Virgin has recently announced that from July it will be charging 25p/minute for calls to its broadband support line. In an e-mail to customers last week, it explains the huge call volumes its support teams are facing about "other issues not related to [their] service" which it claims are not practical for them as a business to sustain.
This illustrates a clear problem with IT support in general with users of IT services not understanding what they are buying or the responsibilities of their suppliers to deliver a service. Within the ISP industry, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase "Is the Internet down?" on the phone as if the inability to access a particular website would indicate that the entire global network of networks known as "the Internet" on which so many transactions occur, would be inoperable. The problems often lie in the general lack of understanding about Internet technologies and thus needing to turn to the first port of call, which usually ends up being the ISP helpdesk, even though the problem may well be on the local computer, or on the other side of the world outside the ISP's control.
Virgin's price increase will no doubt be controversial and is likely to upset users with genuine problems. The company states it hopes this will encourage users to use the online support tools on its website before they call for support, although this is quite difficult if the Internet connection is not working.