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Virgin Media admits it 'fell short' in broadband speeds ahead of lashing from BBC's Watchdog

And staff on chopping block unhappy with internal comms

Virgin Media has admitted it "fell short" in delivering broadband speeds ahead of a BBC Watchdog report due to air tonight which found customers in some areas receive 3 per cent of the 200Mbps speed they were originally sold.

A letter from executive sales director Neil Bartholomew, seen by The Register, said: "Customers trust Virgin Media and it is our job to live up to that hard won reputation; balancing how we talk and work with customers with the facts a customer needs to know.

"BBC Watchdog has highlighted some cases where we have not lived up to this responsibility."

He said that the report highlights two main issues. Firstly, instances where customers are experiencing slower speeds at peak times. Secondly, examples of where staff have given incorrect statements about speeds to customers in areas with "a high-level utilisation" and not always reading the required "Broadband Honesty Statement" to new customers explaining how a customer's speed could vary at peak times.

"With the cases Watchdog shared with us, we fell short of the usual high standards we set for ourselves in the clarity of the information and quality of service we provide to our customers," he said.

The announcement comes as Virgin Media prepares to make 226 staff redundant. Insiders have claimed the redundancies were due to the UK ISP exaggerating the number of its superfast broadband Lightning connections.

However, feedback from employees on the company's intranet forum, seen by The Register, suggested staff are less than happy with the company's internal communications effort.

One said: "How come this wasn't briefed out to us all sooner rather than hearing it from the media over the weekend? Not good at all!"

Another said there was still confusion as to whether the 30 stores due to close are being shut because of the shortfall in Project Lightning numbers. "We have received over 10 calls already asking if we're still open. Surely, no one shouldn't really expect us to sell whilst people think we're shut already."

A third said: "It's now 14:57 on a Monday afternoon, I'm currently dealing with the 10th customer issue I've dealt with today... whilst we may be numbers, where are all these people supposed to go once we are gone?"

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media CEO, said that he was disappointed that the company "fell short of the high standards we set for ourselves and which our customers rightly expect of us.

"We apologise for the inconvenience to these customers and have resolved the issues they raised. All our sales agents have been re-briefed on the Company's sales policy and we are providing additional training to ensure everyone complies with it."

He noted that Virgin Media invests more than £1bn a year in its ultrafast network and is plunging £200m into upgrading network capacity where it's needed to meet the growing demand for faster broadband across the UK. ®

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