don't always hit those speeds all the time even when using the speedtest sites. But more, far far more, often than not, I do get what I'm paying for, irrespective of where the traffic is coming from or going to.

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Confused

I actually don't know what Single-Play / Double-Play means and why this might not bother them.

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Single Play / Double Play

Single Play - Customer only has Cable TV or maybe a Phone line

Double Play Customer has Cable TV / Phoneline or Broadband or Mobile

What VM (Sky etc) want is triple play Phone / Broadband / TV and Quad Play (Stick a Mobile on there)

If you dont have EVERY form of media / communications with them then they don't really make that much out of you!

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Lock in

> If you dont have EVERY form of media / communications with them then they don't really make that much out of you!

Equally important, without all your metaphorical eggs in one basket case, it's far too easy for you to switch supplier/provider (as they are finding). It's only when they have both hands on your wallet that they'll feel confident enough to turn up the heat. Safe in the knowledge that these are the customers who won't or can't or don't know how to get away from them.

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Happy Customer.... I'm as surprised as you!

Can’t fault VM in Yorkshire, don't think I have had a speed test below 50meg down in about 6 months and mostly coming back much faster than this, often seeing upwards of 70meg! always see around 5 up. My connection hasn’t dropped in about 8 months and never throttled.

Also last time I called customer services I was talking to a lass in Scotland so a happy customer all round! keep up the good work VM and bring 100meg to my area ASAP!

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yep

I'm in Yorkshire too, and have great VM service... I think it's because I used to be Telewest rather than NTL.

Generally i find them to be excellent unless something goes wrong, then you have to use their 'support'

I'd rather drink a pint or two of vodka, and bang my head against a wall repeatedly, than call them!

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FAIL

Rubbish back-end infrastructure - thoroughly backward.

We have just switched from their business service to BT Infinity and we do not regret it at all. Virgin employs the most backward technology as far as ISP's are concerned. This is the only outfit I have ever experienced who sell a "static IP" service and sell it to you as a fixed IP service over the phone. When I queried why they had an arcane system of allocating MAC ID's to IP addresses and provided a 5 IP set where the IP's were in different subnets therefore making them unusable ... they replied this is how their system was designed.

How difficult woud it have been for them to have a proper DHCP technology and a series of IP addresses where they could allocate in sets contiguous IP addresses...

Very badly run, very arrogant management with a take or leave it attitude. Well we left it and moved to BT.

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Boffin

Whoa, dude!

Assumed what you said made sense, and I'm not suggesting it didn't, you really needed one of these icons.

That was one techtastic word soup.

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Boffin

one logical reason...

id imagine their ip pool needs the equivalent of a defrag, but that would mean the ips are no longer static.

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expand network

Surely they need to expand their network to expand their customer base? Our half of town is uncabled and in a broadband not spot, there are local initiatives pushing Virgin, but no one seems to want to bother with this huge untapped customer base in Basingstoke!

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It's because

They are up to their eye's in debt and can't afford to lay new cable, they wont even bother with new build estates adjacent to the existing network.

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Average revenue

"The firm added that its average revenue per cable user had climbed 3 per cent to £47.35 per month, which somewhat helped offset customers who altogether abandoned the ISP."

I'm not surprised, my Virgin bill for example has climbed over the last year even with no change in service.

I do have a phone line but never use it (I only got it to get a discounted package deal). I think what probably happened is they tried to get people to sign up with a discount deal, and then jacked the price up later hoping the vast majority wouldn't bother switching afterwards. Seems they're right.

If I hadn't been tricked into a new 12 month contract in exchange for a HD TV box (no mention of a contract renewal on the page I signed up for it from) I would have definitely been gone by now.

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VM is OK by me

Yes, the V+ box is a bit flaky, but other than that, I'm a happy customer. BT? Never again. My VM connection has gone down, on average, once a year, and every time, it's been overnight so not like I was using it anyway. The BT connection at my work, on the other hand, cuts out about every couple of weeks, and that's a business account.

As for the TV service, I'd rather watch S4C in black and white than Murdoch TV

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WTF?

bit flakey???

i do hope thats a euphamism for 'fucking useless', cos thats how i'd characterise my v+ box.

needs a reboot just about every day. lags like a bastard when you try to change channels Although, really helpfully it queues all the additional (is this working?, did i press it right?, are the batteries on the way out?) presses - so when the desired channel change eventually turns up, 10 minutes after the preogramme you wanted to watch has started, you are then treated to the UI (lol) going mental for the next 5 minutes.

VM router needs a reboot every time i log on.

and dont even get me started on their website or customer care.

come to think of it, why am i even a customer....

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Coat

The elite only?

Well that fucks my plans over for tunring up for my Virgin Galactic space flight dressed like a homeless person...

Note to self.. before flying over to the USA for my space flight, I must go to Aldi and buy myself a suit....

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FAIL

My experience

the cable was great... let down massively though when I moved to a non cable area. I originally intended to leave and was hit with a disconnection bill of £120 (no one mentioned I would be hit with this during the call where i asked to leave). Despite paying for one package and one cable, the £120 was because they make three disconnection charges (tv, phone and bb). This is compounded further by the fact I'd had the service for about 2 yrs but recently upgraded the TV from M to L, this of course (though no one mentioned at the time) reset my 12 month contract.

Eventually agreed to continue with virgin copper bb (with very patchy WiFi modem), until the contract expired when I move to Be Broadband (which provides a much quicker and reliable service). (Also worth noting Virgin continued charging me and tried to blame BE for not using the MAC correctly?!)

This is why, despite their excellent cable service, i will always think twice about using them again

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Paris Hilton

naked virgin (street cabs)

Is there an epidemic of copper theft from Virgin street cabinets? In North London, it seems that almost every cabinet has had its side ripped off laying bare all the innards. Occasionally you see one that has fibre gear from Nokia, but most of the street cabs just have the Scientific Atlanta coaxial stuff (for tv and boradband) inside a big heatsink case, and the terminals for the phone lines, which is the only harvestable copper. There's not much to steal apart from that, so surely not worth the hassle on the part of the crims. So perhaps it's just vandalism. Or an infrastructure improvement programme. Still, if your phone goes dead, head over to your local Virgin street cab, and ring the number they have to report such issues, helpfully printed on a little sign inside : 0800 953 2244.

Given how much effort Virgin have invested in their street cab security, I'm glad I don't rely on them for anything.

Paris... no longer a virgin but often naked.

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Anonymous Coward

Cheery picking

Virgin can boast better speed as they tend to only cover Metro's with fibre.

When they boast of 50 - 100mbs downloads, do they carefully drop all mention of their (expensive) ADSL connections?

*most of population != most of country

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Unhappy

Time to upgrade? Thats VM's answer to everything..

Ask them why iplayer, 4od, youtube etc doesn't work half the time and you'll be told "you're using too much data" despite the fair use limit not being reached. Until recently I was half convinced that running speedtest.net while buffering video actually improved performance temporarily while they quickly route round all their snoopware crap to get the best results.

Virgin love to play up their line SPEED but the fact that it runs at 90% of the advertised speed does not make up for the fact that you're only allowed to view plain text websites at certain times of the day. If they want you to.

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FAIL

Absolutely right, Virgin is useless for VoD

iPlayer, 4oD, even the channel 5 thing are unusable most of the time on Virgin Muppets. If I switch over to my BE connection they mysteriously all work fine. Can't be Virgin making sure that nobody else's IP TV service works acceptably on their network of course, they wouldn't do that....

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They throttle popular service providers as well as customers

They told me so on the phone. If your area has been doing to much iPlayering then iPlayer gets throttled, nice work around for throttling the 50M connections.

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No real gripes with Vermin Media

apart from the gripe of them being too expensive generally, and tending to screw their bottom rate customers hardest when the next price hike does come.

Broadband (fibre) absolutely reliable, no outages that I can recall except when the websites I try to connect to have outages.

Still a virgin, still a user of VM, and often naked.

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title

Got rid of my comcast and they did nothing to keep my business. I was one of those with only cable internet; discounted mind you.

Got tired of them billing me almost 20% a month of the service fee for a modem rental. I even went out and bought my own modem and they still charged me the rental fee.

So long comcast; they don't care now. They will have no choice eventually because nobody is happy with their regular pricing and im sure Virgin is no different.

Once peoples promotions run out and the fees increase; out-the-door!.

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Virgin are good until..

They mess up your account details. Once that happens it's like being trapped in a Kafka novel.

I got so frustrated with them I left. Shame as I though their technical offering was great for the price charged.

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Holmes

Lower Value Punters?

I had phone and BB from Virgin. They jacked up the price twice this year, That'll gets the ARPU up a bit. But only if the tight wads stay.

Did they stay? No, 36000 punters say sod it and Virgin reckon they are better off without these lower value punters. Even if these cheapskates had just BB/Phone like me that is 990000 quids every month! Nearly a million quids a month?

Might have been better to get them on board and sell more to them. But you can't do that by shafting your customers with higher bills and providing shit service to the skinflints. This will not entice these tight sods to shell out more money for a 'better'/faster service.

Just for info, the difference between 10 meg and 30 meg on Virgin is 5 quids. (Or 37%) And you need a Virgin phone to get this rate. 7.50 quids difference if you don't want the phone. But the phone is 13 quids a month. And the call connection costs are higher than the competition. Traffic management applies to all packages up to 30 meg, (see Virgins T&Cs) 50 meg is unmanaged downstream, managed upstream and excludes file sharing which is managed separately. On 100meg you get unrestricted up and down data, apart from the file sharing. Yup this is managed.

All recovered from the convoluted serpentine mess that is the VM website, today.

I don't use Virgin any more.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: firu toddo

Firstly, I call bullshit

100MB is certainly not managed. I upgraded a few weeks back and my uTorrent gives me consistent 11.4MB/sec down when downloading and 1.1MB/sec upload, and I've left this on my torrent slave 24/7 for weeks - transfer in utorrent is in the TB, lol

It has never been managed either for me!

Even my 50MB was never managed - the upload was throttled when the moved me upto the 5MB upload back in March (brough back down to 1.75Mb/sec) but jeez still much faster than ADSL round here.

For me, Virgin cable has been great.

Virgin ADSL on the other hand was a bag of shite. I lived about 2km from the Exchange. When we first got connected torrents would get about 400K/sec down, but this gradually went down and down until I didn't even get 100K/sec down - it took about 3 months for the to happen. I pretended to move house (gave it for free to my Dad who was on dial-up) and went with a no name company called Link Connect (cos thats who my work use) and all of a sudden I was getting around 800K/sec. Hows my Dad doing? ...he gets around 200/300K/sec but he has been with no other BB supplier so can't compare.

Oh, and BE Broadband are very good judging by a couple of mates who have swapped over.

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Mushroom

Your Point?

Bullshit? Where?

Two minor points.

First up, "Even my 50MB was never managed - the upload was throttled when the moved me upto the 5MB upload back in March (brough back down to 1.75Mb/sec)" means what?

Throttling your upload speed is NOT traffic management? And BTW, this is the same policy Virgin apply to 100MB. So that would be managed too. Exactly as I said before.

Taken from Virgins website. http://shop.virginmedia.com/help/traffic-management.html

Point two, in true VM style, they are not telling you what 'high' usage will trigger this (non) management. Bear in mind 100meg is only todays headline grabber. Remember unlimited broadband? Became unlimited to a Gig a day. Just like 10Meg became the tightarse tariff not worth supporting.

When I look into your future I see you bending over, grasping your ankles while Virgin explain the latest 'upgrade' to your T&Cs

And I see beardy is on the VM website oozing beardy love to anyone who will listen.

Until Virgin get their act together and support anyone who buys their services and not just the £50 a month peeps they can keep their wonder products.

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Anonymous Coward

Bollox

Firstly, I call bullshit

100MB is certainly not managed. I upgraded a few weeks back and my uTorrent gives me consistent 11.4MB/sec down when downloading and 1.1MB/sec upload, and I've left this on my torrent slave 24/7 for weeks - transfer in utorrent is in the TB, lol

It has never been managed either for me!

Even my 50MB was never managed - the upload was throttled when the moved me upto the 5MB upload back in March (brough back down to 1.75Mb/sec) but jeez still much faster than ADSL round here.

For me, Virgin cable has been great.

Virgin ADSL on the other hand was a bag of shite. I lived about 2km from the Exchange. When we first got connected torrents would get about 400K/sec down, but this gradually went down and down until I didn't even get 100K/sec down - it took about 3 months for the to happen. I pretended to move house (gave it for free to my Dad who was on dial-up) and went with a no name company called Link Connect (cos thats who my work use) and all of a sudden I was getting around 800K/sec. Hows my Dad doing? ...he gets around 200/300K/sec but he has been with no other BB supplier so can't compare.

Oh, and BE Broadband are very good judging by a couple of mates who have swapped over.

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it is there but it depends on your area usage

it depends where you are and how much it has been *abused* if VM call it that, on the area where you are

50MB where i am Newsgroups deferentially get traffic shaped from 5pm to midnight some times(to around 5-10mb ish), using VPN does bypass it completely (the free VPN that giganews provide works)

again it depends on the total amount used by your main node(CMS? forgot what its called now) for your area where main bandwidth comes in

i agree i would never leave VM because i can only get 1mb ADSL service here, even with FTTC that will provide 30-40mb speeds {i seen the first house with it he was Right next to the FTTC cab so he got the full 40mb speeds very nice} to bad that not been rolled out here even thought we have 33-40k of buildings here at least 12-15k of them need FTTC as they only get 0.2 - 2mb speeds on ADSL, i have not really had any issue with VM service (apart from packet loss issues that now seem to have been resolved)

users who say i am happy with my 15-20mb ADSL connection your lucky to be within the first mile of the exchange not every one is lucky to got an house that sits right next to the exchange

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Coffee/keyboard

WoW and VM

I had to leave Virgin after they messed up warcraft for me.

When I called them they even admitted an issue that they were "blocking" traffic to blizzards server (am not very technical) causing peoples ping to skyrocket and making the game unplayable.

26 pages of complaints on Activision's forum at last count.

It is a shame Virgin were my first ISP (as NTL) and I remember my friend's envy at my 128Kb/sec connection

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FAIL

Rolling back

I've gone from their triple play landline+cable+mobile and dropped the mobile. LL and cable next. Where I live bandwidth sucks during term time; packets get dropped so much that iplayer on the wii keeps timing out. And I hate the virgin "changes to your service" emails that usually claim simplicity but which mean "costs more"

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Anonymous Coward

Hey Mr/Mrs/Miss Virgin person....

i would be over the moon to except your services to get me off this BT copper crap, now if you would kindly extend your cable 20 yards further down the road ill sign up tomorrow to whatever you want!

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Holmes

"Well we left it and moved to BT."

Eek. VM may well be brainless, but you don't need Sherlock to tell you that leaving VM and choosing BT instead is hardly going to be an improvement.

Other ISPs are available, there are still some relatively competent ones with a clue about technology and customer service (although to a lesser or greater extent they mostly depend on BT infrastucture for connectivity between ISP and customer).

Meanwhile, the street next to me and others nearby (several hundred houses total) has recently been demolished and rebuilt due to 1960s concrete rot. It had previously had cable courtesy of Birmingham Cable, though it was one of the last areas in the city to be cabled.

Now, courtesy of VM, these new homes no longer have any kind of cable, not even TV or 10Mb broadband. The old street corner boxes are still there, and working to supply my street, but there was no interest in reconnecting the "new" development. How does that help their aim of increasing the proportion of customers on triple/quad play? Well if they disconnect the ones that aren't on triple/quad, I suppose it helps the metric, even if it decreases the revenue and the potential customer base.

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Actually...

Virgin have been focussing on delivering far inferior packages in order to bump their customers up onto higher tiers.

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Happy

Thanks for this article

You reminded me to cancel my Virgin account

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FAIL

Brilliant piece of PR

"Its ok, they were poor anyway"

Daily Mail : VIRGIN MEDIA DOESN'T CARE ABOUT POOR AND NEEDY, VILE IMMIGRATION NEW LABOUR ETC

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