I was staying at my Mum’s the other day and she was complaining about her rather flaky digital TV service. She maintains a pathological avoidance of all things Murdochian, so has never embraced the world of Sky. For her broadband and TV, therefore, she’s opted for Virgin Interactive.

The broadband seems to be very reliable. I’m round at hers and it always seems extremely reliable. Less so the TV, however. The Virgin Interactive isn’t very interactive. It’s rather interinactive.

The system navigation is crude and clumsy. The operating system is slow to the point of Windowsian. The catch up and on demand functions fail regularly, and don’t get fixed by a restart of both the television and the Virgin unit. When you call customer service at unsociable hours you get an automated service advising you to un-plug and restart…

The remote is hard to fathom and clunky, meaning you mis-navigate frequently. I couldn’t get it to work and I’m relatively tech savvy. My Mum of a generation further removed from tech savviness, so for her the usability is key and the frustration palpable.

This is rather unsatisfactory and disappointing for a company that prides – and prices – itself on customer service and is headed up by one of the world’s most respected and inspirational entrepreneurs.

When you boil everything down to the lowest common denominator, stuff has to work and be simple to operate. And when there are no or few viable alternatives, the incumbents can afford to be lazy and take liberties with the consumer.