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Virgin Media UK Users Struggle to Add Symmetric Broadband Speeds

Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2024 (7:56 am) - Score 17,800
1_Virgin-Media-O2-UK-Hub-5-Router

Some of UK ISP Virgin Media’s (VMO2) existing broadband customers in nexfibre areas have complained that, due to confusion within the provider’s support team, they’ve struggled to add the new +£6 per month symmetric speed boost to their package, which was recently launched alongside the new 2Gbps plan (here).

Just to recap. The option to add symmetrical speeds – “across all of its speed tiers” within nexfibre’s full fibre areas (covering almost 1 million UK premises) – was launched on 7th February 2024 and would set existing customers back an extra £6 per month. But it ended up taking a few days before the new 2Gbps service and optional speed boost actually became available via Virgin Media’s website (here).

However, it didn’t take long before reports of problems started to appear on both the internet provider’s own Community Forum and ISPreview’s Forum, with most of the complaints about the £6 speed boost being linked back to customer support agents giving out incorrect information.

Part of the issue appears to stem from the fact that existing customers in nexfibre areas can’t simply click a button to add the new boost to their package. Instead, the postcode checker confirms that the “Upload speed add-on” is available for £6 a month on a rolling 30-day contract, but those who then try to change their package under “My Account” (or via the App) are prompted to start an online chat and this is where the issues start (it’s a similar experience for those who try calling).

Agents are either telling customers [the symmetric speed add-on] doesn’t exist, that the contract needs to be cancelled, and a new order placed, or we’re being quoted inflated prices,” said one of those affected (Brumski). In other cases, the support agents have also been stating that their 1Gbps and 2Gbps packages include symmetric upload speeds by default in nexfibre areas, which they do not (it’s 100Mbps and 200Mbps respectively).

ISPreview queried the situation with Virgin Media, which confirmed that their 1Gbps and 2Gbps packages don’t come with symmetric speeds and that those customers who live in areas served by nexfibre’s network can add the optional upload speed add-on for £6 extra per month. In addition, Virgin told us that all customer care agents have now been fully briefed on Gig2, and they are currently reminding them of their processes on how to add the service to accounts.

A Spokesperson for VMO2 told ISPreview:

“We apologise to the small number of customers who have experienced an issue adding symmetrical services to their account. We are reminding agents of our processes for this new service.”

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for Virgin Media’s customer service teams to be out of the loop with the provider’s latest developments, which is an issue that has come up with a number of past product launches too. We’ll be keeping an eye out over the next few days to see if there’s any change for those who have been trying to get the service added to their accounts.

In the future, it may be wise for customers to wait a few weeks before pursuing one of VMO2’s new product launches, since that appears to be about how long it takes for their support teams to be brought up to speed. Comically, during research for this piece, some of the provider’s support agents told us that they often get news of new product launches from ISPreview, before VMO2 itself tells them.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
46 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Connor says:

    Virgin really seem to both be horrible at not being up-to-date on their own packages but also seemingly stern on any misinformation they had.

    Had a woman from Virgin flat out tell me the package I was on didn’t exist at one point

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Some staff still deny that VM Stream is an available product despite it being out for ages now.
      VM Forums have customers that have posted about it. Amazing how representatives don’t even know their own companies products and services. Training/Communication problem.

  2. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

    The issue here is clearly the lack of communications from their product teams to their frontline teams.

    If you are making changes then you need to properly communicate those changes in advance of go live date, and also ensure that adequate training is given on how to process any requests.

    Doesn’t surprise me that company with a history of dropping stuff on its staff continues to just drop stuff on its staff.

    Clear lack of leadership on the part of those in the organisation responsible for communicating change.

  3. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    Proper training for call centre staff is probably deemed to expensive to bother with, especially when your staff turnover is no doubt at a rate of knots. Tells you a lot about these companies senior management.

    1. Avatar photo john says:

      Yeah and if they had a functioning website where you could upgrade, downgrade, sign up and cancel and get the same offers as over the phone they wouldn’t need so many call centre staff in the first place.

  4. Avatar photo Kevin says:

    I don’t know how they can mess this up, it seems the public has access to more information.

  5. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

    This just sounds like SNAFU for VM.

    The only people I’ve ever had zero issues with was their field engineers.

    I’ve had enough issues with their CS that a hallucinating AI chatbot would be a slight
    improvement….at least I wouldn’t be waiting around as long for the same results.

  6. Avatar photo Steve says:

    I work in customer service for virgin media. Reading this article is the first I have heard about the £6 add on for symmetrical speed so either these customers have a separate service team or we havnt been briefed as stated in virgins response!

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Not being briefed sounds about right.

      As much as leaving things to the last minute is sound from the perspective of not letting your rivals know, if the act of selecting the new product requires different processes to be followed by the frontline staff then they really need to be communicating to them in advance.

    2. Avatar photo Iain says:

      Not sure whether the respond with a lol or a sigh…

    3. Avatar photo Vm emp says:

      Maybe read up on message centre more often?

  7. Avatar photo Al says:

    When the public know more about VM than their own staff, you know there is a massive problem. Does not bode well for any consumer confidence

  8. Avatar photo Phil says:

    Pointless to have 2Gig for home user!

    1. Avatar photo DazaMcC says:

      Pointless for you! I’d take 10gbs if I could get it.

    2. Avatar photo R says:

      Not everyone with a residential broadband connection is a “home user”. People often run their businesses from home, and if that involves a lot of cloud storage then the upload would be incredibly useful.

      I’m not one of those people, but to pretend they don’t exist is ridiculous.

    3. Avatar photo Tempest3K says:

      For you maybe, my other half does a lot of stuff with streaming and video – it’s only used at capacity for limited times (sharing of files in both directions) but 1Gig has been a game changer for this and we’re considering 2Gig for both our links (1 Yayzi & 1 VM/NexFibre)…

      It’s nice to be able to use the internet when those tasks are happening too, which wasn’t an option on our old VDSL!

    4. Avatar photo ad47uk says:

      For the majority maybe and to be honest 1Gb.s is as well, I expect the majority of people would be fine with 100Mb/s.

      If all they do is streaming and use their phones and maybe a bit of gaming then 100Mb/s will work fine with that, It is ISps who push people to get higher speed they don’t really need, to get more money.
      I am dropping to the lowest speed I can, 150Mb/s after my contract is out. I would drop half that if they did it for a lower price.

      Saying all of that, there are some people who will find a use for the higher speeds, if they have a lot in the house or send/receive a lot of data, still not sure if they need 2Gb/s, some people may just think they do.

      Get to a certain speed where the difference is not noticeable unless you send a huge amounbt of data.
      just like computers, where some people buy a superfast computer and then end up just doing a bit of office work.

    5. Avatar photo Sarcasm with a point says:

      OMG everyone stop what you’re doing Phil says it’s pointless, Phil must know everyone’s unique situations, requirements and wanted bragging rights better than they know themselves

      In other news you are now only allowed to buy a Dacia Sandero now, what’s the point spending more?
      Also only Moto G54s from now on, everyone only uses their phones to scroll TikTok anyway so what’s the point spending more?

      Heaven forbid anyone has any luxury in their lives..

    6. Avatar photo Don'tBeLikePhil says:

      What Phil actually meant to say was “I can’t get 2Gig so I don’t want anyone else to have it either”

      God forbid someone wants something. I assume Phil only wears beige clothes and only drinks water as anything other colour clothes or different drinks are completely pointless.

    7. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      Waiting to place my 2Gb symmetric order. I am not your typical home user. However, more importantly, to say “100Mb/s is fast enough” – please, people need to stop perpetuating this nonsense statement.

    8. Avatar photo Ferrocene Cloud says:

      Who are these people who are taking out an expensive service if it’s pointless?

      Regular people don’t want to pay that much, so that means it’s a premium product. A handful might have money to burn, but the chances are people who want it have some use case. Even if it’s downloading occasional 200GB game updates, that’s a use case.

      Home workers and people running a business from home also have use cases if they’re running cloud storage.

      Sure, if you have to ask the question if you need speeds this fast, clearly the answer is no. But there are plenty of people who would find it useful.

    9. Avatar photo Rich says:

      Pointless to post about how the speeds companies offer are pointless every article.

  9. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

    Everyone is commenting on the poor customer service (and quite rightly) but no one has pointed out the root cause; the erection of an artificial barrier purely for the purpose of gouging more money out of the customer to remove it. The connection should be symmetrical as standard.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      I thought that, but I was not going to say anything

      This is the same with Sky charging extra for HD and Netflix charging more for 4K, where in this day and age it should be standard if available

    2. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      I suspect the biggest problem is that not everyone has as much of a choice.

      My brother has a choice of OR, VM and Your Fibre whilst I have a choice of OR and potentially VM in the next year or so.

      Whilst I would like to symmetrical become more of a standard, at the same time you may have little choice if you desire the faster upload speeds.

      With VM going wholesale via nexfibre, perhaps a competitor can provide this.

    3. Avatar photo Ferrocene Cloud says:

      It’s more understandable on GPON since the upload is half the download, or a quarter in the case of asymmetric 10GPON, logically Openreach services should be providing upload speeds nearer to 50% of download. Given that the average user downloads more than they upload, you could probably safely get this quite close to a 1:1 figure like City Fibre do and allow a single user to potentially use 80-90% of upstream capacity.

      Market realities will probably change this in longer term. I can understand the business perspective in trying to squeeze more money out as an add on though.

    4. Avatar photo XGS says:

      The connection is whatever they want to sell. Could ask why they aren’t offering 8 Gbit given that’s the capacity of XGS but are instead limiting it, artificially, to 2 or whatever.

  10. Avatar photo john says:

    VM customer services management would struggle to organise a booze up in a brewery.

  11. Avatar photo Bill watch says:

    Pointless having 2Gig for home users with games consoles like ps5 and Xbox series x all my games are digital so at 1Gig package gig download speeds max out 940 mbps over wired so it’s a waste of money for a gig2 package broadband only.

    That’s the bottleneck is the 9th generation games consoles only got 1Gig Ethernet port.

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      If you have a USB-C port then you can buy an ethernet adaptor capable of handling up to 20Gbps, so not sure what point you’re trying to make

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Can download at a gigabit to both at once with Gig2.

      PCs will eat up the data.

    3. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      My PC and servers with 10Gbps NIC’s are ready and waiting for Gig2

  12. Avatar photo Bill watch says:

    Maybe the PlayStation 6 and the next Xbox consoles 10th generation hopefully might have 2.5GiG ether-port and WiFi 7.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Or better still a 10 Gig port

    2. Avatar photo Billwatch says:

      Agreed but lower your expectation’s.

    3. Avatar photo Rich says:

      Pc has it today 🙂

  13. Avatar photo Brian says:

    I was able to get the add on without much fuss. The live chat agent sorted it in 10 minutes… however… they aren’t charging £6 a month, it’s £11. I think the £6 is for new customers. I’ve only been an existing customer for a month as well, bit peeved.

    1. Avatar photo Paul says:

      You can argue that as the symmetric speed is meant to be a 30d addon and should not be different prices based on a new or old customer since it’s an addon not a ‘new service’

  14. Avatar photo MrJ says:

    I’m being told I’m on an asymmetrical package and I need to switch to a symmetrical package for £67 per month in order to get 1Gbps up and down and not just a £6pm add-on as it says on their announcement.

    If you go to place a new order the upload speed add-on option is there for £6pm….

    When I signed up for this service I was told the speeds were coming and I’d have them applied straight away at no extra cost, sales guys telling porkies just to get you to signup.

    Shocking customer service.

    1. Avatar photo M says:

      forum team can offer it to me for £78 lol unreal isnt it.

    2. Avatar photo MrJ says:

      After speaking with someone in retentions they explained that being an existing XGS-PON circuit customer before symmetrical speeds were available my account is in the asymmetric side of their system and to be able to have the upload speed add-on applied I would need to be moved over and incur the increased costs but have the existing discounts applied to it and remainder of my term to be kept the same.

      Absolutely ridiculous, why are there separate categories for XGS customers?

  15. Avatar photo MrBlu says:

    Meanwhile other European countries have symmetrical speeds as the norm and at cheaper prices. A friend of mine in Europe gets 500/500 for just over €35.

  16. Avatar photo Kieran says:

    I worked for VM for 14 years and we always got our updates about new products, changes to products, trials of new products from the media (ispreview, BBC etc) then we got updated from VM about 3-7 days later. This was before Liberty bought it, and after Liberty bought VM, and now it’s VM02 it looks like it has continued.

  17. Avatar photo Gemma says:

    Does that mean I can’t upload my onlyfans content as quickly as I like. I have 1000’s of followers.

  18. Avatar photo Her indoors says:

    Having worked in the world of B2B services and solutions, it is not unusual for the client to forget to inform service providers of vital information until the last minute or even after a product has launched. Now whist I didn’t work in the consumer facing sector, we were more B2B IT Support, so kind of critical to be told about new CMDB items, often we would only be told after an escalation as out front line support teams had not been informed of a new tool or service! I guess what I’m trying to say is, this is not by anyways unique to VM02 and is part of the issue with outsourcing support.

  19. Avatar photo John Maguire says:

    The thing to bear in mind is that VM’s customer service provision is based almost entirely on outsourced, third-party call centres, where it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to find that they are paid whatever passes for minimum wage in that part of the world, and has a staff turnover rivalling that of the Russian front line in eastern Ukraine!

    Similarly, I’d be astonished to find that any of the staff in said call centres have ever seen a VM hub, have any training whatsoever beyond, ‘answer the phone, follow this script, and are ‘discretely told’ if in doubt make something up, anything will do, just get the person off the phone, chalk up another successfully closed call and move on’. Because of course the metrics on which they are paid, rely on call closed numbers. Of course if the ‘agent’ outright lies and the poor customer has to call back, it’s someone else’s problem, but the call has been ‘closed’, it goes on the stats and they get paid.

    The idea that VM actually monitor or are too bothered about what the call centre staff are doing or saying, is laughable – the important thing is that the cliched ‘switch it off and on again’ solution does often work, and if their scripted responses solves, say 80% of the calls in, then who cares about the other 20%?

    Lastly, it does appear that VM are less of an ISP, but rather a marketing company, with an annoying tech company grafted on as a side issue!

    Yes, their marketing people do make claims, run campaigns, make offers of xyz, without actually bothering to see if xyz is possible, or if the CS staff are aware of it, and it seems that often no it’s not possible* and no of course they don’t pre warn the CS staff, or maybe they do, but the turnover is so high that all the ones who know have left before it takes effect!

    Here’s an example, many, many customers report (on VM’s own forums), that they are being sent emails offering to renew their contract and it quotes, ‘The same great package you have already for only £x extra’, except when they accept and get signed up, they then find that it excludes TNT sports, which they had before but is now a paid extra. So not ‘the same great package’ then! And this has been going on for months and months, despite it being pointed out – maybe something for the ASA to consider!

Comments are closed

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