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Broadband customers in Crawley slam Virgin Media over 'big con' advertised speeds

Thursday, January 29th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Virgin Media has come under fire from customers in a town in West Sussex who have suffered months of problems with its broadband service.

Several customers in Crawley have told Cable.co.uk they are considering ditching the service and switching to alternative providers, after suffering a raft of issues from slow speeds and unstable connections to poor customer service.

Matthew McLaren, whose father signed up with Virgin at the start of last year, said he had suffered an array of problems that remain unresolved despite claiming to have had at least five engineer visits.

They include: loss of speed; loss of connection; packet loss, which is when chunks of information do not make it to their destination, causing games to freeze or stutter; and variable latency, the time it takes for information to travel from a games console to the internet and back.

“They have led to my father sitting in coffee shops and using mobile tethering to continue working from his home office,” he said.

“And then we’re not able to use the broadband in the evenings for anything that requires a steady stream of bandwidth, like streaming or gaming.”

Mr McLaren claimed Virgin had cited “over-utilisation” – effectively too many people using the service at the same time – as the problem, but said in his view the firm should provide enough bandwidth for all of its customers.

His father has now ordered a fibre connection from Plusnet that he plans to run alongside his Virgin connection to make up for the slow and inconsistent speeds he currently receives.

Pauline Leaphard, who also lives in Crawley, said she pays for a package that is said to offer speeds of “up to 100Mbps” yet has never had more than 22Mbps.

Under current advertising guidelines, broadband providers can say they provide "up to" a certain speed even if only 10% of customers will actually get that speed.

'Big con'

“This ‘up to’ figure is a big con,” Mrs Leaphard said. “We would have left by now but we have been with Virgin since it was Blueyonder and my husband’s business uses a Blueyonder email address that he was loath to change.

“Speeds do vary but we have never had over 22Mbps.”

They often have to refresh windows while browsing, and suffer poor picture quality and out-of-sync talking when trying to stream on Netflix, she said. The family now plans to cancel their contract with Virgin in April.

Retired brigadier Gary Stevens, from town's Bewbush area, said he had been suffering intermittent speeds nowhere near the 60Mbps he was expecting to get since around October.

He said he had previously been told the problem was due to the number of people joining the network in the area, but said: “I think the real problem is Virgin has too many customers who have been promised fast broadband when in reality the infrastructure is incapable and unable to cope with the huge demand.”

And Norman Dalgetti, who also lives in Crawley, said he received an adqeuate service from Virgin when he joined in February 2014 but when his service was “improved” to 150Mbps, it became “wildly inconsistent”, ranging from 6Mbps up to 150Mbps, but mostly falling between 30-60Mbps.

“I am seriously not impressed by paying nearly £50 a month for dial-up performance,” he told Cable.co.uk.

He had been advised not to use wi-fi and to buy a cable, then was told his two-year-old laptop was not “up to the job”, Mr Dalgetti said.

He said he had not been told anything about utilisation or congestion issues on the network, but even if he had, did not see it as his problem.

“I am the customer, I am paying through the nose for 150Mbps and I expect to get 150Mbps. How they achieve it is not my concern.”

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We are close to completing our latest programme of investment which, area-by-area, has introduced the fastest widely available broadband to much of the country.

"We are looking into these specific customers’ concerns to ensure the work scheduled in Crawley will result in them enjoying the superfast speeds our customers receive elsewhere.”

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