Re: no access to router
OP: Your first point - you say yourself other ISP's do it, and Virgin HAVE to state it if they don't want to be sued. It's in the small print, same as every other ISP. I assure you they do not "guarantee" your final download speed. Because they can't. Same as everyone else. And I download ISO's all day long and never see any dip in my networking graphs at all.
Superhub download corruption? I'll give you that, but purely because I'm sensible enough to ONLY operate third-party junk ISP hardware in modem mode and do things like wireless myself (you trust wireless from the cheapest-bidder provider on your home network? More fool you). Ever since I saw a BT Broadband modem that wanted to offer my connection to all-and-sundry without asking as a guest network on whatever their global WiFi network is called. From a quick Google, I believe in modem mode, that corruption problem doesn't exist in modem mode - hence it's almost certainly just the usual junk wireless on an ISP-supplier router. Same as every other ISP.
Admin - just what do you WANT to access on the SuperHub that you can't? I can't see anything that it does that I can't control except Virgin's remote-support (see next paragraph).
"Most of the time this is fine, but there's nothing stopping VM logging into your home network and snooping."
Except a decent firewall on your network from the Internet connection and not relying on a junky, third-party, home router to do an effective job if that's what you're worried about. My "firewall" is actually a 10-year-old WRT54GS - it stops ANYTHING coming from the SuperHub going anywhere unless I've explicitly allowed it. Virgin get to see exactly what I send them and no more (and I send it to them because I need them to deliver it). They can't do anything on my network - the only things accessible to them are the STB and the SuperHub device. Everything else is blocked off from Virgin as it is blocked off from random people on the net. If you're on The Reg (and so presumably an IT professional or at least geek of some kind) and don't get this, it worries me.
And this is no different to other ISP - I've never used nor trusted any of their supplied modems/routers whatsoever. Stick them in modem mode or (at worst) DMZ with wireless disabled, install your own firewall/router/access point and get on with life in the secure knowledge that silly mistakes on Virgin's part (e.g. remote accessible admin interfaces, predictable WPA keys, WEP available on the wireless etc.) won't do anything to decrease my own security. The wireless router I use has piggy-backed on at least five different ADSL / cable modems / routers in its time, from a variety of ISP's, and is there to keep my local config consistent (who cares what IP Virgin give me?), and to stop junky routers ruining the connection (e.g. bad NAT limits, terrible Wifi, responding to UPnP when I don't want it to, opening the ports on MY commands, etc.)
Struggling with wireless strength on the router? The above solves that permanently. And it might be the cause of, say, corrupt downloads, etc. etc. etc. It's a cheap, junky, supplier router that tries to do-all for the home user. Switch it off, buy a real device (what's that now? £25? A month's subscription, if that?) and you can use that FOREVER on whatever ISP you go to and do the same for their problems. Same as every other ISP.
"Erm, no. This isn't how it works. Every time I phone them up they say they have to send someone round and they need access to the house."
Night workers. Emergency shift workers. People who just aren't in. What do these people do? Tell them no, tell them to fix it, problem solved. You have no idea how much leeway I've had on things that "require a home visit" from BT etc. just by telling them that I wasn't going to be there (and, no, I'm not a night worker, but they have to cope with that issue the same as any other company would). They *can* fully diagnose, reboot and check your connection remotely - exactly the kind of admin access you are complaining about. I've had them reboot my modem remotely and check logs from their end ON THE PHONE and it was the first-line support who did that, not hours on the phone. The point of a cable network is that they OWN it all, they can not only remotely reboot your device but watch it's login to the cabinet, to the network and have it report back SNR's etc. once it's back up. Have you not seen the little PDA gadget the engineers carry that they can see the local cabinet status of any connection in the area? That's how they initialise the MAC's of new modems to the nearest cabinet, last I saw.
Everything else is the user's problem and (therefore) obviously requires visits to sort. Junky wireless is, I imagine, their biggest problem and their usual test would probably be something like "I can access it from the engineer laptop 1m away, so my work is done" - like any other ISP.
I'm not saying you haven't had a duff experience, but you're having a duff experience that others on the same service aren't getting - either because they accept it and compromise (like any other ISP), or they workaround it, or they just don't accept fob-off excuses.
And, seriously, stop using ANY ISP's supplied router. It's just asking for trouble and has been since the very first ADSL days (hell, I still have the ADSL router that I moved through 3 ISP's because their supplied ones were so crap they used to crash if you opened a Counterstrike server list).