Virgin Media email customers enter third day of inbox infuriation

Users report they're still struggling to communicate ... and ask vendor to be more open

Updated Reg readers who use Virgin Media email say they're still struggling to gain access to their messages after a multi-day outage.

The issues have been ongoing since Sunday evening, although at least one reader has reported receiving their mail since then.

VM told some customers yesterday: "You are now able to send and receive emails as you normally would. However, you will have noticed that any emails received on or before 19 June will not be appearing in your inbox, sent items or any other folders."

Others still unable to access email at all – as well as anything dated before Monday June 19 – told us this morning that they'd received a "current estimated fix time" of 1300 UK time today, while another complained: "They've updated their fix ETA about six times a day since Sunday."*

Over on Twitter, Tim Baxter quipped: "Are you as confident about the 1pm target as you have been about the last 5 targets that you've missed?"

We've asked Virgin Media for an update on the fix. It told The Reg yesterday: "We apologize again to those individuals who have been experiencing issues with their email services since Monday. Our teams are continuing to work on restoring all users' access as a priority and we will do this as soon as possible."

For those customers looking to cool off and relax, there are some tips over on Virgin Media's social media orifice on how best to celebrate World Yoga Day.

Others say they would prefer a bit more communication and information on the technical problem behind the outage.

A reader told us earlier that that they believed Virgin Media had "accidentally" taken down their customer mail system on Sunday "and have been restoring it from a backup ever since."

They speculated that a failed update of Microsoft's Exchange Server on Sunday was involved and that VM has been restoring mail from a backup ever since. Virgin Media denied that was the cause or that they'd had any issue updating Microsoft's groupware.

A Reg reader claimed: "They also turned off their service status checker for everyone on Sunday night, so nobody can check the service status for their area."

The service status checker was back up at the time of publication and Virgin Media said it would look into potential outages but wasn't aware of any.

Over on the community forums, user KH89 complained just minutes before publication: "All my folders are missing and the emails prior to Monday, I need to access tickets for the weekend. This is a nightmare, I will end up losing a holiday as I have to pay the balance but cannot access the email to find the booking. Something needs to be done ASAP and regular updates."

A user calling themselves DaveNutts chimed in: "I appreciate the team are working hard but a bit more info as to what the problem is, how it is being fixed and why each fix deadline is not being met! I hope you appreciate from the many issues here that people are genuinely worried that their old folders and mails are not accessible."

We asked VM if it would be possible to send over even the briefest of technical explanations of this incident.

It responded: "As you'd expect, we'll be carrying out a full review to better understand the circumstances and help ensure it doesn't happen again. This will be an internal process."

So no technical information will be forthcoming, basically.

Being can open pay off, though. As covering many, many of these issues in the past has taught us, people sympathize with a stressed admin who makes a mistake, although you'd also expect big companies to have backup plans and redundancies.

Speaking of redundancies, it might make sense for some to use an email service that is not connected to their broadband ISP.

Virgin Media suffered a major, multi-hour broadband outage in April and still has not provided an explanation beyond "it's up now" – although it did apologize to customers about the problem. ®

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Updated to add

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We have now restored the ability to send and receive emails for all affected accounts. Our teams are continuing to work flat out to restore historic emails into the inboxes of a small proportion of accounts. We apologise again for any inconvenience caused over the past two days.”

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