{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

I have TV and broadband through Virgin Media, and both went down at about 6PM last night, and remained down for the next three and a half hours, though some customers are still without service this morning. 

To be fair to Virgin, this is the first major outage I've had in the past two years, and I have no major issues with the service in general, but in this instance the communication to customers, both online and offline, has been woeful.

I first tried to get on to their website on my iPhone and find out if there were any major regional or national faults that may be causing the problem.

The website can be a pain at the best of times, but it let me and plenty of other customers down when it could have been useful. This is the message I got when accessing the faults status page:

It did provide another link to a status page, which was also broken, sending customers round in an endless loop. Absolutely useless.

So, a service that should give some customers the information they want, and help to take some pressure off the call centres has completely failed. 

This prompted me to reach for the phone and call Virgin Media's faults line, but after an hour of trying, all I get is an engaged tone or a 'sorry, we are busy' messages which plays before hanging up.

As well as infuriating people, all this will do is make people call again and again until they get through, increasing the pressure on the call queues. When there is an issue that affect large numbers of customers, why not leave a recorded message advising callers about the fault?

The only information I managed to get about the problem was of course, via Twitter, though no thanks to Virgin Media.

By searching for the term, I found a number of people tweeting about their service issues, and from several parts of the country, which suggested that a major outage was the problem.

I also found that Virgin Media has a Twitter account, but was it using this to inform customers about the service problems and reassure them that it was being dealt with? Er, no. This was its Twitter account at 7:10PM last night, ober an hour after the issues started:

At least not until the problems had been going on for more than three hours, and then with a vague message that only referred to the Midlands.

I also found the @vmstatus account, which promises 'service updates on VM's business and consumer platforms'. Was there an update to this account? No, not for the last seven weeks. Virgin should take a look at BE Broadband's Twitter account to see what it should be used for.

This would have been an excellent opportunity to use Twitter to communicate important information to its customers, such the nature of the problem, affected areas, and when they will fix it, which is all most people wanted to know.

After all, plenty of customers are on Twitter looking for information, and many would have appreciated some form of communication, it may even make the difference between staying and cancelling for some, but Virgin Media has totally failed on this score.

By failing to communicate to customers online, both through its own website, and its Twitter account, Virgin Media will have piled even more pressure on its call centre staff, and alienated lots of customers.

The result of this information blackout?

Lots of unhappy customers; a Twitter search for @virginmedia doesn't make for happy reading for the company. There are hundreds of angry customers on there, all of whom will remember this incident next time their contract is up for renewal, or when they see an advert for Sky, BT or some other ISP.

Sevice faults will happen from time to time for any company serving so many customers, but Virgin Media has made the problem worse by failing to talk to its customers, despite all the channels of communication that were available to them.

Graham Charlton

Published 3 December, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (29)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Tom Allason

That is nothing... Virginmedia has left Shutl without internet since Monday morning.  Try running an internet business without internet!  They have not called or emailed us.  Several times a day we have had to wait 30+min each time in their phone queue.  Each time we are promised an update but this NEVER happens.  What is amazing is that we waited 6 weeks for installation again having to call/harras them constantly.  Branson needs to take his brand back.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

LSF

This seems to be a personal gripe post. Virgin Media's twitter page makes clear they only update and monitor their twitter account from 9am - 6pm.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jenny Rayne

Virgin never improved on the NTL brand which had the same problems with customer service, or a complete lack of (although NTL seemed to be worse with their actual broadband, phone and TV services).

NTL were so bad I got out of a 12 month contract after 9 months following problem after problem with all three of the services.

Essentially Virginmedia have never moved on from their NTL days and I can't believe anyone would rely on them to provide services to their business, Tom! Get out when you can.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Adam

I have been a Virgin customer for 3 years now and im always first to reccomend to a freind if they are thinking of getting digital tv.  I didnt suffer from this downtime of tv and internet but i have suffered in the past from there VERY POOR customer service. I am out of contract with Virgin now and was wondering if it is a better deal to go with sky?

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Steve

I changed from BT to Virgin approx 3 months ago and now regret the move. Signed up for one of their Tel/TV/Broadband packages and am definitely not saving money as I thought. Unfortunately I'm locked in on a year contract, but will be looking around after that. Also found customer service rude on occasions.

Regarding connection - has been poor for past couple of days.

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@LSF I can't deny that I was pretty angry at the loss of service, but the problem here is the total lack of communication about the issue, both on Twitter and elsewhere.

Do you not think that, when significant numbers of customers in the Midlands and North East have lost their services, it's worth using the Twitter account to communicate with customers? Or even leaving a message on the phone or website?

The call centres clearly couldn't cope with the volume of calls, so effort should have been made to communicate to customers through other channels, and Twitter would have been one way to do this.

With better communication to customers about this issue, Virgin Media could have reduced customer frustration, and hence the likelihood of some of these customers changing to another supplier.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Sally Brookes

LOL..ha..ha..

Another example of Rip Off Britain....

Virign Media  spends just over £16million pounds to acquire new customers through various multi-media channels between 2008 -2009

Once a customer has signed up over  bank account details over for monthly debits on contract.. when things start to go wrong.. The promise of the Virgin  Media brand suddenly turns "Soar" - its a false promise.

This company is no different from any other house-hold UK brands out there..asking for customers to lined their fat cats pockets on paying out large salaries, yearly bonuses and fat pensions.

They fail to grasp the simple fundamentals of implementing and managing an effective " customers service" .

Customers  keep these companies in business. Customers are great assets to a company. It cost about an average £50-£70 to acquire/retain one customer .

Even when the service is down - the customer is still paying for a bad services  - certainly a deal which -the customer did not sign up for.

For anyone having problems with Virgin Media - contact the ISP Association and file a serious complaint..

Yet again, this iconic brand has failed to deliver on "their customer service values"..Its unacceptable and unprofessional.

This is a total disgrace to the thousands of private home and business customers suffering not just in the middle of a recession but also on one of the most lucrative festive time of the year.

If Virgin Media cant even run a robust "customer service" online and offline..website pages down - telephone customer contact centres unreachable ? no online customer service information to reassure
worried customers ?

Please do us all a favour - foiled the company up and gives us all a break pack up and go home. For god sake - we are in the 21st century !

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Phil Oakley

@Tom Allason Hope this doesn't delay lift off at Shutl HQ, been watching your news with interest.

Re Virgin Media, I'm also someone that has been a huge advocate of the brand consistently recommending them to friends over the last 2 years but in the last 2 months I've had a few outages and internet speeds have dropped dramatically. Generally they have a recorded announcement about outages but this is just totally unacceptable service no matter what age we live in - thankfully I didn't suffer the same problems.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Mike Stenger

Great points Graham. Sorry to hear about your issue. We all know how frustrating things can be when customer service is horrible. Regarding their Twitter account being quiet, I think a lot of companies don't want to publicly talk about issues going on because it will make them look bad or brand them in a negative light.

The simple fact is, is that everyone has problems. The way to get a unique advantage over your competition is by being transparent and honest with your customers. And when you do that, the majority of people genuinely understand because they know things can happen.

Now, if things happen over and over again, that's a big issue and you should always find the source of the problems first and fix them ASAP so there's no reoccuring issues.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

bob smith

Virgin media is not owned by Richard Branson, telewest chnaged their name to virgin and they pay Branson a fee to use his good image and will. i have been with telewest/virgin for over 10 years ans this is my first problem with them. normally they are good.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Richard Seymour

@ Sally Brookes


What an over-extreme and stupid rant....  Also, may I add somewhat childish!

I too suffered the blackout with VM last night and it was very frustrating...  However, managing the flood of calls that would of flooded in last night would not be top priority - and I for one am glad that the priority was getting the problem resolved.

Also, information was available if you had the sense to actually look a little further tha the end of your own nose :

http://status-cable.virgin media.com/vmstatus/service issue.do?ticket=1140920

Whatever the problem was, it must have been pretty big to have such an affect on such a large volume of customers, and remembering this was mostly fixed within 4 hours....  Their service can't be too bad can it?  I've been without electricity for longer and that's a necessity!

On top of this I'd also like to add VM have never once let me down with their 'regular' customer service and on occasion have over-exceeded my expectations.  Additionally, having been a customer for over 5 years, this is the first time I have ever known a serious problem.

Maybe you should get your fact (and your fiction) in a more sound order before you go embarrasing yourself with childish remarks next time.

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Richard As soon as I noticed my broadband was off, I went straight to the service status page and got the page you can see in the first screenshot, and several other people on Twitter had the same problem.

I too have had a generally reliable service from Virgin Media, but they failed to use the channels available to them to inform customers about what was going on.

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Alex,

Thanks for responding. I think your comment fell foul of our spam filter, so I have only just spotted it and published it. Sorry about that.

I applaud your efforts to use Twitter for customer service, though it would have been good to get some more timely messages out to customers looking to your Twitter account for information.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Tom Allason

Graham,

Thanks for that- was good talking earlier.  Virgin Media has still not restored our internet and has still not even bothered to call us... We are still calling them several times a day (and waiting 30 min in phone queue each time) to request updates which they are unable/willing to provide.  I find it insulting that VirginMedia claim to be using Twitter etc for 'customer service' when it is clearly nothing but window dressing.  I have sent @virginmedia messages and received no reply.  5 days later we are no closer to resolution than we were on Monday.  The worse part is the not knowing... in the event that they told us this was going to take 3 weeks we could get another provider or invest in USB dongles for all the team... however as it is we have no idea.  the result is that less that within days of our launch i am having to tell our team to stay home.  far from ideal...   

Alex,

Great if you can do anything to improve my perception of Virgin Media.  Not a difficult task- right not it couldn't get any worse.

Best,

Tom

PS our address is:

1st Floor

9-10 Charlotte Road

LONDON

EC2A 3DH

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Alex Brown

Hi Graham

We got something onto Twitter as soon as we could this week, given that the Twitter team works 9-6 we needed someone else to do it, so it took a few minutes to get that posted.

Hi Tom,

We try to help everyone who asks for it via the Twitter account, but as you can probably appreciate the Twitter team have been quite busy this week.  I've dropped them a line with your details to ask them to pick this up for you as soon as they can.

Thanks

Alex
Internet Product Management, Virgin Media

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

The Economist

So Virgin is Telewest, eh? Duly noted.

BB

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Tom Allason

Alex,


Thanks for this... grateful but will not be holding my breath.

Phil,

Sorry didn't see your message earlier... hopefully not although team are having to all work from home at the moment for obvious reasons and so productivity down but will still be announcing launch at Le Web on Wed 9th...

Best,

Tom

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Gary

Lots of food for thought here.

I have been an NTL / Virginmedia broadband/phone/TV customer for 10 years and switched from BT to avoid an uncurable crackling phone line. Yes their service has gone down very occasionaly, but is normally restored in 2-3 hours but tell me who's service stays up 100% of the time? I have generally found their customer services resolve my problems, but admittedly it can take a bit of time.

Yes Virgin should consider using other routes of communication to inform customers what is happening i.e social media and to only operate Twitter from 9-5PM seems crazy, their 24 hour customer service team should be allowed to post to twitter as and when required.

If you rely on a broadband connection for business use then you normally get what you pay for. There are other more expensive ISPs available if you need more reliability. Also Virgin use a fibre optic backbone which generally means they deliver the speeds they advertise...unlike BT and Sky who mainly rely on twisted pair copper wires to deliver their service. As a rule the further you live from a telephone exchange, the slower your service will be.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

John MacDaniel

Good example of a failed customer service opportunity. Companies can’t just provide a channel for CS and think the job is done. A Customer Service strategy needs to be defined that ensures consistency of messaging across all CS channels and can be nimble enough to address the urgent issues such as the one you have described. Great example and thanks for sharing.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

GaryC

To say it was a short term problem is a complete lie (Alex). My TV service went down at 6pm on the 2nd December, was still down at midnight on the 3rd and was not working again until I tried at 7am on the 4th. The recorded message on the 151 'helpline' gave a deadline a few hours ahead and as soon as that time came, it just moved back another 4 hours. This happened throughout the 3rd (I personally saw it move from 8am to midnight!). Unacceptable level of aservice ands you WILL deserervedly lose a lot of customers over this. PS I have been a customer for 9 years

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

S Whittle

We have had no internet connection since the 4th, and the 'helpline' is useless.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Tom Allason

It has now been 9 days, still no internet... Whilst Alex was able to put someone in touch with me all we got was an apology which whilst nice did not help our business very much.  Shortly thereafter they put this out: 

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/news/a189961/virgin-says-sorry-for-east-london-outage.html

What strikes me is that it took 6 days before they even acknowledged there was a problem.     No clue on how long they will take to fix it.  I was promised Sat AM by rep I spoke to on Friday.

Customer service is about managing expectations which is something Virgin/NTL are clearly incapable of doing.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Dave B

Hi,

Firstly i'm sorry that some of you feel upset and feel left down by the way we have handled this outage. As with any company things can go wrong from time to time like in this instance. We did update status pages but with the volume of users on the network trying to find out what was going on various error messages were being displayed. However alot of V Media staff updated facebook with info so the message was spread around. The faults line was extremely busy as you can understand due to this, this is why some people were getting engaged tones and network busy messages again this is something I do apoligise about.

With regards to the customer service issues we do provide the best customer service as we can, sometimes we cant if your through to wrong department etc but we are more than happy to try and help and if not get you to the correct department.

Dave

V Media staff.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

seo

Thanks, very informative! I just searched for such information.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

jay_jay

thats right from the day one i had problem with virgin broadband its been on and off for a months ,when i try to get thru to the customer services evryone keep saying diferent things.i would never recomend them.BAD!

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

digital cafe

virgin is the worse network provider in the world try to run a internet cafe with a conection that goes off evry couple of hours or goes sometimes for a good few days and evry time i try to call customer service they dont know what they talking about and they keep on making faulse promisses and they not traind .

all im saying is how would richerd like it if his plains cant take off with passengers inside becouse there is no fuel wat would he do and what excuses would they tel him .

me personly i would not recomend virgin if you love your business

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

ukash

Sorry didn't see your message earlier... hopefully not although team are having to all work from home at the moment for obvious reasons and so productivity down but will still be announcing launch at Le Web on Wed 9th...

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Shane

The communication skills of those who work for Virgin Media are pathetically inadequate.

Earlier this year, my broadband and telephone line developed a fault. As I do not own a mobile phone, I went to a phone box to call Virgin Media to report the fault. After being connected to the automatic telephone answering service, I waited for an Assistant to answer. I waited so long for the call to be answered by a human being that I found that I had inserted two pounds of coinage in to the phone box just waiting to speak to someone.

The Assistant told me he was testing my line and as this took an inordinate amount of time to complete he asked me repeatedly if it was OK for me to continue to hold.

When I said " No, it was not OK for me to hold on the line because I had spent over £2 feeding a phone box to report the fault" and could he phone me back, I was told, " No, we can only phone you back on a mobile phone." Whoever heard of a telephone company only being able to telephone a customer on a mobile phone? If Virgin media had told me that when I phoned them to subscribe to their services, I would have refused to sign up with them. It was pathetic of the Assistant to ask me if it was OK for me to continue to hold because when I told him that it was not OK, he was unable to do anything of practical significance to ameliorate the situation.

When I complained about this matter by e-mail, I did not receive a reply. When I chased up the reply, I was told that the e-mail had gone to a marketing inbox and there was nothing that could be done about the situation. The e-mail was not sent to a marketing inbox but sent to named individual which just goes to show that Virgin Media does not take complaints seriously.

Stay clear of the Virgin Media shower- I say. They are expensive and have an attitude to customer service reminiscent of the Customer Service offered to Telecommunications Customers in Khartoum in the Sudan in 1986.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chelsea Customer

On Saturday 26th November my Virgin Cable Broadband service failed to connect to the Internet. I did all the usual things to restore service: I rebooted my modem, router and computer and was unable to restore service so I phoned Virgin 150 around 1500hours to report the fault. I was told by the automatic telephone answering system that the waiting time was up to fifteen minutes. As it was not convenient to wait for up to fifteen minutes, I decided to contact the customer service centre later when I had more time to wait to speak to an Assistant.

On two further occasions on the same day at around 20:00hours, I phoned Virgin 150. This is what happened on each occasion:-
(i) The phone was automatically answered,
(ii) I pressed button one to confirm that I wanted to discuss the service on the telephone line from which I was calling,
(iii) I selected Broadband Faults from the menu,
(iv) I entered three characters from my password in to the system when prompted to do so,
(v)) I was told that the waiting time was up to 15 minutes, (the same fifteen minutes waiting time as advised earlier in the day)
vi) Instead of being kept waiting in a queue for an Assistant to become available, an engaged tone became audible on the line for about thirty seconds, which was the followed up by an unobtainable tone for about twenty seconds, which was then followed up by the line going dead. A few seconds later a dialling tone then became audible on my line.
The procedure outlined above was repeated by me twice and I was unable to obtain the help which I needed and more importantly for which I pay.

I eventually managed to restore Broadband service by disconnecting the Virgin signal from my system tray on my laptop, then immediately reconnected the signal. Hey presto it worked. Those of you who find Virgin Media unresponsive when you phone might like to try this technique, it beats having your call to report the fault automatically disconnected.

I emailed Virgin Media's Chief Executive's Office mentioning the antecedents outlined above. I received a patronising response saying that there was no need for me to contact Virgin 150 if after doing what I had done, I managed to restore service. I was not born yesterday! Only a fool would telephone Virgin 150 to report a fault if they had managed to rectify the fault themselves by rebooting the modem, router and computer. The reason I telephoned to report a fault is because I had failed on three occasions to restore the service myself and I had no Broadband connection for five hours. I believe that any sensible, reasonably intelligent, mentally competent person would have phoned in these circumstances with a reasonable expectation of obtaining assistance. I am fed up with Virgin Media deflecting issues back to me when they are at fault.

I spoke to the writer of the patronising e-mail on the telephone yesterday. I described in the same meticulous detail, set out above, what happened when I was cut off twice by the Virgin Media automatic telephone system on Saturday. She told me that there was "no point hanging on a line which was engaged." It is patronising to tell me that there is no point hanging on a line which is engaged. I was taught this basic fact 44 years ago when I learned how to use a phone. Only a fool would hang on a line which was engaged but that was not what I did. The Virgin Customer Service phone was answered, my password was verified, and the line clearly developed a fault instead of connecting me to someone who could help me. I expected the person to whom I spoke in Chief Executive's office about her patronising e-mail to find out what had gone wrong with their telephone system, not to deflect the issue back to me by distorting what I was saying. Virgin Media should have apologised profusely for a technical fault in the automatic routing of calls within Virgin Media on two occasions, not to mention the inordinate delays of fifteen minutes to obtain service on three occasions on the same day.

Virgin Media tells dissatisfied customers that Sir Richard Branson is just a major shareholder in the Company and not to bother complaining to him about their shortcomings. Perhaps, Sir Richard should read this blog and take heed.

over 4 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.