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Virgin Media’s UK Customers Plagued by Phantom Netflix Bills

Friday, Nov 17th, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 11,800
incorrect_netflix_bill

Some existing and former customers of TV, phone and broadband provider Virgin Media (VMO2) are complaining that the ISP is continuing to hit them with wrongful Netflix subscription charges, which is despite those impacted having either never taken the service or cancelling it months ago. The problem has gone unresolved for months.

The situation, which appears to have been going on since earlier this year and possibly longer, first came to our attention last week after a number of the provider’s customers reported problems to ISPreview regarding phantom Netflix bills.

NOTE: Netflix is a popular internet video streaming service, which Virgin Media can sometimes bundle as part of specific packages or special offers.

The customers complained that they were being billed £15.99 per month by Virgin Media for a Netflix service they didn’t have (even on some accounts that don’t have TV services), which they then had to constantly get the ISP to correct – every single month. Meanwhile, others say they started getting billed for Netflix months after they’d cancelled the service.

At this point we decided to check if we could find any other complaints online and, needless to say, it wasn’t too difficult as they’re spread across social media and Virgin Media’s own Community Forum (examples here, here, here, here and here etc.). We’ve pasted below some extracts from a few of the complaints ISPreview received directly last week:

Example Complaint 1:

“I have been a Virgin Customer for years when it was taken over from NTL in fact! I have to call Virgin every single month that has been for the the last 8months as I am being billed for £15.99 Netflix every month that I don’t have. My bill should be £83 but now it can be anything from £106 and upwards. Nobody answers the phone or is capable of correcting the issue.”

Example Complaint 2:

“I started getting billed for Netflix from Virgin 3 months after I left them! Had to ring up and wait on hold for ages to get them to cancel bill. They insisted I had signed up to Netflix from their TV box in the 3 months after the service had been cancelled – how that is possible I don’t know.”

Example Complaint 3:

“I have had the very same problem since March 2023 after they issued me a 360 controller since then I have been charged £15.99 every month for Netflix. I call them every month they promised they have sorted it but they still charge me the following month, this month they gave me another refund of £147 to cover the over charging for Netflix.”

Part of the problem may stem from the fact that Virgin Media are acting as somewhat of a middle man (i.e. limited oversight of Netflix itself) and normally just give customers the option to add the service to their bills. Clearly, something is going wrong at one or both ends of that agreement for some customers. However, other customers have continued to be billed correctly, so it’s certainly not impacting everybody.

Nevertheless, Virgin Media is still the one responsible for taking the payments, and thus ensuring they get it right should be paramount.

A Virgin Media spokesperson told ISPreview:

“We apologise to the small number of customers who have experienced an issue with their bill. Our team is working hard to resolve this issue and care agents are on hand to support customers.”

Sadly, the operator could not say when the problem will be resolved, although we understand from sources within the operator’s staff that it’s a known frustration for them too. In the meantime, customers will have to just keep raising the issue with Virgin Media’s support staff in the hope that, eventually, they may be able to implement a more permanent solution.

The other concern here is with respect to those customers who might be suffering from this without even realising (so far we’ve only heard from those that spotted it), since we know that many consumers don’t keep a close enough eye on their bank accounts and regular bills. We’d advise anybody with a Virgin Media account to just do a quick check to see if you’re being correctly billed.

Finally, Ofcom don’t investigate individual complaints, but they aren’t particularly fond of providers that suffer persistent billing errors either, thus it’s sometimes worth reporting such issues to the regulator directly (here).

SIDE NOTE: For a bit of fun, we decided to use AI to auto-generate an image for this article. The result, when examined close up, looked like a drunken fever dream, but also produced a not insignificant amount of laughter. So naturally, we kept it.
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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
27 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    Personally I find unless it comes free or heavily discounted with a package I find its better to deal directly with the service. For example I can get a better deal with Now TV going direct rather than going via BT TV.

  2. Avatar photo Alex A says:

    Mark, the image choice for this article is quite something.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes.. yes it is :). I think it’s fair to say that AI image generation still has its limitations.

  3. Avatar photo Jonathan Parsons says:

    I’ve been having the opposite problem with Virgin Media. I’ve been trying to add Netflix for months but after about a week the connection fails and Netflix gets cancelled without any payment being taken.

    1. Avatar photo Just a thought says:

      MaybeNetflix and Virgin using different indexes to the database? One using 0 based index the other 1 based. Every time you add Netflix “J Patterson” gets billed and has to get it cancelled!!! 🙂

    2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      If you’re trying to do it through virgin media you could always go direct to Netflix and setup an account directly.

  4. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

    A more appropriate banner in the image would surely have been “Notflix”.

  5. Avatar photo Mark says:

    Whilst from technical perspective I’ve been very happy with their services; correct billing is another matter. In August without my knowledge they added a £10 (ish?) HomeWorks service to my package. I know now what this is. Had no idea what it was at the time. Did not request it. They removed it AND including all three contractual discounts granted to me at the time of signing (18 month contract, still 4 months left). Now every month I get an email how much I am going to be charged and every month I have to call to reinstate the owned discounts and to correct the bill. If I don’t call every month, wait 40 minutes and request bill to be corrected, they will overcharge me.
    Every time they say the next bill will be correct.
    It is a loosing game. There is literally nothing apart from leaving in March’24 left for me to do.

  6. Avatar photo Michael says:

    I’ve been with virgin for years and although had many problems still stick with them. I’m currently having the opposite issue of this where virgin keeps cancelling our netflix subscription instead of taking the payment. Everytime I’ve been in contact with them I am just told to sign up again

  7. Avatar photo Allan TAYLOR says:

    I have had this issue vm and Netflix since July rang multiple times put a complaint I and still getting charged for services I don’t recieve
    Any advice to sort would be appreciated

  8. Avatar photo Gerarda says:

    Anyone who is charged an incorrect direct debit can get their bank to refund it. No need to go to the supplier who made the mistake.

    1. Avatar photo Mark says:

      I tried once as per the DD guarantee (not in relation to VM) and Barclays refused it saying that this is not how DD works and I should be dealing with the supplier. That they did not have the power to claw back any money as far as DD is concerned. So I gave up

    2. Avatar photo Gerarda says:

      That was Barclays fobbing you off and avoiding their responsibility. Ask for their complaints procedure or threaten them with the ombudsman

  9. Avatar photo HouseAlwaysWins says:

    So theyve set this up like the ‘charge to mobile’ / ‘payforit’ direct to mobile billing system. What could go wrong? lol

  10. Avatar photo MORAG HUGHES says:

    I have had this problem with Virgi n Media since 10th February when I noticed my b1ll had increased b £15.99 and tried to cancel this amount which I found out was for Netflix. I already pay Netflix via PayPal. Every month I have to phone VM to try and correct my bill which they tell me has been generated and will be corrected by the next bill.Never happens even though I have kept every email including the breakdown of my contract for £64 but this month’s bill is £103 this includes £15.99 and money I seemingly owe .It’s really frustrating and always told it will be corrected by next bill. I have tried to cancel this contract but need to pay £400 to leave this contract. Who do I need to contact to resolve these overpayment every month?

    1. Avatar photo Nathan says:

      What a waste of money Netflix is just bittorent everything for £0 a month. At least with piracy you actually own the copy of digital media.

    2. Avatar photo P colling says:

      I know exactly how you feel. Virgin have been charging me 15 99 since March and I’ve never had netflix. I’ve cancelled my direct debit now and pay my bill over the phone but not the 15 99 so now they say I’m in debt x but I didn’t know what else to do to stop them taking the money . I’m 78 yrs old and never been in debt I feel terrible. I’ve spoke to the citizens advice today and can only wait to see where we go from there

    3. Avatar photo helen woollacott says:

      We are having the same issues with Virginmedia and Netflix from October last year. We took out a netflix option with VM last summer in error, and tried to cancel ever since. We ended up cancelling our VM contract to stop the Netflix payments but they still kept billing us ! We were initially told we would get refunded every month but nothing ever happened – VM (now our new contract) are now telling us to go to Netflix directly to cancel but we never had an account with Netflix only with VM as an add-on service so this is impossible to do. As a last resort we have now cancelled our DD but we are owed 6 months of Netflix charges in the meantime – very very frustrating ! Wondering also if there are data breaches here with Virginmedia passing on our details to Netflix without permission ?

  11. Avatar photo Trina Hurrell says:

    I’ve had this issue for months each month on the phone for hours never being called back when they promise they will then they say it’s sorted then same thing happens again awful company Virginmedia no one nos what they are doin made complaint they said but there fault but clearly is shocking

  12. Avatar photo Ross says:

    I had the same problem. My wife clicked the wrong button and joined our netflix and virgin subscription. We couldn’t get on it. Neither virgin or netflix could help us. After a few months and countless hours on the phone netflix managed to cancel it and I started up a new account. Virgin only gave us 2 months of money off. Not great

    1. Avatar photo helen woollacott says:

      same issue – be careful as we cancelled VM contract too but Netflix kept billing us ?? – still are ! we now cancelled our DD. Still no money refunded and we are 6 months later

  13. Avatar photo Vicky says:

    I had this problem from 8Feb 23, being charged for Netflix, I was sick of ringing VM every month. Problem was resolved via The Ombudsman, the service was amazing, professional quick. You all need to contact The Ombudsman as VM know it’s due to an anomaly in the system. I have 16 A4 pages of complaints over 8 months and I’ve never spoken to the same person twice.
    Contact The Ombudsman

    1. Avatar photo chris shepherd says:

      Hi Vicky
      Is it the communication ombudsman or Ofcom? I’ve been suffering with this virgin/netflix problem for 9 months now.
      Cheers
      Chris

  14. Avatar photo MilesT says:

    The correct sanction for Ofcom to apply for persistent failure to bill correctly would be
    ( to declare all contractual lock in dates to be no longer in force (i.e. all customers can leave with usual rolling notice period),
    * disallow any future lockin dates on current contracts forever, and preventing other changes to T&C on current contracts (i.e same amount per month for same speed/directly provided services/max usages)
    * and also to disallow any future contractual lock in dates from being applied until provider can prove they can bill accurately and provide a service with improved reliability countrywide, with a minimum period before lockin ca be applied to new contracts of 12 months.

    And since VMo2 coves mobile as well from a single customer account, the sanctions would apply to o2 bills also, if the customer has a linked Vm account.

    That would make VMo2 wake up, lots of people leaving, and also taking a chunk of profitability away from customers who choose to stay.

  15. Avatar photo Michael k says:

    Same problem never had netflix but charged each month hours on phone and emails still after 7 months ongoing still no solution and really rude staff as well and even called a liar once surely it is a criminal offence taking money under false pretences maybes that needs looked at fully

  16. Avatar photo Ben Idoine says:

    I think this issue is more serious than user accidentally signing up.
    I had a Netflix Premium account added to my Virgin Media package without my permission. I only found out when I got the first bill – there was no notification by email prior to that.

    On seeing the bill I checked my TIVO box and saw that a Netflix account had been added. I opened the app and saw a username that I do not recognise.

    I called Virgin Media who said it was a Netflix issue. I then called Netflix who would not help unless I could tell them the email address – the username was somehow not enough!? But, they advised me I might be able to find this out through the TIVO app. And it was there – a yahoo.com email address, matching the username that had been used. With the email address, Netflix confirmed that the account had been created at precisely 8am on a Saturday morning through Virgin’s website (not the TIVO box directly).

    I initially thought the children might have added it – but after chastising them, my wife pointed out they weren’t even home at the time the account was created – none of us were!

    Netflix agreed to cancel the account, on the notice that it was fraudulent. As soon as they did this the account was signed out from the TIVO box.

    I went back to Virgin Media again with the information I now had – but they refused to accept it was fraud and identity theft. After three phones calls they agreed to discount the charge, but “only this time – next time I’ll have to pay”.

    So, it appears that hackers are able to use an exploit in Virgin Media’s web interface to create a Netflix Premium account with a different username and email address that is linked to the Virgin Media account number of (possibly) random people. They would have to verify this account through the email addresses they created, but after that they have access to the account that you will be billed for through Virgin Media. These account numbers may have been lost in a recent data breach that Virgin are being very quiet about, but is known about.

    I suspect his may even be possible without specifically logging into My Virgin Media. if hackers have figured out the account creation request interface – my password and registered email address was not listed in known data breaches. I have obviously changed it regardless. Some users have reported new Netflix accounts being added multiple times, even after changing passwords.

    I’ve explained this potential avenue of exploit at length to Virgin Media, but they refuse to accept it. They also refuse to do any deep investigation even with all the information I have provided. They have told me my case is a “civil matter” and not fraud or identity theft. Unbelievable! The suggestion being that it’s somehow my fault, even though all the evidence proves otherwise.

  17. Avatar photo Samuel Falle says:

    I lodged a complaint, no C-1904241318, about being charged for a Netflix package that I had not signed up to. The response on 22/04/24 was to tell me that I should contact Netflix, which I had already done. Netflix tell me that I have no package with them. Virgin Support have twice told me that they are dealing with it, but I get no further response. I think they have stopped charging me, but I can’t be sure until I get my next bill. They owe me £295.82

Comments are closed

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