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Direct Debit Billing Errors Strike UK Customers of Virgin Media

Friday, Oct 27th, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 31,840
1_Virgin-Media-O2-UK-Hub-5-Router

Broadband ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) has informed us that they’ve now resolved a tedious “system error” that recently caused some of their customers to suffer a spate of billing errors with their Direct Debit payments, which resulted in either only partial or no funds at all being taken from their accounts.

A fair number of people complained – over the past few weeks – about the issue, many of those via the operator’s own Community Forum (plenty of examples can be found here, here, here, here, here and here). The first that many customers noticed of the issue, unless they were paying close attention to their accounts, was when they got a prompt (e.g. new bill) that showed how they hadn’t paid their previous bill.

The notices were often particularly galling because they warned affected customers – those who hadn’t actually done anything wrong themselves to obstruct the payments – about the risk of service restrictions if they didn’t cough up. Mercifully, a quick complaint to the operator’s support staff is often all that was required to resolve the issue.

A spokesperson for Virgin Media has now confirmed to ISPreview that a “small number” of Virgin Media customers with Direct Debits set up (not all customers with DDs) were recently billed less than they should have been. This issue is said to have been caused by an internal system error, which was resolved earlier this month.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said:

“We apologise to the small number of customers who were recently billed less than their usual amount. This was caused by a system error which has now been fixed.

Impacted customers will see the remaining unpaid balance carried forward to their next bill, and they are encouraged to contact our customer service teams who will be able to support them, including through offering payment plans if that would be helpful.”

Naturally a “small number” of customers, from an operator with a base of several million, could still be fairly significant in raw numerical terms, although Virgin Media declined to confirm precisely how many had been impacted. Credits to Carl, Mike and several other readers for highlighting the issue to us.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
35 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Onephat says:

    I had a similar with O2 last week. 3 device bills and 1 airtime. They one device payment and nothing for the other 2 or the airtime. First I knew of it was when the you haven’t paid your bills texts started arriving. Frustratingly when you login to your O2 account it says no payments due.

    1. Avatar photo Onephat says:

      They took**

    2. Avatar photo Roddy Rogerson says:

      There should be a law passed whereby when big companies like these make such errors they have to stand the cost if they undercharge customers as a penalty for the worry and suffering they cause. Big companies are repeatedly allowed to get away with things like this where they don’t even have customer service agents easily available to speak to.

    3. Avatar photo Onephat says:

      Agreed Roddy. It was up to me to spot the error, ring and fix it. All that with the possibility of a £6 late payment charge on all 3 payments.

    4. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      Maybe it was a Payment gateway issue? I tried 3 bank accounts and 4 debit cards but still couldn’t get Paypal to accept a payment last week. In the end it just started to work after First Direct had a moan at them

    5. Avatar photo Onephat says:

      Mine was they never even attempted to take the direct debits they have taken successfully for years. Strange how 1 went through but the rest never.

    6. Avatar photo Matt says:

      I had a similar thing with O2 last week too. In my case they sucessfully took the money via direct debit but a few days later sent an email to say they hadn’t been paid and that I’d be charged £6 if I didn’t pay them. A quick phone call sorted it, but some people would just have paid again.

      I wonder if Virgin Media O2 are doing something to merge more back office/billing stuff.

    7. Avatar photo Steven Gray says:

      Over the last four months Virgin media have been charging us for phone calls that are impossible to of been made, even sent an engineer out to provide proof, the wires are not even connected inside the property, to the cost of over £30,
      In my opinion and experience Virgin Media can not b3 trusted and anyone who use them should check the bill before they get pay for it, knowing they can’t do much right we need to help them along way before they charge us.

  2. Avatar photo Paul Robinson says:

    Trying operators support staff is a joke. I tried different telephone numbers which all ended up by being sent a link to my phone, which required me doing it on line which was useless. Chat line I tried after exchanging numerous messsages, went back so the beginning, so I abandoned it. Why can’t you simply talk to someone anymore. A complete waste of 2 days.

  3. Avatar photo Philip Thomas says:

    Nightmare company – glad to see the back of them as a former customer who managed to get out relatively unscathed.

  4. Avatar photo Disgruntled says:

    It wasn’t just for Direct Debits. We stopped paying DD a while back because the charges went up and down and you could suddenly have a large sum debited in error which would be hard or impossible to reclaim. Our September bill said nothing owing and didn’t work when we tried to click to pay. I thought our calls about erratic billing figures and the way the payment due dates jump around (e.g., we had the joy of a bill being released with payment due the same day and so a late payment fine already added to it even though the account was up to date except for that newest bill) had had some action to reflect overpayments charged. No such luck and I should have persevered in trying to get hold of them. October bill landed on time, but for two months’ service – again it seemed to be a higher rate than our contract says) and late payment charges added on top. It stung.

  5. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    Try leaving them. I’ve never known a company put so many roadblocks in place to stop you’re departure from their service!

    1. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      E-mail the CEO’s office you will get a call back and they will happily let you go – works ever time

  6. Avatar photo NHenstock says:

    Sounds suspiciously like the experience that I had with Origin Broadband – claimed a month’s payment hadn’t been taken (it had) then tried to bill me double. Only rectified when I managed to speak to a agent in South Africa as all other support email addresses and contact numbers have been deactivated together with the online customer account management portal.

  7. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

    Really annoying to keep reading about all these bad news stories about VM when they’ve literally dropped fibre in my street recently. They are the only full fibre provider imminently available to me, so I am a bit frustrated. I am hopeful this will spur Openreach on to build my area, as I’d prefer to take full fibre from OR via A&A or some other.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      going with A&A for FTTP seems like putting premium unleaded into a citroen 2CV.

      they must be the only ISP that still has data caps in the year of our lord 2023 – so quaint.

    2. Avatar photo Deano says:

      Ive been using Aquiss for the past year, and have been really pleased with them (FTTP via OR, but backend seems to be CityFibre)…no caps too.

    3. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      Heh, always love how any mention of AAISP brings out all the anti quota folk.

    4. Avatar photo Matt says:

      They’re also pretty expensive, I would +1 the Aquiss opinion, managed to swing a friends opinion to them and they’re very happy. (If you’re willing to pay A&A money, you might as well get Aquiss and avoid the “risk” of hitting any caps IMO)

  8. Avatar photo Anthony Southall says:

    The only error is there greedy bill they put up with inflation every year bit like the tv licence if inflation collapsed would it be cheaper I don’t think

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      and the license fee didn’t go up for years…..

    2. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      Hey, you didn’t know they’ve actually added that pearler into their contracts now. Expect it going up at least 10% per year now if you’re a customer!

  9. Avatar photo Matt says:

    Finally left Virgin. Last bill last month, they flagged it as LATE PAID – Clearscore was the only thing that told me, virgin did not.

    Got in touch with their CS (pain) who said nope, everything is fine our side and its all paid. They gave me an email addr to chase the fact they’d marked my credit. Fastest service ever from virgin on that email, resolved within 2 days.

    They then didn’t collect the equipment on the day they said they would (They told me at 2pm on the day of collection). Then billed me £65 for the pleasure of a “late return” – which I now need to chase CS to get refunded. (Hurray…….)

    My advice would be – **CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE** – if you are a Virgin customer……….

    1. Avatar photo William Gange says:

      I would say, don’t use them, if you have 5g reception try 3 b/b over 5g I’ve used it for 2 months and get speeds up to 500 MB/s download and up to 50 MB/s upload. All for a monthly contract of £24.

    2. Avatar photo Phil says:

      Clearscore are rubbish – they are useless!

    3. Avatar photo Matt says:

      @ Will when I moved in – they were the only option, or I wouldn’t pick them. I put BT FTTP in the day it was orderable and have ran both SxS because of my job, I wanted to ensure I’d got connectivity available at all times. (Healthcare during pandemic). The BT connection has 1/3 the latency, consistent speed and was stupidly reliable, I put it in as a “cheap” backup on the lowest available tier – then after using it for a few days bumped it to the 900 package because the experience was night and day (VM here is also FTTP).

      I would also say VM have got worse. When I moved in, the network was wobbly as and had loads of outages, but the SH3 and app experience was excellent – hit that you’ve got issues, it checked, agreed, booked an engineer for you without any interaction. Had a SH4 and all of that broke and the network got no better – but now you had to deal with support who are the worst part of VM.

      VM treat you on their network like they’re doing you a favour, rather than you’re paying for a service IMO.

      @Phil – Clearscore or not, just check it as they tried to screw me over, as I said the only reason I noticed, was because clearscore sent me a notification for a late payment being added to my acc.

    4. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      Matt,

      After months of rowing with Equifax I finally managed to get 2 VM account closed and removed from my Credit file.

      I opened them both in 2006… I also have a BT one which is still not being removed all I did was order FTTC and cancel it a few days later when I found out VM was in the area.

  10. Avatar photo Sbt says:

    I stopped my VM DD two months ago.
    Contract had ended and they offered £100 a month for my package. I took them up,got the paperwork and next two months bills were £160 and £150. Got credits, paid manually on what was stated to be owed and this month, although now agreed £100, showed as not paid bill last month in full. Clowns.

  11. Avatar photo Chris says:

    I was charged £16 less on my direct debit and I contacted customer service to find out what happened and got an email reply saying it was their error and to enjoy the lower price this month.
    They said my account was at zero so nothing was owed yet this month’s bill has the £16 added on top again along with a message saying I must pay immediately as I didn’t pay my bill in full last month.

  12. Avatar photo M cavens says:

    I took a SIM card with virgin media £10 a month, i was moved to o2 last year while checking a direct debit I noticed I was paying £29.32 p m o2 said I signed up for a different contract at250G a week and it would cost me to cancel , won’t be with them much longer , robbers.

    1. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      This is the problem with Virgin Media, they do what they like and no one does anything about them. I’ve had it in the past with over ten discounts on my account all expiring at different times apparently over-ruling a agreement I’ve had with retentions to pay a fixed amount. That’s when I left them (last time).

  13. Avatar photo Confused.com says:

    I am currently nearing the end of a 6 month free trial and last week I received an email saying that my £0 bill was overdue and that I should pay urgently to avoid any fees, I assumed it was just a mistake and that Virgin would correct it but no, this week I received a bill saying I had to pay £7.50 late fees fine for not paying the said £0 bill. No idea how Virgin Media are being run

  14. Avatar photo Peter James Pallett says:

    I’m having the same problem i returned there equipment months ago and I am still being charged I’ve tried time and again to get through but it impossible I’ve just stopped my dd

  15. Avatar photo Fibre Scriber says:

    Virgin Media, HFC, until 2028 for many. More hassle and disruption before FTTP becomes a reality.
    Having to speak with customer service in another country, with advisors who in many occasions, can’t help.
    Calls transferred to UK, promises made and rarely kept.
    Wouldn’t touch VM, with a barge pole!

  16. Avatar photo Mohammed says:

    We had the same issue at the household. The bill made it sound that it was our problem.

    Took the offer of terminating the contract; due to the ongoing mid price increase, as having been a customer since the 90s. All Done and dusted in 30 minutes.

    Hopefully, be moving to an alt net soon.

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