back to article Virgin Media to chop 800 jobs in Wales call centre

Virgin Media is axing nearly 800 jobs from its Swansea call centre, with the site expected to be shut down by autumn next year. The cost cutting broadband provider is intent on reducing the total number of UK customer service bases from eight to four, and centralising operations in Manchester. Chief exec Tom Mockridge …

  1. Simon 4

    Hasn’t Swansea been part of the operation since Virgin.net?

    That’s over 20 years.

    Very sad.

    They want loyalty from the staff, but don’t give any in return.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Exactly. The bottom line is that to employ x thousand call-centre staff, you need y thousand sq ft of office space. Whether that space is in one location, four or eight, the marginal cost benefits of centralising are going to be minimal, unless you house them in tents in the Sahara.

      So to save a few million a year, Virgin shit on their loyal staff in Swansea and devastate the local economy. Don't you just love red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalism?

      This is one of the reasons I'm not a fan of governments spending billions in perks to tempt big companies in to 'create jobs'. The companies have no roots or loyalty to the area. As soon as they can save a few quid by moving down the road they do. Much better to spend money helping local businesses to grow. Far greater chance of long-term stability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The companies have no roots or loyalty to the area. As soon as they can save a few quid by moving down the road they do. Much better to spend money helping local businesses to grow. Far greater chance of long-term stability.

        Far greater chance of long term stability? I very much doubt that. As soon as most SME's grow to a scale that they can be sold on, the original owners will flog the business, and the once-SME becomes a division of a large faceless corporate who (as you say) will do anything to save a few quid.

        The only way of keeping most businesses local is (a) to circle the wagons and keep external competition out, and (b) to hope/ensure none grow large enough that they are potential acquisitions for larger corporates. Is that really what you want?

        I do know of a couple of medium businesses that stick with their roots, but these are almost always family businesses - and even then there's no guarantee that the next family generation will not flog the business (or simply screw it up through incompetence).

        Not that I'm defending Vermin Media action - a cash obsessed lard-arse corporation that doesn't give a shit about either customers or staff.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Swansea was still there when it was NTL.

    3. 6491wm

      Virgin.net was supported as part of the cabletel operation out of Cleppa Park in Newport (along with Which & Tesco).

      The Swansea office was acquired from Cable and Wireless (along with Wythenshaw) by ntl (as cabletel became) as part of some acquisitions which was then followed by the closure of Cleppa Park, all of which was prior to the ntl/telewest merger and the subsequent rebranding to Virgin Media

  2. Little Mouse Silver badge

    This might be my fault..

    I cancelled my Virgin Media contract two weeks ago. I hope it wasn't me that pushed them over the edge.

  3. Uberior

    They send me a letter once at least once a week addressed to "The Householder" inviting me to join Virgin Media.

    On one single day I received 200 envelopes all addressed to "The Householder" at my address, all identical. I could barely open the front door when I got home at night.

    1. hplasm
      Happy

      "On one single day I received 200 envelopes all addressed to "The Householder" at my address"

      Welcome to Hogwarts!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but did the direct marketing work?

      Did the direct marketing work?

      Did you sign up?

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Yes, but did the direct marketing work?

        When I get them I scribble 'Name not known at this address. Return to sender' then pop them in the nearest post box :)

  4. Korev Silver badge

    Cost of living?

    The locations that they're retaining are mostly in expensive places like Surrey. For lower paid staff answering the phone wouldn't it be better to keep them working in places with lower living costs?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cost of living?

      Trust me Wythenshawe (Manchester) is not expensive.

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Cost of living?

      What offices in Surrey?

      Hook is in Hampshire

      Langley, Slough and Winnersh are in Berkshire.

      Granted Hook, Winnersh, Langley and parts of Slough are not exactly deprived areas.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Cost of living?

        You're correct. I must do some basic geography lessons. -->

        Most of the offices are in expensive areas though.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Cost of living?

          slough will be more expensive than swansea.

  5. GruntyMcPugh

    So, closing Hook I get, it was just office space, we had a test lab there when I worked for ntl: but there was nothing that couldn't be moved. Winnersh housed the Datacentre,.... although there were offices to the right of the entrance,... they look to have been let go already? What space can be released at Winnersh?

  6. Simon 4

    Virgin.net was how I first got online in the 90s.

    They were great.

    And their overnight tech support were amazing.

    They were smart. They were helpful. And they were more than happy to chat off-topic, especially at night. This was when WWW stood for Wild West Web.

    1. hplasm
      Unhappy

      @ Simon 4

      VM had great engineers. Telewest also had great engineers-

      management? Same Old, same old...

      Then the grewt TW/VM merger:

      Engs let go. Turf wars. More engs let go.

      After the smoke cleared...

      TW managemet, VM engineers.

      Chalk and cheese... they don't see eye to eye.

      then Liberty..........

      1. Simon 4

        Re: @ Simon 4

        Last week, I had a client who swore blind that she had “Virgin fibre”

        “That is impossible. This is coax, not fibre.”

        Virgin now lies for a living.

        1. hplasm
          WTF?

          Re: @ Simon 4

          "“That is impossible. This is coax, not fibre.”"

          Our VM fibre trunks say otherwise... perhaps you are thinking of BT fibbers...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ Simon 4

            "Our VM fibre trunks say otherwise... perhaps you are thinking of BT fibbers..."

            I think you'll find that Virgin invented the whole "our copper is now fibre" nonsense. BT and others followed.

            Your "trunks" presumably refer to a business service which very probably is fibre to the premises. Just as BT's business services will be if you require enough bandwidth (or engineering dictates). Both companies consumer / small business grade services will very likely be on a form of fibre to the cabinet.

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: @ Simon 4

          Well, technically, if you want to be like that, no home in the world has a fibre connection. Nor, probably, the vast, vast majority of workplaces.

          Unless you put an SFP direct into your machine and connect by fibre straight to a switch which connects by fibre only to other switches which all connect only by fibre to a fibre leased line, etc. Or you are using some magic Wifi->optical light device that doesn't translate to copper in between. And even then I could argue that the SFP interconnection to your machines bus is "copper".

          FTTP and FTTC are both very different things, both sold as fibre. Most people don't know, understand or care about the difference. But claiming semantics on the word fibre to mean "everything being fibre" is just wrong.

          And I guarantee you that it makes almost no difference as the "coax" won't be the bottleneck anyway (which will actually be artificial rate-limiting) - DOCSIS 3.1 can go up to 10Gbps full duplex. EuroDOCSIS is technically slightly faster than that I believe.

          (P.S. please point at the cheapest electronic component of your home Internet setup, the one most likely to be a bottleneck more than any cable, device, or incoming feed... yep, it's probably the £30 box that converts all your fancy high-speed stuff to some pathetic percentage of a shared Wifi channel).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ Simon 4

            "DOCSIS 3.1 can go up to 10Gbps full duplex. EuroDOCSIS is technically slightly faster than that I believe."

            It can, but it isn't a simple plug and play upgrade at the headend. To achieve full duplex 10Gbit you will basically have to run fibres very close to homes (no more RF amplifiers to extend distance from nodes) and replace many passive devices. The only thing that might stay is the runs into the homes - if the coax is of sufficient quality

            It gets very close to the point where you may as well just do it properly, do it once and for all, and do it with fibre.

            It's no different to the BT network really. If BT nailed mini-DSLAMs to every telegraph pole, they could push several gigabits to homes too - but they could just keep going and do FTTP

          2. Aitor 1

            Re: @ Simon 4

            FTTH is normal in Spain, and the CPE is as the name implies inside the customers house, they DO have fiber.

            Most ppl then connect a CAT6 or CAT6a cable to have 1 Gigabit connections to the router.

            Example: (Spanish)

            https://ayuda.orange.es/particulares/adsl-y-fibra/configuracion-e-instalacion/2148-todo-lo-que-debes-saber-sobre-tu-router-livebox-fibra

            What is weird is to use coax in a country as humid as the UK. My Virgin line already needed to be fixed as the connector got corroded in the cabinet. It is as expensive or more expensive than fiber, gets corroded, and is way slower.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @ Simon 4

        "Then the grewt TW/VM merger:"

        ...never happened. It was the great NTL/Telewest merger. Virgin Media was a name only licensing deal where the company known as NTL:Telewest traded as Virgin Media. Then NTL:Telewest sold the operation to Liberty.

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    If only there was an ISP who could offer their workers and telesales/support staff some way to work securely at home over the Internet?

    Honestly, shouldn't "call centres" be dead by now? Just give them a home connection, and monitor every X calls at random to make sure they are doing the job.

    Certainly, you would then be able to hire the cheapest labour available to you, regardless of location. And you're not telling me that it's any more expensive to pay for a business line to them, and give them the same IP phone and terminal as they have in the call center, when you're not paying rent, business rates, facilities, etc. etc. for a building to house that same equipment and personnel instead. Not to mention locally competitive salaries.

    Remote-working is now PERFECTLY VIABLE for anything involving an ordinary computer and a telephone line. Hell, say that they have to have the web-cam on all the time while working, if you're that worried. They'll stick it in their spare room, and you could even snatch the customer call away from them and put it to any other operator immediately if you think their children screaming in the background is distracting.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Unhappy

      You're forgetting one very important thing

      The managers wont be able to walk around the floor micro-managing every call, and timing how long it takes you to read the script back to the customer.

      Not forgetting of course making sure only 3 staff out of 300 can be in the toilet at the same time and all the other things the power mad idiots get upto.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The managers wont be able to walk around the floor micro-managing every call...

        The "micro-managers" wouldn't be required and nor would the office building.

        Sadly timing of the script, agent availability etc can all be tracked through automation, even when working from home

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Remote-working is now PERFECTLY VIABLE for anything involving an ordinary computer and a telephone line."

      Start doing that with 1000's or maybe even 10's of 1000's of people and the government will suddenly realise that business rates now apply to a portion of the house in proportion to the amount of time spent "at work" while at home.

  8. John70

    "In contrast, a number of telcos are hiring more call centre staff Blighty"

    Probably because people are pissed off with Indian Call Centres.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Someone didn't get the memo:

    From https://careers.virginmedia.com/locations/swansea/ (http://archive.is/znnJe)

    Swansea

    About the location

    Solving problems like Sherlock, our 850 legends are so good at fault management and technical support that Swansea is Virgin Media’s official centre of excellence for those areas. We’re not the only ones who reckon it’s great. Swansea has won a whole heap of awards, including Welsh Contact Centre of the Year 2012. We’re gonna need a bigger display cabinet.

    Where is it?

    Our location in Swansea Enterprise Park means we’re rubbing shoulders with a diverse bunch of businesses, including several other contact centres. Of course, they wish they were here.

  11. steviebuk Silver badge

    Weren't virgin

    Media deemed one of the shittest in customer service recently? So to make it worse they'll farm it out to India?

  12. Compuserve User

    IVRs are cheap and can reduce a call center down to minimal staff. I feel sorry for the VM teleworkers, but I am sure they will be taken by Apple as they are short staffed. Unless you can go to your MP and demand that VM provide a redundancy package and pay back any tax incentives, then it is time to start looking for a new job.

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