back to article 'Faceless' Liberty Global has 'sucked the very soul' out of Virgin Media

Virgin Media staff have voiced widespread discontent over its gobble by Liberty Global, with one describing their new corporate daddy as "faceless change drivers with no concern for the Virgin values," according to a Q&A with senior management this week seen by The Register. The questions, which were part of the company's …

Anonymous Coward

There is no loyalty

Staff are encouraged or even required to pledge allegiance to the firm, yet that same firm wouldnt think twice before kicking you down or out so that the millionaires at the top get even richer.

Ethics is a one way street in business. Fuck the proles to make the 1% richer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is no loyalty

This comment describes any number of firms. One of several reasons I changed jobs 5 months ago.

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American company?

Yes, you are now just number.

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Re: American company?

Just A number.

Can't edit on my phone.

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LDS
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Why it doesn't suprise me?

Nor Dilbert...

http://dilbert.com/strip/2016-09-07

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Happy

On the plus side at least now VM is making a profit.

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Anonymous Coward

What are you smiling about? Service was always poor, is now even poorer, and the bills have been going up and up.

If Ofcom hadn't fucked up year after year by not forcing BT to demerge Openreach, then there might be some better competition, but as things stand we have BT and VM shoulder to shoulder, looking very carefully to not-compete too much where their networks over lap.

I think I'm going to have to give Virginmedia the heave-ho because I've had enough of their gouging.

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Mushroom

Not just consumers and staff getting shafted

"I think I'm going to have to give Virginmedia the heave-ho because I've had enough of their gouging."

VM have been getting the heave-ho by corporate clients over the last couple of years because of poor service - coupled with operating practices dictated by the operating interfaces with Openreach where even in a critical emergency proven to be in the Openreach network, they won't be onsite until the next day.

This is why we dumped them and we were paying upwards of 50k/year for our circuits (small fry, but I'm aware of clients spending millions who're even less happy about the quality of support VM.

Mind you if you think VM is bad, BTOR are worse. In areas where there's no competition they can effectively charge what they want (creative accounting practices mean they can justify nearly any figure) and do so - with extremely poor levels of service. It took them 2 years to bother getting around to installing new circuits because their contractors wuould show up, do 1/2 the joba nd then leave. BTOR techs would show up to blow fibres, find that ducts weren't connected to anything (in one case, 3 feet buried at each and and 200 feet missing in the middle), so have to reschedule everything - cue another 3 months delay.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not just consumers and staff getting shafted

After so many years being told your never gonna be good enough u care to much for our customers what happened to values ? Soon as liberty global put into us to log complaints and close them down to cheat numbers what a place lol

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Facepalm

Ha ha

The Virgin Media that didn't much care about customers?

Well, the staff are always unhappy about a take-over, because any new owner will want to change how things are done.

Liberty's take over in Ireland of Chorus and NTL Ireland by their UPC (name of their Dutch Cable subsidiary) resulted in a huge investment and improved service for customers. I'm baffled they are renting the Virgin brand in UK and rebranding the Irish UPC as Virgin and even suggesting it's a "take over" of UPC by Virgin which is nonsense as Virgin is only a brand and there is no change of ownership at all in Ireland.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ha ha

Investment going into UK aswell.. but as a new customer, must say I'm not impressed, had my broadband switch on, but it never worked, it was 2 weeks before an engineer visited and his first response was "Its working, the light is on!".. he even called his next appointment (to say he'd be their in 10 minutes) before he'd actually check it worked and was about to walk out the door, but my partner refused to let him leave! It took him another hour to fix it!

Got to say though, now its working, I love the service!

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Re: Ha ha

As an Irish customer- I can tell you the hardware customers are being given is now the cheap as chips Virgin branded Compal crap- whereas before we had slightly more expensive (but still crap) Cisco kit. The hardware being dished out to customers- is really the cheapest tat they can chuck out the door- its gone from bad to worse.

As for customer service- they laid off the Irish staff- and outsourced everything to The Phillipines- where I've discovered using pidgeon Spanish is more easily understood- than English........

As we've never had Virgin Media in Ireland before- as a customer- it has introduced Ireland to a brand that most now view as unreliable, poor value, duplitious, poor at communicating, (need I go on?)

For good measure- the Irish Communications Regulator fined the company 255k yesterday for failing to give people contracts spelling out the rights and obligations of Virgin Media and the reciprochal rights and obligations of customers.

All-in-all- the only reason Irish people stay with them- is convenience- the customer service in our incumbent telecom company 'Eircom' is even worse than 'Virgin'......... So- its the least worse option- still doesn't make it very attractive, no matter how you look at it...........

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Thumb Up

Re: Ha ha

@Shane - upvoted, but my irrepressible inner pedant forces me to point out that the word you were looking for was "pidgin", as in "pidgin Spanish". Not to be confused with Pigeon, the bird and near-homophone.

The More You Know, etc...

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Re: Ha ha

Thanks!

Yes- its a nightmare trying to get customer service to even understand what your issue is when you ring- and they never ever give you anything in writing- so good luck trying to prove otherwise (cutting and pasting chat threads is about as good as it gets).

No-one else offers 360Mb fibre to the door for consumers in the Irish market- other than that- I'd be away like a shot (plus- the customer service of Eircom and the rest of them are all pretty appalling too- so better the devil you know, than the devil you don't?)

Saw a few people offering some innovative internet products at the ploughing- think I may look some of them up- I know internet over high voltage power cables has fallen out of favour in the States and elsewhere- perhaps it can be made work here?

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Re: Ha ha

" his first response was "Its working, the light is on!""

They're paid per visit, not how long it takes to fix them. Saying it's working and getting the hell out is par for the course for both VM and OR "techs" (and I use that term loosely, the vast majority are monkeys barely housetrained enough to not hurl their own shit around the place)

Loving the service whilst it works is one thing. The true mettle of customer service is what happens when it's not - and as you've already seen, they don't care enough to ensure that jobs are being done properly.

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Re: Ha ha

"outsourced everything to The Phillipines- where I've discovered using pidgeon Spanish is more easily understood- than English........"

That'll only work if whoever you speak to speaks Tagalog (there are a dozen other languages and hundreds of dialects which aren't basically spanish with some local words overlaid).

English is the official language of the Phils thanks to their USA colonial overlords - and there's the clue. Fake an american accent to be understood perfectly (or a Carlisle one if you want to get transferred to someone who might have a clue)

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Facepalm

Re: Ha ha

@Alan Brown Fake an american accent to be understood perfectly

As a Brit resident in America, I have to do that a lot to be understood. Also, I frequently get asked if I'm Australian, which confuses the heck out of me.

(There's a dog groomers' near me called "Muttley Crew". I cannot, no matter how hard I channel my inner J.R Ewing 'merkin accent, get Siri to understand that I'm not asking for directions to "Motley Crūe". Rock on.)

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FAIL

Re: Ha ha

Would not be near as bad law forced them to allow you to use your own modems. All some of us want is a 'dumb' bridge so we can use our own firewall/router instead of the junk ISPs generally give you. It never ceases to amaze me how the US is one of the few places that has such a law.

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Anonymous Coward

What ever happened to ‘keep the staff happy (= have happy customers’)?

Keeping staff happy, thus customers happy, thus profit - is less profitable than outsourcing staff from India to Bangladesh and squeezing customers for yet another ubeatable offer of 64385th tv channel. After all, they're a multinational corporation, and you SHOULD know by now what this REALLY means.

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jzl

Hmm

The only thing I wish is that they'd stop sending me physical junk mail.

Every. Single. Week.

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Re: Hmm

I don't know whether its luck or a curse- I haven't gotten anything from them in the post in almost 5 years- despite requesting contract details dozens of times........... Pity there can't be a happy medium.............

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Re: Hmm

"The only thing I wish is that they'd stop sending me physical junk mail."

Even after being told _in writing_ to stop.

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Coat

Re: Hmm

@Shane McCarrick Pity there can't be a happy medium.............

Y'know, I always hear people say this, but it's bollocks. From everything I've heard, for example, Doris Stokes and Mystic Meg were both very contented in their lives. So it's perfectly possible.

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Branson was a corporate shìt...

Of the first order, so what ever ethos he imbued his companies with is probably best expunged anyway.

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Our-soul more like

The worst customer experience I have had was with Virgin. They stalled and lied at every level of management. In the end I gave up pursuing my complaint (of causing significant damage to my property), as it was costing me too much in lost time on the phone. They have much faster broadband here than BT, which I would like, but I'd rather stick with BT (yes BT).

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Unhappy

"but I'd rather stick with BT (yes BT)."

Possibly the worst statement of them all.

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Anonymous Coward

Yearning for the BlueYonder days

Seems to me Liberty have stuck very closely to the Virgin Media values - slowly decreasing number of services (goodbye home websites etc), to postively hyping bills (Good news - your Virgin Media bills is going up to £97 pcm!), with the same crap overseas call centres waiting to sap your time and energy.

Nope, no change I can see.

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Re: Yearning for the BlueYonder days

Yep.

The Blueyonder days were great. Now *THAT* was how you handled customer service, bot on-site and over the phone, when they had call centre people that spoke the language natively, were technically competent, didn't just follow a script and assume you were a moron.

While I can't really complain about the *product* I get from Virgin, the *service* is poor. I'd actually hope that LG would take another look at the offerings, and the bundles, and everything else, and allow a bit more choice. I'm forced to pay for a home landline that I don't need or want, because it's more expensive to get rid of.

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Re: Yearning for the BlueYonder days

Sounds like they're jacking up prices to be comparable to overpriced cable in the US. It was definitely a shock moving here and discovering that for twice the price I could have half the product. This shocking state of affairs is obviously now being addressed, although not in the way that consumers would prefer.

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Was it ever Richard Branson's? I seem to recall he had only around 10% in the enterprise (as usual with Virgin, minority stake but branded his way because apparently people like that sort of thing)

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Yes, you are right. I'm not sure which side made the approaches, but NTL:Telewest, as was, paid over something like £10m in cash and shares for the right to use the Virgin brand for 10 years and to have the bearded one do some advertising for them. The agreement to use the Virgin brand name also comes with responsibilities to keep the brand "clean" which give Branson a little control over who a "parter" company operates.

Not sure, but I think that agreement has been renewed/extended.

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Deterioration

We used to have the full package of TV/mobile/Internet/phone from VM.

But a couple of years back we found that the mobile service got poorer, yet the costs got higher. We'd used to get a mobile phone as part of the package, but the cost component for the phone meant that they were far more expensive than the other providers. At the same time, instead of offering a better deal to renew a contract they went to a "computer says.." option which guaranteed a tiny discount, insignificant, but no more. And if you weren't happy with that, you could walk. So we walked. And buy the phones.

The attitude seems to be that they'd rather keep a smaller customer base, at a much higher price. Now our other packages are getting more expensive. But I'm not convinced that they will be offering a better service for that higher cost. Their billing and promotional material is full of self-congratulation, because they are providing yet another handful of extra cable channels that all show the same old crap. That being said, our "Superfast" broadband does live up to its claims . We do get every drop of the offered speed, and the fixed phone service is good value, so for the moment we will be sticking with VM for that.

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Meh

Re: Deterioration

This is the downside of quad-play offers - you're stuck unless you move the lot and some options (like pay TV) have few alternatives. The industry likes them because they deliver more loyal customers but that's only because of the hassle of splitting all your services back out of the bundle. Customers like them at first because of the initial discount to get you to put all your eggs in the one basket but start to feel otherwise when they realise it just means the operator will gouge them harder and deeper when the initial discount ends as suddenly their negotiating power is weaker.

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Anonymous Coward

"original Virgin Values"?

We were NTL then Virgin customers for years. Those "values" haven't existed for a long time.

Virgin Media have provided rotten customer and engineering service for for many years, long before Liberty Global took over.

The "values" the person in the article is worried about losing are incompetence, lying, useless so called "engineers" and flaky service. The same "values" that lost us months in lost time trying to resolve issues that Virgin were incapable of, or disinterested in, fixing.

Those "Virgin values" meant we moved to BT in the end. We've no illusions about BT, but I can say that in the last two years we have only had one small issue and it was dealt with promptly, efficiently and completely. Plus the service is rock solid and reliable.

Virgin Media have no one to blame but themselves and certainly not Liberty Global.

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Re: "original Virgin Values"?

VM was good provided it didn't break. While it worked and provided me with a pipe to the internet I was happy with the broadband because it's been a long time since I relied on any other service from the internet pipe supplier. I run my own email and have my domains and websites hosted elsewhere, so I can switch them around should the need arise. One time someone in the office tried to cancel his VM subscription and it was hilarious for all of us listening in to his efforts to get part the customer retention department. When my turn came it was a lot easier, they don't have an answer to "I'm leaving the country" so it was quick and painless to cancel.

Once we had a fault where neither the broadband or the cable TV was working. To most of us, that would suggest a fault in the common part of the system, prior to either cable modem or set top box. So I called the VM support line, where it turned out you could report a TV fault or a broadband fault but not both at the same time. I picked the TV option, explained to the script monkey what was going on but we still had to go through the motions of rebooting the box and the other crap that was on the (inappropriate) script. At the end he confirmed that they'd need to send out a tech, we arranged an appointment and then he asked if I wanted him to put me through to the team handling broadband faults. By this point I'd lost the will to live and declined.

There was a bit of redemption later, I got a phone call from a chap (I suspect several support levels higher than the support droid I spoke to) who confirmed to me that (1) it was indeed a network outage and (2) it should now be fixed. Then he asked me to confirm that all was well and as it was, offered to cancel the technician visit.

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FAIL

What the F**k...

... does this even mean?

"One of the key reasons for outsourcing to Ericsson is to enable headroom to allow us to focus less on managing the volume of issues in Operations and worry more about reducing the volume coming in by focusing on root cause and preventing more outages from happening."

Sounds to me like, "We can't manage a piss up in a brewery, so we're going to outsource that part, giving us time to work out why our infrastructure is screwed."

Perhaps if they stopped using management-speak and told people what was actually happening, they wouldn't be so demoralised.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What the F**k...

"One of the key reasons for outsourcing to Ericsson is to enable headroom to allow us to focus less on managing the volume of issues in Operations and worry more about reducing the volume coming in by focusing on root cause and preventing more outages from happening."

Getting rid of the most of the group that does the preventing doesn't sound too sensible then. Do they actually understand what they're saying?

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Re: What the F**k...

"Perhaps if they stopped using management-speak and told people what was actually happening, they wouldn't be so demoralised."

This is, in fact, how these people normally speak. They understand what they mean and assume everyone else does too. Ever been in a management meeting? Or, heaven forfend, a marketing meeting? It's like being on another planet where the the noises the inhabitants make almost, but don't quite, sound like your own native language.

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I guess 200Mb upgrade was the last I will see :(

All my American friends gasp when I tell them I have a 200Mb connection at home for less than the price of a meal. They're still struggling with up-to-bla-but-really-bleh from their US providers.

With the same ethos coming into Virgin I guess it'll be a case of "they're got enough as it is!"

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Happy

Re: I guess 200Mb upgrade was the last I will see :(

All my American friends gasp when I tell them I have a 200Mb connection at home

Here in Oregon, the best I can get is 15Mbit DSL for $45pcm.

I therefore hate you and you will not be getting a Christmas card from me.

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Re: I guess 200Mb upgrade was the last I will see :(

Silicon Valley does at least have Comcast with 100Mbit, but I'm not convinced they've got the infrastructure to back up the local pipe because throughput gets slower at peak times.

We still get AT&T pushing their amazing broadband internet, but nowhere on the literature does it actually say what speed it's capable of. I assume it's DSL and so very limited, especially given the length of the (unused) phone cable to this house.

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Change at VM Long Overdue

If ever there was a company that had an over inflated opinion of itself it was VM. Sorry the service was not good enough for me on their unreliable fibre optic broadband. In this area you often see aged Telco street cabinets with doors flapping in the breeze. Invariably they are VM's. After they have been told about 6 times they fix them. Trouble is VM's funny old co-ax to the premises is just as flakey as BT's copper wire.

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Re: Change at VM Long Overdue

I disagree with your comments on the comparison of media used to deliver to the home. Chucking RF at a pair of crappy twisted of antiquated wires of unknown characteristic and hoping for the best (xDSL) is a bit different to using a properly terminated cable designed to handle the required bandwidth. One works predictably and the other is junk.

I have a consistent 100Mb connection with Virgin come rain, snow, wind or shine (although a recent local thunderstorm caused a local problem, but was fixed in hours).

Plus I hate Bastard Telecom with a passion.

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Anonymous Coward

This does not surprise me and they don't really want to keep their customers as I have just found out.

Currently on vivid150 (now defunct) package.

Was £25 now £35 as loyalty discount removed.

Called retention's to ask what they could offer if I sign up to new extended contract.

vivid 100 £27 then £30 after 6 months

vivid 200 £34 then £37 after 6 months

Compare this to,

Sky £5.48 (12 months half price line rental, £50 back on bill, £0 broadband £10 after year)

Virgin new customer Basic TV Line Rental and Broadband £37.

Virgin line rental and broadband £37.

Is this an American way of doing business? Rather than undercut which they could do with broadband only they align their prices with the cost including line rental?

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"Is this an American way of doing business? Rather than undercut which they could do with broadband only they align their prices with the cost including line rental?"

The previous owners, NTL:Telewest were also primarily a US oriented business, so no real changes in attitudes or practices there. LG are doing what we all expect after any buy-out. Looking to claw back as much of their investment as possible, as quickly as possible,

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US business

Having worked for a company that was taken over by a large American Corp. none of this is surprising. It's soul-destroying, to the extent that I left. What was once a pleasant place to work becomes a nest of rats desperately covering their arses, either scrabbling for the top of the pile or trying not to get noticed. It really is depressing.

They are interested in one thing, and one thing only. Money. Piles of it. Oh, and ways to make more piles as fast as possible.Nothing, but nothing, can be allowed to get in the way of this drive.

If you don't believe me, take a look at Liberty's website - top right of the page ,in pride of place, their stock ticker.

Rant over ...

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Re: US business

Aye, reminds me of Pipex/UUNet/MFS/MCI Worldcom. The more US the company became, the crazier the management decisions. Can't see it ending well for VM.

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Re: US business

"Having worked for a company that was taken over by a large American Corp. none of this is surprising."

Indeed. I worked for a Telco (govt department, then state owned enterprise) which was sold off to american interests about 30 years ago. What's described by you and by VM is almost identical to my experience in the late 1980s.

Those american interests? they asset-stripped the telco over a 14 year period (no new capital jobs) jacked costs as high as the market would bear (squeezing until the pips squeaked) and sold most of the land/premises off/leased it back via holding companies), then flicked the carcass off to a vulture capital group stupid enough to pay even more for it than the original sale price (which was based on insane rates of return caused by chronic underinvestment and monopoly market abuse) who then tried to turned the screws even harder on what remained.

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Re: US business

You just described everyday U.S. corporate business where customers are just an nuisance impediment to get to their bank accounts.

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rant in E minor (thanks Bill)

They're all a bunch of c**ts. We're meaningless ciphers for their profit. They don't care if we are pissed off or if we leave. We are a sadly necessary nuisance for them. No difference between any of them, provide the minimum service they can get away with and often way below that level.

Here's an example of their cynicism: VM offer a TIVO box which they have hamstrung with a 10mb nic making the bloated unwieldy poorly designed menu system almost unusably slow to interact with. This minor detail is not included in what passes for a "tech spec" for the device (that I could see). Naturally, we will soon be able to buy an "upgraded box" - with a 100MB nic, something the original should have had, only this way they can shaft you for a fat upgrade charge. Note that the minimum speed VM offer is 50mb/s - 10mbps nic really does cripple their silly box.

Unprincipled tossers the lot of them.

And, yes, they are a business, they are there to make profit, but like nearly all businesses they imnsho get the balance completely wrong, their conduct is unethical across the board (pun intended).

Happy Friday :)

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