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Virgin Media UK Make Changes to Protect 100,000 Vulnerable Users

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 (8:11 am) - Score 16,037

Cable TV, phone and broadband ISP Virgin Media UK has reportedly committed to protect over 100,000 of their most vulnerable customers (e.g. pensioners, the unemployed and those with disabilities), such as by freezing their prices against future hikes or automatically moving them to a better (cheaper) deal.

The move appears to reflect Virgin Media’s response to Ofcom’s on-going review of broadband pricing (here) and related efforts to create a new Fairness Framework (guidelines) for the industry (here), which has already seen the operator and several other providers sign-up to support a new “Fairness for Customers Commitment” (here). The forthcoming end-of-contract notification letters also fall into this area (here).

The regulator’s approach has been largely focused upon encouraging the industry not to penalise vulnerable customers, such as by leaving them stuck on expensive legacy plans for years even when much cheaper deals may be available. By comparison savvy consumers may pro-actively seek to upgrade, renegotiate their service (see our Retention Tips Guide) or possibly even switch ISP.

In response Virgin Media say they’ve developed an “enhanced package of measures” to help protect vulnerable customers.

Jeff Dodds, COO of Virgin Media, said:

“While we fiercely compete on a daily basis with other providers to offer better deals and services, there are some customers who, for many different reasons, find it hard to shop around for the best deals and speak to their provider.

Businesses shouldn’t be sitting on their hands about this important issue, which is why we are going the extra mile to break down the barriers and make sure those who might need a helping hand can get it from Virgin Media.

With our track record of supporting customers who have disabilities and other requirements, I’m proud that we are leading the way with this enhanced package of measures which reflect the very heart of what Virgin Media is all about. I hope this will encourage other businesses to follow in our footsteps.”

The proposed changes appear to be as follows.

VM’s Changes to Protect Vulnerable Consumers

· Annual package reviews

Some customers who have not made contact with Virgin Media for a prolonged period of time will have their prices frozen and automatically receive an annual package review. One of the Company’s specially trained agents will assess whether a customer is on the best tariff available to them based on the services they use. If no contact can be made, the customer will be moved to the most appropriate and best available package.

This package review, which goes beyond the requirements of Ofcom’s end of contract notification rules which come into force next February, will ensure customers who struggle to shop around don’t get left behind in a competitive UK telecoms market.

NOTE: By the sounds of it customers must have been with Virgin for over 3 years before a review is needed.

· Bespoke engineer visits

Virgin Media already provides free engineer installs and prioritises fixing faults for those customers who need it. This new service will reflect that certain physical disabilities and accessibility requirements need to be taken into account for an engineer visit. Small changes, such as giving customers more time to reach the door after a technician arrives, can make a big difference.

· Family and friend account management

To make contact with Virgin Media as simple as possible, and provide support at every stage of their relationship with the Company, both new and existing customers will be able to more easily opt for a friend or family member to manage their account and package on their behalf.

· Bill management

For customers finding it difficult to manage their finances, unexpected monthly bill variations will be addressed by a specialist team through proactive customer engagement and account management.

Text and video relay, and alternative formats for bills and other communications are also already provided for those who require them.

· Talk Protected

Virgin Media’s Talk Protected Plan, which launched in 2016, keeps prices fixed for its elderly and disabled phone-only customers. Customers who were on Virgin Media’s phone-only plans and over the age of 65, or who had additional accessibility needs, were automatically upgraded to the new tier. The plan includes inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and mobiles, inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers and directory enquiries, free paper bills, flexible payment options and more.

Virgin Media said they will decide on a case-by-case basis whether a customer can be identified as “vulnerable,” although they admit this is “not a clear-cut or simple process“. On the one hand certain factors will help to narrow the field like age, package choice, unusually large bills or a tendency to make uncharacteristic late payments.

Nevertheless, confirming that somebody is unemployed or has a disability is complicated because not everybody wants to share such info. The operator said it would “continue to evolve and adapt its policies and services over time and improve its ability to identify those customers who might need additional support and help.”

Virgin added that there would be no obligation or requirement on the customer to change anything “if they feel comfortable with their current package.”

UPDATE 9:07am

We’ve added extra details above.

Leave a Comment
39 Responses
  1. Avatar Patel

    Vest of time tgey will put up price sone other way

  2. Avatar Matt

    Worried they might be forced to offer something like BT Basic maybe, unless they take action themselves?

  3. Avatar Marty

    Bill management
    For customers finding it difficult to manage their finances, unexpected monthly bill variations will be addressed by a specialist team through proactive customer engagement and account management.

    Virgin media be like you pay. You pay now. Or court action for you.

    • Avatar Craig Dixon

      Have just been told by three advisors at virgin mobile that I will have to phone a separate number on Friday to cancel my phone with the company this is ridiculous after being on the phone for two hours trying to complete this simple task .
      I have had nothing but trouble from virgin and cannot see them wishing to help anyone as all you get are people spouting jargon, placating You and reminding you of letters sent or unpaid??? Bill’s from March … I have no faith in this company at all ….

  4. Avatar Mike

    Pensioners Yes and Disabled Yes …. But for the love of God, the lazy unemployed should only be allowed Freeview through an aerial and not VM or Sky ….. #worlds gone mad

    • Avatar Rudd Amber

      Who says all unemployed are lazy Mike? Do you read the Daily Mail and/or The Sun?

      You need a word with yourself.

    • Avatar Rich

      Well all lazy people are certainly not unemployed going by the people at my workplace!!

    • Avatar cdh1981

      Nothing like stereotyping or tarring everyone in a certain group with the same brush, is there?

      Mike, I say this with the nicest possible intent, you, Sir, are a bit of a moron.

    • Avatar Shirley McGovern

      unemployment does not equate to laziness

    • ^ What everybody else said above. Most people will at some point, or several points, in their lives be in a position of unemployment for a period of time. This is actually pretty normal and there are masses of reasons (retirement, child birth, business closure, redundancies etc.). It’s not like people are always perpetually employed and never ever out of work.

  5. Avatar Hercules

    Virgin Media everywhere more making living jobs they city of town connected and cable TV end of August 2019 another next year fixing somewhere housing under floor inside main cables.

  6. Avatar sabrina Parker

    Dont use them service is rubbish

  7. Avatar Glynn Emmerson

    about time they have decided to help OAPs.I have been asking for concession on the expensive plan they have me on which I did not
    request+move hub

  8. Avatar Andrew Westwater

    But will they improve the monthly fail in connectivity? Almost routine now, my town losses internet, phone and TV. Performance poor to what it was years back, why I stopped TV package, and other 2 may follow.

  9. Avatar John

    My wife is disabled should I inform virgin or just leave it

  10. Avatar Kirk

    So being unemoyec means you get your bills frozen…. Oh yeah and what about the people who work!!!

    • Avatar cdh1981

      People who work can generally afford to pay their bills, even if they are subject to price rises, because, you know, they have an actual income every week/month.

      Job seekers may be on benefits, or they may not be having any income at all and relying on savings if they have some, so knowing that at least one bill isn’t going to rise, or may even go down will help immensely with budgeting.

      I love the Internet, it’s full of people with “what about syndrome”.

    • Avatar Corbyn Trouserpress

      Now let’s see. How much do you think unemployment benefit is (Jobseeker’s Allowance 2019 rate)?

      You might be surprised to learn:

      Age under 25 – £57.90.
      Age 25 or over – £73.10.

      Try living on that?

  11. Avatar Wendy mayfield

    Had very poor service. Communication is dreadful, wait ages for call to be answered then passed from pillow to post. You have to wait days for an engineer. I will deffo be moving when contract up. See comments on facebook page.

  12. Avatar John

    Aged 74,just been notified of £3.50 increase on phone/BroadBand package.

    • Avatar Dennis

      Yeah same here John.I’m 75.

    • Avatar Brian Race

      Same here I’m 69 when I phoned them all they could offer me was a 6 month delay is this what they call a freeze

    • Avatar Sérgio Fernandes

      The same as happen to me, I was paying £57 a month but now it has been increased to more than £60 a month. And without any talk about it. What can I do. I am on disability and don’t have as much money like before when I was working. What to do?

  13. Avatar Christine Bolton

    I changed to virgin last November and had a lot of trouble with wfi going off over last couple months I spoke to a lady on Tuesday and asked her to try and resolve the problem as being pensions I’m not that up on fixing the hub I was polite and said if the problem Carries on I would have to think about going back to sky her answer was abrubt saying that’s up to you she was quite rude i suggest they teach the customer service people manners

    • Avatar Spurple

      Not sure why you expect the human at the other end of the line to smile passively after you make a threat

      When you call provider A, give them a fair chance of resolving your issue, but it is unhelpful to give ultimatums. That’s information that only you need and can act on. In the grand scheme of things, your custom is only a tiny marginal increase in revenue and your loss will hardly be noticed. They’re not going to break the bank to retain you.

      Best to simply carry out what’s in your best interest and remain professional in your service calls.

  14. Avatar Jeremy

    I am a disabled pensioner who is more or less housebound and control my heating etc from my phone so rely on tv broadband and phone. My contract ended two months ago and saw new customer offers. Asked for a new deal. Was told I should cancel return equipment and then I am a new customer and can get deal. Is this the way to treat a virgin media customer of many years. How do I inform them I am therefore vulnerable and not go through hours of tiring negotiations.

  15. Avatar Simon

    I was with Virgin for 15 years but the price for broadband and phone went up to £60 pm rang and asked for the same that new customers were getting …£37 pm they said no but offered £47 pm ..I said no. So today I moved to plusnet, Virgin are a ripoff they are interested in 1 thing ..Profit and more profit and they don’t care who they rip off.
    I worked in I.T so I know about bandwidth and line speed and they try and convince you you need 100mb or 300mb or 500mb lines…you don’t i have a 3 person house hold with around 8 devices it would happily run on 66mb….and I don’t need to pay £60 for 100mb.

  16. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    @Jeremy – “I am a disabled pensioner who is more or less housebound and control my heating etc from my phone so rely on tv broadband and phone. My contract ended two months ago and saw new customer offers. Asked for a new deal. Was told I should cancel return equipment and then I am a new customer and can get deal. Is this the way to treat a virgin media customer of many years. How do I inform them I am therefore vulnerable and not go through hours of tiring negotiations.”

    I am almost certain that you have been wrongly informed as there must be a period of time as a former customer – which I believe to be three months – for you to be treated as a new customer. I suggest that you read this webpage and call VM again to hopefully find someone who can deal with you properly.

    • Avatar Jeremy

      Thankyou but who do you speak to as every time you call it’s someone different and people have no idea of what you are talking about. I just want a quiet life and not be forced to renegotiate every year. My contract price for exactly the same deal from £79 to£101. Please let me have details of the correct department

    • Avatar Jeremy

      I managed to speak to someone and got a decent price for twelve months but I still have to phone as they won’t contact vulnerable customers every year. You still have to go through the call centre and talk to people who have no understanding of vulnerability.

  17. Avatar Andrew j fraser

    Should do that for all customers, putting your prices up year after year is pissing customers off

  18. Avatar Keith

    I don’t think this means a thing. How do they know which of their customers are pensioners? I am a pensioner and my broadband and phone package is going up by 9.2%! I have contacted Virgin and the will do nothing about the increase even though I am only 8 months into a 12 month contract

  19. Avatar CKay

    I’m a pensioner and I’ve been disabled for 11 years, been with VM for 4 years and have basic broadband and last week got the “your broadband is going up” letter.
    I don’t mind paying inflationary rises but their prices go up 10% every year.

    Virgin Media are talking out their backsides and these Americans are talking with fork tongue.

    Been unfortunate the past week to have my Hub2ac go tips up so now have the Hub 3 that VM tell me is the best but is the biggest load of dogs mess I’ve ever encountered in the 24 years I’ve been connected to the internet.

    Disabled pensioner or not, I know when I’m being screwed and my 4 years with VM will be ending soon.

  20. Avatar VM Victim.

    Jeff Dodds is talking pure rubbish, the usual lies and deceit that has become synonymous with VM. I have been subjected to constant faults since January, despite being old and ill I have had nothing but lies and abuse. I cancelled the contract (monthly) in writing, sent PO special delivery and confirmed delivered. Equipment sent back, new isp in place, phone ported.
    Yet 3 months on they deny ever having received any cancellation and continue to charge my bank account. Phoning the so called customer service produces nothing but derision and abuse. This is what vulnerable customers are up against with this disgraceful company. Virgin Media are like a vile disease, easy to get but impossible to get rid off.

  21. Avatar Dennis Kirkwood

    Your comments are all very well but I have been trying to contact Virgin for 2 days without success ie telephoned five times waiting at least 25 minutes each time with no response by a human person. Also emailed to two separate addresses but was rejected & sent back. I might add that I am a vulnerable individual with MS, this being registered with you a couple of years ago, but I have great difficulty getting through. Surely I should have a select number to ring to avoid all the dross & worry involved.

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