back to article Virgin Media tech support goes premium rate

Virgin Media will slap a 25 pence per minute charge on calls to its broadband technical support line from 1 July because it says it gets too many off-topic questions. The firm angered its investors last month by posting a shaky-looking first set of financial results. Customer care MD Steve Stewart said: "Over half the calls we …


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  1. Ralph B

    Tax on Stupidity?

    Well, I can see their thought processes: Our customers are stupid, so stupid they won't notice if we start charging them premium rate to answer their stupid stupid questions.

    Did I miss it when Virgin Media bought AOL?

  2. Jeremy Robinson

    Thanks a bunch Virgin

    Great, so now i pay 25ppm for "Joe" in India to tell me that my computer is broken because he can't see anything wrong on his end and that i should call a £1 a minute "pc support" helpline to get it fixed!?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money Maker

    Considering you can wait an hour on the phone with NTL, they will soon recoup the money they are trying to claw back with this new scheme.

  4. Paul Gray

    In the latest news....

    Virgin Media hammers another nail into the coffin of what was once a pretty good Telewest service.

    I have called the internet support line maybe 5 times. Every time it has been a fault at their end, from cables dug up to my modem passing away. The thought of having to pay for me to tell them they have a problem irks me somewhat.

  5. Greg

    Another little fiddle

    I signed up with NTL because they were brilliant. They continued to be brilliant up until Virgin got their mitts on the company. Since then, they've capped my net access, lost the Sky channels but not lowered the price, and now they're making me pay more to get help? It seems like the NTL package remains, but has been fiddled with here and there to make it gradually less attractive.

    I never thought I'd say it - especially considering my feelings about the thieving Mr Murdoch - but I'm thinking of switching to Sky.

  6. Matt Zywina

    Straw, Camel's back, etc.

    Byebye Virgin, expect the disconnection phone call later today.

    Grats on f*cking up the last vestige of anything that was good in the cable companies you've recently consumed. Does this mean each minute of each call will now pay the salary of one support person in India for a whole week? Surely if you're going to charge premium prices, you should be able to at least afford to supply a premium non-Hyderabad service?

  7. steve

    Not as bad a tesco

    They charge 50p a minute for their technical helpdesk !

    They should all be named and shamed


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin's Premium Rate Rip-Off

    So, now Virgin Media are going to charge me 25p for the privilege of speaking to one of their trained call centre monkeys from Bangalore? I wouldn't mind so much if it weren't for 2 points:

    a) Their customer service representatives are without doubt the most incompetent retards I've ever had the misfortune to converse with. If the answer to my problem isn't found within their script (and if it is, then it will be such a basic problem that I deserve to be charged for not troubleshooting it myself) I will have paid 25p per minute for them to tell me that the problem with their infrastructure must be caused by my PC. Virgin Media's call centre staff are so useless they even manage to make the average PC World employee look knowledgable.

    b) Virgin Media is only the new moniker for what was NTL/Telewest, and despite the lick of paint on their installers' vans, not much else has changed... their service is still as dodgy as it always was, so it looks as though Virgin Media will be getting even more money out of me each month.

    How long will it be until Virgin Media's employees hijack their call management system again and leave rude (albeit truthful) messages about how little the company cares for its customers. I'm sure I'll really appreciate paying 25p per minute to have someone from Virgin Media tell me to f*** off.

    I don't really know why I'm surprised by this move by Virgin Media... after all, they need to find new sources of income after their Board recently awarded themselves multi-million pound bonuses despite suffering from losses on all fronts, and experiencing a high number of customers defecting to Sky.

    Talking of Sky, they may well charge 8p per minute for their support line, but as their service is rock-solid, I've never had to call them despite being a customer for several years. If Virgin Media could provide a service that is half as reliable as Sky's then this wouldn't be newsworthy as nobody would be bothered by it.

  9. Daniel Buckley

    The next step in Virgin Media's suicide run

    I used Telewest for 4 years without a single problem with TV or internet, didnt go down once, never failed, perfect service.

    Since Virgin took over I've had to call about my TV twice and internet 3 times. I've lost Sky1, so they should now have MORE cash, not less.

    NTL and Telewest didnt have problems with callers to their tech support line, so why should Virgin?

    Now they're charging premium rate for a service I now need on a regular basis that I never did before.

    Fantastic. Where's that Sky brochure?

  10. Gilbert Wham

    Angry Shareholders...

    This is nothing new. This lot have been pulling these kind of stunts for years now, every summer. Another favourite, harking back to Telewest's days (I used to work for 'em), is to not process any disconnections round about July/August for a period of a few weeks, just leave them live & credit the accounts to keep the churn figures down. I saw this every year for four years. Come september, they'll be giving loads of stuff away free, then next year they'll be pretending all their customers haven't buggered off in disgust until after the reports have been published. Someone, somewhere has to produce a revenue stream to cover their arse.

    Bizarre and ephemeral directives from on high are normal. 'If it's still in effect next tuesday, let's start doing it' was generally the best way to deal with them...

  11. Neil

    We're not all thick

    I only call VM when there is an actual problem of their making. I don't call for problems my end, because I know enough to know when it's my end or not. And if it is my end, I know enough to fix it.

    So now I have to pay them money when something of theirs is wrong. I don't think so.

    Telewest were great. Virgin suck. No Sky One, reduced speeds if you download too much (like the episodes of Lost & 24 that they stopped showing), call centers in India. It's all rubbish now.

    I too thought I'd never switch to Sky, but I'm seriously considering it now.

  12. Tom

    Call charges

    Being charged money to tell a company that they're failing to deliver the service you are paying for should be illegal.

    Sure you could write to them and wait an extra 4 weeks for the problem to be fixed, or go to an internet cafe and pay them the money to send an email instead, but neither of those options are particularly appealing.

    The least they could do is credit your account with the money they charged you if it was a valid "you disconnected me by accident again you f*cktards" type of phone call.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you have a genuine problem with your broadband connection (the whole point of this helpline), Virgin will credit back whatever you spent on the phone call.

  14. Gavin Hamer

    Oh no....

    ...the point is that my mum doesn't know whether she has a 'genuine problem' or not until she rings them. Even then, the support is often so clueless that they wouldn't know whether it was a 'genuine' problem or not either.

    25p is a lot, in fact it takes the Michael, because the staff on the other end of the line are probably only on 10-15p per minute in wages.

    This is a profit making exercise, at the expense of customers that are already unhappy. Nice decision making Virgin management.

  15. Chris Burns

    re: Credits

    As far as I can gather, from speaking to the trained monkeys, they will only credit back any phone charges if you are calling from a virgin media phone line - try getting them to credit a BT line, or even worse, a mobile, and you'll be looking at having to send documents to them to *prove* that you phoned (ie. a bill), and then, after a couple of weeks of no progression, sending them again - as this is what we expect from Virgin Media now, for them to get lost in some chasm at head office...

    Virgin Media - we're virgin, because it's the customer that gets f*cked.

  16. Dann

    changed from per second to per minute as well

    Dont forget that Virgin Media have changed from per second to per minute (I especially liked the example in the letter that said "if your call lasts for 4 minutes and 40 seconds it will be rounded up to 5 minutes" how about if your call lasts for 4 minutes 10 seconds?)

    The only reason I haven't moved to BT yet is that they want to charge me £100+ for the privledge!

  17. Jason

    How to turn a good service bad?

    Simply add the Virgin brand it seems.

    First Sky One and Sky News are removed because Virgin Media refused to pay and now this?

    Seems another reason to be an ex-customer

  18. Shane McCarrick

    From the other perspective

    While my dislike of NTL/Virginmedia is as strong as anyone elses, they do actually have a point on this one. Whether people like it or not- you do get little old ladies calling up on the phone for a chat, just because they're lonely, not because of any problems with your product or service- or alternatively people calling for a step-by-step tutorial on how to do more unusual things (or even bog-ordinary things) in Office programmes- for no reason other than the fact that its only a local call. I worked in a call centre a number of years ago, on a service that had local phone numbers for most of Europe- so unfortunately I know very well what the Virgin people are talking about. While it would be nice to chat to people (hell on a slow afternoon I even got a gardening lesson on how to prevent botyritis on strawberries from one caller)- at the end of the day, thats not what staff are paid to do. Its a little sad that some older people do not have anyone to talk to and do ring these lo-call numbers- but providing people at the end of phones without any deterent to calling them with irrelevant queries, does encourage that sort of thing.

    While people do quite rightly feel outraged over being charged for this service- the service should improve when a lot of the totally irrelevant stuff is removed from the equation.

  19. Kevin Smith

    All you people do realise that this company is still NTL right?

    Just under a different brand...

    Just because Richard-Teflon-Branson happens to be the largest shareholder as a result of the acquisition of Virgin Mobile, doesn't make him a majority shareholder with that much clout in the company.

    The merged NTL:Telewest board was 9 NTL members 2 Telewest members.

    The Virgin Media board consists of 9 ex-NTL and 1 ex-Telewest member.

    Same shit different shovel.

    Just because they scored a lucrative branding deal doesn't mean it's suddenly a whole new business with a different company culture. People now bitch more simply because they expected better of the Virgin brand.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor Show

    Everything has gone gone hill since the name change to Virgin Media, yes it's still NTL running the now enlarged company, but they're clueless idiots, that have ruined the good reputation Telewest has built up on it's broadband service. It's a rip off, a shambles.

    Not happy on losing 20,000+ customers each month taking their phone service, not happy screwing up the TV service, now they want to get rid of broadband customers with this disgusting charge.

    There is a reason people are leaving, your charges are too high and the service is going downhill fast.

    My first call won't be to the premium rate number, it will be to retentions to cancel my service.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conspiracy Ahoy?

    One would thing Virgin are out to wreck the Cable business on purpose with the way they're operating...

  22. Mark Allen

    Sky isn't any better

    Be warned guys... Sky support isn't any better. IMHO it is worse as they also have BT to blame when things go wrong. I have had more complaints from my customers about their Sky broadband than the NTL\Virgin side.

    (Also - don't forget that Sky is only going to give you ADSL - which could be much slower if you are too far from the BT phone exchange. At least Virgin\NTL give you the speed you pay for (yeah, yeah - quotas - but everyone is having to do that due to the small minority who insist on downloading all them ripped films.. (don't give me the Linux Distro excuse)))

    From my experiences of this industry, the bigger the companies, the more likely support is "off shored" to a cheaper call centre. Ever had to deal with BT? Orange? The pain....

    Personally I have noticed a definite change with VirginMedia - they now seems to have three layers of support personal to go through. It seems to be clear that the first couple of layers of this is to "weed out" those people asking the daft questions like "how do I turn on my computer?". When there is a _real_ problem with the NTL\Virgin kit, and the call is being made between 9-5, the call is diverted to Swansea where they actually have staff with brains. :-) My experiences lately have been quite positive.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm off

    Thats it I was 'almost' happy paying for the 3 for £30 (why do they never charge me £30? its always more....) but this is it.

    The damn TV cant store reminders anymore, if you do store one you cant delete or edit it. the 'guide' went from 12 days to 7 to 3 to 1

    Once my phone went down (line fell out at green box) but they said it was ok and ringing, because it was on divert to my mobile! (took 2 weeks to get that fixed, and cost me a packet in diverted charges to my mobile)

    so now its tech support on premium rate, I fix all my own problems at my end, I'm fortunate to know how, but now I have to pay to tell them when the lines dead or its their problem, oh no I'm off.

  24. Ben

    I wish I could call their tech guys...

    I have had virgins services since Jan 07, I got my phone number last week, so when I need to call them I have to use my phone number. This is the last straw!

  25. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    I see Stupid People...

    Actually, if you do get a credit when your call is actually about tech support, I'd side with them. I have been in that position: getting calls on ... "how do I open a .ppt file?" "How do I play a CD?" so many times, I have almost done a BOFH number on them from time to time.

    Well, that was in my previous jobs. Here all those stoopid questions go to the helldesk, fortunately.

    Thank god I turned down that call center job when I was still in college...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a croc

    I've just dialled 150 from my Virgin Media phone and got through to someone in Broadband technical support (based in the UK) within two minutes of lifting the handset. All they need is a polite but firm recorded message before I was put through stating that technical support can only deal with issues directly related to the service, for all other enquiries please press 2 etc etc this call is 25p per min.

    AFAIC Virgin Media's responsibility to provide an Internet connection to the customer stops with the RJ-45 socket on the modem (with a healthy connection indicated by a solid green 'Online' LED).

    If a customers modem is online but their PC is screwed up then 25p per min is cheap for technical support.

  27. William Bronze badge

    Far too may Skyboy shills making comments

    Where do I sign up for the Murdoch payout.

    After reading the comments I have to say there is a large amount of BS being banded about.

    So many people say they have Virgin, so many people say they are THINKING of going to Sky, BT, etc. Well, why don't you? Surely if your phoning Tech Support that often you would have already gone somewhere else? I would. I mean, how often are you guys phoning Virgin Tech support?

    If it does the job its supposed to and stop the muppets clogging up the lines then I am all for it. And I don't mind having to send in a bill to prove I made that call to get it refunded - I don't see what the problem is with that, its open to abuse otherwise.

    If you don't like it move somewhere else. Perhaps the grass is greener, but your not going to find out by just moaning. Just make sure you live next to the exchange and not too many other people have ADSL broadband and your cap fits.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buy Up Cheaply

    Virgin are obviously out to ruin cable completely, so hopefully when it goes bust they have people ready to buy it up for next to nothing.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What Keith Said Is Right...

    Same shit different shovel.

    Worst thing they ever did when NTL and Telewest merged was keep the clueless freaks that were from the old NTL company, It was obvious NTL was in its sorry state of affairs because of those numptys!!

    Customers complained about shit service from India, when NTL & Telewest merged they moved more stuff to India to piss off Telewest customers...

    NTL network lacked investment, billing was a joke, customer service was appalling and tech support was utter balls, so what do they do change Telewest customers to the same crap merge the networks and make their services screwed!!!

    Tech support should be free, its the EXACT SAME THING when customers call 151 if they have a fault with their TV, they should not have to pay for the privilege regardless what service it is. Especially when the tech support you receive from broadband is INDIA and is utter pants.

    They really need to shake up the company and sack the decision makers who do not have a clue and get someone who knows how to run a business rather than the chimps they have in there now - unless they want to run the company into the ground and make it go flat on its arse they need to stop infuriating customers and hiking prices until we can see an improvement in services and value for money and actually benefit from the merger

  30. Paul Stimpson

    Bye byeVM

    NTL's customer service has always been bad (IMO) but this new charge just adds injury to insult. 25 Minutes in a queue at 25ppm anyone? I am a graduate computer professional and by the time I call anybody's helpline I've generally got pretty conclusive proof that there is a problem and that it's not on my network.

    My biggest problem with scripted BS is that I run Linux on every machine on my network except one. I despair when I get an exchange like "What version of Windows are you running?" "I use Linux." "Is that like Internet Explorer? what version of Windows is it running on?" The other most common reaction is to immediately blame my computer for the fault if it's not running Windows. Next up is the wonderful chestnut "Please switch off your personal firewall software." "I'm not running a personal firewall; I have a dedicated firewall machine." "No Sir, a firewall is a piece of software that runs in your computer." I don't want a script; I want to concisely describe the problem I have to a person who understands and have them set the process to solve it in motion.

    I never abuse helpdesk staff on the phone but the voice in my head is screaming "Listen here you ******* moron, I can connect to every machine on my local LAN and the ****** SYNC light on my modem is flashing [loss of carrier] My computer is not responsible for that; Your network is! Don't tell me to repair my network connection in the system tray!"

    I would never have signed up to a deal where I had to pay 25ppm for helpdesk service and I'll be damned if I'm going to accept it via the back door. Bye bye VM.

  31. Julian

    Virgin aren't the only incompetents

    I have a friend, a lady not very computer literate, who lost her phone and broadband connections on TalkTalk. After a number of fruitless calls, she managed to get her phone restored, however they assured her there was nothing wrong with her broadband connection.

    Consequently she employed a technician who assured her that there was no fault in her computer, router and modem, but that there was no functioning broadband connection, as demonstrated by Talk Talk's own instructions for setting up the modem.

    Further phone calls achieved nothing until after about 5 weeks she really lost her temper but was still assured that there was nothing wrong with her connection. Approximately 5 minutes later the broadband connection was restored and working!

  32. Julian

    I might be off too

    But which other service is better here in London. Since I joined Telewest, I have always experienced a very irratic broadband service, ranging from very good to a complete standstill. Sometimes this is random, sometimes there is a pattern. Strangely, the problem concerns mostly email and regular surfing, but often, even when I can hardly manage to surf or get my email, download speeds for large files such as progammes such as open office or linux distros (never pirated multimedia) are still very good.

    And by current standards, the service is not cheap.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Far too may Skyboy shills making comments

    I have to agree with William here.

    What a load of sh*te most of you talk.

    Its fair to say that if you read The Register, you will have a fair grasp on IT, otherwise this site will make little sense to you, so when you guys call for supprt, it is generally an issue at their end ... great, if it is, you get your money back. Whats your problem.

    The problem is ... the vast majority of their customes and the vast population of computers, don't have the faintest idea about how their computer works, past turning it on ... and even thats an issue for some people!

    Someone else mentioned it earlier ... VM's support basically does stop with ensuring the modem is online and the cable is plugged in. Anything past that is just good customer service, which is something that most ISP's are willing to offer, as in, making sure email is set up correctly.

    I've been there. Both 1st and 2nd line ISP support and now work in IT well outwith that realm, but nothing changes. Same user base, same issues. Most of which are end user /

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VM Idiocy

    Since VM I've noticed a huge drop in speeds, and when our modem packed up it took a week of constant complaints before an engineer came to sort it. The new one still has to be rebooted quite often, broadband as a whole in this country is pathetic.

    The most retarded thing I've ever heard from the Indian script'ards was that Mozilla Firefox was not compatible and to use Internet Explorer instead.


  35. Phil

    I smell a Conspiracy

    First introduce traffic shapping in such a way that those people paying £37 per month for a 20Mbit service are sometimes getting less than 1Mbit (that's without downloading anything, so not hitting your new daily evening limit), then introduce a 25p per min charge so that people wont be able to afford to keep phoning up and complaining about it.

  36. Matt

    re: Oh No : By Gavin Hamer

    "25p is a lot, in fact it takes the Michael, because the staff on the other end of the line are probably only on 10-15p per minute in wages."

    You refer to the india call centre flunkies? 10p per minute, would equate to £6 per hour, and you realise thats higher than the basic rate in the UK!

    I don't think so....consider the average salary for a computer call centre employee is approx £2500 per year, 48 weeks a year work, 5 days a week, 10 hours a day, I make that 1.7p per minute, no?

    I agree however, if this is the case that their tech support department is in India and they charge 25p per minute, the service probably won't improve much. But from my experience, isn't the techie side of things based uk side and just the call centre numbnuts based offshore?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Post By Matt

    "But from my experience, isn't the techie side of things based uk side and just the call centre numbnuts based offshore?"

    No, In VM wisdom they passed most of its technical support on broadband to India which is the whole issue about scripted calls, not having a clue what they are doing, not being able to understand them etc - 2nd line i believe is still in the UK but in order to get through to these and have a chance at solving your issue you have to get through INDIA first which is a nightmare!!

    Cable are so concerned about cutting costs they are prepared to loose customers by charging a premium for technical support. They have even cut costs for staff wages which isn't very 'virgin' my mate who works there has even said they have made internal targets so unobtainable staff are looking elsewhere so the millions they are spending on training is pointless as staff wont work for peanuts nor will they have unobtainable targets. This looks like another way of VM reducing costs, if people cant hit targets they dont have to pay bonuses - ONLY THE FAT CATS AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN AWARD THEMSELVES HEFTY BONUSES, FORGET THE FRONT LINE STAFF WHO ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO KEEP THINGS GOING AND TAKE ALL THE SHIT

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beardie knows people are stupid

    My bank answers with "This is xxxx, speaking from Farnham, Surrey".

    I NEVER dial a telephone number beginning 087xxx.

    I always let companies who have premium phone lines know why they don't get my business.

    Stop whingeing and actually DO something about it. Then watch them change!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Customer service... what customer service?

    Being a Virgin Media customer for the last month or so, I have to say there is one thing missing in Virgin Media - customer support.

    Although there are few numbers to ring about different issues, one should be prepared to wait for absurd times on hold (at least 20 minutes) before it gets a chance to speak to a frustrated customer service advisor. The passing-the-buck game then begins and it looks like advisor's only aim in life is to try and find an angle where their particular support team is not responsible for the problem you are having.

    To illustrate, I have been assigned a phone line which belongs to someone else (as a different number appears on their system for my account). I don't mind that (and am secretly hoping that I might not be billed for the calls), but the problem is that other-person's-line comes with other-person's-voicemail which I can't do anything about. All I want Virgin Media to do is to update their records and switch off the (unwanted) voicemail. I have spent around 5 hours of my time so far on hold, I have spoken to all available support teams in India and Pakistan, I even felt for a leave-the-call-with-me-and-we'll-call-you-later trick, I had (false) promisses how everything is going to be sorted in the next 48 hours - but nothing. It appears that this is such a massive technical challenge for the support team that they simply gave up.

    And that's not the end - Virgin Media TV does not have ability to set reminders to any programme starting beyond next 12-24 hours, there is no 'series link' feature, and once you set your reminder - you can't change your mind! (there is no facility to cancel or change reminders).

    Conveniently enough - there is no complaints line, email, or website. You can write to an address that customer service will mumble to you (hoping you will get it wrong) after a 20 minute hold.

    And now they want me to pay for their "support"?! This is outrageous! They should be paying me for the time I wasted with their "support"!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another Nail In The Coffin

    Woeful overseas Customer Service, appalling broadband speeds, oversubscribed and under invested network in some areas, recent price hikes, already expensive broadband service, virtually no decent HD content and loss of SD channels on TV service and now this . Can it get any worse for Virgin Media....probably not but I'm sure they'll give it good go.

  41. David Harold

    I pray to get away

    I'm stuck with these cretins until next Jan. Anyone know any loopholes I can use to duck the contract? It's not like their service is anywhere near adequate....

  42. James

    That's just great news...

    What used to be the best ISP (the old Telewest) in the country is slowly becoming just like all the other ISPs out there. Crap! First bandwidth throttling and now premium rate call centres. I wonder if they'll charge me for all the time I spend on hold, the next time my line goes down, while I wait for some clown to answer and then not understand when I tell him that I don't use windows and that it's not my computer that needs rebooting.

  43. Andy Tyzack

    you big bunch of whingers

    I just thought id tell all you freaks to stop whinging, they way you go no, you would think virgin were the first company to turn its helplines into a chargeable service

    why should virgin employ people to sir there and answer call about something that has nothing to do with them, even the IVR says "if you have a fault with your TELEWEST equipment, please press one", if you have a fault with a printer or something not provided by us, then please call the manafacturer".

    If i was running a business and employed people to answer calls on something that didnt help my business im sure i would change to a premium rate number

    orange did the same in 2000 when it launched payg, in those days customer service on 450 was a free service but people used to ring up to "chat" cos they had nothing else to do. Charging people is the only way to clamp down on this unless any of you have better suggestions.

    get a grip people, and those who threaten to leave and go to sky, please just leave and pray they dont start charging you money or diverting your call to asia

  44. Colin Jackson


    Okay I don't know what to do now. I have Virgin TV and Phone, plus BT ADSL. I have the usual grief with BT (connection drops every time it rains heavily, and then the exchange artificially throttles my bandwidth for a fixed four day period when it comes back up - try selling THAT to the Bangalore Boneheads) and of course it costs me a packet because I'm paying for a BT phone line I don't actually need for a phone. So I was thinking of switching to Virgin broadband when my BT contract runs out - it'll save me a few quid and in theory I'll jump from 8- 10 or 20 mb/sec (I do actually get the full 8Mb, and did at my last home as well).

    It sounds from comments in this thread and others that I'd be better of sticking with what I have. Must admit after 6 months with Virgin TV, it's hard to imagine a more lumpen programming guide, and my virgin phone was getting daily silent calls from the moment it was switched on.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No queues now it's 25ppm

    If it's 25ppm then it's premium rate, and regulated by ICSTIS. ICSTIS doesn't permit queueing on premium rate numbers, so Virgin will now have to either (a) answer the phone with a real live Indian or (b) present an engaged tone.

  46. James Farrell


    "...we can't sustain our award-winning service..."

    Exactly what award did they win??

    As for " email support", is it actually possible to do anything using this? Our phoneline has been out of action for 3 of the 4 months we've had it, but the only way to contact anyone regarding telephone problems, is... via the telephone support. Genius.

  47. Lee Turner

    No sorry, I think you'll find it's pretty easy to hit the cap

    "(Also - don't forget that Sky is only going to give you ADSL - which could be much slower if you are too far from the BT phone exchange. At least Virgin\NTL give you the speed you pay for (yeah, yeah - quotas - but everyone is having to do that due to the small minority who insist on downloading all them ripped films.. (don't give me the Linux Distro excuse)))"

    Uhmmm.... ever downloaded a game patch? Last time I turned on World Of Warcraft I had to download 500mb because I hadn't played it in a while, that was me capped for four hours...

    A week later, a large patch from Battlefield 2142, my flatmate needed the same patch and due to us being in at slightly different times didn't know I'd already grabbed it...

    Combine that with the bandwidth needed by sites like youtube, yahoo music... also, I'm quite fond of downloading game demos via my xbox, and my Wii can occasionally generate a fair bit of traffic too.

    Oh and what about the traffic from Skype?

    Or how about our new wave Web2.0-esq apps, Google Earth and Second Life spring to mind as being bandwidth heavy too.

    Sure, I could turn all these off, but I originally paid for a service that let me run all this, we've become accustomed to it - the itnernet has evolved and yet our ISPs are back to imposing draconian measures much like the time limits we saw on ISPs towards the end of dialup era.

    I'm sorry, anyone who says you can't reach the caps without downloading illegal content is quite mistaken. Admittedly, these issues only affect me on average twice a week or less, but still, that's more than zero.

  48. andy gibson

    Ignorant readers

    Where does it say in the article that you will have topay to report a fault? As far as I'm aware, you call 150 to log a fault with any aspect of your service, not a local call.

  49. Dr Laurie Miles

    I've had enough

    I'm paying a large amount of money per month for the highest speed home broadband offering that Telewest/virgin offer, plus the basic telephone service. I rang customer service 2 weeks ago to complain about the deliberate throttleback that they are applying in the evening if a download limit is reached - they have never got back to me.

    Now they are going to charge premium rates for support - I never ring support unless there is a problem at their end - I do not use it for PC support or anything like that. In fact, I rarely ring it, but I resent paying a fortune to tell some operative in India to tell Virgin that their service is faulty, particularly at the rate that I pay for the Internet.

    And the telephone service charges high rates- with a 6p connection fee and then per minute charging.

    Despite not wanting to put more money into Sky and BT, I would be better off by moving to them for broadband and fixed line telephony.

    I cannot understand how Virgin's current management can be so shortsighted as to alienate their most loyal longstanding customers with perceived negative changes to their contract.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Award-winning?

    In response to James Farrell's question, I believe NTL were awarded the accolade of being the worst ISP for customer service on the Beeb's consumer-friendly Watchdog show... and that was before they started charging 25p per minute for the pleasure of hearing the Indian call centre muppets insist that my router is causing my problem, or that using Linux instead of Windows is causing my problem, or that my hardware firewall is causing my problem, etc...

    If I am having to pay 25p per minute for their so-called tech support, I expect to be able to speak to someone who at least knows what the hell I'm talking about when I explain what troubleshooting I've already done on my side. When I'm paying £15 per hour I don't want to be faced with having to explain yet again to someone what a traceroute is used for, or what the host command does in Linux, etc... These people should know this stuff already if they're expected to help diagnose problems with my connection.

    Also, I use a BT phone line, so I presume they are going to credit my broadband connection as they will be unable to amend my phone bill... considering NTL / Virgin Media's inability to correctly charge customers due to their useless billing system, I'm not holding my breath that I'll ever receive any refunds. Ironically enough, Virgin Media's billing system is called Harmony... yet I never felt particularly harmonious with their billing department during the 12 months when they were charging me for services at 2 addresses after I moved house (they knew I had moved as they sent round an engineer to connect our new house to their network). If they couldn't even get that right, what hope have they got to credit me for a call I'm making from a BT line?

    Fortunately I pay my broadband bill by direct debit, otherwise they'd also be charging me £5 per month for the pleasure of paying their bill by any other means, followed by 25p per minute just to phone them to rectify their problems with my bill!

    If Virgin Media were the Ryan Air of the ISP world then none of this would be surprising, but alas they're not... instead they're the equivalent of British Airways, as they are one of the most expensive ISPs I know of. But, unlike BA who hide the cost of those "complimentary" newspapers and in-flight meals within the price of the flight, Virgin Media are charging a premium for their products and yet still charging us more for the little extras like tech support, non direct debit payments, etc...

  51. Danny

    try this

    I find this website useful when faced with a company that wants me to dial an 0870 number.

    You can usually find a geographic number for the company and if you have a package that allows free uk calls, you don't end up paying. It's about time something was done about these rip-off phone numbers

  52. Neal

    can't even email them

    Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happened Virgin?

    They used to be so good... Now we get expensive premium rate tech support and crappy bandiwdth in the evenings all for £25 a month.

    Sorry Virgin but I'm not hanging around for this any longer - thank God your contract only requires 1 month notice - I'll be taking full advantage and going elsewhere.

  54. Dr Laurie Miles

    More info

    I've just spent a while talking to a very friendly and helpful Virgin Media customer relations agent in Sheffield, who was able to clarify that when Virgin Media say that they will be charging 25p per minute for technical support, they actually mean for IT support other than the service (i.e. PC setup, router config, etc is not covered, but ringing to say my broadband connection is kaput/wobbly will still be covered for free if you ring 151 from a Virgin Media fixed phoneline).

    I also talked through our usage of broadband at home, and he was able to reassure me that, with our family's pattern of internet usage, we were not going to hit the 3GB limit for downloads in an evening (he also told me a site to get WOW patches quicker...!)

    I am (for now) going to stick with Virgin Media and my 10M (shortly to be 20M) broadband connection. But Virgin Media's publicity department and management seem to be set on course to upset as many of their customers as possible. Before the Virgin Media customer support agent rang me back, I had already rung Sky to sort out the process to change to Sky broadband, and was enquiring about setting up a BT landline again. They nearly lost this customer...

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not happy about this....

    Surely if you're calling to report a fault in THEIR equipment then you shouldn't be charged for it. On the other hand you're phoning up to say "my video recorder won't record" or "how do I print from Word" then fair enough.

    I've got to agree with some of the postings here - the old Telewest service is beginning to resemble more and more that dispicable bunch of (insert synonym for donkey here) that was NTL. Must be getting old if I'm indulging in nostalgia. And the out of hours service is woefully poor, e.g.

    1) Couldn't use the On Demand services. Phoned about 7pm on a Monday, got a helpful scouse gentleman, and had the problem resolved within 5 minutes, (apparently my cable box got confused, and needed a reminder signal sent from VM).

    2) The cable box blew up - as in very loud firework-like bang and all the lights went off (and it was on standby at the time). Phoned at 8pm Sunday and got a (very faint) gent with a strong Indian accent. It was obviously a script he was reading from because the suggestions were downright silly, e.g. "are there any lights on the box" (him) "no, I already told you all the lights went off when it went bang" (me). "okay, are there any lights in the power supply" (and how am I supposed to check that without opening the box?!?!) etc. Upshot - after a couple of minutes of debate - was that I'll get an engineer in a week's time (used to be 2 days max), which is all I wanted. I'm not an electrical engineer, but I know a noise that loud means the kit is a canidate for the bin.

    If I wanted service this bad then I'd defect to Sky, (their service round here - at least according to about half a dozen folk I know), is barely better than none.

    Meanwhile, is there any one we can write to/complain to? Otherwise, these muppets on the board are going to think that they're doing okay ... which they obviously aren't! If it wasn't for the broadband service being so good (despite the caps) I would have moved before now.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sadly the site isn't going to be any help... NTL are using a premium rate number, i.e. 0906 2121111.

    It's bad enough that other companies, like Sky, use 0870 but the cost of those calls (8p per minute) is hardly worth mentioning when you compare it to the whopping 25p per minute that NTL are introducing.

    ps - in response to William's comment about the number of posts on here being made by Sky's shills, that may be true, but conversely I'd be interested to see the number of positive posts being made that are actually posted by NTL employees too.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Broadband Fault Reporting

    andy gibson:

    You will no longer be able to report broadband faults on 150/ 151, they won't transfer you either if you call that number, first you need to phone the status line to see if the fault has been added and then call the 090x number to report the fault, problem is not all faults are added to the status line and it takes several people to call in with the same problem before it might get added. There are going to be many situations where the fault is with VMs equipment or network but you aren't going to be able to get a refund as the details won't be on your account.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    use the law son, use the law

    why are the Run Away People always saying 'if you dont like it leave ?, its not going to get better for you RAP if they do you know, over subsciption of your UBR doesnt just go away, someone needs to go reseg it...

    weres the british fighting spirit gone people, use the law son, use the law.

    whats a few £1 and pennys in registered post werth to you today?, it potentially gets you a fully transparent ISP that actually brings back the real meaning of 'in good faith'to the UK, and a cup of coffee.

    sure it takes a little time to force these underhand ARPU raising ISPs to chance for the better, but werth the effort to make them clean up and become good UK based companys once more.

    the reason your uk ISP (virgin Media and it's US board of directors that dont even come to the UK, in this case)is taking the micky, is because [b]your letting them[/b] ,did you also role over with your bank charges too?.

    get off your arse, and check out your rights and ask your questions at

    and heres a start for all you unseen Virgin Media fighters:

    unfair terms in consumer contracts


    (m) giving the seller or supplier the right to determine whether the goods or services supplied are in conformity with the contract, or giving him the exclusive right to interpret any term of the contract;"

    they are not allowed to be exclusive, the end user/consumer MUST also have the right to determine that term as the average person would, an unfair term.

    they say its your PC, you know full well its not and the problem is their end, after all not everyones of the 'cant find the any key' variety and can work out that much at least, when your cable modems not locking and doesnt have 4 lights etc.

    perhaps theReg can come up with some generic PDF templates,addresses and space for the VM brigade to start the ball rolling?....

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People Should Stand Up And Voice Their Upset

    If people are unhappy about certain changes by VM, or indeed get crap service from India, are not happy with the 090 number for tech support etc the only way they can make Virgin Media do a u-turn is complain complain and complain...

    Flood them with letters, emails, calls, go straight for the CEO or Sir Richard as the major shareholder! Its the only way they will finally get the hint that people in top management who are making these decisions are WRONG! IM sure if they get thousands of complaints and threats to disconnect they will soon wake up.

  60. Andy

    wine wine wine....

    i used to work for amstrad many moons ago and people complained when we went over to 0898 numbers but man did people get the idea. instead of 3hr calls helping people reinstall dos and windows from scratch because of their stupidty of deleting files they should, people started dipping in and out of the calls instead..

    if you can now get straight through with your proper technical problem relating to the service and not asking general PC related questions then you should be thanking them. and if you still dont like it well go to another provider that costs more but gives a better service (hint: things are cheap for a reason normally!!!)

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    transparent and fair profits, not underhand raising of ARPU

    Andy, you seem to forget that all these people you refer to are in need of the help else why phone up the help desk.

    they showed up as part of your workload and kept you in a job, so be thankful for that.

    have some innovation in your life rather than turn these peole away and loose profit, setup a fair and transparent oversea's call center that the average UK user will gladly pay a reasonable price for, (the key word being REASONABLE) and everyones happy.

    if they call and its not related to your call agent job, just inform them their problem seems related to your general PC help desk at £15 an hour or whatever and you can transfer them if they wish, another profitable call and everyone knows the cost before its charged.

    today, £60 an hour is not reasonable for general PC phone help, given that gets you something like 60 Indian agents work per hour, why couldnt the cheap and nasty tupperware of the PC word 'Amstrad' have done that then as it would have been even cheaper wages back then and thats what he's good at, cheap and _nasty_.

    as a side note:

    UK allan suger, and his cheap R&D isnt Exactly known as a real in-house Tech innovator, even if he's in style again on TV, he still killed the real innovator of this countrys computer industry Sir clive Sinclair's UK business, imagine if he had colaberated instead of killed it and took the profits.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: wine wine wine....

    ...mines a shiraz...


    On the comments about calls lasting so long due to the stupidity of the end users either asking idiot questions or screwing up their system - any competent technical person can determine the nature of a call within the first few seconds so the excuse of being on the phone for hours really doesn't wash.

    On the other side of the coin, maybe these ISP's should only market their products to people with a competency in using a computer and diagnosing faults themselves - remember - THEY market these products for all so they should expect the bonehead questions from time to time and be able to have a system in place to manage these calls without penalizing genuine problems which tend to be 99% of the time the ISP's fault.

  63. Adam

    Evening Download Cap

    What's this about a 3GB evening download cap? I've had an email from Virgin about the charges for tech support, but not seen anything on this.


  64. Adam

    Download cap

    Ah - I've found the reference on Virgin thanks to Google. Certainly not been told by Virgin.

    How hum.

    I tend to agree with the comments above about service hopefully improving now that this MAY weed out the rubbish they have to deal with. Although I do hope that they will invest in UK call handlers. Another 45 minutes of "we do not support third party routers" from Bangalore will push me over the edge! Finally proved it WAS their problem. I have asked for a written commitment that they will refund call charges when it is shown to be their fault, although I don't know how we prove that.


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