BBC Watchdog takes a bite out of Virgin Media
Following up on our lengthy item that laid out analysis of how Virgin Media is performing in its different areas of the UK and how we are now poised to keep an eye on their performance more closely (and the other providers and technologies too) we felt it good to add a few more words around what was broadcast on BBC Watchdog on the evening of July 5th.
The issues with over utilisation and core network issues have been many and varied at Virgin Media, and the research gives some idea of the scale of the issue, and while there was a short period of time where we saw very few getting the best speeds things appear to be improving. The key now is whether these improvements are sustained and for those customers who have been affected in some cases for a couple of years how good will Virgin Media be at compensating customers and in the future being more upfront about issues rather than leading customers down the path of having to sit in for multiple engineer visits to fix things that are nothing to do with the final coax drop into the property.
For those affected as highlighted on the programme there is no automatic compensation path, and only by pestering individually will Virgin Media look at each case, in the first instance if the normal moans go unheaded people need to ask to escalate the complaint so that someone more senior in customer support is dealing with you and utilimately if you have the evidence to show prolonged periods with problems the Alternate Dispute Resolution scheme is the way to go, and given this costs providers money they are invariably keen to resolve things rather than go down the slow expensive ADR route.
Feedback from the audience on BBC Watchdog was that while £10/m price reductions were pretty common, when you are still paying £30 to £40 a month for the broadband service and finding you cannot use it as you want this is not that good a deal, there was even one told because they got such a good deal when they signed up no price reductions due to poor speeds would be given. A further comment that echo'd with others was that the what seem like twice a year price rises very quickly erode any of these savings to.
Compensation for faults is something that should eventually become automatic but that is for total loss of service, and while some have been seeing that with Virgin Media those with broadband speed problems would not be automatically compensated based on what we know about the changes on the way, clearly with the importance of broadband to our daily lives this may have to change rapidly.
Looking forward, we hope to be able to report in our analysis of July speed test results that the Virgin Media areas have seen further improvements and we will be keeping a close eye on the the FTTC, various FTTH providers and the emerging G.fast products.
The Virgin Media perhaps highlights a problem with the UK broadband scene, no single provider wants to push the boundaries too hard, but rather it is all about appearing slightly better than their competitors in adverts to gain customers, rather than being world leading in their own right. Virgin Media which is part of the much larger Liberty Global group has other providers already selling vastly faster speeds than are sold in the UK, so we say bring on the DOCSIS 3.1 network with upgrades and show what is possible.