I was vaguely aware that NTL merged with Telewest last year but a glossy black/red envelope, announcing the brave new world of ‘Virgin Media’, took me a little off guard this morning.

I sincerely hope that my existing Telewest service is not affected by NTL’s recent acquisition of Virgin Mobile.

My Telewest broadband service works fine (apart from the occasional self-inflicted glitch with my wireless router).

My Telewest email works fine (apart from a recent problem where the POP3 server times out on the first connection and works perfectly thereafter).

My Telewest Digital TV service works fine (apart from that outage on Millennium Eve that my mother-in-law keeps reminding me about).

And now, thousands of pounds will be spent on an expensive rebranding exercise, a public launch party, personal communications from Richard Branson to all customers and a spiffy new Web site media portal with quotes like

‘Watch it, surf it, talk it, walk it. We’re there with you every step of the way. Love The Virgin Media Team x’

Worse, they are are promising me a brand new email address. Please prepare to update your address books to ’norman@virginmedia.net’. Another example is the jokey, friendly marketing flyer I am now reading ‘Small print that you can actually see’ with a pledge for plain English speaking.

The T&C’s is titled ‘Boring (but important) stuff for you to read’ and contains 10, yes 10, pages of very small print that I can’t be bothered to read.

Another source of unease is that, many years ago in the days of 28.8 dial-up modems, bulletin boards and extension cables trailing across the bedroom, I was a customer of Virgin.net where I received some appalling service and was eventually forced to go elsewhere.