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Orphan Email accounts

Introduction

This information applies to all four Virgin Media Email domains.

  • virgin.net
  • virginmedia.com
  • blueyonder.co.uk
  • ntlworld.com

Customers are increasingly coming on the Forum's after having email accounts locked/deleted.  This post looks at one of the reasons for this.  Although it's not the only one.  While the majority of customers have been virgin.net email users.  This can and does affect all the domains listed above.

Disclaimer

I am not a Virgin Employee, any opinions in this post are entirely my own, however I will endeavour to separate out my opinions where appropriate.  All information posted as factual is based on my personal understanding of Virgin's email system, some of which is supported by information gained from staff on these Fora.

Entitlement to use of Virgin Media's Email service.

To be able to use Virgin Media's email service a customer must have an active internet account with Virgin Media.  Past and current internet connection methods were:

Dial up - there were a number of services, the virgin.net service was a joint venture between the Virgin Group and ntl/telewest.  To keep a dial up account and it's associated email addresses active it was necessary to dial in to the service at least once every 180 days.  This service closed in 2013.  Any email access SHOULD have been lost naturally once the dial up service closed.

ADSL - Users who were had a BT line and were not in a cabled area used to be able to connect to Virgin Media internet via an ADSL modem.  However Virgin Media sold this service to TalkTalk in 2015.  All users were advised at time of transfer that their email access would cease 12 months after transfer.  That 12 months expired last June.

Cable Internet - This is the ONLY current method of getting internet from Virgin Media.  If a customer leaves then email access SHOULD cease after 90 days.

Orphan Accounts

Sadly some email accounts have remained open long after the cut off dates these are termed orphan accounts.  However just because you still have access to these accounts, it doesn't mean that using them is a good idea.

The terms and conditions clearly state that while the service is free, you must have an active internet account with Virgin Media in order to be entitled to use of any of the additional services they supply.  This means that users continuing to rely on these addresses as their main point of contact risk losing access to the email service at any time WITHOUT WARNING, as Virgin Media can and do clean up these accounts.

Caveats

This does mean that some users will find themselves in an awkward position.  Imagine the following scenarios.

User of a dial up or ADSL service who went on to get a cable account.

Let's assume for a moment that I signed up to "Free internet access" with virgin.net's dial up service.  I then later went on to get a blueyonder account, but continued to use the virgin.net address

Once I reached the cut off date to keep the virgin.net account active then the address should have closed.  If it didn't and I carried on using it, then the virgin.net would be an orphan address as it's not attached to my active broadband account.

In such a situation it's possible for Virgin Media to attempt to attach the virgin.net addresses to my active account.  BUT in doing so they would wipe any and all other addresses on that account.  It's sadly not possible to keep the addresses from both accounts.

Returning Cable customers

Assume I left Virgin Media, and then came back at a later point, if a new account is created then unless the old addresses were linked to the new account from the outset.  The old addresses would become orphan accounts.  Again in this situation Virgin media can do a move and transfer which would move the old addresses to the new account, but again this would be at the expense of any addresses currently linked to the new account.

So it is possible to have an active broadband account, but still have an old email address locked.

I don't have Virgin Broadband, can someone get me access to my mails?

While Virgin Media's support teams have assisted former customers in the past.  They now appear to be focusing on current customers, who after all have a reasonable expectation of support in this situation.  This means that if you no longer have an active internet account Virgin Media are unlikely to offer any further support.

Can't I just pay for email access?

Sadly no, Virgin Media do not have a billing option for email only accounts, it is provided gratis to existing customers only.

Virgin say that they can give me access if I sign up for a broadband account, surely that's blackmail?

It's not blackmail, it's the unfortunate reality of how Virgin Media's system works, if an account is not tied to an active broadband account then it is at risk of removal.

I have an account can I get access to my email?

If you have a current broadband account then Virgin Media can ATTEMPT to link the old email address to your account if you so wish.  As explained above, this would result in any email addresses currently linked to the account being deleted though.

This is affecting my business, I want compensation!

I've seen people bemoaning a detrimental effect to their business, so I wanted to add my PERSONAL thoughts here.

I'm not a lawyer myself so I would recommend people seek proper legal advice in such a situation, however when we sign up for our accounts we all tick the box to say we've read and accept the terms and conditions.  Whether we've read them or not makes little difference.  Virgin Media's email service is provided as a service to residential customers.  It is forbidden to use a Virgin Media email service for business use.  

To add to this because the service is geared at residential customers, there are no SLA's with regard to uptime.  There are also other considerations, most advice is that no business should rely on a free email address when conducting business.  It's far better to invest in your own domain, and either host email yourself or use a professional business orientated email host.

Final thoughts.

In this day and age it's probably not best to use an ISP provided email address as a main contact address.  There are many free email services that cater for residential customers.

Also if you know someone who is using a Virgin Media email and does not have broadband with them, please recommend to them that they get another address ASAP.

Tim

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