[A] Some problems with Virgin Media

This post originally appeared on an old blog on 1st August 2013. It’s part of a series of posts which I’m “recovering” from the archives.

The topic of this post deals with Virgin Media and some technical trouble I seemed to be having. I guess that’s still a thing that happens. Full disclosure – the issues mentioned here are 6 years old.

[edited lede 2019]

Some problems with Virgin Media

Firstly, There is a problem with our Hardware. The V+ box (hardware version 2) itself is a nonsensical entity. The software within these boxes is designed to only record 2 things at once. That’s all they were ever designed to or advertised to do. When recording, a little red light appears on the front panel for each of the 2 recording slots.

Why then, I ask you, does our box have 3 little red lights? Bad hardware aside, the software itself is obviously upset with the inherent incompatibility. It will occasionally choose to record 3 things at once, despite the fact it is not able to. This corrupts the recordings, and freezes the software. From here, the only available action to take is to reboot the box, because of course it can’t do this itself. It has done so before, restarting itself i mean, but not when frozen; When running normally.

More software problems are that it is supposed to find and resolve recording clashes itself. It is fine for manually chosen recordings, but not on “full series” recordings. It will list there is a potential clash, but it will spontaneously ignore these in favour of just recording everything anyway, and crashing. As well as this major annoyance, it will “restore” programs we supposedly lost. These so-named “recovered content” have a whole set of issues as well, which I will now list for your amusement:

  • There are sometimes two listed items set to record. these are both known as “recovered content”
  • These planned recordings often are listed as taking up over “600h” recording time.
  • The box only has 80h max available when empty.
  • You cannot cancel these recordings
  • The recovered content listed in the “recorded programmes” section do not have an assigned channel
  • This confuses the box more
  • These programmes cannot then be played because “these programmes were recorded from a TV channel not on your subscription package”
  • All of this in ignorance that we did not ask for content recovery.

OK. That aside for now. When we called them most recently, they informed us that our machine was at 95% capacity. False telemetry of course, as there were only 10/80hrs being used. 12.5% is most certainly not 95%. On top of this, the advice given when we called support initially was to reboot the machine. No use whatsoever, of course, because this action has been replicated many times beforehand. We were then told to reformat our box. This.. was most certainly not a reformatting.

Erasing the contents of the recordings hard drive does not mean it has been reformatted. And that’s what happened. The box shut down, and for a few seconds showed a message on the front panel saying “REFO”. A reformatting of a drive with several hundred gigabytes should take much longer than a few seconds. So we lost all of our recordings, and the settings on the main machine drive, that handles all of the software, is exactly the same. Indicating that it has not been reset at all. Just turned on and off again.

In short, No-one at virgin media seems to have any idea how technology works, and are clearly reading from a pre-defined list of solutions. Most of which range from “restart the damn thing” to “make them pay for a new one”. Wait.. Actually no, those are probably the only solutions.


Another issue i have with virgin media is that while we are currently their customers, we continue to receive junk mail, err, i mean “advertisements” from them. They have our address on file, why they are sending homeowner ads for joining them is beyond my comprehension. There should be a law against this.

This is arguably not the worst part. Despite us being with them for the past however many years, and despite us being on a more high-end package, meaning they get more money, we cannot actually get any of the cool freebies they are offering on the ads because we are already customers. We cannot get a free TiVo box and all of the various discounts it brings because we are already paying them money. The not so helpful man on the phone told us the only way to access this would be to cancel our current subscription and take on a new one. This makes no sense to me, as they would inevitably lose money from this. I am certain we pay more now than we would on a new service, even with all the services we are currently subscribed to.

In short, the marketing team at virgin media are a bunch of idiots who have no concept of making a good deal seem both appealing and actually usable for various people.


So yes, Virgin Media are not the best company out there. Pity that, because the services they provide (when they do actually work) are pretty good. I am severely disappointed in their conduct of both managing to produce defective hardware and the obviously shoddy QA that went with it, their inability to provide helpful advice on their customer support line, and their problematic advertisement scheme. Well done, Virgin Media, Well done on making yourselves out to be a rag-tag bunch of idiots and annoying your customers.

Not that any of the other companies out there are liable to be much better.

Comment

Vivaldi