Decent speeds can’t disguise the poor customer service and reliability
- Still offers some of the fastest speeds available
- Appalling customer services scores
- Concerns over network reliability
- Poor value for money
That gap has now closed completely in many parts of the country, with the full-fibre networks able to offer the same gigabit speeds as Virgin Media. That leaves little reason for customers in those areas to remain loyal to Virgin, given how consistently poorly it scores for customer service.
Only 39% of the Virgin Media customers we surveyed were satisfied with the company’s customer service. More than a quarter were unhappy – the worst scores of any of the 11 broadband providers we surveyed by quite some distance.
Interactions with the Contact Centre were equally dismal. A third of customers were left unhappy when they reached out to the support team. To put that into context, fewer than 1/20 Hyperoptic customers were unhappy with its Contact Centre’s performance.
Reliability, too, remains rocky at Virgin Media. Only Sky recorded a worse score in our survey for reliability, with 17% of Virgin customers declaring themselves dissatisfied.
Despite competitors playing catch-up, speed remains Virgin Media’s strongest suit. Almost 8/10 customers were happy with the speed of their connection, and it should be noted that Virgin underplays its hand on speed. Its Gig1 tariff actually has a maximum speed of 1.1Gbits/sec, for example, providing headroom to actually reach the stated speed, whereas many fibre providers call a 900Mbits/sec line “gigabit” broadband.
Let’s take a closer look at Virgin’s tariff lineup.
Virgin Media broadband review: M125, M250, M350, M500 and Gig1
Unlike many of the fibre providers, there’s no technological split in Virgin’s network. Whereas many fibre customers remain stranded on fibre-to-the-cabinet (or even ADSL) with its double-digit headline speeds, anyone within reach of the Virgin Media network can crank up their speeds all the way to gigabit broadband.
Virgin’s broadband-only deals (listed below) aren’t ridiculously priced, either. The £26/mth charged for M125 is cheaper than many FTTC connections, yet offers twice the download speed. Meanwhile, at the top end, £45/mth is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of what you can expect to pay for gigabit-grade lines.
Customers buying the top-tier Gig1 are treated to the Virgin Media Hub 5, a Wi-Fi 6 model that should help to get more speed to devices equipped with Wi-Fi 6 chips. If it doesn’t reach the back bedroom, Virgin sells extenders based on the excellent Plume technology for an additional monthly fee.
Those buying slower connections may be left with older Wi-Fi 5 routers, which certainly isn’t ideal for the M250, M350 or M500 customers. At least Virgin makes it relatively easy to put its routers in modem-only mode, meaning it’s simple to supplement its hubs with your own router equipment.
|Price per month (inc line rental)
Note: The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Retail Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%
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Virgin Media broadband review: Coverage
After a period of stagnation, Virgin Media is once again building out its network. It now reaches around 60% of UK properties, and you can check whether you can get high-speed broadband using the Virgin Media postcode checker.
Virgin Media’s network is largely based on DOCSIS – data over cable service interface specification – technology, which offers relatively poor upload speeds. For example, on a Gig1 line, you’ll only get 100Mbits/sec on the uplink, whereas some of the full-fibre providers can offer symmetrical connections with a gigabit in both directions. If upload speeds matter to you, it might be worth considering alternatives.
Virgin Media broadband review: Performance and customer satisfaction
Virgin Media has built its reputation on speed, and it’s by far the strongest category for Virgin in our survey. A healthy 79% of Virgin Media customers said they were happy with the speed they were receiving – only Hyperoptic and Zen Internet recorded better scores here. That means Virgin remains the speed king among the big beasts of the broadband industry.
It’s the rest of the service that badly lets down Virgin Media. According to our survey (carried out with YouGov) reliability is a worry, with fewer than 7/10 customers happy with the stability of their connection. Only Sky performs worse here.
Customer service is, frankly, a car crash. Less than 40% of the Virgin Media customers we surveyed are happy with the customer service, and 27% declare themselves unhappy with it. The Contact Centre is equally poor, with a third of customers left dissatisfied after reaching out for help. Regulator Ofcom’s figures show Virgin Media generates a higher than average level of complaints about its broadband service, too.
All of this taints Virgin Media customers’ sense of value for money. The company finished rock bottom of our Value table, with only 42% of customers believing they were getting good value for money and almost as many (31%) declaring themselves dissatisfied with the value on offer.
With more than half of Virgin’s customers telling us they were subject to a price increase in the past year, it’s unlikely those value scores are going to recover anytime soon. However, it’s always worth haggling with Virgin Media when it comes to price increases. It’s amazing how quickly the company will back down when you’re approaching the end of a contract, in particular.
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Virgin Media broadband review: Verdict
Despite the competition closing in, Virgin Media is still right up there when it comes to the speed of the connection. However, that’s where the good news ends. Poor customer service and reliability push Virgin down to the bottom of the pecking order.
Unless otherwise stated, all of the figures are drawn from a survey commissioned by Expert Reviews, with respondents and data supplied by YouGov PLC. The total sample size was 6,316 adults and the survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Great British adults (aged over 18).
We asked people how likely they would be to recommend their broadband provider to others and to rate its customer service, reliability, value, and speed. Only the 11 ISPs with over 50 respondents are included in our results above.