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£25 Missed Appointment Fee Angers Virgin Media UK Customers UPDATE

Monday, June 20th, 2022 (11:55 am) - Score 4,464
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Customers of fixed broadband ISP Virgin Media UK (VMO2) reacted angrily over the weekend after several newspaper reports (e.g. Mirror) criticised the provider for its so-called “doorbell tax“, which hits you with a £25 one-off charge if their engineers show up for a scheduled appointment and nobody answers the door.

On the one hand, it’s easy to see why such a charge might be greeted negatively, particularly as some people could easily take longer than others getting to the door (e.g. disability, being on the toilet or being at the wrong end of the garden etc.). A bit more patience is often required from the visiting engineer and perhaps a quick call to the customer’s mobile and home phone number, which doesn’t always happen.

On the other hand, being hit with a missed appointment fee is nothing new, either in this sector or many others (e.g. Vodafone charges £110, John Lewis (Broadband) charges £50 and TalkTalk charges £40). We’ve even seen some ISPs (e.g. Premier Choice) that will charge as much as £130 if you’re not home when an engineer arrives. Ouch.

In addition, Virgin Media are also members of Ofcom’s Automatic Compensation scheme, which pays customers £8.40 per day for delayed repairs, £26.24 for missed appointments (i.e. when they don’t show up) and £5.25 per day for a delay to the start of a new service (here). Furthermore, when booking an appointment, customers are usually forewarned about the £25 charge.

However, we have seen some customers complain that Virgin aren’t the best at paying out compensation themselves when their engineers are at fault for missing an agreed appointment, which is something that customers should raise with their ISP via a complaint (assuming the ISP is a member of Ofcom’s scheme).

A Spokesperson for VMO2 said:

“Unlike many other providers, all our customers benefit from service and repairs at no extra cost – even if we need to send out an engineer.

Charges for missed appointments are common across the industry to ensure we best serve all customers and we’re proud that our charges are amongst the lowest in the market.”

In many ways, the reporting around this issue feels a bit like a storm in a teacup. The reality is that Virgin’s charge isn’t huge by comparison to many of their rivals and, if they didn’t make such a charge, then they’d still need to recoup the cost of missed appointments from somewhere (i.e. this would most likely end up resulting in even steeper price rises to monthly rentals).

We should point out that ISPs on Openreach’s network will usually fix faults at no extra cost too, provided that the problem is within the network operator’s own realm, otherwise a Special Fault Investigation (SFI) charge may be levied and that can cost into the £100+ territory.

UPDATE 21st June 2022

We’ve had a quick comment from one of Vodafone’s spokespeople: “Although we reserve the right to charge customers if they miss an engineer appointment, Vodafone does not currently charge. We continuously review our policies to help our customers avoid missed appointments.” Vodafone are also a member of Ofcom’s compensation scheme.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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25 Responses
  1. James says:

    “being on the toilet” always seems to be my downfall for the door going or someone calling me ha

  2. Phil says:

    These are biggest scandal rip off and conned – ofcom should BANNED it. Most people’s are disability like myself as a deaf person. I remember some lazy engineers knock on the door but the front door has clear label print PLEASE USE FRONT DOORBELL, they never bother to use doorbell (because the doorbell will be very loud sound with flashing light and pager vibrator to alert me someone at the door)

    Do you really think it fair for engineers to knock on the door and walk out if I didn’t answer the door because any knock on the door will not alert me at all (only the front doorbell)

    I wish all engineers including VM & Openreach to use real live tracking how long will they come to my house and where are they now just like Amazon and DPD live tracking to see online or via app.

    1. tech3475 says:

      If this happens often enough, you might want to look at something like a Ring doorbell, since these can link to other devices and have motion sensing capabilities which will bypass people ignoring your notice.

      No I’m not excusing people not ringing the doorbell, just that it might be a potential option.

  3. Cheapcheap says:

    Seems fair to me. If someone arranges an appointment and the engineer shows up and the customer cannot/will not open the door then they should pay for it. But engineers should also make an attempt to contact them like try calling, knocking , ring the doorbell and wait for a few minutes. People with reduced mobility can sometimes take them a while to get to the door, like my next door neighbour who it takes him at least 5 minutes to get up, get into a wheelchair and get to the door but i always get packages for him because the people turn up, ring the doorbell, ignore the please wait for me sign and wait 30 second and then come next door to me.

    This can be worked out with just some common sense I feel. Engineer makes an effort, and the customer either answers the door, cancels the appointment with sufficient notice, or pays the £25

    1. Phil says:

      I don’t agree with you. £25 isn’t seem fair! It all ROBBED!

    2. AD says:

      Likewise mate, as a Virgin Media customer, I think the charge is justified. Virgin has to pay their Engineers as well and if their time is being wasted due to people taking the mick then this charge is justified.

      Engineers aren’t the only people who take the mick.

    3. Granola says:

      Delivery drivers I can understand doing so – with well over a hundred drops they haven’t got 5 minutes to wait per drop – please do the maths.
      If it is a timed engineer apointment, toilet breaks can be taken care of 1st, but if it is A.M. or P.M. it is a long time to wait or sit in a wheelchair and it is a grey area if they don’t ring ahead.
      If the customer just forgets and goes out seems reasonable to me to get charged for wasting the engineers time.

    4. Terry says:

      Granola- Back when I was a VM service tech, there was a £10 “no access” charge which I believe was dropped around 10 years ago. You say about delivery drivers doing all these drops, if a VM tech is on a 10 hour day the norm was 16 faults. 7.5 hour day 12 faults. Installs were worked out differently so I’m just using faults as an example.

      Delivery drops are always much close together as well. Time wise I don’t think much has changed nowadays, I believe they get an average of 36 mins per fault, and there was 5 mins travel time taking it to 41 mins per job, and a lot of the time I was doing a lot more than 5 mins per job travel. In that 41 mins they are expected to travel, fix the fault and have an attempt to upsell the customer.

      One of the key targets were repeat faults, not sure what the percentage is nowadays, (probably around 2.5%) within 7 days. Back in my day a no access job actually went against the tech, providing the customer called back in to rebook. Not sure if that’s still the case, but it used to grate me that something out of my control could affect my bonus.

  4. Vince says:

    Openreach charges so ISPs using Openreach are either swallowing the costs or passing them on usually. But in principle, no-shows in restaurants, not-present visits from Virgin all seem fair reasons to charge – why should Virgin pay for staff, vehicles, fuel to get to you only for you not to be there? Why should restaurants reserve a table for someone who isn’t going to turn up so they lose out?

    Presumably there is some common sense required – eg Virgin can’t “do a Hermes” and just pretend they tried to gain access and would be able to demonstrate they tried if they’re charging… and if not, that’s the safety net that should avoid false charges.

    Just think for a moment – people moan and complain that it takes ages to get things fixed, but perhaps if engineers were not wasting time going to appointments where nobody was around and then having to visit again, they’d have the ability to fix issues faster… so anything to encourage people to stop jerking providers around seems fair – but it should cut both ways – when they fail to make an appointment they should equally reimburse your wasted time.

  5. jason999 says:

    How about when Virgin Media don’t show up for appointments, and they don’t bother to tell you that they are not coming

    1. Handy Mike says:

      Then your automatic compensation should apply

  6. Matt says:

    At the end of the day an engineer going out to a job with no one there costs the provider more than £25 by the time you take everything into account. So long as they make reasonable efforts to contact you (knock door and ring mobile) I don’t see the issue with this.

  7. Mike says:

    I think they should offer notifications via text or w/e when the engineer is within x minutes/distance of arriving, this gives handicaps a chance.

    1. tech3475 says:

      When my parents had VM installed, the engineer did call shortly before he arrived.

    2. Phil says:

      The phone call from engineers will no use to many deaf peoples who unable to hear the phone call.

      My last openreach engineers named Adam did SMS (text message) me saying he will be here within next 20 minutes and on arrival, he did ring doorbell to alert me. Adam told me he can use BSL sign language. That’s brilliant.

      Virgin Media don’t – they don’t bother!

    3. Gary H says:

      With moden comms tech it really shouldn’t be an issue sending phone or text alerts, same as some courier companies do.

      Phil on the other hand just seems angry and irrational, comments like ‘The phone call from engineers will no use to many deaf peoples who unable to hear the phone call.’

      Defies all common sense and personal responsibility, IF you are in this scenario deaf or hearing impaired It’s YOUR responsibility to have doorbells and a telephone that alert you in a suitable way, you cant be deaf and then moan that you cannot hear your own telephone !

  8. Sam gangsr says:

    I think if they should offer live tracking like the delivery companies do but I think the fee is justified unless you had a good reason like a disability or a real emergency

    1. A_Builder says:

      The account should be marked anyway to comply with DDA and OFCOM obligations.

      I think register disabled should be expected from this.

      I also think that there should be an obligation to call when the engineer

      – finishing the previous job with a likely ETA; and
      – parking up; and
      – present outside premises.

      It is simple good customer service to send messages or calls. Preferably SMS as that way there is no dispute about what is sent when. Information flow lances the boil of annoyed customers and will make the engineer’s life more pleasant anyway.

      That way there is no dispute as realistically we all go down the garden or to the toilet and we can miss a single doorbell ring.

      The idea what we will all sit patiently by the front door waiting for an ‘engineer’ to appear is a bit of a joke.

  9. Chris Sayers says:

    I think it’s entirely reasonable for VM and other ISPs to charge, in another life as a visiting engineer it was really annoying when I’d travelled 20 miles to fix an appliance to find the customer out, I always thought it very rude, and I never used the sponge knock, my knocks started out the usual manor and over a period of 5 minutes the knocks would get louder, then we would have to wait 15 minutes, 4 calls like that in a day and bang goes an hour of your day, this happen on a regular basis, yes charge them for wasted visit’s

  10. Phil says:

    My mate who still with VM – he is deaf too. He caught the engineers (VM) at the front without knock on the door or ring any doorbell then post little card in letterbox they charged him £25 with engineers LIED – he got proof of CCTV recorded and sent off to VM head office and they apology to him and this should NEVER happen and waive his £25 fee.

    1. Mark says:

      If he’s deaf, how did he know they didn’t knock on the door or ring the bell? Hardly VM’s fault if your friend is deaf, he’d have the same problem with ANY company! What are they supposed to do, let themselves in?

  11. Phil says:

    Get a grip folks there has always been a charge, if you have booked a tech and your given a time be in plus I have always been called by the tech to say he is x minutes away. you can cancel on line and on the phone

  12. David says:

    Last year, a VM Engineer missed an appointment I have scheduled! I waited but no one showed up. I took Virgin Media to court via the MoneyOnline Gouvernment website and asked for £145 compensation (one day of work), plus court fees and another £50 compensation and I won!
    VirginMedia legal department started by lying and said the engineer came, but when the court asked for a proof of that, they decided to settle this! Disgusting company.
    Anyway, they paid me £215 total for not showing up!

    1. Phil says:

      there u go – proved VM are lying!

  13. Education does not prevent Stupidity says:

    One assumes if you have a contract, and the technician fails to turn up, you should be recompensed the same amount as the company would charge you if you were no present.

    If this is not the case, is it not then a case of an unfair contract?
    @David, good on you, if more people used their rights the situation wouls impove.

    Couriers have tried it on, ‘we attended here is a picture’, not remotely line my property, and lets see the exif data please.

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