Shiny thing not working
Virgin Group has announced the launch of its first new UK consumer business in three years in the form of Virgin Digital Help - a tech support service that aims to help mainstream consumers "make digital stuff work".
The new company will be competing directly with DSGi's Tech Guys and the US Geek Squad. Reuters reports that the company has been created in partnership with Sutherland Global Services - a business process outsourcing company.
This seems to be very much a mass-market play by Virgin; dumbing-down its marketing and service to cater for even the most technologically challenged. The announcement says Virgin did loads of research prior to starting the company and "the results were shocking, to say the least."
In essence, what supposedly shocked the researchers was the fact that some people get annoyed when technology doesn't work. Nice work if you can get it. In response to these ground-breaking revelations, Virgin is offering a ‘free' downloadable toolkit called the Desktop Digital Helper.
We downloaded this app (see below) and had a bit of a play. The interface is clean and simple and encourages you to run a number of scans designed to optimise the performance of your PC. Once these are done, you need to upgrade for £2.99 per month to fix all the identified issues in one go. You can also find out what each individual ‘fix' is and pretty much all of them require you to pay, bar certain relatively easy tasks you can do for yourself for free, like clearing temporary Internet files.
There are a few other free things, like an FAQ section, and you can ring up the tech support team for free. However, actually getting some material help from them costs money - we were quoted £29.99 for a remote-access ‘spring clean'.
While we find all the ‘free' enticements a little bit misleading, this looks like a decent effort to bring tech support to the masses. Whether end-users will find the prices appealing, and the remote service as satisfactory as ringing up their local techie remains to be seen.