back to article Virgin Media mulls ditching 1 in 3 UK facilities, starts £20m spend audit

Virgin Media is to consider shuttering more than one-third of its sites across the UK amid a review of its multi-million pound annual spend on facilities, according to a letter to staff seen by The Register. Chief exec Tom Mockridge told his workforce: “Every year, we spend more than £20m on our facilities but, frankly, this …

  1. Tessier-Ashpool

    "frankly, this investment is not working hard enough for everyone at Virgin Media"

    It's working pretty hard for the people whose wages it's paying.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Hmm

      I am always interested to hear people complaining against a product or service is being provided in a more efficient manner. I wonder how those people compare to those complaining of the cost or cost rises of the service.

      How many people choose to pay for virgin to keep their workers employed? Most people I know price compare and select the better service/price.

      1. smudge Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        I am always interested to hear people complaining against a product or service is being provided in a more efficient manner.

        Well, if it means chains or online driving out local, individual shops and businesses, you'll hear from me most* of the time.

        *Yes I go to a supermarket - but am fortunate to live in a town with specialist retailers for meat, fish, cheese, veggies....

      2. Rob Crawford

        Re: Hmm

        Considering the only times I have managed to speak to anybody who wasn't an idiot it was because I was put through to the Dundee office.

        Considering the concept of efficient seems to involve an Indian team that have no ability whatsoever to resolve the issue while trying to sell you a more expensive option.

        Virgin media have never provided an efficient service (either from a domestic or commercial user perspective) they have however provided services with poor backend systems and ever less able customer facing staff.

      3. MrClump

        Re: Hmm

        So I assume these closures will lead to either an increase in service, or a reduction in price? I think not. :-)

      4. Paul Stimpson

        The thing is, prices have been rising. The amount I pay has been cheeping up for years. Until recently, when fibre came to my area, I lived in the part of town where ADSL services topped out at 1 meg and Virgin was the only option for anything that could be described as high-speed.

        The price rises were justified by upgrades to my speed but each upgrade came with more traffic management, preventing me from using the speed for anything but a select range of activities including, strangely enough, testing the speed of my connection at popular speed test sites. With my new whizz-bang 200 Mbps connection, for the activities I perform, I now get less usable speed than I did on my original 50 Mbps service. I no longer consider that I am getting value from them and I can have a lower speed FTTC package from a premium ISP that will give me more useable bandwidth for less. It's time for a change.

        "...this investment is not working hard enough for everyone at Virgin Media." The people it isn't working for will be the beancounters then...

  2. Simon Ward

    "frankly, this investment is impacting the size of my bonus/bailout package"

    Fixed it for him.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Exactly. Everything else is just distraction and shouting.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Relocation?

    Just thank your lucky stars the relocation isn't a 10hr flight eastwards like so many jobs these days.

    Oh wait, that will come in round 2.

    All to the betterment of the SLT's bonus (sorry retirement) packages naturally.

  4. Tronald Dump

    Didn't know they have an office in my town

    Home to; Van Morrison, Jean Claude Van Damme etc etc

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Didn't know they have an office in my town

      Is Virgin's announcement aimed at offices, engineering depots, or both?

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    FAIL

    I have to ask ... what is the point of Virgin *Media* ?

    I am a *massive* Virgin broadband fan. As I type, I am enjoying 45MBs d/l and 4.5 MBs u/l, and that is on their cheapest bundle. (When I had a separate business line, I was getting >100MBs).

    But the media cruft ???? Pur-lease. No Sky Atlantic, for a start. And frankly nothing you can't get cheaper elsewhere. And what you can't get elsewhere isn't worth it.

    Virgin Media reminds me of the book sent to an agent that was returned :

    "Thank you for your submission. It was both good and original. Unfortunately the good parts were not original, and the original parts not good."

    1. handle bars

      Re: I have to ask ... what is the point of Virgin *Media* ?

      If you wanted Sky Atlantic (something Sky uses as a differentiation - you will find something is "exclusive" and thus missing between every tv platform) you could have gone with Sky's NOW pay as you go offer... they do phone, broadband and TV now under that brand... while Sky, BT & VM are premium brands NOW & BT's plusnet are their cheaper service offers... VM offers "all the football" which the others can't as Sky and BT compete directly, while BT doesn't compete with the top end of VM tv bundles where they let VM offer BT sports included.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I have to ask ... what is the point of Virgin *Media* ?

      "No Sky Atlantic, for a start."

      That was legal shenangigans by Sky. They wanted to seriously up the price to VM and VM called them on it as a monopoly provider. The resulting case forced Sky to sell at a reasonable price rather than at a price to kill VM and it's customer base. Sadly, the channels were named in the agreement so 5 minutes later Sky announced Sky Atlantic, not covered by the agreement and moved all the "good" stuff there and turned their previous flagship SkyOne into a Simpsons/Car Crash/Police On Camera wasteland.

      1. Tessier-Ashpool

        Re: I have to ask ... what is the point of Virgin *Media* ?

        It's a stark choice. Get a Virgin Media box that can record six TV channels simultaneously. Or get a life.

  6. brentj73

    Is there such a thing as coincidence?

    Reported yesterday..

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/07/27/virgin-atlantic-founder-sir-richard-branson-sells-31pc-stake/

    "Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is to receive a major windfall by selling down part of its stake in Virgin Atlantic in a major joint venture deal set to include Air France-KLM and existing investor Delta Air Lines.

    Air France-KLM is to buy a 31pc stake in Virgin Atlantic for £220m.

    Virgin will hold on to a 20pc stake in the trans-Atlantic airline, and hold onto the chairmanship, as a result of the deal which will see a closer union between the four airlines."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is there such a thing as coincidence?

      there's no coincidence - liberty global just pays a licence to Virgin to use the brand.

      1. Slx

        Re: Is there such a thing as coincidence?

        Virgin is an odd organisation. Many of the businesses that use the brand are just licensing it.

        Frankly I’m not sure why Liberty bothered rebranding UPC in Ireland as Virgin Media. The old UPC brand identity was far more techie looking, clean, modern and no b/s. The UK and Irish operations are still totally different. TiVo vs Horizon here. Broadband here is different too base package is 240mbit/s and next tier is 360mbit/s. This is likely because FTTC here is up to 100Mbits as standard and they w@nt to keep ahead of Eir.

        Different channel lineups, completely different set top box, different equipment running the phone network and different services and codes etc etc and now people are googling tech support and getting all the wrong instructions.

  7. Zmodem

    get another job, and say no to the pension scheme, and get yourself a high interest locked ISA to put your own money in when you feel like it

    1. Zmodem

      ISA's normally have a limit on the amount of money you can put in them, but there is no limit or law that stops you having 20+ ISA account's

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There is however a law that says you can only put £20k a year into ISAs

  8. handle bars

    Does that say a lot about what the true reality of "remote working" is like... these guys sell the network but don't appear to be able to make such office linking work themselves.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Does that say a lot about what the true reality of "remote working" is like... these guys sell the network but don't appear to be able to make such office linking work themselves."

      For those who must be in the office, it's still cheaper to have 150 people in one building than to have 50 in each of three buildings. I'm more surprised this didn't happen much sooner. There's still a lot of legacy duplication since the NTL/Telewest merger/takeover. Likely there are still legacy offices from the original cable franchises. Locally, we have two separate sales offices in two separate cities less than 15 miles apart. I'm rather surprised they weren't merged years ago.

  9. DropBear Silver badge
    Flame

    Flawless piece of disgusting euphemism-laden market-speke, so heavily slick with oil you could power a lighthouse with it for at least a month...

  10. technoise

    Virgin on demand (not)

    The problem I have with Virgin is that they want to sell me their media, but they don't want to do the only thing I want from them, get high speed fibre optic services to my house. I know that they have a box just 50 yards from my house. I saw some Virgin techs at work on this box, so I asked them if there is Virgin fibre there. They said "yes." I asked them if it could be connected to my property. They said "yes," but every time I contacted Virgin, it was "computer says no."

    Form my personal experience, therefore, I am not surprised to hear that they are having to downsize.

    1. handle bars

      Re: Virgin on demand (not)

      I mean how daft of VM not to spend £100s of to connect you just so you can make them £2 a month profit... no wonder you don't get it (any of it)

    2. Joe Harrison Silver badge

      Re: Virgin on demand (not)

      Completely right. What is the point of cabling up a road except for three houses. You had to put up with the same roadworks inconvenience as did those who are getting the service.

      Ultimately it's up to them to make their business decision but the most annoying part (and I speak from experience) is that they will still put an invitation through your letterbox to order their new service. When you do they are happy to take your order despite you asking them five times "are you sure because the street digging didn't come this far" and let you waste a morning off work. They will then mess you around forever neither fulfilling your order nor admitting they cannot deliver.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Virgin on demand (not)

        "They will then mess you around forever neither fulfilling your order nor admitting they cannot deliver."

        Invoice them for no shows.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Virgin on demand

      The medical term is Hymenorrhaphy.

  11. Leigh Geary

    Is it just me, or is the "TV" aspect of every offering getting a bit "meh" now?

    Virgin called me recently (I'm a customer) and asked what my favourite channels were. I'll be honest, I really don't have one.

    I'm hoping that I can get their "Business Broadband" package, kill off my phone line and just have broadband plus Freesat soon enough

    1. Demmers

      I don't understand why TV and Broadband are considered two separate entities. My answer would be "My favourite channels are on the internet."

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      TV has been 'meh' for 20 years. I don't know how it keeps going.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "TV has been 'meh' for 20 years."

        There's as much, if not more good stuff than 20 years ago. What's changed is that there is a huge amount more of dross and repeats than we've ever seen or wanted so the good stuff is harder to find. Of course, what is "good" and what is "dross" is a personal choice. Wife and I have some overlap, but she does watch an awful lot of what I call shite! She probably thinks the same of some of the stuff I watch, but then I know she's misguided whereas I'm not.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Virgin called me recently (I'm a customer) and asked what my favourite channels were. I'll be honest, I really don't have one."

      Same here. I'm pretty "blind" to the DoGs too so rarely know or care which channel I'm watching. I go through the TV guide once per week or so and set up recordings/series links for anything that I might be interested in. Once that's done, I barely notice which channel a recording was created from.

  12. KKESH

    If the staff are still needed but the building isn't, shouldn't a MEDIA company try letting its staff work from home. Surely it would be cheap enough to equip their homes with a phone line/broadband and computer to link to an office and carry out their job. Or does Virgin Media suffer from that peculiarly British management mindset of not trusting its staff! There's enough research that proves staff actually do more work when they work from home.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't understand...

    Why people fail to grasp that at the end of the day, a business is not there for the good of it's workers, it's there to make money.

    Yes, it's shit to be told you're going to either have to commute an hour extra a day or take a redundancy package (I've been there, at last count, six times in my life - don't ever hire me, I'm a curse), but ultimately, there needs to be a bit of grim acceptance about it.

    Virgin Media are right to consolidate their estate footprint. At 130 locations across the UK, that's just ridiculous. I no doubt imagine a large number of those properties are old, expensive to run and heat, and have numerous issues that demand money every year to maintain or fix.

    So, yes, time to consolidate. Ideally for someone like VM, their entire office based operation would be run from one super hub in an affordable part of the country, with numerous satellite hubs for the mobile division of engineers, fleet maintenance, etc. There would be no reason not to have everyone else under one roof, apart from possibly senior management who would want to be in London. Even at that, it's cheaper to be based in the north of the country and pay for flights as needed to London than it is to stay in London. My good lady regularly flies down as part of her work for meetings (so she tells me....) and it's still cheaper than having her work down there.

    In the end, business is business, and the people don't count. Besides, there are plenty of examples where a company had to consolidate to protect more jobs than it lost on the way. £20m in estates budget is not to be sniffed at.

    1. myhandler

      Re: I don't understand...

      >>Why people fail to grasp that at the end of the day, a business is not there for the good of it's workers, it's there to make money.

      See Anonymous coward.. that's just a line put about by libertarian capitalists.

      It wasn't always that way - not by a long chalk.

      Be carfeul what you read - a lot of it is propaganda horseshit.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: I don't understand...

        @ myhandler

        "See Anonymous coward.. that's just a line put about by libertarian capitalists.

        It wasn't always that way - not by a long chalk."

        As we are aware and paying for. All those defined benefits and determination that not one person should lose their job but everyone should be taken down with the sinking ship. A business isnt there for its employees, it is there for its customers. Without its customers it can love its employees as much as it wants but they wont have a job for long.

    2. deconstructionist

      Re: I don't understand...

      the estate is required to cover the areas they need to cover for support/installation and the hubs etc , 120 sites over 60 of them are HUBs you cant close them as that is just part of the required infrastructure and using them in this is sophistry at it's best .

  14. HmmmYes Silver badge

    I thought this was gong to be something let 15 sites to 10.

    45! Christ. Great forward thinking there.

  15. RealBigAl

    At a previous domicile I had Broadband from Virgin Media. They couldn't. for some technical reason, provide me with a phone line. I really, really didn't want a phone line but they kept insisting on apologising for it. For three years I got a 3 month rebate plus the cost of a land line rental deducted from my bill.

    I was gutted when they fixed the technical issue and proudly announced I now had a working landline.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin Media / Sky need to stand alone and stop supporting TV Licence enforcement.

    Virgin Media and Sky need to offer catchup services (non-live content) like Amazon and Netflix which allow customers to be exempt from the BBC licence fee. The BBC needs to offer a Worldwide subscription service for iPlayer and stand on it's own two feet, with a cheaper option again for catchup only.

    A cheaper option of being able to watch time delayed Premier League by a week say, would be something I'd sign up to. The inherent revenue value in thoses matches dies pretty quick, at the moment, once aired live.

    There are ways of taking existing products and selling them to subscribers, if they offer value, otherwise they tend to bork at the high price.

    At current prices, I just don't have the time, for the odd occasion I might get to watch, so it's cheaper to take the nothing option, spend the money on weekend breaks etc. TV is not really my thing, though. I'd rather "do", than watch some so called celeb enjoying themselves.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want to be honest with you. This will mean some changes

    profound changes to some of you (bye-bye), but likewise, to me, personally (bonus time, hooraah!)

  18. MrClump

    In my experience this is the normal course of events when you work for a company bought by the Merkins. My advice to anyone working for a company bought by the Septics, is run for the hills as soon as you can.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "In my experience this is the normal course of events when you work for a company bought by the Merkins. "

      NTL:Telewest (trading as Virgin Media) were "Merkins" long before Liberty Global came along.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Indeed, I worked for a company acquired by NTL: under Barclay Knapp back in the day.

        NTL: nearly went bankrupt during that time, they went spend crazy buying up cable businesses. That said, I'm surprised they still operate so many sites, I would have thought they'd have reduced their overheads more then a decade ago.

  19. LOL123

    They need a spend audit for sure..

    I bet that the cost of all that marketing material shoved down letterboxes would pay for this... I get one almost fortnightly

    They even post versions without the logo on the envelope to get you to open it.

    If that's what it takes to get subscribers, estate overheads isn't what should be on top of the list, it's the CEO's salary that needs a spend audit...

  20. Revelationman

    More oversea's contact centers

    The obvious answer will be more oversea's call centers handling your calls, more frustrated user's, I would like to see more companies invest in working at home more, less traffic less poillution and less office space would be needed, and less stress for the worker, but hey ho making the worker happy and content is something that some businesss running contact centers cannot never understand a

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    The same..

    Old comment section.

    Bunch of socialists that believe, that companies shouldnt streamline or cut dead weight, because man in charge makes x amount of monies.

    Then go on a rant about how bad and expensive the service is..

  22. Derezed

    So...

    Company buys lots of little companies to destroy competition and acquire IP...human collateral damage when inevitable asset stripping begins is high...company doesn't give a fuck.

    Bear eats honey in full expectation of transforming it into brown matter to deploy in nearest woods.

    Pope decides on balance that Catholicism fits his (or her [LOL]) worldview and selects Jesus Christ as focal point for worship activities.

  23. JoeEuphony

    Always got good advice and suggestions from Virginmedia L'Derry, Swansea, Liverpool and many other Virgin helpsites. Always courteous. Liked the staff-inspired £200 credit that meant we didnt get the punitive £10 'fine' if we were late paying the bill. Ultimately, 'helpful' coverage geographically, has taken its toll. With BT the incumbent able to lobby till the cows come home ( PlusNet is theirs btw) the plain old wires of BT have been re-sold many times over and still their average provision doesnt approach the speed & efficiency of Virginmedia. WOW the BT router signal is powerful ( TV Ads) and internet can still be provided on 60-year old copper cables. Unsure how many of the promised BT local exchanges have been rolled out despite ££millions in subsidies.Coherent optical cables clearly lead the way - but as we know its not always the the most efficient and consumer-friendly that prevails.. Joe Euphony Scotland.

  24. MT Field

    Arse meet elbow.

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