back to article Virgin Media email customers enter third day of inbox infuriation

Reg readers who use Virgin Media email say they're still struggling to gain access to their messages after a multi-day outage. The issues have been ongoing since Sunday evening, although at least one reader has reported receiving their mail since then. VM told some customers yesterday: "You are now able to send and receive …

  1. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    "Speaking of redundancies, it might make sense for some to use an email service that is not connected to their broadband ISP."

    Absolutely - I haven't used an ISP email address since Demon and Freeserve. It's just too much hassle when you switch ISP.

    There are still a few holdouts - one guy is paying BT a couple of quid a month to retain his old btinternet address even though he moved away from them years ago - but most domestic users have switched to Gmail, with a few old hotmails and the odd outlook thrown in for good measure.

    Surely it can't be long before ISP email goes the same way as ISP web space.

    1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      funnily enough, the folder structure on one of my client's VM mailboxes does look a lot like gmail. Esp the folder heading of "gmail" before the copies of the inbox/etc...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        gmail ntlworld

        That is a very old account... there was a time in the distant past where NTL had their email hosted at GMail. Then decided to bring it back "In house"...

        1. dinsdale54

          Re: gmail ntlworld

          To be fair, Google discontinued offering an email service to ISPs (which VM were using) so VM had no choice but to move it.

          I had mostly moved to gmail many years before that when blueyonder were only offering a 30MB mailbox and gmail was offering 7GB. I still have some historic emails on VM that I need to dip in to once in a while. While I can now log in again, all emails before Monday evening are absent. As usual VM have offered no explanation or ETA that's anything other than $TIME+6hrs.

    2. mobailey

      Speaking of redundancies

      "Speaking of redundancies"

      VM/O2 have told their UK workers than many of their jobs are at risk. Soon after this, their email service stops working for three days....

      Source: https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2023/06/job-cuts-set-to-strike-more-of-virgin-media-o2s-uk-staff.html

      Hmmmm.

    3. itzumee

      Since PlusNet's email became flakier and flakier, I decided to take the plunge and pay tried a trial of FastMail and haven't looked back. FM provide an email import facility which works perfectly and in the background - you set it off and get an email notification when it's complete. I did spend a lot of time checking that the import worked and also imported my GMail account to a separate folder as I stopped using GMail too (still keeping it though).

      FastMail also provide calendars and the ability to use my own domain (hosted elsewhere) and unlimited email aliases, plus masked emails to help dealing with potential spam id you're a 1Password user.

      Highly recommended.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Surely it can't be long before ISP email goes the same way as ISP web space."

      From the BBC report on the VM email outage:

      "Virgin Media email is no longer available to new customers, but many existing customers still rely on it for work."

      Some ISPs stopped providing email as a value-add years ago.

      First they cam for out webspace add-on..

      Then then came for our Usenet add-on.

      Now they are coming for our email add-on.

      It's now reached the point where ISPs are no more than utility pipes delivering a product like gas, leccy, water into our home. They are almost indistinguishable with no differential value-adds any more. It seems the only differentiator left is the underlying physical network used to deliver the service and for most people not in a major city, that means one of the many ISPs using OpenReach or VM.

  2. t245t Silver badge
    Boffin

    May contain highly technical content

    the glitch, being caused by a bug

    1. Dev_Fit

      Re: May contain highly technical content

      This one is being called a "technical issue"!! Watch out, boffins, you're exploding my brains!

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    VM reply:

    But we emailed you a status update...

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: VM reply:

      Is that answer part of the circular economy we are all supposed to join?

  4. Primus Secundus Tertius

    No advertising

    I have had these problems with VM email many times. I get the impression they don't really care about email because there is no associated advertising revenue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No advertising

      Why add the "because...."?

      Vermin Media really don't care about anything. It's always been that way. And always will.

  5. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    About that poll

    Of course we want the service restored, but we are also looking ahead to the next outage. I see three regions on the current Venn diagram. (1) They don't know what caused the outage. Time spent in this region is inversely proportional to the technical skills on staff. (2) They know what caused the outage but won't say. Some skills on staff, but too many layers of weasel management. (3) They know, and are candid about what caused it. "They're spies like us!"

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: About that poll

      I had a different immediate reaction to the poll. At time of writing, there are a lot more yes than no votes. I don't believe those people. Sure, I believe that they would like to see a technical explanation of a failure, just as I would. What I don't believe is that they would follow this part: "Yes, I would trust them more and use them more." I've seen plenty of comments in response to a technical failure before, and if it involves a misconfiguration or any human-caused fault, there will be lots of complaints on how that was possible or how stupid the person who made it was. If it was a hardware fault, there will be complaints about why there wasn't redundancy which could handle that fault.

      Those complaints aren't even unfair. I want a technical explanation to know whether it's a fault that could be realistically expected and whether the response was logical. If it was too small a cause, then I won't automatically trust them more because they told me about it. I think I'm often more charitable than the average poster of comments on topics like this, willing to accept some downtime as understandable and plan accordingly. However, I'm not infinitely generous when something indicates a high risk. As such, I decided I could not correctly vote either of the options on the poll.

  6. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

    I cancelled Virginmedia broadband today. I'd been with Telewest/Blueyonder/Virginmedia/Liberty Global since 2007, but their broadband of late sucks balls. Drops out randomly, like my balls. The engineer who turned up to declare my router faulty, replaced it with an identical one, which also sucked balls. He said he didn't know what the fsckup was, but it bricked a massive number of routers, and he had to replace many, but didn't know what caused this mass bricking either. For months, I've been receiving messages saying it's a "complex issue" and they're working to fix it. This latest bout of intense disconnectivity started a couple of days before their huge nationwide fsckup, and it has continued intermittently ever since. I told their retention team I wouldn't want their crappy broadband, even if it was free. Switching to a SIM ethernet router... then maybe Zen... (internet).

    1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      "Drops out randomly, like my balls".

      I suggest better fitting underwear, especially if you're wearing shorts.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: underwear

        “The soldiers are out of the barracks”.

        Thanks Alan.

    2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      VM Business seems to stay up.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Drops out randomly, like my balls".

      You are women's swimming gold medallist and I collect my $500...

    4. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

      Assailed by six calls from different Virginmedia numbers today, having cancelled yesterday - all calls rejected and numbers blocked. Hope this harassment doesn't continue.

    5. AlbertH

      VM are Totally Clueless

      I was a VM victim - sorry - "customer" - for several years since moving out of London. The only way to get a tolerably speedy service appeared to be VM. The clowns in their local shop claimed that they provided "fibre internet" - they don't. They have some FTTC, but most of their network is just run over the cheapest, nastiest coax they could find. The ratty old pieces of coax in our neighbourhood would fail almost daily, with random outages sometimes lasting for hours. I was supposed to be on their "M350" service, but seldom got "down" data rates of more than 45 Mb/s. I pointed out several times that I could get better than this with cheap 'n' nasty ADSL, and each time I complained they claimed to have "fixed" the problem. I would get marginally improved data rates for a day or two, and then we'd return to the same old slow, unreliable rubbish.

      Because I was frequently out of the country, I didn't have the time or inclination to complain further. However three events meant that I cancelled my "service" from this crowd immediately and am seeking significant financial redress from them....

      Firstly - we lost all service for over a week.

      Secondly - service was restored (sort of) and after a few days there was a lightning-induced spike down their (obviously unprotected) cable that blew up their Router ("Hub"), destroyed my telephones, wrecked the ethernet cards and the power supplies in three of my computers, and left a lingering smell of burnt electronics from my fried ethernet switches..... I got off lightly - my neighbour had three TVs and most of his household wiring destroyed, along with his fusebox, gas boiler, and virtually everything connected to mains sockets in his house!

      VM (of course) deny liability, but they didn't know that lighting protection has been a part of my engineering remit since the 1970s.....

      Thirdly - "City Fibre" ran fibres around the town, and covered my address.

      I immediately cancelled VM (their "minimum period" expired some time ago), and four days later, was connected to Zen. I now get a symmetrical service at around 980 Mb/s with almost unmeasurably fast ping times at slightly less than half the monthly extortion that VM used to apply. I also discovered that they don't restrict IP addresses at all (unlike VM's Bowdlerised "service"), and they don't sell details of my browsing habits to "Phorm".

      I got the infamous "Final Bill" from VM for some arbitrarily high figure (in the low hundreds). I counter-billed them for the destruction of my equipment and have given them 28 days to pay. If they fail to pay up (and I'm sure they will), my Barrister brother will take them to the cleaners....

      I must also add that any attempt to phone up VM "Customer Services" is either answered by someone who can't speak or understand English, answered by a clueless Scottish woman with a bad attitude, or just get endless recorded messages telling me just how important my call is to them followed by some distorted "music" obviously intended to deter persistent callers......

      When I cancelled, I received a phone call from their "Retentions Department" offering a monthly reduction of 70p, and when I pointed out that this was derisory, was threatened with "Disconnection Charges" and "Equipment Retrieval Charges".

      The sooner this crowd of criminals goes out of business, the better!

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      4. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

        Re: VM are Totally Clueless

        Funnily enough, a friend of mine also had his Virginmedia router electrocuted by a lightning strike. Somehow his computer escaped damage, despite being connected via ethernet. It took Virginmedia weeks to accept that his router was dead.

        Virginmedia offered me "125MB broadband for £22 per month!" by text yesterday, because I'd blocked all their predatory phone numbers - I had mentioned while cancelling that I could get Unlimited 4G from Smarty and others for £20 a month each = £40, with no long term contracts, connect using SIM routers, thus giving myself system redundancy for less than the £54 I was paying per month for their godawful connection. Virginmedia's 18 or 24 month contract to supply crap can go to hell. I think it's a huge mistake engaging in dialogue with Virginmedia's goons via phone post-cancellation.

        I haven't received their final bill yet - while cancelling, I was told by phone it'd be for £51 (I've had broadband only, for many years with no changes), with no penalty charges, no need to return their faulty router, and I'd get a refund a month later for £44. So why the hell isn't my final bill for £7? If I receive any paper communications saying anything other than stated by phone (I recorded the call and told the VM rep I was doing so [my phone automatically records every call - thanks OnePlus]), I'll take them to Small Claims Court demanding a refund for the months after their nationwide disaster, when my broadband wasn't working properly, plus a huge sum for the loss of income caused.

        1. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

          Re: VM are Totally Clueless

          It's gone t*tsup again! Ethernet is dead but WiFi works. Hard reset of superhub, just in case, no joy. Called support, was fobbed off by automated message saying it's a complicated issue and they're sorry I'm still having problems with my broadband.... somehow found a way through their labyrinthine number options system to a long wait in a long queue being forced to listen to scratchy very very horrible music.... Then had a long chat with their tech support who said their network had gone titsup AGAIN. Took the opportunity to confirm my exit details and got them to explain the final bill for my OnePlus phone to record in case I need to see them in Small Claims.

          1. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

            Re: VM are Totally Clueless

            Ethernet works today, but Windows XP cannot detect anything at all, can't see cable is plugged in. Win 7, Android and Linux connect fine via ethernet and Wifi. Some mobile number kept ringing me all day, despite my texting "STOP" to marketing messages, rejected the calls several times... then it eventually texted an offer for a "Speed boost" to 250mb of this crap broadband for £18.50 a month, 18 months contract with no in-contract price rises. Vermin Media can go to hell. Free SIM router arrives in a couple of days.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "small proportion of accounts"

    I love it when companies say that. There is no way to prove it isn't as most people will just wait till it's fixed. You also have no idea of the total number of accounts.

    1. cosymart
      FAIL

      Re: "small proportion of accounts"

      In this household it was 50% as mine was up and running fairly quickly but for SWMBO it took two days.

  8. LessWileyCoyote

    People needing access to tickets...

    No doubt I'm a wasteful dinosaur, but anything like that gets printed as a precaution. Tickets, receipts, guarantees - I'm still treating stuff held in the cloud as ephemeral.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: People needing access to tickets...

      Our VM emails don't stay in VM's online mailbox. They are picked up by Thunderbird. I'm fairly surprised that El reg commentards rely on just an online email account- even if they only use MS Outlook (I used to a few years back before TB got decent calendar support).

      So if we have anything important it's on our PC as well. And if it's really important we forward it to our phones, too. And to each other's email address of choice with a different provider . i.e. my VM address to Mrs. 6's Gmail address or vice versa

      Same goes for our Outlook.com addresses. And our Gmail ones. And yes I may also download important attachments,like tickets, to a documents folder on the PC. And for some items, print a copy. (Airport parking instructions so that we can find where we need to drop the car and then on return, how to retrieve it- even if our phones aren't available)

      But then where computers are concerned I'm a strong believer in belt and braces and a piece of string round the middle too.Things Go Wrong- often just out of perversity*.

      *Sore point- main PC just had an issue with menus (like Start menu) scrolling back up to the top on their own. Made half my stuff unusable.Which I spent three days trying to resolve, then as suddenly as it came, it went away!

      1. MJB7

        Re: People needing access to tickets...

        I couldn't be bothered to set up Thunderbird account when I switched to a new laptop ~10 years ago. The Gmail web interface is "good enough". Yes, yes, I understand the benefits, but life is too short.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: People needing access to tickets...

          I generally just delete any email as soon as I’ve read it. It’s rare for me to need to retain - especially in email form.

    2. Julian 8 Silver badge

      Re: People needing access to tickets...

      indeed. With most holiday sites, you know who you booked via so go to the site or call them. They'll help

      Most of the large venue / vendor ticket systems are automatic in the app, but if you are visiting some of the smaller venues who may just send you a PDF, besides doing the Save to your HDD and/or print, call them in advance and often they will let you pick up a duplicate ticket at the door (though want the credit card that booked it, so I do tend to keep my old CC in a safe place incase of this)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is this virgin

    So regularly fu…?

  10. Anonymous Tribble

    It's ironic that VM use their email service to try to stop customers from leaving them "Ah but if you leave us you'll lose your VM email address and all your emails...".

    I do have a VM email address, but I don't use it. I got my own custom email address through a job a long time back, and also set up my own email server and more email addresses some years back. I keep backups and archives, just in case.

  11. Donchik

    2FA?

    My issue is that I've been locked out of other systems due to 2FA demands.

    Several systems demand an email unrelated to their own system to complete access.

    When VM email died so did entirely unrelated services.

    Any chance VM will cough up for this disruption - yeah right!

  12. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
    Coat

    Virgin Media Down

    Very few people know that that is their full name.

    GJC

  13. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Critical emails on vermin? You've only yourself to blame

    Yes I feel sorry for those poor folk who have their personal mail on Vermin Media, but anybody who's got a 'critical' use for it is just asking for trouble. If it's critical, people should get someone in who knows how to set it up properly. And any professional would totally avoid your ISP's 'free' email.

    And if you haven't got someone in to help you set up a 'critical' service (and you're not an IT professional), you really shouldn't be doing that critical job. What I always tell people on these email addresses is: It's not your email, it's your ISP's email and they're not really under any obligation to keep it running. They can (and in the past have) terminate the service at any time and with no notice.

    1. CloudMonster

      Re: Critical emails on vermin? You've only yourself to blame

      Well said.

    2. NightFox

      Re: Critical emails on vermin? You've only yourself to blame

      A bit unfair and unrealistic I think - these days email plays a pretty critical part in most people's lives, not just the small percentage who have the technical know-how to understand the need and be able to diverge their email service from the company who also brings them Facebook, Xbox Live and Netflix.

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: Critical emails on vermin? You've only yourself to blame

        If it's that critical, people should get some expert assistance. Or more importantly, companies that provide email should have to give some sort of stats about their past performance

  14. gillburt

    perhaps the problem was VM had been sending out regular updates by email?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Exactly what they did - sent me an email entitled 'Important message regarding your Virgin Media email service' 12:39am on Tuesday, which I couldn't read due to their email service being down...

  15. John70

    Only thing in my VM email is spam.

    My main email account is with a non-ISP email service.

  16. Martin Summers

    A few more of these and they will have managed to convince even the most diehard users of their email service to ditch it. I presume that would be a blessing for them. Not stating that's the reason for the outages (one letter away from outrages, how apt) of course, no sir, not at all.

  17. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I've been a Virgin Media customer since they were Cable and Wireless. I must be lucky because, beyond the odd failure (and we are talking maybe ten times in 25 years), my connection has been reliable.

    I've not had a VM email address for a long time though. This might seem odd, bearing in mind when I joined, they were giving them away free. But, when NTL took over Cable and Wireless, I got a letter (snail maiil). The letter was apologising, but said due to some error in setup a small group of accounts could not be ported over to NTLWorld accounts, and unfortunately, mine was one of them. I never found out if the error was with the account setup, or the server setup. I was a little curious as to which it was.

    I could have complained, and probably got them to give me another one, but, TBH, by the time that happened, I had a hotmail account, a work account and probably a couple of others, so didn't really need it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I've been a Virgin Media customer since they were Cable and Wireless. I must be lucky because, beyond the odd failure (and we are talking maybe ten times in 25 years), my connection has been reliable."

      Same here, United Artiste, Telewest, Telewest(trading as Blueyonder), NTL:Telewest(Trading as VM), Liberty Global(trading as VM) and very few noticeable outages over all those year (Broadband and even internet was not available throughout that time, that cam later) What I mainly remember are a couple or three national outages and a few local outages over decades. There may well have been more, shorter ones, but being out at work all day and sleeping for much of the night I don't see all of them. I suspect post-Covid WFH has brought ISP reliability front and centre in peoples minds these days, but on the whole I've found VM to be very stable in terms of the actual data pipe. This does seem to vary quite wildly across the country especially, it seems, in ex-NTL areas. I can only really relate my personal experience, YMMV.

  18. NeilBarton

    Day Four

    And here we are on Day Four.

    No Virgin email for us since Tuesday 19th.

    If you try to log in, it tells you your account is locked and you must do a password reset.

    You do that, and your account is still locked.

    Multiple posts from Virgin that "they are working on it and will be fixed in a few hours". At least five times that's turned out not to be true.

    Some people reporting on forums that their mail service has come back, but years of past emails have gone totally missing.

    Reports in the national press since Tuesday that's not working, but even that embarrassment isn't getting the issue escalated and fixed at Virgin.

    No trustworthy communication from Virgin Media what so ever.

    A page on the Virgin Media forum about the problem with hundreds of complaints on it now fails to load at all

    https://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Email/Loss-of-Email-F010762348/m-p/5345012

    Call Virgin Media help and you get no option to speak to a person - they just send you a link to basic broadband trouble-shooting tips which are quite irrelevant in this situation.

    Outages happen. Other mail providers have had them too.

    But I don't recall one that has gone on so long.

    Nor one in which the service provider has been so resolutely uncommunicative and unhelpful.

    Nor one where the

  19. Hockney

    Never mind the email - where's the broadband?

    I've been without TV and broadband form Virgin Media since 20:50 UK on Friday 23rd

    Fix ETA is now tomorrow morning.

    Normally I wouldn't care, but had aimed to watch some Glasto coverage.

    There was a golden period yesterday (25th) when the fix was expected to be done by 4pm June 24th - a year away!

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