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Orphan email accounts – how long is forever?

Orphaned accounts was something I was completely unaware of until I started having issues logging into my virgin.net account a few months back. Probably confusion on my part, believing I’d updated my password. Fortunately, I reverted to my previous password and was able to access my emails.

However, I’d started reading many of the stories of orphaned accounts, here and elsewhere.

I still have all my emails going back over 10 years, and, like most users, have never received anything from Virgin to advise me that my account would ever be deleted or orphaned, but that seems to be the case from what I read on these forums.

Neither have I agreed to any terms and conditions that require me to have an active internet account with Virgin Media to retain my email address. In fact, I’d be interested if someone could point me towards the relevant clause. What I’m thinking this refers to is that part of the process for registering for a Virgin Media account now requires an account number and area reference. Both of these I already have from whenever my account was set up. I don’t believe it means retention of your email address requires an internet account.

Note that when I do sign in to Virgin Media (using my virgin.net account) and navigate to my account details, my account name is a virginmedia.com one and it states that I do have one service, which happens to be Virgin Media Mail.

Interestingly, I received an email from Virgin in 2010 prompting me to get a virginmedia.com email address, which I duly did, although, as mentioned above, I still log in with my virgin.net address (I can’t access any emails when logging on using my virginmedia.com username).

The 2010 email stated the following:

“If you’ve got an ntlworld.com, blueyonder.co.uk or virgin.net email address, you can now get a virginmedia.com address, and all the mail received at your old address can be automatically forwarded to your new one – forever.”

So does “forever” mean forever, does it mean until Virgin randomly decides to delete it, or does it mean until I’ve been forced to take a Virgin product to keep my email address?

I’m in the position now of not knowing whether or not my account will be deleted.

Fine, I can start to put contingencies in place to archive my emails and contacts. But then I have over 300 accounts, services and subscriptions in place which use my virgin.net email address, which is more than inconvenient to have to update.

Overall, the communication regarding this issue is poor – in fact non-existent. Witness the number of messages on these forums. A consistent approach and message should have been communicated many years ago to all users. The fact that there are several articles on the Help & Support pages dated 2017 and 2018 which still refer to the ntlworld.com, blueyonder.co.uk or virgin.net email addresses, without any mention of needing to stop using these accounts, just perpetuates the confusion.

So – will my virgin.net email address operate forever (as promised) or end up deleted forever?

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Re: Orphan email accounts – how long is forever?


@wako65 wrote:

Neither have I agreed to any terms and conditions that require me to have an active internet account with Virgin Media to retain my email address. In fact, I’d be interested if someone could point me towards the relevant clause. What I’m thinking this refers to is that part of the process for registering for a Virgin Media account now requires an account number and area reference. Both of these I already have from whenever my account was set up. I don’t believe it means retention of your email address requires an internet account.


Here are the original virgin.net terms for Email back in 2002:

https://web.archive.org/web/20020210213345/http://www.virgin.net/terms/payg_tc.html

Service" means the service provided by Virgin.net, referred to as Pay As You Go, whereby you may gain direct access to the Internet via the telecommunications network, charged on a pence per minute basis, and, where applicable, gain access to any services and facilities provided by Virgin.net for you in connection with the Service;

or

"Service" means the service provided by Virgin.net LDA whereby you may gain direct access to the Internet via the telecommunications network and, where applicable, any services and facilities provided by Virgin.net LDA for you in connection with the Service;

Effect of Account Cancellation

  1. You shall be responsible for all relevant Charges relating to your account up until the Effective Date of Cancellation.
  2. Any email and webspace data will be deleted and we regret that we will be unable to retrieve this data. Virgin.net will reimburse you for any day's service, which you have already paid for but no longer require. This is calculated as the number of days between the effective date of cancellation and your next due billing date, provided that the account is not already in arrears.

Virgin.net may terminate this agreement and the Service or may suspend all or a part of the Service by immediate notice, if:

  1. you are in breach of any of the terms of this agreement. Virgin.net may otherwise terminate this agreement without notice if it deems, in its sole discretion, such termination necessary, provided that Virgin.net will reimburse you upon such termination of account, for any days service that you have already paid for in advance but cannot use;
  2. you have failed to use the Service by direct access in any 60 day period. All email and webspace content including your email address will be deleted and will not be retrievable.

Here's them from when Virgin.net became part of Virgin Media in 2007 through to the closure of Dial Up and ADSL services in 2015 which include the same terms as above:
https://web.archive.org/web/20070329044953/http://www.virgin.net/terms/payg_tc.html
https://web.archive.org/web/20150707133447/http://store.virginmedia.com:80/the-legal-stuff/terms-and...

And here's the specific ADSL version:

https://web.archive.org/web/20150707195731/http://store.virginmedia.com/the-legal-stuff/terms-and-co...

2. You shall be responsible for all charges relating to your account up until the effective cancellation date. On account cancellation, any email and webspace (Freespace) data, all email addresses) both primary and secondary email addresses) and any other features provided as part of the services will be deleted and we regret that we will be unable to retrieve this data. We will not be able to reassign the same email addresses to you at a later date if you decide to re-register. In all cases without exception Virgin Media is not responsible for any equipment purchased by you and cannot offer reimbursement of any equipment upon cancellation.

So it's always been the case for virgin.net email that if you didn't use the connected internet service then you'd lose your email.

When dial up and ADSL access closed it was then the case you'd need Virgin Fibre broadband to continue with the email service. Neither Virgin.net or Virgin Media have ever run email services for non-Internet customers.

**********************************
I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
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Re: Orphan email accounts – how long is forever?


@wako65 wrote:

Orphaned accounts was something I was completely unaware of until I started having issues logging into my virgin.net account a few months back. Probably confusion on my part, believing I’d updated my password. Fortunately, I reverted to my previous password and was able to access my emails.

However, I’d started reading many of the stories of orphaned accounts, here and elsewhere.

I still have all my emails going back over 10 years, and, like most users, have never received anything from Virgin to advise me that my account would ever be deleted or orphaned, but that seems to be the case from what I read on these forums.

Neither have I agreed to any terms and conditions that require me to have an active internet account with Virgin Media to retain my email address. In fact, I’d be interested if someone could point me towards the relevant clause. What I’m thinking this refers to is that part of the process for registering for a Virgin Media account now requires an account number and area reference. Both of these I already have from whenever my account was set up. I don’t believe it means retention of your email address requires an internet account.

Think of it like this, maintaining an email system (your email address)  and the associated mailbox servers and storage isn’t free. It costs VM money to keep them running, How much are you contributing to the running of this system? if you don’t have a VM account and don’t pay for any of their services then you are contributing nothing but are expecting to retain the benefits - in fact you are expecting that everyone else who does pay for VM services should subsidise you.

Note that when I do sign in to Virgin Media (using my virgin.net account) and navigate to my account details, my account name is a virginmedia.com one and it states that I do have one service, which happens to be Virgin Media Mail.

Interestingly, I received an email from Virgin in 2010 prompting me to get a virginmedia.com email address, which I duly did, although, as mentioned above, I still log in with my virgin.net address (I can’t access any emails when logging on using my virginmedia.com username).

Yes because back when Blueyonder and NTL merged and rebranded themselves as Virgin Media, they wanted to promote their new identity and move away from the old ones. They wanted to encourage their customers to get themselves virginmedia.com email addresses and ideally wanted users to slowly move away from the @ntlworld.com and @blueyonder addresses. There wasn’t, as far as I know, any plans to get rid of the old addresses, it was expected that they would slowly fade away into obscurity.

The 2010 email stated the following:

“If you’ve got an ntlworld.com, blueyonder.co.uk or virgin.net email address, you can now get a virginmedia.com address, and all the mail received at your old address can be automatically forwarded to your new one – forever.”

Yes, if you wanted, you could set it up so that any emails arriving at your ntlworld.com etc. addresses could be automatically forwarded to your shiny, new virginmedia.com ones. And this could continue indefinitely, but on the understanding that you continued to be a VM customer. 

So does “forever” mean forever, does it mean until Virgin randomly decides to delete it, or does it mean until I’ve been forced to take a Virgin product to keep my email address?

Well for as long as you are a customer - in theory once you stop being a customer, the email address and mailbox should be deleted 90 days later - VM have been very lax in doing so however, but these ‘orphaned’ mailboxes were always living on borrowed time.

I’m in the position now of not knowing whether or not my account will be deleted.

Are you current VM broadband customer? If the answer is no then your email address and mailbox WILL at some point, probably in the near future be deleted.

Fine, I can start to put contingencies in place to archive my emails and contacts. But then I have over 300 accounts, services and subscriptions in place which use my virgin.net email address, which is more than inconvenient to have to update.

Overall, the communication regarding this issue is poor – in fact non-existent. Witness the number of messages on these forums. A consistent approach and message should have been communicated many years ago to all users. The fact that there are several articles on the Help & Support pages dated 2017 and 2018 which still refer to the ntlworld.com, blueyonder.co.uk or virgin.net email addresses, without any mention of needing to stop using these accounts, just perpetuates the confusion.

Arguably yes, communication from VM can and has been somewhat poor, but it would have been in your original terms of service that your right to use VM’s (or the precursor companies) email services was dependent on you being a paying customer of them. There’s never been a need to stop using the legacy addresses if you want (assuming again that you are a current customer) - but you can’t create new ones, it’s just virginmedia.com only from now on

So – will my virgin.net email address operate forever (as promised) or end up deleted forever?


VM really haven’t done themselves any favours by not making sure that email accounts were properly deleted once accounts were closed, allowing them to linger on in a sort of zombie state probably meant that over time people simply forgot that these accounts shouldn’t have been working at all and just carried on with them. But the golden rule would be, if you are not paying for something, then you really can’t expect to benefit from it!

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Re: Orphan email accounts – how long is forever?

Thanks for the responses Ben and Jem.

I think in the current environment it's often easy to conflate email services from an ISP with "free" email services from the likes of Google. This is further compounded when there's been an inconsistent or non-application of the terms and conditions. My email address was not deleted for not using dial up in a 60-day period. Nor were my emails deleted after they were 90 days old. But then these terms and conditions may look draconian on the face of it but end up being couched in language such as "may" and "guidelines" such that one could be forgiven for thinking the service would continue indefinitely.

I'm also used to receiving emails from other services to remind me that they will be terminated if I don't log in or otherwise use them; something which has not happened in this case.

I don't envy those people who have lost access to 10-15 years' worth of emails without any warning, other than having to remember what they signed up for 15+ years ago.

It sounds like I'm way past the point at which my email account should have been removed, unless my creation of a virginmedia.com address somehow created a temporary stay of execution.

Fortunately I'm in the situation of identifying this before the switch is flicked, so I've already imported my emails to my Gmail account and archived them using the excellent MailStore Home software. Now I've the unenviable task of updating my username and email contact details across 300+ accounts and subscriptions....

Once I've done this, and assuming my virgin.net account is still active, can I close it down myself or can I request it here (or through customer services)?

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Re: Orphan email accounts – how long is forever?

Hi Wako65, 

Thanks for your post and welcome to our community. 

I can see you've had some great responses to this. 

I just wanted to advise that if your email account is still active after 90 days of your broadband being disconnected then we would need to close the account for you via an IT ticket. 

If this does become the case just let us know and we'll be able to help. 

Emma_C - Forum Team
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