Bristol affected too.
Virgin Media customers in London and the South East have been rocked by internet outages that cut them off from big sites including Wikipedia, Yahoo! and the Guardian yesterday and this morning. Reg readers bombarded our inbox to report pockets of dicky service, which seemed to start on Sunday morning and is still ongoing for …
Monday 17th October 2011 12:05 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 17th October 2011 12:06 GMT Nights_are_Long
Monday 17th October 2011 12:06 GMT Gareth.
Working from home
Being a Vermin Media user myself I can sympathise with those who have been affected by this, but I think that people who pay for a residential service whilst using it to work from home can hardly complain.
Yeah you pay £40 a month for the service but, compared to the costs of a dedicated business line, that ain't really that much. If you are working from home and stability of your connection is really that important, then maybe you should look into paying for something that is better suited to your needs, i.e. something with an SLA on resolving faults, guaranteed uptime, etc... and quit whinging when your residential service proves to not be up to scratch for your business needs.
Monday 17th October 2011 12:50 GMT Captain Underpants
I'm glad I'm not the only who thought this. There's a reason they differentiate between residential and business, after all...
(FWIW I've been with Virgin for about 18 months and have found their reliability to be about equivalent to BT who I was with for about 2 1/2 years. Both were fucking disastrous to get set up initially, but adequately competent once things were up and running...)
Monday 17th October 2011 12:51 GMT Thomas 18
Connection stability should be built into every package as standard. Implying that home broadband users should accept spotty unreliable access is a bad precedent, you don't expect satellite TV to cut out in the middle of the football or a low cost commuter car to drop its wheels half way to work.
Monday 17th October 2011 13:25 GMT Andy Fletcher
Monday 17th October 2011 14:08 GMT Captain Underpants
No, mate, that's not how it works.
You know the way that cheaper home packages have crappier upload speeds, higher contention ratios and download caps, compared to the more expensive packages? There's a reason for that, and it's to do with the expected uptime and performance provided with the service. The same logic will apply to the pricing you'll be offered if you ask for a dedicated SDSL business line - it won't be cheap, but on the other hand you'll have a contract in which usefully short resolution times and penalty clauses for the provider are specified.
I'm not saying significant outages are excusable, but I am suggesting that purchasing a residential/consumer service for business requirements is a bad idea because your requirements are unlikely to be met, in the same way that buying a Segway when you need a car is a guarantee of future misery.
Monday 17th October 2011 22:26 GMT Blitterbug
I don't believe it's so simple. A business contract + SLA may guarantee 99.9% (or whatever) uptime, but huge failures of this type on a pretty expensive (by my standards) consumer line are not to be shrugged off as "oh, well, you get what you pay for". This lets ISPs off the hook.
I use a BT pipe reseller and have been recommending them to my clients recently because of their excellent uptime and UK support lines. I pay £35pm for an 8Mb 45GB service that only ever cacks out when the backbone has a spazzy, as in the London Exchange a while back. I expect this level to be maintained even though I'm not paying for a leased line.
I won't become enraged at the odd outage, as it's not a bussy line, but the tosspot service dished out by Virgin, et al is simply bollocks.
Tuesday 18th October 2011 08:16 GMT Captain Underpants
@Blitterbug - if your contract is for a consumer service, and does not involve the provider acknowledge in any way that they may cause you loss of revenue due to outages (planned or otherwise), they it's not "letting the ISP off the hook", it's *abiding by the terms of the contract*. Regardless of how much you pay for your consumer service, if it's consumer service the terms are going to be better (for the ISP) than they would be on a business service.
Yes, it sucks. Yes, a lot of companies seem keen to do what Apple have done and get businesses grudgingly accepting the same level of service that consumers will accept. I have a similarly expensive consumer line at home, and downtime is as frustrating for me as anyone else.
Nonetheless, if you have *business requirements* and you can't take the loss involved in this kind of downtime, the risk-averse option is to buy a business service that accounts for them. You can argue otherwise all you like, but if you're argument is "I didn't have a contract for this level of service, but I expected it anyway" you're not going to get very far.
Monday 17th October 2011 15:46 GMT Valerion
My wife's office
Have their internet via Virgin Business. They just got a letter saying it's going to be down for an entire day so they can do maintenance. Not down overnight, or in the evening, but during the working day.
Full day of of no emails and no website, simply because they can't be bothered to do the maintenace overnight.
Monday 17th October 2011 12:06 GMT Southern
Ahh / penny drops
Thanks El Reg for bringing me this news; as a virgin media customer, I was trying to figure out why Flickr and Wikipedia in particular weren't loading (or gave connection timeouts) and I suspected Virgin Media had something to do with it.
Glad to know that the ISP is to blame and that the problem might be fixed, althought not being able to randomly look things up on Wikipedia is seriously going to affect my pub quiz score tonight.
Monday 17th October 2011 12:15 GMT Miek
Monday 17th October 2011 12:22 GMT Throg
In my experience, VM "support" = recite a script and then tell you an engineer is coming to look at your modem sometime next Thursday. For every issue.
Part of the script is (or was, until I gave up calling them) "what Windows patches have you applied?" leading to great confusion when you respond "none, I'm a Mac / Linux user".
Luckily, in the last 10 years I've had little cause to call them. Just recently though ...
Monday 17th October 2011 12:22 GMT Anonymous Coward
Had to call the samaritans...
..after spending 90 minutes on the phone to VM about this problem sunday afternoon.
25 minutes in the support queue before getting a guy at the Indian call centre who I explained the problem too and advised that many customers are having this issue at the moment. He proceeds to tell me the problem is with my browser and there is no problems there as his ping tests to me came back ok. Asked for second line support and he transferred me to some premium service that wanted to charge me a subscription to login to my pc remotely to fix the problem with MY computer.
They said they had to transfer me back to support and I said as long as it is not the Indian call centre, go ahead. More time in the queue before getting...the indian call centre answer and be totally useless again.
Just got a text message while writing this to say the fault has been fixed and upon testing I can get to some of the sites again that were problematic before. So it seems the info VM provided about new equipment needed and meeting with a peering partner was lies. More like they undid a change to traffic management settings that broke it in the first place...
Monday 17th October 2011 12:33 GMT Miek
"They said they had to transfer me back to support and I said as long as it is not the Indian call centre, go ahead. More time in the queue before getting...the indian call centre answer and be totally useless again."
The man in disconnections kindly offered to put me through to Liverpool Technical support when my 50MBs service was running at a measly 130KBs and surprise surprise I got a lovely young woman in India.
The service sucks, the support sucks.
Monday 17th October 2011 22:36 GMT Anonymous Coward
re: indian vs uk call centres
i get the impression it depends on the time of day. The uk call centre ( i believe they are closing the good one in liverpool and epanding the not-as-good south wales one) is open during regular office hours, and the indian one is at all other times. Unfortunately, most people work during office hours, so not many people get to speak to the uk centre...
Of course, this is speculation...
Monday 17th October 2011 12:33 GMT Thomas 18
Monday 17th October 2011 12:33 GMT iMess
VM don't seem to know much about anything unless a global press announcement is released. Confiming problems in the Southwest. It has been glitchy since early Sunday morning, dropping line speeds of 800kb/s instead of the usual 5mb/s. Would have posted in the VM forums but guess what..
Monday 17th October 2011 13:21 GMT Anonymous Coward
Thesse turd eating fucktards are completely useless and will lie and spin you endless bs until you're about ready to commit suicide.
I had severe problems just outisde Cambridge for months. Endless calls to their pointless center having them tell me all sorts of garbage that's my fault that was provable nonsense.
After some months, and after trying and failing to move to ADSL (unusable in my town) and realising I'm forced to use only VM cable, I mailed the CEO and the problem was fixed within a week.
If getting these festering losers to fix anything can only be managed by nagging the CEO *directly* it's a pretty piss-poor company.
I complained to Ofcom about them. Twice.
Monday 17th October 2011 22:43 GMT Anonymous Coward
forced? Dont make me laugh.
How did you manage before signing up with VM? Do that.
If you've only just moved to the area, and internet is *that* important to your life/work/whatever, id have thought you'd do a better job of scouting the place out before moving there...
option 1) No internet
option 2) dial up
option 3) move house
Monday 17th October 2011 13:22 GMT dcd
Monday 17th October 2011 14:10 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 17th October 2011 14:31 GMT simon newton
Deep packet inspection changes?
When the latest DPI was rolled out in our area (south wales) we had the same problem - some sites would not load, or only partially load (eg, some sockets worked fine, other sockets would time out).
At the time I was lucky enough to have servers in the portions of the public internet affected by the problem. I performed tcpdump packets captures on both ends of the link and noticed that some packets being sent from my servers were not arriving at the other end, despite the full SYN/ACK handshake stage taking place.
Ping and traceroutes showed zero packet loss. The problem did not exist on ports such as SSH, HTTPS or other random ports. So, to me, the problem was wholly related to something at the TCP layer on port 80. My only conclusion would be that something was meddling with the packets on that port inside of the virgin media network, which led me to the guesstimate conclusion that Virgins deep packet inspection/filtering system was going nuts.
Of course, they never admitted as such ;)
Monday 17th October 2011 14:58 GMT Anonymous Coward
Week long, here in N4
Seventh day of complete outage for me, on TV and broadband.
Every time I called service support, they claimed it would be up by the end of the day.
It's been a total shambles.
An engineer is booked for tomorrow afternoon.
I work from home; just as well my Android was there as a MiFi backup.
Get a dedicated business connection?
Yeah. Right. I have 100% confidence in them fulfilling their SLA.
Monday 17th October 2011 15:47 GMT David Neil
Monday 17th October 2011 16:53 GMT Anonymous Coward
Only problem is I've yet to see an SLA that pays compensation that comes anywhere close to covering the inconvenience caused by the outage.
So how about this for an SLA. You screw up such that my connection is down for 8 hours, then I don't get any compensation, but I now have the right to immediately cancel my contract with zero notice and at no penalty. Any takers from the suppliers? Thought not.
Monday 17th October 2011 15:23 GMT Allan 1
South Manchester Too
Lost virtually all web-services on Thurs, went out bought a 3G USB dongle on fri, posted on their official forums (to which theres stll no official staff reply). Called through to faults and somehow ended up speaking to someone in Liverpool not India. This was good because the Liverpool office is 2nd line, as in the people with a clue, as opposed to the script readers.
I was told by a very competent support agent, "There is a known signalling and routing issue at the moment, with the fix scheduled for the 20th. I apologize for this. The fault reference number is.... Once the fault is rectified, call customer services, with the fault reference, and they will credit you a small discount. In reality, its such a major fault, we have several teams working on it, it will probably be fixed before the 20th, but I can't garuntee that."
Sunday, about noon, stuff started working normally again, for me at least.
Monday 17th October 2011 15:45 GMT Gavin 8
Virgin's Support might be worse than BT's
which is saying something...
I called up Virgin Broadband and attempted to explain that I could ping my router fine, no problem, but when I pinged any IP address on the outside world (even my router's default gateway) I would get intermittent packet loss. So the irritatingly over-optimistic but not very helpful india call centre operative assured me he would fix the problem. And that's where the problem started, as he directed me to change my router's wireless channel to 13. I tried to explain politely that the evidence suggested this would make no difference because my internal subnet was working fine. Do you know what he said? "If you know so much sir, why don't you fix it?". Needless to say politeness ended rapidly. 5 Calls later to different departments (the TV department) they admitted there was a problem with the connection between the house and the exchange.
It's nice to know I paid for that service.
You never got this with BE Internet, who could resolve complex technical issues over the phone as they had techies on support, not useless script readers who don't know their arse from their elbow, and instead of escalating problems try to get you off the phone as fast as possible.
Not impressed at all, unfortunately we don't have a BT Landline at this address so we're stuck with a useless company like virgin media who hava staggering history of being terrible even before the re-brand (which has made little difference).
Monday 17th October 2011 22:20 GMT Matt K
@ Gavin 8
I feel your pain. Had to switch from BE to Virgin cable for the same reason (lack of a BT landline or TV aerial in these flats). I miss a steady, reliable connection and responsive, intelligent support staff. (And I miss my HD Fox T2.) Sigh.
Although at this rate I'll be saving a bit. Currently getting about a 30% service credit a month thanks to repeated Virgin problems (broadband, TV, phone, the works).
Tuesday 18th October 2011 08:55 GMT Anonymous Coward
Couldn't be happier with Be. A few years back I had a similar, but much smaller scale problem, with them. I couldn't access one site that I needed for work because of a routing issue out of their control somewhere in America. Their solution was to give me a free static IP address which fixed the problem and which I have had free of charge ever since (including moving house). Fantastic company.
Monday 17th October 2011 19:19 GMT Jamchal
As stated previously, you're paying for a residential broadband service which has gone down accross multiple local regions throughout the past few days.
Clearly this isn't an acceptable level of service, but it's to be expected occasionally.
For those who claim that their internet service is crap etc. etc. How many times have you phoned / complained to them on each and every occasion the service goes down / fails.
I used to work for these people, believe me, their 'customer service' is crap, i've experienced it first hand. But what is interesting is that when 1 thing went wrong, a user would phone, complain that the service has gone down and has been terrible for the past <insert months / years here> and they're not happy.
Further checks reveal they have called about this issue once before 7 months ago where an outage caused temporary loss of service.
Suffice to say I no longer work for these people, I would still go by saying their internet service works well compared to my ADSL friends and colleagues. Their customer service however consistently fails to impress me.
Especially the stuff about browser settings / patches / computer settings... this isn't 2004 virgin, people don't have that much spyware anymore.
sherlock because more diagnosis is required other than ping tests and traceroutes.
Monday 17th October 2011 22:14 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 17th October 2011 22:25 GMT Hyphen
Oh what I would give
Oh what I would give for a Virgin Media connection, even WITH these routing issues.
I'm currently seeing ~75% packet loss on my BT ADSL connection.
This is fairly usual when it rains. BT claim there's no such problem and that it must be CPE failure. According to India, there's apparently no such thing as a master socket and I must be keeping my Home Hub (I'm using a 2Wire Business Hub) in the rain for this fault to occur! I did try to argue that if I subjected the Home Hub to rain I'd probably see 100% packet loss, but they ignored me.
I need to move to a cabled house!
 I called Virgin and offered to reimburse them for the full cost of the co-ax installation. No cost to them, plus at least 2 years' business on XXL. They refused.
Monday 17th October 2011 22:27 GMT McToo
So that settles it!
Our TopUp TV box is getting a bit old and I was going to change my pretty much rock solid BeThere ADSL/BT Phone line/TopUp TV stuff to a Virgin 'all in one' package (we're in a cabled area), so I could save a paltry few quid, get marginally faster broadband (I'm about 200 yards from my telephone exchange) and get a few more channels of dross. However, thanks to the glorious readers of El Reg reminding me about VMs abominable DPI & Indian script reading call centres, I don't think I'll bother now.
Thank you all!
Tuesday 18th October 2011 10:50 GMT Paul_Murphy
Don't forget that you rarely hear the good news.
For all the various 'VM is down today' stories you never get the 350+ 'VM working fine today' stories.
I'm in the Watford area and have seen few problems with the service itself - the most annoying thing about VM is that they don't pass on cheaper package rates when they are available. In the past I would notice that our service was quoted at a cheaper rate on the website and would phone up to complain - normally getting a discount.
As for the service once I started using OpenDNS on my router it seems steadier than it was - not that it was too bad before.
I'm sure that if you visit BT or other websites (aside from BE probably) you will see similar stories and reach similar conclusions.
Oh - I have no affiliation to VM or BE or anyone else, I'm just a customer.
nb - 50meg service is very useful in our household (3x computers, 2x laptops, Wii, PS3 ...)
Monday 17th October 2011 22:40 GMT Jon Smit
Hosted sites down too
Pitpass a site hosted by Virgin has been down over the weekend too.
"...An intermittent fault throughout the Korean Grand Prix weekend finally developed into a full blown disaster early this morning, when our umbilical chord to the ether was finally severed. Thanks to sterling work by Business Media we are now back online and slowly catching up..."
Monday 17th October 2011 22:41 GMT GrantK
Internet was out for most of Saturday afternoon down this way (border of Croydon and Bromley). When I called Virgin Media I was told it was a fault in the area and they offered to put £10 credit on my account for the hassle.
They answered almost immediately so I do not think there was a huge amount of calls at that point.
Tuesday 18th October 2011 07:41 GMT Anonymous Coward
Been experiencing intermittent routing issues for a couple of weeks (Basingstoke).
Also both cabinets in my street have been rewired in the last week (no connectivity for a couple of hours).
But customer service really sucks - especially when you're speaking to the 0845 "helpline" on your mobile because your landline is down - and you're paying for the 25 minute call yourself...and the tech calls out an Engineer for next Tuesday afternoon (and it's a Friday night and you have no landline, bb or cable TV and there are "no local issues")...and you fancy a pint and as you walk out your door you notice that the engineers have sneaked back unnoticed and have got the cabinet door open yet again...
At a time like this one tends to forget the exceptional reliability one has experienced in the last 12 years since signing up with Comtel=>ntl=>VM, and the rock solid 50/5 24/7 bb performance one routinely obtains from one's Superhub. Bah.
Tuesday 18th October 2011 08:28 GMT Anonymous Coward
NTL have always been rubbish....
...and thier penny pinching ways means that will never change.
However, STOP thinking any service should be 24/7 365. I can't be. Realise this and stop whining like spoilt brats.
Faults occur and when they do, someone goes out to fix them. It's not as if your never going to get service back again. You, like the rest of us just have to wait till it's fixed.
Tuesday 18th October 2011 08:38 GMT Fab De Marco
My 2 pence on Virgin Media Support
On Noticing my router (VM non-Super HUB only on 10Mb) had no power I thought oh well I suppose I'll call them and get a replacement sent out, one of the beauties of their support infrastucture is that you do not own the equipment, therefore its their responsibility.
So I call them up and its like this....
Me: Hi My Hub won't power on I would like a replacement
VM: So your Internet is not working
M: No of course it isnt
VM: Have you tried rebooting your hub?
M: Yeah, tried the switch on the off chance and also tried another power source but still nothing
VM: OK so If you open a web browser on your computer and type.......
M: There are no lights on the router. It does not power up
VM: Oh there's no lights on it at all?
M: That is correct.
VM Oh you need a replacement then.
M: Thank goodness you were here to diagnose my fault.
A Good support rep would have listened to my opening statement then followed the RMA Procedure.
A script reader would have sent a lesser mortal round the houses for about 20 minutes before finding the problem.
Tuesday 18th October 2011 08:55 GMT Ojustaboo
7 days for an engineer
My internet went completely off line Sunday night. Was back up again Monday Morning.
Monday night went off totally again (modem and internet on Tvio box offline).
Phoned Virgin, earliest they can get an engineer out is next Monday, 7 days time.
Personally I find being expected to wait 7 days in this day and age when say son needs internet to log into college etc, totally unacceptable.
Luckily for them it was back up this morning.
Am on their 100Mbit service, reason I wanted this (legality aside) is so that when I want to download a TV show off of newsgroups, I can do so in about 1 min. Due to their extreme traffic shaping, doing this from around 4pm to midnight goes slower than dialup.
As I had no internet, thought I'd catch up on some of the stuff I'd recorded over the past week on their Tvio box. But as I had no network connection on my Tvio box, it wouldn't let me watch anything I'd recorded Grrr
Tuesday 18th October 2011 20:10 GMT cortezcortez
Xmas 2010 I lost internet for two days. When I called Hyderabad - sorry, Virgin Media Customer Services - I was told this:
"We can send an engineer on 24 January."
Slammed the phone down, I did, and started looking for a new supplier. As it happened I got my service back that night (somehow) and never bothered changing. But recent poor performance and this week's problems have got me looking again.
Tuesday 18th October 2011 10:51 GMT Anonymous Coward
No problems here currently (Oxford) but I've had similar issues three times in the last month (off for 2 days on one of those occasions).
Having been with VM for a few years I now know that when it's off it's off. All you can do is wait till it comes back (remembering to re-boot you modem occasionally as it can get stuck in "off" mode). Your neighbour may or may not be having the same problem. If you phone, they will deny there's any problem and go through some token diagnostics before fobbing you off.
There is no correlation whatsoever between the internet coming back on and any number of phone calls you might make.
Tuesday 18th October 2011 10:54 GMT damien c
Wednesday 19th October 2011 10:48 GMT virginsuck
Virgin newbie astonished at appalling customer service
Intermittent-to-zero internet since Sunday ongoing in SE London and told today that it wont be fixed until 'at least 25th October' ! So that will be approx 2 weeks with virtually no meaningful service.
New to Virgin Media and totally appalled at their shocking customer service having been told a variety of different 'reasons' for the lack of speed (down to 0.2Mbps at times).
All departments - Indian call centre, Welsh call centre, billing, cancellations etc etc astonishingly unhelpful and even rude.
Would never recommend this outfit to anyone.