Re: Why oh why
Because not everyone got the bad hardware and not everyone gets the bad service.
I've had them for 4 fours now, they were in the place I moved into for 5 years before that. They consistently provided phone and Internet connection for all that time to the point that nobody (including many previous tenants, my girlfriend, and later me) bothered to change to anyone else.
This is coming from someone that hasn't used a BT connection since 33.6k modems were in fashion and worked with PlusNet exclusively for years (until they were taken over, but I still hear good things about them) purely because I wanted the high-end of technical service and didn't really care about download speed so long as they were honest and fixed problems quickly and didn't have many problems to fix. Hell, the first guy I ever spoke to at PlusNet on the phone (literally, the guy who answered) was able to take off interleaving on the ADSL connection when I mentioned I was experiencing latency on my SSH sessions and he knew all about it and fixed the problem in literally seconds.
In my whole Internet life at home since I was at uni 15 years ago, I can count the number of Internet connection outages I've personally experienced on my fingers, most of them to do with home moves and/or BT. Before that, I was on BT because it was all my parents would allow because they didn't want my brother and I to "play with the phones" (but were happy for us to tie up the only phone line from 6pm to midnight EVERY SINGLE DAY back in the modem days!).
My previous move, 4 years ago, I moved from a PlusNet broadband account that was about 10 years old to the one that was in the flat I moved into with others. It was Virgin Media. I dreaded it. I work in IT, use it for all my entertainment, and the connection needs to be GOOD for me (especially if I'm sharing it with others). We didn't even have TV on the package back then because we had no TV licence, and the modem looked like something from the NTL days. Barring one minor incident, years later, with a PPV movie (Serendipity before anyone jumps to conclusions) cutting out half-way, I can't really find any fault with them. We had an old 10Mbps cable modem for years. Then they gave us a set-top-box for the TV only. Then they put us on a 30Mbs wireless router a few years ago. Still no problem.
Then I moved again recently and I *TOOK* that Virgin account with me to the new house. The date was fixed in advance. The installers turned up on time. They ran brand-new cables to the house (which was previously BT and Sky, I think). They drilled a nice, neat installation. And the installers *insisted* on giving me a SuperHub. I'd heard all the rumours and tried my best to avoid it like the plague. They insisted to my girlfriend that I had to have one, despite me having a 30Mbps router and an equivalent package. I got home to find a SuperHub installed. I put it straight into Modem mode, connected it to my own wireless router, it's been flawless ever since (so I don't even have the article-stated problem either!).
I wouldn't TOUCH them if it wasn't for their service. I would literally change supplier same-day. I still have a BT-supplied line active in the house (an automated BT woman talks to me when I pick it up but I have no line-rental on it or anything), I have 3G connectivity to transparently handle any interim installation so it really wouldn't bother me to ring up any ADSL supplier and get them to activate that other line to replace Virgin. My TV has Freeview, we have an old Sky box and satellite dish cabled into the house next to the TV already, and I have the Virgin Media STB separate from the Internet. I can literally change any component over to any other supplier within minutes or, at worse, a few days and still keep my existing connection running until I'm sure I'm happy with the new supplier. I don't. Because Virgin have given me absolutely ZERO reason to, as of yet. And I'm someone who has a mental blacklist of things like restaurants and companies that screwed me over 10+ years ago and I refuse to touch them or their subsidiaries ever again.
I hear the scare stories too, but I don't have the same experience. I've moved several times, darted around London, and never really had a problem with them. Maybe, just maybe, what you hear are the vocal minority and your own experiences whereas, actually, they're not that bad at all (whether in some areas of the country, or some packages or whatever) - certainly no worse than anyone else and INFINITELY better than anything I've ever had through BT (despite the fact that PlusNet are now BT-owned, they still do a better job than plain BT offerings, or so the people who used them on my recommendation years ago still tell me today...).
I honestly could not find anyone I would want to activate that old ADSL-capable line I have running into the perfect socket position on the wall, just ready to go, and a small stack of old ADSL / ADSL2+ routers that I have preconfigured for my network from my old houses. And there's no reason to even look because I don't have a bad experience with them.