Monday, July 06, 2009

It's always the unlikely posts...

My earlier post of the photo of a forlorn Virgin Media street cabinet in East Dulwich has generated a surprising level of traffic, and also an email from someone at Virgin asking where it was. I have responded thus:

"Okay then, as a loyal Virgin Media customer, I am expecting a big discount for helping you to take inventory of your network in the way that your own field technicians can't seem to manage. The box is on what I would call Forest Hill Road, but which may in fact be Peckham Rye Road (no signs - probably stolen by the locals), across from Peckham Rye, near the intersection with Barry Road."

Anyone with access to Google maps should be able to find this - just look for the open cabinet with leaves from last autumn trapped in some dense spider webs. Perhaps the reason they haven't noticed it is that there only seemed to be three or four homes connected (whose addresses I could read clearly on the bright yellow tags attached to the coax).

Let me make clear that I am a loyal and happy Virgin Media customer, but when I see things like this I wonder what the hell is going on. If I ran a highly leveraged company whose only differentiating factor was the quality of its access network versus the crippled, neolithic copper pair of the incumbent, I would be outraged to find a local node a) so exposed to vandalism (which miraculously, the local vandals seem to have been too stupid to commit) and b) so under-booked.

On the positive side, I have posted photos of this nature before and received no response at all from Virgin Media. So maybe this is a positive development. Then again, the node in question is half a mile from my home, so why should I care? What's in it for me? Will the company give me three months free service for my civic-mindedness? I doubt it, but I am open to being surprised. So much for "crowd-sourcing."

Similarly, I suspect that the person who contacted me is probably an underpaid Virgin Media employee with a good heart, who actually deserves to be promoted for caring enough to have eyes open in the first place. Sadly, I suspect that being a conscientious employee at Virgin Media may be an experience similar to being a conscientious employee pretty much anywhere else in cultures (the UK being one) which don't value customer service. Like peeing yourself in a brown suit - it gives you a warm feeling, but no one notices.

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