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Virgin to improve customer service at NTL

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Staff at Virgin Mobile are to spruce up NTL's lack lustre customer service following the merger of the companies.

Much of the chit-chat surrounding NTL's £962m take-over of Virgin mobile today has been about "quad-play" services and rebranding.

But one of the consequences of the merger is the decision to export Virgin's "keep punters happy" approach into the larger company.

At the analysts' briefing this afternoon, it was revelaed that there would be "significant participation from the Virgin Group and Virgin Management to secure Virgin culture and ideals throughout the organisation", which would lead to "significant operational improvements with increase in broadband sales and improvement in customer care".

Execs also talked of "Virgin know-how [to be employed] to enhance customer facing functions".

Indeed, Sir Richard Branson is so passionate about his brand that he told Bloomberg that the renaming of NTL would only get the go-ahead once customer service issues had been resolved.

This is good news for NTL punters. In the 2005 UK Residential Broadband Internet Service Providers Satisfaction Study by JD Power and Associates, NTL came bottom out of the UK's top six ISPs. Telewest, which has already been snapped up by NTL, came top.

Two months ago, the BBC's flagship consumer affairs programme Watchdog featured NTL's customer service operation after receiving a whopping 1,700 complaints about the company, despite assurances from the cableco last year that it planned to invest £100m in customer service.

In a statement, NTL accepted that the billing and account problems featured on the programme were "unacceptable".

And let's not forget the NTL recorded recorded message that told callers to "f**k off". The message said: "Hello. You are through to NTL customer services. We don't give a f**k about you. We are never here. We just will f**k you about, basically, and we are not going to handle any of your complaints. Just f**k off and leave us alone. Get a life."

It emerged that the message was left by a hacked off customer who had been left on hold for an hour while he tried to order broadband from the firm. Magistrates dismissed a court case against him, which could have seen the poor chap banged up for six months, saying the message wasn't offensive enough. ®

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