When I moved into my house BT told me I couldn't keep my number. So I decided I would take cable TV and telephone from a company called Comtel. Comtel were a nice lot, and got swallowed up by NTL. And my relationship with NTL was characterized by the worst level of customer service I've ever experienced.

NTL merged with Telewest (who also had a poor reputation) and last year they merged with the Mobile phone operations of Virgin. The whole shooting match is now branded as Virgin .

For the last few weeks my broadband connection has been playing up dreadfully. On Monday things were so bad that I phoned the newly rebranded company. It's fair to say I had low expectations. What did I get ? A shock. First of all I got through to someone on their help desk in - well such a short time I didn't actually measure it.  Then I found I was talking to someone who actually knew what they were talking about. And she didn't assume I was an idiot. She did some checks and didn't think the problem was with my connection. Although I was having problems with two PCs, she asked if I'd make absolutely sure it wasn't a fault with the home PC before getting an engineer out. Right at the last moment we tried taking my router out of the loop - and the router had been restarted, hard reset and generally put through the wringer previously. And WHOOSH ! my connection ran like a champ - 4 Megabits per second. Put the router back THUD - less than 400 bits per second. Take it out: full speed again.

So I've replaced the 802.11b router with a faster 802.11g one - which will be ideal when I finally get my Xbox 360 and start streaming media to it. And I might end up as a happy customer of Virgin. Quite a good outcome that.