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Virgin Media Freezes Line Rental for Elderly and Disabled Customers

Thursday, December 1st, 2016 (11:58 am) - Score 4,114

Cable operator Virgin Media has today taken Ofcom’s new probe into the cost of landline rental (here) to heart and announced the launch of a new “Talk Protected” plan, which will freeze the price of line rental at £17.99 per month for its elderly and disabled phone-only customers.

Customers currently on Virgin Media’s phone-only plans (NOT their broadband and or TV bundles), specifically those who are over the age of 65 or have additional accessibility needs (e.g. hearing, sight, speech and mobility issues), will be upgraded to the new tier from January 2017.

Eligible customers will also receive £5 off of other Virgin Phone plans, such as Talk More Anytime and Talk More International Anytime, as well as a few additional benefits.

Talk Protected Features
* Inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and mobiles
* Inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers and directory enquires (118 180)
* Paper billing at no extra cost
* Caller display at no extra cost
* Voicemail at no extra cost
* Flexible payment options

The new product is effectively a social tariff, albeit one that’s not as cheap as BT’s Basic service (£5.10 every month, including £1.50 to spend on calls and free weekend calls to 0845 & 0870 numbers). On the other hand you do get more free calls and features with ‘Talk Protected’, although BT Basic is also available to those on various kinds of state support (e.g. Jobseeker’s Allowance) and they allow it to be used with broadband.

Gregor McNeil, Managing Director of Consumer at Virgin Media, said:

“For some people their landline is their lifeline – it’s important that those who rely on this service the most are not left behind. Elderly customers and those with accessibility needs who just want a reliable phone service are often less likely to shop around for deals and don’t benefit from cheaper bundles including broadband or TV. By freezing line rental charges and price changes through Talk Protected, we’re ensuring these customers receive even better value from us and get the service they rely on.”

Mark Atkinson, CEO of Scope (Disability Charity), said:

“This is an important step by Virgin Media, and we are very pleased they have recognised the financial pressures its disabled customers face.

Life costs more if you are disabled – from specialist equipment to higher fuel bills research shows that these costs add up to on average £550 per month.

About 25 percent of disabled people have never used the internet, making their landline an extremely important means of communication.

We now need Government, charities and the whole sector to target digital access for disabled people, which has the power to make life cost less. Many people go online to compare the best consumer deals and offers.”

Most of Virgin Media’s telephone subscribers also seem to take the operator’s broadband and or TV services, usually as part of a bundle, and as such today’s announcement probably won’t be too much of a stretch for them since it only applies to a small proportion of their customers. Now we’ll have to wait and see if any of the other major ISPs decide to do something similar.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Mr Terry Stevens says:

    I have just heard on national news that customers,who are disabled, will have their land line monthly rental frozen @ £17.99 in January. I am disabled, so I assume that I will qualify for this?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Assuming you are a Virgin Media customer and ONLY take their phone line service, then yes that’s what seems likely to happen. However you might wish to make sure that Virgin know of your status.

  2. M Shelton says:

    This seems a bit unfair on customers in their 70s who have “bundles” with yourselves

  3. Sara Morgan says:

    Definitely seems unfair to those like myself who will reach 70 this year but who has progressed by her own hard work through to tv and internet use. I am disabled and have a bundle—in fact I also have mobile with Virgin plus landline, tv and broadband. I think I should be entitled to a fixed REDUCED rate on this big bundle plus for years of loyalty to VIRGIN. Now I feel that I am being discriminated against because I learned to use the Internet.

    So much for encouraging digital age amongst older and disabled users.

  4. Pat N says:

    I have recently heard of this discount, I am too disabled and although have the ” bundle” tv/internet/landline and both myself and husband are also virgin mobile users. I am still classed as having a disability, therefore I agree with Sara Morgan’s comment its a bit unfair of VIRGIN to discriminate. I use internet because I am not always able to get out, and we ae encouraged to learn new technology.

  5. SANDRA PEMBER says:

    I’VE JUST NOTICED YOUR DISCOUNTED LINE RENTAL FOR DISABLED AND ELDERLY CUSTOMERS.
    A FEW WEEKS AGO I CONTACTED YOU ON BEHALF OF MY FRIEND WHO HAS ALZHEIMER’S AND ONLY USES HER LANDLINE OCCASIONALLY ……MOSTLY WHEN OTHERS RING HER AS SHE STRUGGLES TO DIAL OUT .
    SHE’S ONE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS ALREADY AND WE CANCELLED HER BROADBAND A FEW YEARS AGO AS SHE CAN NO LONGER USE HER PC .
    WHEN I ENQUIRED A FEW WEEKS AGO ABOUT HER POSITION I WAS NOT GIVEN ANY NOTICE OF DISCOUNTED RATES FOR DISABLED OR ELDERLY PEOPLE AT ALL ! SHE’S CURRENTLY PAYING ABOUT £31 A MONTH LANDLINE AND CALLS ……INCLUSIVE . SHE PAYS MONTHLY BY DIRECT DEBIT.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      “I’VE JUST NOTICED YOUR DISCOUNTED LINE RENTAL FOR DISABLED AND ELDERLY CUSTOMERS”

      I think you should start by addressing your complaint to Virgin Media directly rather than a news article about Virgin Media. We don’t provide Virgin Media’s service, this is an independent news and information website for consumers.

  6. SANDRA PEMBER says:

    Apologies for my error ……..sorrryyyyyy

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