Our street has recently been cabled and we have been notified that service is live. I am interested in chaging to full fibre but have some questions current owners may be able to help with. The paperwork pushed through our letter box quite clearly states that prices can be increased during the contract. Does this happen? Initial prices are OK but future prices on the paperwork show significant increases for year 2 onwards. Do Virgin always reduce the cost back to realistic prices if asked? Can the supplied router be replaced with another I am more comfortable with? Are upload speeds really only 3Mbs? I get 18 with current provider. I currently get around 53Mbs with my current provider and it is very stable so if I do move it has to be for positive reasons rather than disatisfaction with current provider (only real problem is hanging on the phone waiting for an answer) Thanks
The paperwork pushed through our letter box quite clearly states that prices can be increased during the contract. Does this happen?
Yes. Annual price increases can be steep, up to 9% in recent years.
Initial prices are OK but future prices on the paperwork show significant increases for year 2 onwards.
Yes, VM operate a "bait and switch" business model, with attractive introductory prices that go up steeply at the end of the contract.
Do Virgin always reduce the cost back to realistic prices if asked?
Sometimes. But it depends on when you ask because VM obviously don't like long term discounting, and how likely VM's systems have predicted that you will switch provider. Some people have reported round here that they were point-blank refused a discount, when family and neighbours were. Having a good credit history makes you an attractive customer, but a history of switching providers for (eg phone, credit card, energy) flags up as somebody willing to move on (VM systems should see this through the exchange of credit reference data). It helps to say you're terminating the contract if they don't give you a discount, but if they call your bluff and you don't leave, then you've permanently given away your only leverage in future. Know whether you'd go back to Openreach connection, and how much you'd pay. Also, VM work on the basis that they can offer "free" or low cost speed upgrades, and they know/believe that this makes customers less likely to leave, so usually a retention discount might be say £4-7 a month for a phone+broadband offer, but they'll then say "but if we then add £2 a month we'll put you onto 100 Mbps". Note as well, if you get a discount at contract end, that discount runs for around 14 months, but starts a new twelve month contract lock in.
Can the supplied router be replaced with another I am more comfortable with?
The wifi router part of the supplied hub can be replaced with your own device, and that's a wise move as the Hub 3 is a very primitive device but you still have to use the Hub 3 as a cable modem.
Are upload speeds really only 3Mbs?
I assume that's the upload associated with a 50 MB/s download contract speed? If that's what they say, the answer is yes. VM are uncompetitive with Openreach for upload speeds on most connections, although you'd probably match Openreach on VM's fastest 350-500 contracts.
I get 18 with current provider. I currently get around 53Mbs with my current provider and it is very stable so if I do move it has to be for positive reasons rather than disatisfaction with current provider (only real problem is hanging on the phone waiting for an answer)
Don't come to Virgin Media then. You're happy with your current speeds, you'll get stitched up for a big price hike at end of contract, and VM customer support is the worst of any company I have ever encountered. All billing queries and first line support is via the world's worst offshore call centre, and all telesales, upgrades and customer retention is done from UK call centres - which shows how much they value loyal customers!
If you're happy with current speeds but not service, consider switching to a new Openreach provider - Zen Internet have a very good reputation for service, as do Aquiss or Uno. Avoid the big boys like BT, EE, Sky because they all operate similar business models to VM.
VM customer support is the worst of any company I have ever encountered. All billing queries and first line support is via the world's worst offshore call centre, and all telesales, upgrades and customer retention is done from UK call centres - which shows how much they value loyal customers!
plusnet are equally bad if not worse, and they are UK based !
Thanks for all the replies which have helped clear a few things in my mind. My current contract runs to mid September so perhaps I will compare renewal costs with Virgin prices in August and look at further reviews for Virgin How did you know that I am currently with Plusnet chenks?
"plusnet are equally bad if not worse, and they are UK based !"
I don't doubt you're right, chenks! Plusnet, EE, BT are all part of the BT plc group, which is almost a guarantee of awfulness. There's no magic that says a UK call centre will provide good service, it's just that there's plenty of evidence that when a business designs its service centres for low cost, service quality is diabolical, but becomes materially worse when you mix in low paid, poorly trained high-turnover agents who are required to stick to poor quality scripted responses delivered with poor language skills.
I've had excellent customer service from all manner of international service centres, but I know (working in an adjacent customer service sector) that the only way of getting excellence is to design for that, to keep working at it day in day out, and to accept that it costs money to create good customer experience. And it isn't just the design, because pay rates for multi-lingual, technically competent, customer focused agents will be dramatically higher than the going rate for the script monkeys that VM, Sky etc want to employ via their offshore service providers.
The wider evidence of things like Which and ISP Review data is that large long established ISPs are complacent, not customer focused, offer weak customer service, and all operate introductory pricing models that punish loyalty - in all respects a bit like incumbent energy suppliers. UK call centres alone doesn't always mean better, nor even does smaller size, but the data shows that the best ISPs are almost entirely drawn from the smaller to mid-sized UK based companies who only survive by offering a better grade of customer service. For prospective customers, the ISP Review analysis of cheapest, best and alternative ISPs is worth reading - all three pages, not just the first page that looks at the big boys.
To be fair, when VM works, the service is fast and robust, and if you're lucky you don't have to speak to them ever. But it isn't cheap, and if things go wrong they can be very painful to sort out. VM isn't a service I would recommend without those significant caveats, and even though the connection is fast and mostly reliable, I'm within spitting distance of ditching my 200 Mbps connection and ending a customer relationship that has lasted over quarter of a century. Vermin Media really ought to think on that, but we know from experience that management don't read these forums, nor pay attention if messages are passed up the chain by the customer service agents who do respond. My elderly parents are moving house at the moment I've already ensured that they won't repeat their last mistake of signing up with one of these larger companies, who are all equally useless at customer service, and for which their old VDSL + phone line price crept up over several years to almost £90 a month (that's Sky).