back to article Virgin Media is so rustic and artisan you get to hand-sort your own spam

Virgin Media has overhauled its botched spam filtering system, which has resulted in UK businesses and customers missing thousands of legit emails. The issues have blighted customers for over a year, since Virgin Media was forced take its email hosting back in-house after Google closed the service used by ISPs last year. Many …

  1. Jon Massey

    Well bugger me...

    People still use the email services of their ISP?

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Well bugger me...

      I was just going to write that.

      Anybody who does this is of a certain mindset, and it means they're stubborn and they read instruction manuals.

      The Vermin Media website said how to use email, so "you really should use Vermin's mail service because that's what you're SUPPOSED to do". I've met the sort before. They're the type of people who install BT's shit "connection assailant" software, because the disk came in the box with the router. They're also the type of people who will stick with something that doesn't work despite evidence that other methods work better.

      1. Just Enough

        Re: Well bugger me...

        I once dealt with a user who INSISTED that I install AOL crap onto her new computer, because the CD came with the computer, so that meant it was supposed to be installed. Didn't matter if I explained that she had absolutely no need for it, being on a network with an internet connection.

        I ended up installing it, but told her if she ever ran it I would not be back to fix things in a hurry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well bugger me...

          "I ended up installing it, but told her if she ever ran it I would not be back to fix things in a hurry."

          Did you go back and fix it (As I assume like me I am forced to by upper management because they are getting a headache from the offending user).

          Anon for obvious reasons

    2. Kraggy

      Re: Well bugger me...

      The computer literati perhaps know better but they're the minority, though they choose to ignore (or else are incapable of comprehending) that fact.

      This includes vast numbers of 'businesses' which are one or a handful of people who nowadays feel obliged to use the web even though they really don't 'get it'.

    3. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Well bugger me...

      People still use the email services of their ISP?

      There is no reason an ISP's email service should not be as good as anyone else's and they usually have far more resources to handle the job than individuals and smaller providers do.

      Virgin Media has, on the whole, done a pretty good job of handling emails. They have had their hiccups and even a few dire moments but it seems they have not been any worse than any other provider.

      1. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Well bugger me...

        @Jason B

        I take your point, but what happens when you change ISP? They're not exactly fixed for life services are they? Or when the business changes name and eventually freezes out your email address? Freeserve - Wanadoo - Orange etc (or whichever way round it went). Virgin media used to be Blueyonder, NTL. I know they often support legacy ISP addresses and whatnot, but I assume that's only for as long as you maintain a paid for service.

        On a final note I know 2 PEOPLE who still use AOL email and believe one has to pay for the service and the other still uses AOL adsl? This was two or so years ago, but they both definitely used AOL addresses

        1. Jason Bloomberg

          Re: Well bugger me...

          I take your point, but what happens when you change ISP?

          Perhaps people are confusing using an ISP's email service with using only email addresses on the ISP's domain?

          Doing that is a separate issue as to whether an ISP's email service is any good.

          Businesses explicitly using email addresses containing their ISP's domain name may well end up with problems, but they aren't forced to do that. I use my own domain name in my email addresses which are routed via my ISP, so I can route those to a new ISP or my own servers if need be.

      2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: Well bugger me...

        There is a very good reason. The email service that an ISP provides is not a flagship product. It's just an add on that can have the effect of keeping people using that particular isp. They have no need to put the resources into it that other companies like Google do. Wel, they don't have quite as much need. History has shown time and time again that email provided by ISPs just doesn't work so wel. Whether it's Tiscali being down for three weeks, or freeserve forgetting to renew a domain, or BT cocking up a migration, it's always the same: the ISP just doesn't give their email service the same priority that a company who specifically provides an email service does.

    4. David 18

      Re: Well bugger me...

      Businesses still use the email services of their ISP?!!!!


    5. cosymart

      Re: Well bugger me...

      Takes all sorts, would be good if you didn't advertise your sexual preferences on an open forum :-)

    6. FuzzyWuzzys

      Re: Well bugger me...

      Give them some credit...if they can manage to use their ISP's email option then they're a better and more patient man than I!

    7. xpz393

      Re: Well bugger me...

      OK, but only if you're pretty :-)

  2. fruitoftheloon

    F-me is this a wind-up???

    Eek, folk 'running a business' made a conscious decision to use VM???

    That's scary, would be good to have a list of them, then I'd know where NOT to put my business...

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: F-me is this a wind-up???

      I would seriously consider a deeper investigation of a business who uses a Vermin email address before I use them. If they can get that so wrong, it means they're hard of thinking and use sloppy mental processes.

    2. Lee D

      Re: F-me is this a wind-up???

      Nothing wrong with using Virgin Media Business... but why on earth would you rely on their freebie email/webmail services?

      1) Surely, that means your email isn't @ your domain?

      2) It's an ISP so likely it'll be junk and subject to things like this

      3) The news about VM using GMail and then not using it, etc. are all over the net for the last few years

      4) Anything company of any particularly useful size (i.e. not two guys in a back alley) surely has a server that does their IT/email if they are in any way relying on it for business. I mean, not a plumber with a van, but then they could just change their email without any problems.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F-me is this a wind-up???

      There are plenty of vans around here, emblazoned with company artwork along with a web address of and an email address of (examples used to protect the stupid)

      Funnily enough, they don't get my business. Nor would the signwriters who labelled the vans without questioning why they would want such crap put on there.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: F-me is this a wind-up???

        "Funnily enough, they don't get my business."

        I wouldn't go to them for advice on email services either, but if I was looking for a damn good tradesperson, then I would be concerned about how well they fit kitchens or hang doors and I wouldn't give a fuck how much they know about email addresses.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: F-me is this a wind-up???

          It's not how much they know about email addresses, it's the fact that when they come across something they're not proficient in they just blunder ahead regardless. If they asked any competent adviser, they would've done it differently.

          Oh, and if they just don't use (and therefore don't publish) email that's fine too.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: F-me is this a wind-up???

      If you are Bob The Builder and you have done it 1 years ago getting out of that entanglement may be non-trivial. I know people who still keep their aol addresses for this purpose. Too many people have them in their address books, they are on various paper, etc (so there are costs associated with switching away). When they started using email having your own domain hosted was not really an option. Email for them is a tool so all they want is for it to work and they get pretty badly pissed off when it does not.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: F-me is this a wind-up???

        Bugger - meant to say 15+ years ago :) One year go it would have been gmail.

  3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    In the past I used my ISP's email offerings.

    But when Google came along with their Gmail offering, I waited for a couple of months extra, then migrated over to Gmail, told my contacts that my ISP's email address was terminated effectively and that they should use my new Gmail address rather.

    Never looked back. I can change ISP's at the drop of a hat, but still have access to my emails.

    There also was a couple of instances where an ISP (more than once) went TITSUP and all email was lost as a result. I don't want the trauma of that. The possibility that Google's gmail will also go TITSUP is there, but at least I have my emails downloaded on Thunderbird (laptop) as well, so it's sort of a "backup" should the worst happen.

    1. Lee D

      Buy the very cheapest of cheap domains for yourself (or even

      Advertise it to all your friends as the last time you'll ever change your email address.

      Activate the free email forwarding to that same GMail account. Or Hotmail. Or whatever. Whenever and however you like.

      If something goes wrong, you change the forwarding, but your email is still just the same.

      You have a legal "ownership" of the domain and can move it to any provider, put a website on it, etc., usually for free or for an absolute pittance.

      If you get the right service, you can even do things like have it forward emails to BOTH a GMail and a POP3/IMAP account so you can be sure to never lose an email while also using your favourite service.

      Then, question why you didn't do this decades ago like everyone else did, and why you frequent an IT site and this didn't occur to you in all that time.

      Literally, a is 99p a year on some places, with free email and web forwarding to the addresses of your choice.

      1. Gavin Chester


        If you get the right service, you can even do things like have it forward emails to BOTH a GMail and a POP3/IMAP account so you can be sure to never lose an email while also using your favourite service.

        I do and no-one has been told my Gmail address, I never delete anything on Gmail as they keep adding storage, so can search my old received emails anywhere I have connectivity, regardless if they've been pulled down to the local PC client in my web domains software.

      2. inmypjs Silver badge

        "Advertise it to all your friends"

        "email forwarding to that same GMail"

        I wouldn't call someone who silently forwards all email I send to them so google can read it a friend, asshole would be more appropriate.

        1. Lee D

          You have absolutely no knowledge, way to check, or guarantee that EVERY EMAIL YOU SEND isn't already doing that anyway.

          Literally, none. If you check DKIM and SFP and connect to advertised MX records, you have no guarantee of confidentiality whatsoever.

          And they all transit in plain-text at some point in their route, or can do, and you can NEVER know anyway. It's SMTP, you have precisely ZERO guarantees about the confidentiality of any email you ever send, ever, anywhere using it.

          That's why, if you WANT to send a "secret" email, you have to encrypt, and you can NEVER hide the metadata about the endpoints (time sent, date received, intended email address, source IP etc.)

          Though I would be the first to agree this is the world's largest remaining Internet protocol that drastically needs a long-overdue redesign from the ground up, paranoia's nice, thanks, but I have a life.

          You have literally zero guarantee whether none, one or all of your friends are actually doing just that kind of forwarding - or worse - anyway. None. Whatsoever. So you can either bitch about it on forums, fix it, or accept it.

          P.S. You would need to be the first to propose a system that is "secure" yet permanently stops me ever forwarding any email you've addressed to me, onto anyone, or anywhere, that I like. Stop trying to apply DRM to email, it can't work.

          1. inmypjs Silver badge

            "You have absolutely no knowledge, way to check, or guarantee that EVERY EMAIL YOU SEND isn't already doing that anyway."

            So being an asshole is OK because it is possible for some people to be assholes without me knowing - what an asshole.

            "People sending email to any of Google's 425 million Gmail users have no "reasonable expectation" that their communications are confidential, the internet giant has said in a court filing."

            Which is why people using gmail are assholes and businesses using gmail are stupid and assholes.

            1. Dabooka Silver badge


              The word is 'arsehole' dear chap.

              1. BongoJoe

                Re: FYI

                An asshole is what you get when you drop a donkey through the roof

  4. Red Bren

    When VM first outsourced their mail service to Google, I found it to be a weird halfway house where some Google services such as calendar didn't work. So I bit the bullet and set up a full fat gmail account rather than the crippled VM branded offering. Glad I did.

  5. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Sole proprietors

    Small businesses that know just their own skills, or private users that have no real reason to need a special address are likely to just use an ISP one. Bigger customers who rely on ISP FreeMail are at the very least naive.

    That being said, at home we use various addys. And VM is just one of those. To date their spam management has been appalling. I have no reason to think that legit email isn't getting to us. But I know that some very obvious spam/scam stuff gets through really easily - (No I don't want a "free" gift card that doesn't really come from a well-known brand even though it carries their logo).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Based on my experiences, it's academic anyway

    email is still a rarer contact medium than phone for a lot of companies. I've had a lot of cases where I have left my email address, plus a straight-to-voicemail number, with the preference to be contacted by email (i.e. at my convenience, not theirs) only to find a voicemail 5 minutes later.

  7. cosymart

    Shooting the Messenger

    Why are we complaining about VMs poor Spam handling? What we should be doing is trying to cull the crap at source. Anyone found sending Spam should be guilty of whatever the local law agency can cobble together and then banned from the internet for life and keelhauled!

  8. wasteIT

    Fixed it?

    As a reluctant, historical VM email user (apparently VM can't delete it as they wouldn't have anyone to bill for my TV services), it is odd that since the date they 'fixed' the anti-spam, I have been receiving dozens more spam emails, some to the spam folder, but mostly to my inbox. Thanks for the fix VM.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Fixed it?

      The fix was to stop it recognising genuine messages as spam, so the fix is in essence to let everything through and let you decide.

      Hence you getting more than before, but now with added genuine emails you didn't know you probably weren't getting.

      Hope that's cleared that up

  9. FuzzyWuzzys

    Tell all your mates to take the easy option

    As most have advised, simply buy a £10 domain name off Gandi or whomever you like the look of ( except Freeparking as they're utterly useless! ) , then at the very least, if you don't their email offering, forward from your domain to your GMail. It's not tricky for most people as most domain sellers have a basic web interface, it's the last time you'll ever need to change your email. I've had the same domain for over 14 years now and probably the same 4 email addresses.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not all spam is actually spam!

    I work for an organisation that has several hundred volunteers, of which more than a few have VM email addresses. We experienced problems sometime about the 6 November and have just had successful emails getting through on Monday 28 Nov.

    Finally fixed by means unknown, until I read the article!

    Do not try and phone the VM help line if you do not have any service with VM, its next to impossible to get any response unless you can enter your contact / mobile / service number.

  11. bobbear

    Words fail me...

    Any company that is dumb enough to still follow the practice of 'executive filtering' spam, (i.e. without forwarding it to a spam folder so it can be reviewed by the customer), deserves the flak that will inevitably follow as sure as night follows day... All they had to do was to copy the GMail model that preceded it...

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Words fail me...

      My server bounces about 65,000 emails every day, and lets through around 25 emails. I am not going to start reading 65,000 spam emails to see if any are legitimate.

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