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The Truth about Virgin Media's VoD
(Previously NTL)

"Very Annoying Things Happen
When you Press Red"


I've been a customer of NTL for a long time and since they sold out - I'm now a customer of Virgin Media (or is it VirginMedia?).

Service quality has been grim from the start but I've stuck with them, because I got to them from a stinking BT and won't go back there, and because there's every chance that the only remaining alternative - Sky - are equally poor.

I've tolerated VirginMedia's incredibly poor service and specifically the dreadful reliability of the Video On Demand (VoD) service for far too long, and this article will document my "last stand" to get this sorted out or at least to expose Virgin Media in their attempts to either do so - or to fob me off somehow.

I'll let the dialogue tell the story, but here's a summary - each entry is a link to the data supporting it. Green is good - red is bad, blue is neutral.

After many months of being ignored, I finally wrote (snail mail) to them about dismal Video-on-Demand.

Despite me specifically asking Virgin Media not to phone but to write, they phoned anyway.

I wrote back requesting a written response.

Virgin Media kept me waiting 32 DAYS before I received a substantive response.
However it denies the existence of any persistent national problem with VoD.
That response does not deal with Susan Bostock's astonishingly poor performance either.

So I start an incident log to prove the persistent problem exists.

I try to pin VM down and rant about my history in their service.

They want to replace my set-top box, though I say it's been done before and didn't fix anything.

Since James Clarke is doing such a good job for me, I report a slew of other really annoying stuff about Virgin Media's television service.

He answers some of them, but not adequately.

They arrange to replace the STB anyway, but fail to show up for the appointment.
James is very decent about it, and in general, is an unusually decent man.

My emails to Virgin go through a period of disappearing - even though I send them as usual.

Virgin Media ask me to remove their email address from this dialogue.
Since contact emails are rare and Virgin tend to hide from their customers, I resist.

The STB Is replaced, introducing the follow NEW problems, whilst not fixing any existing problem:
- Box and card have a new PIN which I was not informed about - had to call to find it.
- My subscription channels were lost and several calls to support have not fixed it.

When asked, Virgin offer me £50 credit for all the work I'm doing to help them with this problem.

Knowing that the STB brings new problems and fixes none - they then leave me with it for way too long.

Virgin made another appointment but showed up two hours early.
They swapped the STB which fixed the missing channel & 1010 errors,
but introduced a bad picture problem.
Tony, the enegineer, recommends using ON DEMAND rather than 119 because it's so unrelaible.

 

You can find feedback on this article
and on Virgin Media's Video-on-Demand service
from readers like you by clicking here.
Feel free to add your own using the form at the bottom of the page
.

 

Submitted via Royal Mailon 24/8/2007 because VirginMedia don't provide a customer support email address.
I wonder why...

I have reported my On-Demand service not working on numerous occasions.

Each time I ask for two things:

1. That you fix it soon

2. That you write to me, saying:
(a) why it is so unreliable and
(b) when it will become more reliable

Every single time, you completely ignore the second request. So please fully address the second request now.

I hope you will agree that this is a very simple and well-focused letter.

Please provide equally focused, specific and complete answers to the two questions – 2a and 2b – which I have asked you. Then - and only then - please tell me why you have ignored all other requests for this information.

I know you keep logs of my contacts, and I anticipate that this data will assist you. And then, please tell me why you do not provide email access to your customer services facility.

I don’t want to offend you – I have never met you and would like to assume that you’re a nice person, planning to do your best to address this issue for me. But my experiences with your company to date, and with NTL before that, have been miserably vile. So with a view to avoiding more of the same pointless obfuscation, content-free platitudes and time-wasting here, I would like to respectfully make the following points for you:

1. Any standard letter you send, containing a flowery apology in company-speak will not make me go away unless it answers the questions I have asked. I’ll just write back re-asking the same questions, and I’ll keep doing that until I get quality answers, escalating as appropriate.

2. Any absent or incomplete answer will cause me to write to you again for the missing information.

3. I am told by your engineers that your network problems are nationwide and extensive, so any response contradicting this would be puzzling and invite further enquiries.

4. Please do not phone me with your responses. I would like a record of them on paper.

5. I may publish this correspondence for others to read. I can see how that might offend you, and I’m sorry if it has, but I want to get to the bottom of this once and for all, and I’ve put it off for far too long.

Thanks

Virgin Media's Susan Bostock rang me up, which is very annoying since I specifically asked her not to phone, but to write, so that I could document this dialogue for the world to see. I insisted she write to me instead which she eventually did.

25 days after written letter of complaint

From: Bostock, Susan [mailto:Susan.Bostock@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 18 October 2007 14:16
To:
Subject: Complaint id XXXXXXXX

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your letter regarding the on demand service.

I am sorry for any inconvience this has caused you.

I can see that the last reported fault on your television service was the 24 August 2007.

Virgin media cannot offer a fault free service, we advise all customers if they are having any technical issues no matter how small they have to report the matter so we can investigate.

With regard to your broadband service again we do not have a record of you reporting a problem therefore you would need to speak to technical support with the problem with emails.

I hope this clarifies all points raised

Kind Regards
Susan Bostock
Virgin media

What?
She hopes that this clarifies all points raised?
How could she POSSIBLY think that might be the case?

Email sent 18/10/2007

Hello Susan Bostock,

I'm sure you must realise how disappointing your response is.

That response has been a very long time coming - nearly two months since my written letter and many months since the first of my numerous verbal requests - all of which were entirely ignored.

And now that I finally have a written response, I see that it is entirely worthless. It offers information I did not ask for, and it does not address a single one of the points which I have raised.

Why is that?

Whatever the reason (and please - do let me have that reason) - please address the issues for me, and finally, escalate this to your manager as a complaint about your service to me, and let me know who that manager is, and how to contact them.

Thanks,
Chris

32 days after written complaint & 5 after my second letter to SUsan Bostock.
I got no response from the delightful Susan Bostock, so I emailed again on 26/10/2007

Hello.

Please update me on progress.

Thanks & Regards,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 27 October 2007 14:07
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: Complaint ref 6116239.


Hi Chris

In response to your initial complaint and your subsequent escalation of Sue's involvement. I would like to advise you of the following.

1. The Video on demand (VOD) is not unreliable per se, however if your issue still occurs (i.e. not being able to view) I would appreciate if you could advise me of this, including any error messages you are receiving. I see on your account that this fault was reported on the 24th August and referred to our 2nd line techs. Was anything resolved at this stage or does your Video on Demand issue still exist? With this information I can escalate this to see what we can do to resolve your problem.

2. Your question regarding when the service will be more reliable will depend on what the investigation on your specific problem finds. Having looked on the network issues log, I cannot find anything related to your area, so I would have to assume at the moment that this is a singular issue, although at this stage I will not rule out a wider problem.

3. With regard to our not resolving your VOD issue earlier, I can track back to May 2007 and I agree that you have logged the issue before, and I do not have an answer as to why this was not picked up. I am really sorry that we are still trying to deal with the issue, however I have the log names of the people you have spoken to and this will be fed back to them via their line managers.

4. You can contact us via email via the virginmedia.com website. From the home page, choose "Contact us" at the bottom of the page, choose the ntl button, and scroll down to the "By Email" Section and choose the "General Email Form" link. Fill in your issue and details and submit. Unfortunately I do not know the service level agreement on answering Emails, but I will find this out next week.

5. I understand that you were unhappy with Sue's response, and I can appreciate that it didn't answer all your query's. Sue would be the first to agree that she is not a "written word" person, and likes to speak to her customers to get things resolved as quickly as possible. I can see that this didn’t hit the mark in dealing with your requests, and I have had a chat with her about this about making sure she answers ALL a customers points in her correspondence.

I am sure that I can sort your VOD issue out, and give you some explanation as to why it happened. If you can give me a little latitude and give me the details of the fault, I will be more than happy to get it resolved.

If you wish me to contact you by phone, please advise me of the best contact number to reach you.

Kind Regards

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

Sent: 28 October 2007

James Clarke, thanks for your email. I can see that you have made some effort to tackle this, which I appreciate.

However, there are problems with everything you've done, which I don't appreciate, and the grinding, depressing breadth and dept of NTL's incompetence leaves me tired and miserable.

Here are comments.


1. How Reliable Is VOD?

It's depressing (though not surprising) that we're already into "black is white" territory, but the VOD is extremely unreliable.
I estimate that it is unavailable about a third of the time when I try to use it.
I do not report it failing in the vast majority of cases because it is both miserably painful and utterly pointless to do so.
Your phone system forces me to wait, to listen to a long list of service issues which don't concern me, to listen to a moronic explanation on power cycling the box, etc.
I cannot bypass any of that.

Then I get to wait an eternity to get someone to speak to.
Then I find they have very poor grasp of English, and in any case, cannot deviate from a very limited script.
Then as we have noted, they log issues (or fail to log them) but on ALL OCCASIONS THEY FAIL TO GET THEM ADDRESSED.
It's actually a fantastic way of looking like you provide customer service, when in fact what you provide is customer aggravation.

A short listen to your call centre front-end reveals that there is always a number of faults affecting VOD.

Chats with two of your engineers and one of your Asian call centre staff confirmed that reliability is always an issue and that some national plan is underway to address it.
I was looking for details of that. Do you have any? If not, please confirm that there is NO national problem and NO national plan.

I will now keep a log, and I'll invite readers of this dialogue and our newsletter to do the same.


2. Why Have There Been Previous Support Failures?

You report that your logs show previous incidents (though you clearly don't have them all in your logs)
and that you don't know why my higher level question has been so persistently ignored.
Don't those incident logs include the names of the staff who fielded the incidents?
Why don't you ask them why they ignored me so completely and then let me know what they said?
Isn't this pretty normal stuff for a support team leader to be doing? Why am I having to help you here?

3. Why don't you provide email access?

James, my question was "Why don't you provide email access?"
And your answer was "Here's how we provide web-access ... ".
Do you see a glaring problem with that?
In case you don't - here it is - you did not answer the very simple question I asked you, which, actually, is hugely annoying.

Filling in your web-form is a miserable option for all kinds of reasons, not least of which is that you INSIST on me entering a whole raft of information which you either clearly do not need, or else already have in your files. All you really need is my phone number. It seems clear that the intention is to make contacting you so miserable that most customers won't bother.

The other problem with your web-form? It's widely ignored. I have submitted various problems by that route, and have not received a single response - ever.

So now some supplementals for you:

3a. Why does your webform insist on information which you don't need?
3b. When will you fix it?
3c. Why does NTL ignore the form contacts?
3d. When will you stop doing that?

And finally, please answer the question which I originally asked you: why don't you provide email access to your support team?

4. What are your customer response goals?

As a customer support team leader you say you do not know your response goals. So it seems pretty clear that they do not feature in your day-to-day team leading.
You do not look at weekly performance graphs against this goal, and - I'm going to go out on a limb here - I reckon that's one reason why your performance is so utterly miserable.
It also evidences something which is clear from the outside through the service levels that you provide - no-one in your group knows how to run a service organisation.

4a. Please let me know your response goals when you find them out. I will publish them in my article.
4b. Please let me know how well you currently perform against these goals.

5. Why was Susan Bostock's response so poor?

Firstly, "query's" is incorrect - you want the plural of "query" - and that's "queries". "Query's" is short for "query is".

Sue's response was so completely dreadful that, if I were her manager, I would already have her on the line leading towards dismissal.

Even though my letter clearly said "do not phone me" - she phoned me.

When I refused to take the call, she took weeks to compose and send a response which was entirely devoid of any useful content.

What happened in the interim? Was she struggling daily at encapsulating those quality responses into cogent English?

Was she writing then re-writing intricate drafts of her eventual email to me? I have no clue - do you? Does Susan Bostock? But what she finally sent was the product of whatever it was.

If that was her genuinely best effort, then she is simply not up to the job.
And if that was not her genuinely best effort, then she is not up to the job.
And if she's "not a written word person", as you say, then she's not up to the job.


6. Rant

It fascinates me to think myself all the way up your management hierarchy.
At some point there's a suited executive earning a huge salary, driving a very nice company car, living in a f*ck-off house, talking about market share, and calling himself "customer services big cheese".

Yet he presides over a customer service crock.

Not him, and not, it seems, anyone in the entire chain of his underlings - seems to know anything - nor give a damn - about providing good customer service.

NTL was so poor that NTHellWorld was set up to lament it - then you bought the owner out and knocked the website down.

Well - that's how to fix customer service problems, huh? I wonder if anyone, at any point, felt really bad about doing that. Actually, I don't wonder - no-one did. VirginMedia is no better, and I guess that the same idiots are still running the show.


7. Other VirginMedia TV problems

While I'm here, as it were, here are some other problems with your TV service:
a. Sometimes the program guide content will simply disappear. To get it back, you have to cycle the box and wait while it downloads.

b. Sometimes when you enter new channel numbers, the channel changes - other times - you need to press SELECT. Doesn't seem to be any logical reason for that.

c. In general the box is slow to respond to the remote controller. Worse - it's inconsistently slow. The reason that matters, is that - you think it didn't hear you, so you press the button again, then the box wakes up, and unloads both key presses and you overshoot.

d. (c) is made worse because the up/down channel buttons on the remote are incredibly bad - you have to press very hard to get them to operate sometimes.

e. Sometimes a channel will lock up, stutter or drop out for no apparent reason. Usually it comes back after a few seconds - rarely - you need to cycle the box.

f. Sometimes I'll find that the sound and vision are out of synch. Turing the box off and on at the remote will usually fix this.

g. On Demand content comes and goes with no warning. I got half way through Grey's Anatomy when they all disappeared for good. Great.

h. Sometimes I'll see a large dialogue box pop up saying something like "your remote will be un-responsive for a while". It offers an OK but of course e- the remote is .... unresponsive you you can't select it. What's more annoying about this box is that it's huge - covering more than half the screen - even though the message it contains does not require it - it could be much smaller and therefore not blot out the picture whilst I endure it's unwelcome intrusion.

i. Sometimes, the picture will become very narrow on some channels, then later - all channels. Cycling the box fixes it.

j. Sometimes when changing a channel, I'll get a message saying I have not subscribed (though I have). This will last for a second or so, then go away.

k. Please tell me how much power the box consumes (Watts) both in standby and when operating fully.



Conclusion

Back to item 1 - VOD reliability. I will try to use it frequently, and I'll keep a log online - along with this dialogue.
I'll invite our members to contribute to that log.

I'll send you that log from time to time and invite you to address the service level issues which arise.

Regards,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 29 October 2007 16:14
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: Complaint ref 6116239.


Hi Chris

Thanks for your reply to my email, I am formulating a response to the questions you have asked. However with regards to your specific fault issues on your STB I have forwarded your account and set top box details to the TV application management team. I called them earlier today and they were interested to see if they can replicate the faults with your VOD and the general TV faults you are experiencing. They will be doing some offline checks on your equipment over the next 2 days, and will be getting back to me with the results.

They did say that there may be a need to visit your property to diagnose the problem. Can I ask you for a contact number just in case this needs to be arranged.

Regards

James Clarke

Sent 20/10/2007

Hi James,

I appreciate your efforts, thanks.

My feeling is that these are not faults in my set-top box. Rather they are faults in your system and its design.
Certainly many of these problems have persisted across the several (two?) boxes I have had.
However, I am happy to have anyone call to diagnose things.

My phone number (you really don't know???) is XXXX XXX XXX.

Thanks,
Chris

Sent 1/22/2007

Hi James,

As I mentioned, I propose to keep a log of the VoD failures I see to refute the claim that VoD is reliable.
I have tried the service three times since we spoke, and this morning saw my first failure:

1/11/7 09:54 119 Paused Spooks S5 E1 @ 34.50 to make tea.
Would not start again. "On Demand Temporarily unavailable. Try again later. Quote 110"
Power cycled box. 119 & 120 Red button now gives "You cannot currently access programs via this channel - try again later"

I will update you with each new failure as they occur.

Regards,
Chris

Sent 2/11/2007

Hi James,

Note the second failure in two days below.

1/11/7 09:54 119 Paused Spooks S5 E1 @ 34.50 to make tea.
Would not start again. "On Demand Temporarily unavailable. Try again later. Quote 110"
Power cycled box. 119 & 120 Red button now gives "You cannot currently access programs via this channel - try again later"

2/11/7 12:01 119 Spooks SE5 E4 - well into it.
A message box popped up: "Attention - On Demand is temporarily unavailable.... Quote 1074".
Even though this box was displaying, the video continued to ply normally.
However, the box obliterated most of the screen, so I had to OK it and when I did the video stopped & I was kicked out of VoD.

Please let me have your response.

Regards,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 02 November 2007 12:25
To: chris
Subject: RE: Complaint ref 6116239. SYSTEM FAILURE LOG =>MNC.NTL


Hi Chris

I have forwarded your examples on to Paul who is a product engineering and solutions manager. He deals with all VoD and electronic programming guide issues. I have also asked him for an update a.s.a.p.

As soon as I have that I will inform you immediately

Regards

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

Sent 2/11/2007

Many thanks James. It's an unaccustomed pleasure to see some responsivity and accountability and I appreciate it.

Regards,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 02 November 2007 14:10
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: Complaint ref 6116239. SYSTEM FAILURE LOG =>MNC.NTL


Hi Chris

Just a quick update from Paul, he has got one of his technicians looking specifically at your logs, trying to replicate them on his test equipment.

Paul is also aware of your concerns about wider issues of the VoD system, which he believes could broadly fall into either possible network, or software issues. He understands you would like answers and he will have them next week. Not as quick as I would have liked, but I appreciate he has other commitments as well.

In any case I will keep you informed with any further updates as soon as they come in.

Hope you have a good weekend

Kind regards

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

Sent 2/11/2007

Many thanks James.

Another incident just now:

2/11/7 17:01

119 Just turned the box on at the power supply. Waited for TV to appear. Pressed red.
Good Things Didn't Happen when I pressed red! The first two times I tried it, I saw a small dialogue box in the bottom left of the screen showing a yellow progress bar and a "loading" message. After that I got no response from the red button, except that the box green LED came on to show it heard the remote. Channel flipping and on/on didn't fix.

Thanks & have a good weekend yourself James.

Regards,
Chris

Sent 6/11/2007

Another item for your log, James. Four fatal incidents in four days. See why I say it's unstable?

Regards,
Chris

6/11/7 00:24

119. Spooks S5 E9. About three quarters through when I got the "On demand is unavailable ... Press OK...
quote 1074" again. From last time I know that if I DO press OK, then video will stop, so I didn't and the video ran until the end, though with a third of the screen obscured by the dialogue. When the video finished, On Demand was unresponsive.

Sent 6/11/2007

Yet another item for the VoD problem log:

6/11/7 17:57

119. Spooks S5 E10. About 10 minutes in. Another 1074. Pressing OK lost the video and the VoD service.

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 07 November 2007 10:56
To: chris
Subject: RE: Complaint ref 6116239. SYSTEM FAILURE LOG =>MNC.NTL


Hi Chris

Thanks for the logs, the reply I have had off Chris this morning is as
follows:

" Hi James

I had one on my colleagues carry out some analysis on the customers STB
and it appears that his return path has been going up and down several
times a day. This will explain most, if not all of his problems.

SNR and signal levels look fine, though, so I would definitively suggest
swapping his box for a Samsung - ideally a Samsung 2100 if he is a
Langley or Bromley customer. If he is a Knowsley customer he should have
a Samsung 2110. "

With this in mind I am speaking to the local operations manager to make
sure we can source the right STB. We will need to arrange an appointment
to swap this. I will be in touch shortly.

Cheers

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

7/11/2007

Hi James,

You should know that I switch off the box power when I'm not using it because I've been told that these boxes consume as much power when in stand-by as when fully on.
(I have asked you to clarify that for me in an earlier email - can you confirm please?).

But if that's not what Chris is referring to - then OK.

You should also know (the logs would confirm, I hope) that my box has been swapped out before and the problem remained unchanged.

And finally - the last time I had an engineer out, they altered the signal levels in a street-side box a few hundred yards away which seemed to alleviate the problem for a while.

I am in the Bedford area.

By all means arrange an appointment, but let's be sure we fully understand the situation before we waste any more of each others' time.

Thanks for your continued support James.

Regards,
Chris

7/11/2007

Hi Chris

I understand your concerns. The tests that were carried out saw the
return path dropping out while there was power still at the stb.

With regards to the power usage, The STB's use between 13 watts and 22
watts depending on the model of STB. Yours is a PACE 4001 and runs at
13watts. There is negligible difference in power usage between on and
standby.

The box swap has been suggested as it will give you the most up to date
STB, and Chris seems pretty confident that it will relieve the issues.

I am waiting for a reply from the local ops manager to get a swap booked
in.

Thanks for your patience

Cheers


James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Tel: 0161 2962868
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

7/11/2007

Another log entry James:

7/11/7 13:05 119. Red button. On demand is temporarily unavailable... Quote 1092".

8/11/2007

Good morning James, I hope you're well.

I'm sure you're busy, but you're doing such a good job of being responsive and smart, that - well - they say no good need goes un-punished - so, here are a couple of other general problems with Virgin Media's VoD service gives its customers.

I hope you can add these to the long list of other I sent a while ago and have them addressed for me. I realise that you cannot snap your fingers and get long-term projects fixed, but- for the first time ever, I think, I feel it's worthwhile reporting them.

So these would be added to the list I sent you on October 28th, which ended with item (k)

l. The program guide gets lost when you turn the box off at the power of course, but when you plug it back in, the guide is not downloaded from standby - only from ON. Since you've said the power consumption is the same, perhaps it could be made to download the guide from standby.

m. The guide is often wrong, and needs a power cycle to re-load and correct it.

n. The guide is PERSISTENTLY wrong for several channels. The one which springs to mind is BBC3 - which the guide says is always in "intermission" even though it clearly isn't.


Please put these in the pot with the other list for me and progress them however and whenever you can.

Many Thanks,
Chris

James phoned me to book an appointment for an engineer to call
on Friday 9th between 11am and 1pm.

9/11/2007 @ 12:33 (27 minutes before close of appointment slot)

James,

This is to let you know that the engineer has not so far called. 27 minutes to go.

Regards,
Chris

9/11/2007 @ 17:10 - long after the end of the engineer appointment slot

James,

Your engineer b=never did show up. I've been here all day.
Please find out why not and let me know.

Thanks & Regards,
Chris

12/11/2007

Hi Chris.

Absolutely appalling, I am so sorry. I have mailed and voice mailed Shiraz the ops manager, as he confirmed to me a tech would be going out. I was not in on Friday afternoon so I was not able to chase this up. (And I did not expect to have to...)

I have asked him to contact you directly to explain why and to arrange a visit.

Regards

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

12/11/2007

Hi James,

Thanks for your apology. Thank goodness I work from home and didn't take half a day off for the engineering visit. I know many do.

So Shiraz is still in post, huh? Too bad. I've had dealings with him before.
After an incredibly painful journey to get to him I finally persuaded him that he COULD do something about the fact that Discovery Wings always came out of intermission 7 minutes late each evening at 18:00 (well, 18:07) - losing those first few minutes. He promised me he'd get back to me. He didn't, and all further contacts from me have been COMPLETELY IGNORED.

How rude!

It will be interesting (but probably not pleasant nor useful) to hear what he says.

Regards,
Chris
From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 12 November 2007 15:09
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: Engineering Visit =>MNC.NTL


Hi Chris

The reason why no-one turned up was that the fault ticket was closed by a despatch agent in error. Not the most spectacular of excuses I agree, but under the circumstances an extremely infuriating error that has caused you more aggravation. I am very sorry.

So that this does not happen again, Shiraz has asked me if you will give us one more chance to get the STB swapped. He is going to bypass the despatch process.

What is your available time Wednesday-Friday this week? Shiraz will work with whatever schedule you have and get the swap done by himself or one of his principal techs.


Kind Regards
James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Tel: 0161 2962868
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

12/1/2007

Hello James,

Currently, I have 11 - 1 slots open on Wednesday and Friday. Please let me know which you would like.

Thanks,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 13 November 2007 11:25
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: VoD error


Hi Chris

Shiraz has committed to Friday 11-1. He has promised me it will be done.

I was concerned that I had not had a reply from you, but going on the letsfixbritain website, I can see that you have done so twice. I received neither of your last two mails in my inbox.

Just in case there are any server issues, I will keep an eye on the site for any updates.

Cheers

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

13/11/2007

Hi James,

How odd that you have not received the last two emails. I have simply been clicking REPLY as before, and I have not seen any bounce emails.

I HAVE however, noticed that I've got bounces from email I've sent to NTL, sometimes MONTHS after I've sent it.
I have also noticed that NTL never reply to email sent to them at the support email address.

Anyhow, we got there. I have confirmed your visit date in my diary and look forward to the visit.
I'll upload this to the website now to give you another route to receive it - please confirm receipt if you get the email.

Thanks,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 13 November 2007 14:07
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: VoD error


Hi Chris

Just saw the thread in the forum. I didn’t get the last email. So I have asked IT to have a look at my end. In our last email conversation, I was getting your replies almost immediately, so I don/t know whats happened there.

I have requested that the forum removes my contact details from the site, and I would appreciate it if you would not post them any more. (I have no problems with you posting the content of the mail)

I have mailed Shiraz, to confirm Friday

Regards

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

14/11/2007

James, thanks, I've confirmed Friday in my diary.
Please see my other email on email addresses.

Cheers,
Chris

14/1/2007

Hello James,

I have no interest in upsetting you, but as you will know, I don't need your permission to publish any aspect of our dialogue.
I am eager to co-operate fully on correcting errors of fact or interpretation.

Let me tell you why I don't just immediately to what you ask.

One of my huge annoyances is that NTL/VirginMedia do not provide an email address for customer contacts.

The web form is miserable to use, as are your phone lines most of the time, which effectively means that contacting you to correct some miserable situation is doubly miserable.

Although I can't know for sure, I reckon NTL/Virgin Media keep it this way because then the FLOOD of irate customers is held back, and that adds insult tin injury.

I reckon they know that - if it's a bit miserable to get though - then 90+% of people simply won't bother, and the seething mass of misery stays away.

So when I finally get the email address of someone who cares, I feel inclined to shout it from the rooftops.

What is the problem with leaving your email address online James?
And why doesn't NTL/Virgin Media provide one?

Best Wishes,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 15 November 2007 10:03
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: VoD error =>MNC.NTL


Hi Chris

Got both of these mails, whatever the issue was has been fixed.

I am on holiday tomorrow, so I have asked my second Nate to keep an eye on your appointment.His email address is nathaniel.worrell@virginmedia.co.uk if there are any problems.

He is aware of what has been organised between 11-1 tomorrow, and has Shiraz contact number just in case.

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

15/11/2007

Thanks James. Have a nice holiday.

Chris

17/11/2007

James,

The engineer visited as planned.

He noticed that there was no isolator in my feed and installed one. Unfortunately, it's too big to go into the box where the cable enters my flat, so it now sits on top.
He found no fault with the box but replaced it anyway.
He thought the SmartCard might be faulty and replaced it.

By the way, he says he has 3 boxes of his own at home and they are unreliable.
He agrees the program guide is unreliable and has been for a very long time.
He has no clue why no-one has ever taken an interest in ... well .... making stuff work properly in exchange for folks' money.

Yesterday I was periodically getting a "You are not authorized to view this program ...quote 1010" dialogue and some channels (eg. 267) were not available.
I also discovered that the PIN on the new card was not the same as my old pin.

I called 151 today and spoke to a very helpful gent who refreshed my services for me, which fixed it the missing channels and warnings,
and he told me the default PIN on new cards which fixed that (shouldn't have been a problem if the engineer had told me the PIN).

So now, here we are having replaced the box.

And.... here's the first VoD fault report on the new box.

17/11/2007 @ 14:29 119 Pressing red, I get the LOADING dialogue but it eventually goes away, and I'm still in 119. I must power cycle the box to get control back.
Same thing on 120.
Power cycling the box does not fix it.
I went the ON DEMAND route instead, which sometimes works, but got an "On Demand unavailable ... quote 1082".

I'm still interested in why the program guide is always wrong for BBC3. This fault is well-known and long-standing. Why isn't it fixed?

Calling 151 - why do I have to wait while the woman announcer goes through the options before it will listen to my key-presses.
I KNOW I want option 3. I want to dial in and press 3 - not stand there while the message (which, by the way, sounds annoyingly like she's talking to an infant) takes far too long.

Now listening to Pavarotti on your hold line which is - guess what - DUE TO UNEXPECTED DEMAND (yeah, right) unusually busy.
...
Now talking to a Scottish lady, who is trying to track the fault. Eileen Bullock.
She says a 1082 error means a problem with my box or a street unit.
She accepts that reliability has been a problem nationally - and for for years.
She says there is "someone looking into" root causes, but denies that there is a single or systematic route cause.
She says that VirginMedia has a plan to get the system fully reliable by the end of this year,
and that - when that is accomplished, they'll be looking to put more channels on.
Her name is Eileen Bullock.

How can you reconcile the numerous account I have had from visiting engineers and call centre staff about national and persistent unreliability
and your own assertion that this is a one-off and there IS no national problem?

James you and I are investing hugely in this. It will be a real shame if it all proves pointless, which I'm pretty confident it will.

I Hope you enjoyed your break.

PS: How about a credit of some kind for all this endless drudge I am ploughing through in a vain attempt to help VirginMedia get its act together?

18/11/2007

James,

An update.

In fact the refresh done yesterday did NOT fix the problem.
I have no channel 5. Channel 267 disappeared again, but the refresh put it back - who know how long it'll last.
I continue to get "Not authorized ... quote 1010" errors.
I reported all of this again this morning in ticket number 290842.
They have escalated the problem (i.e. I will never hear from them again).

And on demand is not available, so here is another report for you on that:

18/11/2007 09:51 119 Pressing red triggers the LOADING dialogue but that dialogue eventually just disappears.
VoD is not loaded, and the box must be power-cycled to recover control.

What fun!

GOOD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU PRESS RED?

Maybe they should change that to "PRESS RED? SEE RED! - IT'S CRAP!"

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 20 November 2007 09:27
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: VoD error =>MNC.NTL


HI Chris

I know you have said that you turn the box off when not in use. Is there any chance you can keep it turned on or on standby for the next few days. We are checking the return path at the moment and I want to discount any switches on and off.

Cheers

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

20/11/2007

Yes, I'll do that, and I've turned it on now.

FYI, early this morning, around 00:30, my box went mad for a few minutes - snatching away to channels I didn't even know existed and ignoring the remote.

When that all settled down, I found I had channels 5, 267 and 275 back - the ones which went missing (that I knew about).

I hope they are still there today when I check.

Regards,
Chris

20/11/2007

Hi James,

Another incident report:

20/11/2007 12:42 119. Pressed RED. Got the LOADING dialogue which eventually disappeared. No VoD interface came up though.


Regards,
Chris

20/11/2007

Oh, and channel 206 is not missing.
This new box has fixed nothing, and has brought me a wealth of brand new misery.
I understand why you felt we needed to swap it out, and I agree with you, but this is a real pain.

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 20 November 2007 13:11
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: VoD Incident =>MNC.NTL


Hi Chris

I know its a pain, and I appreciate your support. Your service is being monitored by some chaps in Software solutions. They look after the whole architecture of VoD and the EPG (Electronic programme guide).

I have asked them to advise me of what we can do to get your service working as it should, and to advise me of any regional/national software issues, and what we are doing to fix them. (including timescales)

I have credited your account with £50, to cover your service charges for the next couple of months, you will see this on your December bill. At least while we are having this dialogue I don't expect you to be charged for your trouble.

I hope this is ok?

Cheers

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

20/11/2007

Hi James,

Thank you for crediting my account. I appreciate the gesture.

I continue to suffer the NOT AUTHORIZED TO VIEW problem, and sundry channels become intermittently availabel then unavailable.
And of course, the original problem with Video-on-Demand remains un-changed.

What happens next?

Best Wishes,
Chris

Hi Chris

Here are some answers to the various questions you have asked over the past few weeks. I am not sure whether they will all be satisfactory to you, however I have given you the best answers I can from the information I have received during my enquiries.

VoD reliability.

From our dialogue I appreciate that this is the main issue with your service. I will keep you updated with these answers when I get them. What ever issues there are, either software or networking, the sales figures of VoD for the last quarter give the impression that the service is working for the majority of our customers. There were 23 million successful buys in Qtr3 which is up 24% from Qtr 2. I appreciate that there are issues that effect some customers, but if the service was so bad, would we get an increase in buys that outstrip our customer growth in Qtr3.

Your conversations with technicians and agents regarding the reliability of VoD give the impression that the reliability is poor all over the country. Having managed faults teams in the past both first line and area faults surveillance, I have been party to area, network, and software outage issues for all services. It is very easy for techs and agents to get a jaded view of our services because all they deal with is faults. Nobody calls to tell them that their service is working fine, they only call when it goes wrong. Techs only go to customers with faults.

I have never suggested that your issue is a one off. As I said above I am waiting for some info about any issues that are affecting the VoD/EPG and will let you know.

Why don't we provide Email access.

The company decided that a web format is a) more secure, b) would give us all the information we need to direct a query to the correct dept. and c) is more likely to be completed by customers (or none customers) with genuine enquiries.

1. From previous experience, email access was frequently sabotaged by spam, and viruses, and contained reams of mail that was either not relevant to the company, or inappropriate. One of the reasons I don't like my personal email address being published is because I have had some very threatening mails from various sources in the past.

2. I understand that you object to filling in the web form, however the company uses the information to filter your mail to different areas of the company depending on your geographical area, which service platform and billing system you are on. I appreciate that you personally find this tedious however as a company dealing with a vast number of enquiries it is the difference between receiving a one line email from a customer with no details, and receiving a consistent set of information that we can act upon without having to find out or guess what the enquiry is about. Some customers do not have their customer account number to hand, so we ask for other details to confirm who you are.

I acted upon your comments about not receiving any replies to your enquiries sent by web mail, by testing the system using various family members addresses and details from various geographical regions, both cabled and un-cabled. In all cases I received auto responses within 2 hours and personal responses, 2 within 24 hours, 1 within 48 hrs, and 1 within 4 days. Our SLA is 48 hours to answer webmails. The region that fell outside the SLA was an enquiry sent with details using a Darlington address. I have fed this back to the relevant dept.

Have we had poor response times in the past? Yes we have. The response time in February this year for emails was approx. 2 weeks which was not good, but from my experiences above we are getting to a place where we need to be. If you have not had responses to enquiries in the past I can only apologise for that. At present I cannot find any plans to provide an email address.

Sue Bostock

I have dealt with this.

151 Phone Options

In many cases on the front line messaging we do not allow menu selection until all the menu has been given. Past experience shows that everyone presses option 1. whatever their call is for. Changes to the menu have proved that if Broadband faults are option 1, then they get the majority of the calls, change it to telephone faults then telephone faults suddenly go up etc. etc. etc.

The messaging tool also provides reporting about volume of calls, so we can measure demand and forecast for the future. Clearly if everyone presses option 1 then all the data is useless.

Hope these help. I will continue to deal with your VoD and EPG issues wherever they take us!

Cheers

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Tel: 0161 2962868
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

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25/11/2007

Hello James, and thanks for your response. I Note your disclaimer has re-appeared so I'll just re-iterate that I consider our dialogue fully open for anyone wanting to read it.

I've responded to each issue inline, which I hope will make things easier to follow. You're in red, and I'm in blue.


Hi Chris

Here are some answers to the various questions you have asked over the past few weeks. I am not sure whether they will all be satisfactory to you, however I have given you the best answers I can from the information I have received during my enquiries.

VoD reliability.

From our dialogue I appreciate that this is the main issue with your service. I will keep you updated with these answers when I get them. What ever issues there are, either software or networking, the sales figures of VoD for the last quarter give the impression that the service is working for the majority of our customers. There were 23 million successful buys in Qtr3 which is up 24% from Qtr 2. I appreciate that there are issues that effect some customers, but if the service was so bad, would we get an increase in buys that outstrip our customer growth in Qtr3.

Your conversations with technicians and agents regarding the reliability of VoD give the impression that the reliability is poor all over the country. Having managed faults teams in the past both first line and area faults surveillance, I have been party to area, network, and software outage issues for all services. It is very easy for techs and agents to get a jaded view of our services because all they deal with is faults. Nobody calls to tell them that their service is working fine, they only call when it goes wrong. Techs only go to customers with faults.

I have never suggested that your issue is a one off. As I said above I am waiting for some info about any issues that are affecting the VoD/EPG and will let you know.

I take your point that engineers see mostly things that don't work, which may give them an overly negative impression, but I think you may be over-playing that.
Remember Eileen Bullock - who alluded to a national plan due for completion in December 2007.

I see why you're looking at VoD revenue.
But I feel you should be MEASURING reliability as directly as you can - not inferring that there can't be much wrong with it 'cos we're making all this money.
Firstly, free VoD is not touched by your billings metric. Secondly, a sale doesn't mean a satisfied customer.
I suggest the obvious metric would be the percentage of program requests which start and end without fault.
Do you know what that figure is? Do you have ANY objective measure of service quality? If so, please let me know what they are and what you currently score.


Why don't we provide Email access.

The company decided that a web format is a) more secure, b) would give us all the information we need to direct a query to the correct dept. and c) is more likely to be completed by customers (or none customers) with genuine enquiries.

1. From previous experience, email access was frequently sabotaged by spam, and viruses, and contained reams of mail that was either not relevant to the company, or inappropriate. One of the reasons I don't like my personal email address being published is because I have had some very threatening mails from various sources in the past.

Online email addresses can cause problems, but as you probably know, there are ways to prevent them being harvested by SPAMmers. (JavaScript code or HTML entities are just two). My own email address has been available to my customers, but not to spammers for at least 2 years, and I get almost no spam.

I'm sorry to hear about your email threats. Were they made to you in a personal or a VirginMedia-professional capacity? Presumably - no-one knows your location and so you're safe from any real consequences.

2. I understand that you object to filling in the web form, however the company uses the information to filter your mail to different areas of the company depending on your geographical area, which service platform and billing system you are on. I appreciate that you personally find this tedious however as a company dealing with a vast number of enquiries it is the difference between receiving a one line email from a customer with no details, and receiving a consistent set of information that we can act upon without having to find out or guess what the enquiry is about. Some customers do not have their customer account number to hand, so we ask for other details to confirm who you are.

Firstly your interface has changed since I last used it. However, my criticism remains valid.
Your web form asks for the following. All but the first 2 are MANDATORY.

Virgin Media Account Number
Virgin Media Password
Title
Firstname
Surname
Address Line 1
Address Line 2
Postcode
Daytime phone number
Evening phone number
Email address

All you actually need from your customer is something to uniquely identify them because your database holds most of the rest. The customer phone number is the glaringly obvious candidate.


I acted upon your comments about not receiving any replies to your enquiries sent by web mail, by testing the system using various family members addresses and details from various geographical regions, both cabled and un-cabled. In all cases I received auto responses within 2 hours and personal responses, 2 within 24 hours, 1 within 48 hrs, and 1 within 4 days. Our SLA is 48 hours to answer webmails. The region that fell outside the SLA was an enquiry sent with details using a Darlington address. I have fed this back to the relevant dept.

Thanks for this. I don't know why your experience has been so different from mine. I invite our readers to give me their experiences and I'll include them in the article feedback section.

Have we had poor response times in the past? Yes we have. The response time in February this year for emails was approx. 2 weeks which was not good, but from my experiences above we are getting to a place where we need to be. If you have not had responses to enquiries in the past I can only apologise for that. At present I cannot find any plans to provide an email address.

Well, you say "I can only apologise" but in fact, presumably, you could search your database and dig out every single webform submission from me, and provide a complete history. That alone, would remove the do-we/don't-we answer your emails question.

If your web interface is:
- easily found - it's much better now than it was
- easy to use (i.e. does not insist on 9 pieces of superfluous information)
- is not a black hole as it has been

then it's almost as good as email.

Sue Bostock

I have dealt with this.

Only in the vaguest of terms, and to a very minimal degree. You seem to feel her performance wasn't quite perfect, whereas I feel it was astonishing dreadful. I don't expect you to involve me in your personnel disciplinary issues, but a full acknowledgement of her shortfall would have been less inflammatory.

151 Phone Options

In many cases on the front line messaging we do not allow menu selection until all the menu has been given. Past experience shows that everyone presses option 1. whatever their call is for. Changes to the menu have proved that if Broadband faults are option 1, then they get the majority of the calls, change it to telephone faults then telephone faults suddenly go up etc. etc. etc.

That's an interesting insight which makes perfect sense. Thanks for that. I guess we DO have to listen to initial 1,2,3 menu. My criticism of the lengthy outage lists and the "two easy ways to fix things" and the fact that your actress seems to think she's talking to infants, remain.

The messaging tool also provides reporting about volume of calls, so we can measure demand and forecast for the future. Clearly if everyone presses option 1 then all the data is useless.

Hope these help. I will continue to deal with your VoD and EPG issues wherever they take us!

Thanks James. Also, please be aware that I continue to live with the new problems which the new STB introduced (missing channels and the 1010 errors - very bad today), as well as the ongoing VoD poor reliability and also note that a number of other issues I raised remain un-resolved (though some may have been addressed):

2. Why Have There Been Previous Support Failures?

3a. Why does your webform insist on information which you don't need?

3b. When will you fix 3a ?

7. Other VirginMedia TV problems

b. Sometimes when you enter new channel numbers, the channel changes - other times - you need to press SELECT. Doesn't seem to be any logical reason for that.

c. In general the box is slow to respond to the remote controller. Worse - it's inconsistently slow. The reason that matters, is that - you think it didn't hear you, so you press the button again, then the box wakes up, and unloads both key presses and you overshoot.

d. (c) is made worse because the up/down channel buttons on the remote are incredibly bad - you have to press very hard to get them to operate sometimes.

e. Sometimes a channel will lock up, stutter or drop out for no apparent reason. Usually it comes back after a few seconds - rarely - you need to cycle the box.

f. Sometimes I'll find that the sound and vision are out of synch. Turing the box off and on at the remote will usually fix this.

g. On Demand content comes and goes with no warning. I got half way through Grey's Anatomy when they all disappeared for good. Great.

h. Sometimes I'll see a large dialogue box pop up saying something like "your remote will be un-responsive for a while". It offers an OK but of course e- the remote is .... unresponsive you you can't select it. What's more annoying about this box is that it's huge - covering more than half the screen - even though the message it contains does not require it - it could be much smaller and therefore not blot out the picture whilst I endure it's unwelcome intrusion.

i. Sometimes, the picture will become very narrow on some channels, then later - all channels. Cycling the box fixes it.

j. Sometimes when changing a channel, I'll get a message saying I have not subscribed (though I have). This will last for a second or so, then go away.

k. Why is the program guide often wrong, and ALWAYS wrong in the case of, at least, BBC3?

Best Wishes,
Chris

30/11/2007

James,

I'm getting a bit fed up because I've repeatedly reported that the new box is not fixing the old problem whilst also introducing several news ones.

I continue to live with those, but I'm fed up with it.

Meanwhile, for the first time in a while I tried to use VoD just now, and here is another fault report:

30/11/7 18:56 120 Hustle series ep1 Got all the way to "Your program is about to play" then saw the "wait a moment" dialogue then it froze. Couldn't get back control, so I power cycled it, but now it won't get past the inial "Just Loading" after pressing red. 119 is the same.

Chris

11/12/2007

Hi James,

I am so SICK of being ignored by you and of tolerating the almost constant hiccups and freezes in my new STB that I called to speak to you today.

Jackie Brown of the Bell's Hill office took my call and will send you a message to call me, but actually, my preference is for you to remove my problems and let me know in email where I can document the efforts online.

Regards,
Chris Wesley

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 11 December 2007 11:44
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: Being Ignored =>LFB.NTL


Hi Chris

The last email you sent me was on 30th November, which I forwarded on to Chris check, as I have done with all your logs. So I have not been ignoring you. I have also had a weeks holiday.

I have asked him for an update today. With regard to documenting the efforts online, I do not understand what you mean, as I believe you are publishing all our mails online already?

Regards
James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

11/12/2007

James, on November 17th, I wrote to you reporting that the new STB did not fix the fault, and introduced a new fault.

I have left the box on as requested, which made no difference, as I reported to you - also on November 20th.
On November 20th, I wrote to you again, saying how fed up I was with the new problems which the replacement STB introduced.

I have not heard from you on this since that day.

I wrote a complaint to you on November 30th and I wrote to you again today (11/12/2007), again, expressing frustration.

James, I began this dialogue on AUGUST 24th of this year.

Since then, VirginMedia have fixed NOTHING and have introduced SEVERAL NEW PROBLEMS WHICH YOU HAVE KNOWN ABOUT FOR THREE WEEKS.

So why am I still living with them?

Why - when you knew the new box was worse than the old one - didn't you remove it?

Channels lock up very very often. I am losing channels entirely - I must power cycle to lose a different set - and hope that the one I want is now available. Ridiculous!

I am not impressed when you say you left it with someone else - you are all "Virgin Media" in my book - when I moan at you, I am moaning at them. You are my point of contact - I must hold you accountable for Virgin's performance in this.

Neither am I impressed that you've been away for a week. That is not a mystery of modern science, it's a common occurrence, as is arranging cover for your absence.

And I'm certainly not impressed to hear that Virgin may - yet again - have lost emails from me to you.

Bottom line - AUGUST 24TH to DECEMBER 11TH. SEVERAL NEW PROBLEMS. MASSIVE EFFORT ON MY PART. NO FIX WHATSOEVER.

What is your plan for removing the new problems and the old ones?

Chris

18/12/2007

James,

Someone called Nathan called me a day or so ago to set up an appointment for an engineer to call today.
We agreed on today between 11am and 2pm. Nathan assured me that whoever called would know the history, and he told me a supervisor would come with the engineer.

So this morning, Tony showed up at 09:05, (THREE HOURS EARLY) without any supervisor, saying he knew nothing about the history of this case, and had been given a slot for me between 08:00 and 13:00.

It's wonderful to watch, isn't it? Truly amazing.

WHY DID VIRGIN SCREW THIS UP SO COMPREHENSIVELY YET AGAIN?

He spend an hour here, at a very inconvenient time.
He said the signal levels were all wrong and fitted an attenuator.
Initially we did not see the problems - perhaps because of the attenuator -
but eventually we saw them all - missing channels and 1010 errors and VoD not working.
He swapped the Samsung STB for a Pace, but it was faulty, so he swapped in a second Pace box.

As far as I can see with a few minutes testing, this has removed the missing channels and 1010 errors,
but the picture is very snowy with feint vertical lines drifting horizontally across the picture.
Tony says that's why he'd prefer to give me a silver box because of this problem, but he hasn't got any.

So please arrange for me to get a silver box when they are again available as my picture is now very significantly worse than it's ever been before.

Now, Tony also says not ever to use 119 and the red button to get into ON DEMAND.
He says he's never seen it work, and suggests I go in through the ON DEMAND button.

WHY IS 119 SO BAD THE ENGINEERS RECOMMEND NOT USING IT?
WHEN WILL YOU FIX THAT?

He doesn't know of any local network problems which would cause poor VoD reliability.
Nothing he has done has addressed any such problem but I will use the ON DEMAND button in future and continue to report problems.
If it turns out that this single instruction dramatically improved reliability, then it will be EXTREMELY ANNOYING that no one told me this earlier.

So the summary:

It may be that dramatic improvements in VoD reliability can be had by not using 119, yet, since August - no-one told me.
Virgin have introduced three new faults over a month whilst failing to tell me of the easiest way to improve things myself.
ON two of three occasions Virgin have demonstrated that making then keeping an appointment is just too hard.
Nothing Virgin has done has addressed the reported VoD errors, which may or may not still persist without 119.

Many of the other problems I've reported are still with you for resolution.

Regards,
Chris

From: Clarke, James X [mailto:James.Clarke@virginmedia.co.uk]
Sent: 20 December 2007 11:45
To: chris@chriswesley.org
Subject: RE: VoD Saga Continues =>MNC.NTL


Hi Chris

I believe Paul came round at mid-day on Tuesday. I also believe that he apologised for the tech mix up as he had booked that in. He also mailed me to apologise as he knew you would let me know about it. I am also very sorry.

Speaking to Paul this morning, I understand he has left you with a Samsung test box and talked with you about the various issues you have. He has asked you to use the box over xmas and log any problems, We will then both pick up with you in the new year.

The other problems outside of the technical scope of VoD. I did send you a mail 21st November, giving the fullest answers I could. You came back with queries, and I will answer them now.

1. The info asked for on the web mail will remain until at least Qtr 1 2008 until we migrate all customers on to one billing system and even then there are no specific plans to change it. The web team have confirmed that all the information asked for is relevant in directing the request. e.g some of our customers do not have a Virgin Media telephone number so that can not always be used as a unique indicator.

2. Why were your issues not dealt with before? There is no reason why, as I agree they should have been dealt with earlier. I have spent some time running through your account and all the logs on it. I have fed back to team managers in faults and customer service with names and employee numbers where I can see you have called us. This has been fed back to the individual. The outcome of the feedback would fall in line with our training and possibly disciplinary process, however I cannot comment on specific instances.

3. The main area of investment in 2008 will be on the broadband architecture and networks. A by product of this will mean improved bandwidth to STB's and so improvements to interactive services including VoD and the EPG. However I still think that this is not the cause of your STB issues. Hopefully Paul's test box will prove this. I have sent your comments around the earlier tech visit to Paul, however I believe he talked about this with you when he called, and these can be picked up by him if your issues continue.

Have a good Xmas

Regards

James Clarke
Team Manager
Virgin Media
Email: james.clarke@virginmedia.co.uk

22/12/2007

James,

I owe you several emails, which I'll get around to when work pressures abate, and overall the news is good,
but in the meantime here is another error log report from the new known-good Samsung box which you lent me:

22/12/07 23:46 Channel 119 Pressed red. "On demand is temporarily unavailable ... quote error code 1051/502"

Regards,
Chris

23/12/2007

Another failure.

23/12/07 12:40 Channel 119 Pressed red. Initial mini TV view came up but no guide.
So went back to TV and tried to get in via ON DEMAND.
Got last night's error:
"On demand is temporarily unavailable ... quote error code 1051/502"

Regards,
Chris

26/12/2007

Hi James,

Paul did visit at noon, following Tony's visit earlier that morning. So NTL took two hours from another of my days.

Since you mention it, I'll point out that, actually, I don't feel I got an apology for the mix-up which was administrative - not technical.

Paul is a smart and pleasant chap, but he had no interest at all in letting me vent, which - considering the treatment I'd had, I felt he should have done. He was highly focussed on his mission and un-interested in my complaint. I can see from a human perspective why he did that, but in my view, it's the wrong answer from a customer service perspective. Rule number one is listen. Let them get it out. Then apologise un-reservedly. Then move to resolution. This is basic A.B,C of customer service.

When I superficially asked how you'd managed to fail so totally in making a simple appointment on two out of three occasions, with Paul and the other gent standing next to me - I feel that what I got was avoidance. I certainly do not currently know what went wrong and why, beyond a vague notion of a lost message. I pointed out that unless they know who got what wrong, they're doomed to repeat it - which is actually what we're seeing here. It's not about beating people up for innocent human errors, it's about learning how things go wrong with a view to improving systems and preventing problems in the future. It's about making things better.

It seemed that Tony had put the leads in wrong which accounted for the poor picture. Tony's also a nice bloke, but really he shouldn't be making those rudimentary errors.

Paul left me his known-good Samsung box, as well as a standby Pace box in case of problems of Christmas.
The Samsung box came with a Smartcard which has full access to everything, and which doesn't bill me.
I will not use the free services, or the spare box, but this gesture was very much appreciated. Thank you.

This box completely removed the new errors which the earlier one introduced. It also greatly improved the apparent reliability of VoD.

Since then I have seen two occurrences of a VoD error I've not seen before.

On to other items.

1. CUSTOMER CONTACT WEB FORM
Really, I'm at the point where it seems pointless to argue further because my audience (not necessarily you but perhaps those you're representing) is either not capable or not motivated to look at this intelligently. In my days as a European services manager this level of resistance to improvement and defence of the indefensible was where I'd be looking at who I need to "clarify objectives and start procedures to monitor performance very closely" with. As a paying customer, I have little more than begging in my toolbox.

However, I'll just ram this home with some of that common sense which seems so depressingly rare:

a. The fact that something is not ALWAYS available, does not mean that you can NEVER use it. That's just a depressingly trivial reasoning error.
If 50% of your customers don't have NTL phones, then 50% do (and I'd guess that in fact, more than 80% do).
It's entirely possible to have your system cope intelligently with this - ask for the NTL phone number first - if it gets entered, then bingo - if not, then ask for something else.

b. More fundamentally, the customer doesn't need an NTL phone in order to have a phone number - a BT one works just as well.
We're just using their phone number as a unique number to identify them alone,
and it's a good candidate because almost everyone has one, and almost everyone has committed it to memory.

c. But it's not even about phone numbers. The point is this.
In every case, there will be ONE unique piece of data which you can ask for. It's the phone number OR the account number OR the email address OR the postcode.

Since some of those items are public and you may want to guard against impersonation, you'll may also want to add a private item, like the account password.
But IN NO CASE is it necessary to DEMAND ALL ELEVEN DATA ITEMS as your web form currently does.
That's simply, and undeniably INCREDIBLY STUPID AND MASSIVELY ANNOYING.

The fact that your arguments have been presented to me in defence of the idiotic, so tenaciously, in this high profile dialogue, tells me that the clear-thinking, open minded, healthily-motivated minds in NTL, are not those in charge of much. THIS is why I want to rip throats out! I wonder what the combined salaries of all those with an interest in this is. I wonder why they're still employed.

2. IGNORED FOR ETERNITY & USELESS LOGS
So, if I understand you correctly, the logs you went through contained no operator names - no-one you could ask why they ignored me and dropped the ticket.
The system you operate is entirely open-loop, with no checking mechanisms on progress, resolution, closure etc.
No personal accountability at all.
It's possible for large number of operators to screw up massively and often - and no one will know, and if they're told, there is no useful information in the system with which to do root cause analysis and removal, or process engineering.
Does anyone see scope for a tad of, oh, I don't know - EFFORT in there? It beggars belief, James! You run the largest cable network in our nation!

OK, I've spent long enough on this today.

Don't take it personally, but please DO TAKE IT!

Happy New Year,
Chris

27/12/2007

27/12/2007 15:56 119. Pressed red. Got mini-TV but nothing else. Noticed the "If you need help using On demand press red" so I did again.
I can still see the "Just a Moment" message on the screen (15:59). No error messages.

Rebooted box.

27/12/2007 16:05 119. Pressed red. Got mini-TV but nothing else. Gave up at 16:08 & rebooted box...

27/12/2007 16:16 119. Pressed On Demand. Never gets past "Just a moment".

So VoD stuffed again. How annoying.


By the way, another annoyance to report.

My TV is a Toshiba 36ZP3B. It's widescreen so I leave Auto-format on - allowing the TV to move between widescreen and 4:3 modes as transmissions tell it to. I have noticed in normal broadcasts that occasionally, an almost completely white picture puts the TV in 16:9 mode. The Samsung boxes have a boot screen which is almost entirely white, and therefore the always put the TV in 16:9 mode from which I always have to remove it.
Clearly, if this problem is unique to my TV then tough titty, but if it's common then it might be good for the future to re-design the reboot screen to avoid it.

I will continue to update the log with failure reports,
and I'll push for firm conclusion on VirginMedia's VoD quality & plans.

Please let me know about your
experience of VirginMedia too,
using the form below.
I'll add your comments to this article.

Here are the comments I've received so far:

rating = 5/5

Chris, An Excellent dialog of your troubles.
I too, have experienced many problems on VoD. It is a very poor service and while I have reported it on several occasions, I have experienced many more times than I not reported.

Have you started a specific campaign website on this?

Richard J

rating = 1/5

What s snooty little man. Wind your neck in! Lifes too short.

P Reed

Response:

Life's not too short for you to search the web for a solution to your VOD problem, find, then read my article, and send me a rude response, I note.

 

rating = 4/5

experience all these issues to... but the most annoying issue for me, is when on demand works i choose my film flex movie, it lets me pay my 3.50, then as i press play it says on demand unavailible. After they take my money... yet it will still let me browse the films with no error message until after you pay. And as they want i dont bother calling up, cos it would prob cost me more on my bill (dont have landline

rating = 3/5

comments = I got similar issues with my VOD but unlike you I don't have all day sat about in a flat with nothing better to do than pester them about it none stop. Keep up the good work sadsack.

Response:

My sympathies to you.

I guess you're too busy at work all day to act on your VOD problem, so - like many people - you're eating shit and pretending it isn't happening. Good luck with that.

I notice you're probably at work (it's 10:30am), and that you searched Google for "virgin on demand down". You had the time to research a solution, find my article, read it and response rudely to it. You have the same problem as me - why are you angry with me?

I'm lucky enough to work from home. I can afford to take breaks when I like, and I've had years of crap from NTL. I'm happy to invest the time in this (and as you may have read - VirginMedia have credited me £50 so far), and my article traffic stats already tell me that very many people are looking for ways to fix their Virgin Media VOD problems.

My contribution is to give my own time to help them to do that - or even to apply pressure to finally have those problems removed.

Your contribution is to hurl abuse at a stranger, for, as far as I can work out - pushing hard to get a serious problem fixed, or perhaps for having a job which allows free time at home.

Who's the real sadsack? Feel free to take this to the discussion forums is you want to discuss it further.

rating = 5/5

comments = It is now 12:40am, i've just finished feeding my two week old baby, i'm tired and cranky, I purchased a film to aid me through the sleepless nights and YET AGAIN it's cut off part way through with no option to restart it where it stopped. If I manage to fast forward to the point it cut off, I am issued again with a "on demand is unavailable...if this keeps happening call...." *High pitched blood curdling scream*

ON DEMAND? ON DEMANDDDD??? How ironic when it's completely out of my control when I can use it.

If your content is down a third of the time then you're better off than me, my OD is unavailable 99.8% of the time. I tried to contact Virgin media only to find the call center closed by minutes. I am planning on phoning to tell them I will not be paying for this film purchase and they will credit my account with the money when I am billed. I've had to do this several times, other times i've been lucky to be able to watch the film all the way through. Why I keep purchasing these films i'll never know... Call me optimistic....

After reading your logs I can honestly say that i've experienced every single one of your problems and faults, even down to the engineer not showing up. I'm going to do it, i'm going to cancel my entire list of services and i'm damn well going to do it as soon as physically possibly! I was worried about losing my internet service, but i'm sick of bending over and receiving a meaty surprise every single time I try and pay VM to entertain me on a sleepless night.

Goodbye Virgin Media!

rating = 5/5

comments = I have had similar dealings with NTL customer support and I'm willing to divulge the details of my pain-staking trawl through customer services. I still have the same poor service, just got a shiny new silver box a little over a year ago and gave up. Now wishing I could find an alternative.

Tom (Email address supplied)

rating = 4/5

comments = They inherited their problems from NTL who inherited them from Cable and Wireless who inherited them form Videotron. There is something deeply wrong in the way things are run there.
Much the same happened to me TEN YEARS AGO

My logging of the problems is online here: http://www.cix.co.uk/~kbrown/rotm/cwitless.html

I've now lost broadband, which worked very well for a year up to last weekend, and I am having trouble even reporting it. When I use the web page they write back and ask me to phone.

But my Virgin phone does not

And why shoudl I sit on a phone spending money listening to their irrelevant messages when I have already told them the answers to the questions they are about to ask me?

What sort of an ISP doesn't have an email fault report system?

rating = 2/5

comments = Why has Spooks been deleted from the programs now in the On Demand catalogure? I am not in on Tuesday nights so watch it later in the week and have been doing so for all of this series. This week it is not there! Any ideas people. Flippin VM!

rating = 4/5

comments = I also have lots of trouble with the on demand service from Virgin media. I have been reporting the error for atleast 3 months on and off and they have done nothing about it.

They say they will look into it and get back to me. But I never hear from them again.

I have asked for a discount but they say that as I get free T.V. with my phone pachage they will not give me any money back. I will after christmas give them 28 days notice sent by recorded delivery, and move over to B.T.

rating = 3/5 (my responses in blue)

comments = The V+ takes 22W on standby and 28W running.
I have a normal box -see above - I'm told it takes 13W.

Try leaving it on more.
See above - I am doing. It's no better and arguably worse.

Despite the current paranoia about global warming the power consumed by the STB just contributes to the heating of your house and reduces your central heating fuel consumption.

You need to give it several (5-10) minutes after turn on to collect data and stabilise. That's why some schedule data is missing.
It takes about 5 minutes to get fully loaded up. But that's NOT why some schedule data is missing. See above - BBC3's data is always missing, for example. That's not a load-delay problem, it's a someone-is-a-twat problem.

If it appears to have frozen after an abortive attempt to access VOD you do not have to reset. Just do a channel up which seems to unfreeze it.
See above. No it doesn't.

I never have VOD problems but that's perhaps becasue I use it during the day when there is less congestion. The VOD system is like the phone system to a village - limitted lines so only a few people can use it at once.
See above (did you actually read my article?) - most of my error incident reports relate to lunchtime VoD.
Interesting theory on bandwidth limitations. Is it Virgin Media's viewpoint? If so, it's a shame they don't advertise the fact and acknowledge it to their paying customers.

If you have a problem check that interactive is working (eg BBC news) to confirm teh return path. Make a note of intermittent blocking or freezing during VOD play which may indicate poor signal.
Here's a better proposal. If I have a problem, I can report it to the people I give my money to - and they can do a really bang-up job of fixing it.. Quaint notion, huh? Oh, I crack me up.

rating = 1/5

comments = VoD works about a third of the time i try to use it, i also have a huge problem with the sound and picture on most channels and especially VoD. Lots of pixelation and breaking up of images and crazy digital noise.

There's nothing more depressing than hearing the constantly looping on demand promo trailer with the sound going 'On demand is "zoink pop squeal"... our new interactive" zzzzck argh, bllep"! and then looping!

Virgin's solutions seem to be turn on and off again or new STB which is just as crap as the last one!

rating = 5/5

comments = Man, you have some patience. I'd have blown a fuse much earlier.

I have just read your column because our VOD has been down for almost a week now. I am guessing that it is software problem, but I dont' really know for sure. All I know is that Christmas is upon us and our service is not right.

I have been a customer of NTL/VM for almost 10 years now. Generally, I have nothing to complain about and am a big fan of the supplier (think of the options.. SKY?.. [shudder])

Hope you get your service sorted soon (and we do too!)

Seasons greetings

Mike

rating = Not Set

comments = Hi Chris,

Just reading your web log. I think that you must have the patience of a saint.

I've been having problems with On Demand since they installed the service earlier this year. I've called, almost on a weekly basis, to report the same error code which I get every time I use it. I have to go through the same script with somebody with poor English in an Indian call centre, who takes 10 minutes just to find my account details on the computer. There seems no way around going through the script, even though I explain to the CSR that it's an error that I've already reported. I can never speak directly to a engineer, they promise to call me back within three working days. I work away, so I can only take calls in the evening and then on my mobile. I explain this every time, nobody ever calls me back. When I phone up to find out why, they say they tried to call during the day, or to my home phone, or to a wrong mobile number (my mobile is through Virgin Media, so I don't know how they manage to get it wrong!). So, the same circle of events and promises starts again and they still won't let me speak directly to somebody with technical knowledge or get somebody to call me back the same day.

These problems are on top of the fact that I've been overcharged on my bill every month since the start and that still hasn't been corrected. If you don't have a mobile phone through them, then count yourself lucky, as that department is just as disorganised, and it took me 5 months to get the phone set up.

I've given up, I can't install Sky where I live otherwise I would move immediately. I'm moving house next year and I certainly won't be getting Virgin Media's services installed.

I've had some bad customer service in my lifetime, but Virgin Media is the worst by miles.

barry in belfast

in the last 6 weeks i have had so many problems it's onreal i have been getting code 1078/1058/1001/1098 & ft987/fan on my v+/vbox i had loged it with vm got a lot of messages it just got to me that i did just press the numbers right a way before the messages started i got to speak to a person that could'ent speak plain english i loged so many calls i lost count then last monday i got a call form vm to set a date for a engineer to come out and replace my v+ box and vbox the box's and got all of there services for 81 pounds month ex mobile it's brilliant i can go in to vod and watch anything in a spilt sec it's true great complain complain and complain it works and now a can't stop watching

I'm going to break the routine and say that I was very happy with NTL. No really. I got my installation for free and they came to do it 2 days after I called. When we had a problem with our something or other, a bloke came out that Saturday (that's the only time we were in during the day) and sorted it. They were great days. And then Branson took over and everyone said "at least he knows customer service" and I was left thinking, actually I'm quite happy with the way things are.

We upgraded to a V+ box about nine months ago. About five of the months that have passed since, we have been overcharged for Film Flex films we haven't seen. At first it was one or two films at a time. Last month, there were no less than 12 films, some when my wife and I were both at work. We apparently watched 2 films simultaneously one night, which was particularly impressive as we were out at the movies. How's that for irony. Oh, and I've seen 300 about 5 times it seems. Several of those were in the early evening. I don't remember (although you'd think I would by now) but apparently there's quite a lot of blood and guts in it, even though it's animated. Perfect viewing for my two boys then, aged 2 and 6.

It was bad enough when I had to call up to get my account credited. However, tonight I was informed that my account would not be credited and that I was aware that they can check these things and that the call was being recorded. Says I, "check away". Apparently my box was able to tell them that I had indeed ordered all these films. So one of us is lying. Possibly me or so. I am a partner in a mid-sized commercial law firm and my wife is a barrister who fights murder rape and paedophile trials for a living. But we're probably tempted to risk all of that to defraud our cable company in order to get a few free movies. Idiots.

So I'm told that I'm going to get a letter (having read all the above, I'd better frame that!) and then someone will call me. Heaven only knows what they're going to do next. But if any money goes out if my account is not credited next month, Trading Standards will become involved.

And by the way, I have experienced most of the faults described above. I feel your pain. And, still, even now, every time I think about losing Sky One and Sky Sports News, I get really really REALLY fed up.

Branson, you're a *******. I was so bought into your brand. I would even take your trains when I had a choice between them and the hapless GNER. But you've screwed this up. Big time.

Matthew

We are without On demand services in the EN9 area and have been for two years and they have no idea when we will get the service back. were not informed that the service was stopping it just did and not just us its the whole area. Ringing faults is a joke they have not been informed and are blissfully unaware.

J.M.

My on demand has deteriated to such a point that pressing the on demand button is 90 percent sure to freeze the box and involve a restart (which can last an hour) if it does not freeze it still does not work! Total rubbish. Reading your site has put me off trying to get it fixed and makes me want to leave virgin and just use freeview.

Anon.
Finally! Someone tackling a useless bloody company - I couldn't agree more with what your saying and its nice to see someone so persistent!

I have the full package from them, broadband isn't so bad anymore, and the phone service is OK (a bit crackly sometimes) however the TV is crap - everything about it is crap!

Anon

Well done.

I have no end of trouble with the VoD service. I use it frequently and I would say at least 80% of the time I get the "On Demand is temporarily unavailable" message. I, like you, have written to and phoned VM numerous times to sort it but either get fobbed off or end up speaking to the office cleaner who seems to have picked up the phone whilst walking past(well I assume it's the cleaner as they have NO CLUE how to remedy the problem).

Another problem I get (which, so far I haven't heard of anyone else having) is the picture on some programmes flashes from black and white to colour! Odd, no? Had an engineer to look at it and he basically scratched his head, told me they'd moniter it for two weeks and then get back in touch. That was three months ago!
Anyway I'm personally starting to get sick of this woeful TV service and am sorely tempted to follow the examples of my mates; cancel my subscription and get a chipped box! At least then I wouldn't be paying for the sub-standard sh*te.

Our on demand service rarely works, and will regularly refuse to load something like the penultimate episode of a series, rarely can you watch Eastenders on demand until two days later etc, etc. Today we are unable to get anything at all, or only programmes form yesterday 3am-11am.
I salute you for what you are doing. Few people take the time to try and challenge anything these days and you deserve some credit.
I think Virgin are rubbish, and one of their van drivers deliberately splashed me and my 3 year old daughter as we were caught next to a huge puddle in a sudden torrential downpour last year. She was hysterical all the way home having managed to breathe in some of the puddle which had gone over her head. They promised me some credit when I rang up to complain but actually ****** that up... Bah!

I have to agree completely with what you are saying. I currently work for an outsourcing company that works on behalf of a well known digital tv company. It is utter crap.

The levels of communication are non existant. Nobody can answer the common and somtimes simple questions that customers have.More often than not we would really like to help rectify a problem but we are completely powerless to help.

This is extremely frustrating. We suffer alot of abuse on a daily basis. Tean managers could not care less. They are too busy shouting and being full of their own self importance despite the fact that they have very little power.

The system that we use is windows based and full of bugs. It therefore breaks down frequently. It is a large office with several hundred people in it and I can guarantee that everyone hates it.

We are treated as though we are not actually human but simply a robot there to take calls. I really believe that there will come a time when the company can no longer continue and will close down. I do hope so as the whole thing is a scam and a very expensive con. Working there is a completely pointless exercise and I hope to leave very soon, for the sake of my sanity.

Unbelievable. I never really believed it was just me. From the moment i was released from the clutches of BT i have had a sense of history repeating.

My initial instalation was a week late then when someone did arrive 4 hours after they were supposed to they informed me i wasn't in a cable area and left only to return a week later with their boss to confirm the fact. The next day I was back in a 'cable' area and installed. My current problem is the TV On Demand features.

Does anybody know how they manage to get a few episodes of a series at a time I'm currently looking at season 4 of desperate housewives (for the misses not me) and it had episode 11 only. Pushing daisies has episodes 1234 & 6 of a 9 part show. Surely they should give us the whole series or just not bother it looks ridiculous. see also The west wing season 2

Hi,

As an ex Telewest customer, I have been experiencing similar problems to you, but don't have the dogged determination that you have in pursuing VM!

I thought it might get more attention if we started loading up youtube with videos examples of the problems we all experience on an almost daily basis. I now hardly ever use VM's On-demand service as iPlayer on pc is so much more reliable and an independent freeview recorder saves the hassle of crappy support from VM.

I'm sure that if enough examples of VM On-Demand bad reliability appeared on youtube Mr Branson himself might even have to take notice!!

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Virgin Media's on demand service is extremely poor. Often the service is unavailable or cuts out in the middle of shows or films that I have paid for. This necessitates either a lengthy telephone call to one of their service centres or a visit from one of their technicians to switch or fix the box.

I've had to call-out technicians three times in as many months to fix faults with the on demand service - on the last occasion the technician told me that the service was so poor that he would never consider installing Virgin Media services in his own home - when their customer serviced representatives complain about the poor quality of the service you know something is REALLY wrong...

Everything you've said about VoD is so accurate.

I don't really use it that much, but when I do try I can almost guarantee some problem - usually that it's unavailable. It gets to the stage where you expect it not to work as the being the norm. I've stopped reporting the faults - it's a waste of time and even more frustrating than not getting the service in the first place.

The other very accurate finding is that Virgin Media clearly assume (correctly) that if they make it awkward or difficult for people to complain, then the vast majority of people just can't be bothered with the hassle - apart from Chris!

Well done for your massive patience, tolerance and unflinching persistence.

I too have had numerous problems and had to wait in for engineers who don't turn up. The irony is that if they do bother to come and you are not there they will charge you. Last time they didn't turn up I said I was charging them 15 per hour of waiting (what I earn if I am at work thus compensating me for the leave I had to take). They, of course, could not agree to this. I can't even remember how many new STBs I've had - makes no difference.
If you are hard of hearing you can't rely on the sub-titles as half the dialogue is missing.
On demand - what joker called it that? They should change the 'temporarily unavailable' messeage' to one that comes up when it is temporarily available.

The TV service is crap and they should be prosecuted by trading standards for have a department called 'customer services'.

Yep this is all true - now I know it's not just me so I am gonna cancel my sub and get a freeview box me thinks.

Rob in Harlow

Here we are at the end of 2010 and I found this page whilst researching my own problems.

Your page could so easily be a log of my own issues and inadequate handing by Virgin Media. My tv service is almost completely unusable and I keep getting 3010 (not authorized) error blocking most of the screen and preventing channel changes.

I pay for the XL "service". As I do not watch tv live but record everything, this means it is a completely useless service. I have called customer support many times but all they do is "send a signal down the line" and then "promise" me it is fixed. They tell me to call again if it happens again and they would arrange a technician. When I call back and tell them they claim there is no history of this and that they have to send a signal to "fix" it and point blank refuse to send a technician.

Maybe they know sending a technician is just as pointless as "sending a signal down the line" and they know they cannot fix something that simply does not work.

Add to that all the problems with broadband cutting out frequently and the horrendous email problems particularly in the NTL days and I really do wonder how they have any customers left, despite the retention deals.

V-Media is an appalingly bad service organisation.

Of course you can speak to the nice folks in India who have no clue what the service status is in the UK. All you get is polite platitude\'s and no service. Hopeless.

D. Clarke. £1,000 a year cash-cow for VM. :-(

 

What Can We Conclude About Virgin Media?

Virgin Media - previously NTL (for whom the term "NTHell" was invented) - in my experience - continue to provide an unreliable Video-on-Demand (VoD) service, and their performance in fielding my approaches relating to it add massive insult to painful injury. Virgin don't seem to know how to run a customer service organisation. My area manager, Mr. Shiraz - has treated me poorly and seems un-concerned with doing the right thing. James Clark is a breath of fresh air, but he cannot control Virgin Media - and those that can have interests elsewhere. Meanwhile, VirginMedia's paying punters get to suck up the misery.

 

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