James Morris - JMOZ

Webmaster in '97.

Virgin Media Super Hub a.k.a. How Virgin Media Effed My Life

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DISCLAIMER: I now (March 2013) work for Virgin Media as a contract PHP Developer. The views below are on Virgin’s Superhub service and do not reflect my views on the project I am working on (which is a great project) or any of Virgin’s development.

UPDATE: The most recent (July 2012) and updated post about our Virgin Media problems is here.

Ok, so at home we have Virgin Media Super Hub with the 50Mb package. To cut a long story short, it’s shit. The following is a complaint from my housemate that he’s sent to the top people at Virgin as we’ve had it to our wits’ end with them. I’m sticking it here for visibility and the hope that someone else can empathize with us.

FYI. I’m not the typical complaining customer - I’ve been with Virgin since they were Blueyonder (and whatever before that) and the service was great, but the new service for the 50Mb Super Hub is the worst service I’ve ever had. Ever. We switched from Sky to Virgin on the promise it would be a great, fast service which it is not. We never had any problems with Sky and I’m thinking of switching back - I can get a discount as well seeing as I work there :)

Dear Mr Berkett,

Firstly, I hope this is the correct email address to contact yourself.

Secondly, I apologise for being one of those annoying customers who tries to bypass the usual complaints system and “go to the top” however after the 55 minute phone call I just had with your customer services team, I really don’t know what else to do.

To give you a brief history of our account:

We signed up for 50mb broadband in September 2010. The installation process was long & tedious. The engineers didn’t have any routers with them, so we had to buy our own as getting one delivered was going to take so long. We then had constant issues getting the virgin modem to connect correctly with the router we had bought, so we rung to complain and they mentioned we could have an all in one superhub which would rectify this issue. Happily we agreed and awaited arrival. Some weeks passed and no hub arrived. We called again to be told there was no record of an order for a superhub being made, and that the superhub wasn’t even available for 50mb customers yet. They apologised for giving incorrect information and told us that as soon the superhub was available we’d be sent one free of charge.

More weeks of bad connection, speed and intermittent issues passed. No superhub arrived. We called again to be told that we weren’t entitled to a free 50mb superhub so we would have to pay about £75 for it. Disgusted that we were being messed around again I spoke to a manager, explained all of our issues and if memory recalls correctly we eventually received a 50mb superhub for free.

This is where the real problems began. The engineer who was supposed to personally bring our superhuib and install it (according to the customer services team) had gone AWOL. So they would need to send another engineer out with another hub. When he arrived, he installed the hub and told us that we needed to fill in a registration page online. He left and we filled in the form. At the last page, the internet connection died and we never knew if the information we had just entered had been saved. We couldn’t seem to access the page again either. The internet came back on but was riddled with issues. Our speed test results were around 2mb (nowhere near the 50mb we were paying for) the line test was giving us an F grade, with over 80% packet loss and a huge jitter score.

We called many times to complain, always receiving different excuses, usually related to “power levels being too high” and sometime too low! We did a lot of online research and found an untold amount of virgin media customers had similar issues with the superhub.

Quoted from http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=1449681 “If you check out the Virgin Media broadband forums you’ll find the Superhub is plagued with problems and complaints from Superhub users. Virgin Media are fully aware that their Superhub has issues and have been promising a firmware upgrade for some time, but it has not happend yet. ETA for the Superhub firmware upgrade is reported to be May 2011”

As advised by many forums and eventually Virgin Media customer care, we switched off some of the router services such as IP Flood detection and the firewall. This drastically improved the line test score from an F to an A. We thought this had finally solved our problems.

Unfortunately, the service continued to drop out, usually when streaming media, or using FTP connections, it seemed to just not be able to handle any constant streams of data. We called many, many times to complain over the following few months, we’ve had 4 engineers out, some said they lowered the power levels, one added a filter to the line which would help. The last engineer told us there was something wrong with the line, but he couldn’t tell what. He advised us to find another broadband provider.

Completely disheartened by his comments, we called again to complain, we were promised a call back. No call back came. Then began the billing issues. The email address you had on file was incorrect, so we never received any bills. One of the direct debits had failed because it was unusually high, so we were hit with late payment fees, and disconnected immediately. No letters were sent, no communication whatsoever, assuming it was the usual technical issues we called the tech team, they advised us it was a billing issue so I was passed through to them. They explained we had missed a payment (which i was at the time, oblivious to) I made the payment and waited 24 hours for the broadband to come back on. It did not.

I rang Virgin again having to use my mobile because you had cut our landline off now too. I complained again, and our internet was restored immediately. About 4 days after this saga we received 3 letters (dated the day before) stating we had missed a payment, and that within 5 days we would be cut off. How useful is that? I rang to complain again that sending these letters a week late is useless to us, they blamed the postal service, I stated that the letters were dated the day before the call, and they apologised.

Back to our usual poor connection, dropping out at many points throughout the day. Another 3 weeks passed and we were cut off again. Similar issues, no bill was received, late payment fee added, then removed. I rang up and paid, internet restored. At this time I explained how unhappy we were to be paying £80 a month and receiving such a terrible service from day one. A very helpful woman (for once) from customer services said she would arrange an engineer, I said we’d already had 4 too many and she seemed shocked that it still wasn’t resolved. She did a line test and agreed there was a problem. She said she would escalate it to the highest level of complaints and investigation to get this sorted once and for all, then look at compensation.

A week passed and no call back was received, then we were cut off AGAIN. This is today, I call and am told that £10 is still outstanding, I ask what it’s for and they advise that when the last customer service representative took off the last late payment fee, they wrongly charged us £10 less, when in fact the £10 credit was added to next month’s bill, so £10 was left on the account unpaid. We had received no letters or warning as usual, just cut off out of the blue. (I’m fairly sure this isn’t policy at all, you’re supposed to warn customers before cutting them off) Angered by yet another out of the blue disconnection, I asked to be put through to cancellation to close the account. I was told I couldn’t do that until I paid £10. I was also advised that there would be a £180 cancellation fee. I argued that we were expecting a call regarding the poor service and compensation, I was then put through to a “manager”, Carl. This guy was the final straw. Comparing the service to a ‘Rolls Royce’ because it’s so good, he argued that we had clearly had a great service due to our high download usage. I advised him that’s because I work from home a lot, and there are 5 of us living here. He then suggested that was the problem, that too many machines were draining the bandwidth. I advised that was a silly comment, and something that we had clearly addressed months back, long before we had 4 engineers, and escalated complaints etc.

He then suggested that sometimes kitchen appliances can cause problems. I asked if he was in the technical team, he admitted he was not. So we ended that conversation. He then quite rudely, stated that the only way we would have our connection restored was if we paid £10. I said out of principal alone, I’m not paying any more money. He said “well then you won’t have our great service” he kept dropping comments like this at me, and that we download too much anyway. I advised its an unlimited service, so we’re well within our rights to download a lot of content. He agreed and stated that no other provider offers that so it’s not like we can go elsewhere. I advised that BT offer unlimited 40Mb broadband. He argued that they only provide 24 megabyte speeds, and virgin offers 50megabytes. I advised Virgin do NOT offer 50Megabytes. They offer 50Megabits. I asked him to learn the difference between bits and bytes if he’s going to lecture me on what I am and am not entitled to spend my money on. He then returned to his usual script of “You have to pay £10” I asked to speak to his manager, he said that would take up to 24 hours. I asked to speak to one immediately,. He said no. I asked to speak to one of his colleagues now, he said no. Eventually, I paid the £10. I asked him to log the complaint on the system with all of the other complaints. That phon ecall took 55 minutes. And now I’m emailing you hoping that something will happen.

We’re not asking for much, just one or possibly if you can stretch to it, 2 of the following:

1) Some form of cash compensation 2) You stop cutting us off 3) you fix our broadband line issues

One would hope, that those 3 are the basics that you could expect from a £45 a month broadband service.

P.S - Yesterday, our TV remote packed up too. We replaced the batteries but it’s still dead. If I didn’t laugh about this, I’d cry.