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Price Hikes Set to Hit UK Virgin Media ISP Customers on 1st February 2013

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 (8:10 am) - Score 2,799

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.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Kyle says:

    Interesting to read that Virgin wouldn’t post all of the rises as they were too complicated, although no doubt they expect their customers to be able to make sense of it all for themselves. Surely this must be glaringly obvious if by Virgin’s own admission that it has too many tariffs and needs to simplify for the benefit of their customers.

    I am also astounded by the rate at which contracts are there to only protect the business but not the consumer. Surely a contract exists for agreed term and since a consumer has joined and agreed to a price, this price should be maintained as is the minimum term. Surely Virgin wouldn’t allow a customer a clause to leave, so why should it be any different for the consumer’s monthly charge? This needs some serious attention.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      As I understand it:

      The contract, or offer, is made and the customer signs up.

      Unless that contract explicitly stipulates that prices may rise in the contract (e.g. when we had Sky once, the Terms permitted a 10% rise in a year) then actually, the supplier cannot change any of the material terms like the price.

      The supplier can ask the customer if they mind paying the extra, or losing an allowance, etc by announcing that change.

      The customer has 30 days (not the 10 that some companies quote) to determine whether to accept or refuse.

      In other words, they have to keep on supplying the offered service at the offered and agreed rates unless the customer agrees to the changes.

      If they don’t want to do this, they themselves are the ones ending the contract and can elect to do so, leaving the customer free to go elsewhere.

      e.g. if you say No to Virgin Media’s rises, and opt for something else (assuming it’s available) then you cannot be charged any punitive exit fees and the contract simply ends.

      Most people don’t know this, however, and assume that they *have* to pay the increase and that they have no choice, not helped by operators developing selective amnesia regarding consumer legislation.

      As per your point, though, you’d imagine that the price and terms ought to stay for the duration of the contract, since as it stands, only one side can vary it.

  2. Avatar Phil says:

    They should BANNED increase price in the middle of their remaining contract of their agreement between virgin media and the customer. Ofcom and government should ACT now. Fed up with BT, Sky, Virgin Media price going up in the middle of their contract, should wait until the contract deal is finished.

  3. Avatar Simon says:

    I walked through the door this evening to find one of these dreaded letters. Not happy when I saw it to say the least! Called Virgin and had a short conversation with one of the call center guys, explained to him that I wasn’t prepared to pay the increase and quoted a part from some T&Cs I found in the Super Hub box, along the lines of “if Virgin increase the price you may have the option to leave the contract” (Section F, part 1 in the T&Cs). I was hastily connected to an English call center, explained again (and argued my case of course!) ended up putting the phone down after receiving a 22% discount rather than the 5% increase they wanted put on me.

    Anyone who is a Virgin customer which received one of these letter today, DO NOT stand for it, argue back, get the service you deserve and save yourself money!

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