Customers of cable operator Virgin Media UK will shortly become the latest to be hit by the dreaded new year price hikes, which are set to affect their broadband, phone and TV services from 1st February 2013.
Customers began to receive notice of the changes, which among other things will see the cost of Virgin Phone Line Rental rise from £13.90 to £14.99 a month, last week (post). The cost of Virgin’s various bundles is also expected to rise; although the operator suggested it was too complicated to post a detailed breakdown of all the changes (most of the rises reflect an increase of roughly 5% to 9%).
The changes closely mirror those confirmed by BT and TalkTalk (here and here), which in recent months have both controversially announced fresh price rises. Other ISPs tend to follow suit eventually. Unsurprisingly some of Virgin’s customers have been less than pleased, especially given the operators recent performance problems and misleading advertising.
Virgin Customer BR4DDERS said:
“I got my letter about it this morning, I signed up for a £35 month contract that was raised to £37.25 about 2 weaks later and now it going up to £39.25.
I think it is ridiculous, if you agree a 12 moth contract at £35 a month they shouldn’t be allowed to change the price until after the contract is over.
I signed up for up to 50mb for £35 a month and now they have up to 60mb for £27.50 a month, I dont see them lowering peoples bills to match it. Even the up to 100mb is cheeper than the up to 50mb that i am paying for.”
Virgin Customer Leealdo said:
“I got my letter today and have rung and cancelled as only been with VM for 4 months and have issues with high utilisation in my area, engineers have come out and all the kit is fine but they have no eta when the issue will be fixed. I can’t even use my PS3 online due to the connectivity issues.
The guy I spoke to was great and offer me a few things to stay but I cancelled with no penalty charges and he is sending me a jiffy bag to send my superhub back to them.”
Virgin Customer ASL said:
“Also received the dreaded price rise e-mail. Increase of £5.84 per month.
I’m sorry, Virgin stuck it up by circa £5.00 in April 2012 and now £5.84 in Feb 2013. So that’s over £10.00 per month more than I originally agreed too within the space of 12 months.”
The good news is that Virgin Media has said it will honour existing promotional offers (i.e. you won’t be hit by the rises until after the offer period) and customers who don’t wish to stay with the operator can cancel “your contract with us without penalty” (i.e. this is partly because the rises are above the current Consumer Price Index). Further details can be found on their related ‘Ways to Save‘ page.
Price rises have always been common in the industry and it’s fair to say that ISPs are currently spending a lot more on new infrastructure upgrades, not to mention the mass of new rules and systems that will be required to support various new government rules and regulations. Never the less the country’s economy is far from stable and, not unlike other utility and transport services, consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated at rises that are often a lot higher than expected.
Meanwhile Ofcom are currently consulting on the issue of unexpected mid-contract price rises and separately plan to introduce a simplified migration system within the next year or so, which should hopefully make it harder for operators to get away with unexpectedly high price hikes.