Virgin Media is raising its prices, with the result that TV and broadband services will cost as much as £48 more per year for some customers.
But all is not lost. If you’re a Virgin Media customer you have a few options, including negotiating a better deal or leaving altogether.
In this FAQ we’ll look at how the price rises will affect you and run you through your consumer rights.
We’ll also tell you how proceed if you decide to stay or go and take a look at the best alternative broadband products if you plump for the latter.
Virgin Media is putting up the price of its cable service, which incorporates broadband, TV and landline phones. Punters will face bills between £2 and £4 more per month – a rise of 4.5 per cent.
The hike will affect a “significant majority” of customers – thought to be in the region of 5 million people in total.
How much more will customers pay?
If you take broadband, landline and TV from Virgin Media, you could pay up to £48 more a year. Those on broadband only will pay up to £36 more a year.
Here’s how the changes break down.
Those with broadband only, or broadband and line rental will pay £3 more a month.
If you have The Player Bundle (with broadband, phone and a TV package), you’ll also pay £3 more a month, while those on The Mix and Fun bundles (with broadband, phone and a TV package) will pay £3.50 more a month.
Customers taking The Full House bundle (with broadband, phone and a TV package) will face the biggest hike, of £4 a month.
Who won’t have to pay more?
If you signed up to Virgin Media after 1st August 2018, you won’t be liable for the price rise.
Why is Virgin Media increasing prices?
It has blamed a 300 per cent rise in broadband networks’ business rates. It says it’s now facing higher costs to run, build and improve its network, and hence it has to charge customers more.
What has Virgin Media said?
“Increasing prices is not a decision which we take lightly,” a spokesperson said. “We work hard to keep our prices competitive while continuing to invest in our network and improve the services we offer our customers.
“Over the past year we’ve invested around a billion pounds in our network and upgraded many of our customers to faster broadband while introducing a new top speed of 362Mbps – the fastest widely available speed in the market.”
They also pointed out that the price hike is lower than last year’s, despite the fact that broadband usage on its network has increased by almost 40 per cent since then. It claims that about 60 per cent of total traffic is now due to an increase in video streaming.
Is the rise linked to the dispute with UKTV?
No. Last month, Virgin Media dropped UKTV channels like Gold and Dave because of a dispute over digital rights. The two have since made up, and Virgin Media now offers UKTV’s channels once more.
When does the price rise take effect?
It kicks in from October. Virgin Media is in the process of writing to customers, telling them about it. It will have told all customers by the end of September.
What can consumers do?
The good news is you’re not powerless. If you don’t want to pay the new fees, you’ve got two options: leave or haggle for a better deal.
If you’re still within your contract’s minimum term, you can leave Virgin Media without paying an exit fee. But you’ll have to act fast.
Once Virgin Media notifies you of the rise, you have 30 days to tell them you want to leave.
After that, you’ll have to pay for at least 30 days before being allowed to leave.
If you’ve paid for a year’s line rental upfront, you won’t be able to get a refund, not unless you signed up within the last 14 days.
Before you jump ship, you should look at other deals from rival providers who will be only too happy to take your business.
For example, Sky is offering TV and broadband from £33 a month, while TalkTalk – who promises no mid-contract price rises for broadband – offers 30 per cent off unlimited broadband (£18.95 a month).
You know what to do: hit up our broadband and TV deals page to see what’s on offer. While you’re at it, check out our guide to switching broadband providers.
The good news? Being a new customer puts you in the driving seat.
As uSwitch’s TV Expert Dani Warner explains: “Price rises do happen, but Virgin Media customers who face paying up to £48 more each year shouldn’t feel too alarmed because their rights are well established.
“Anyone unhappy with these changes has 30 days from when they’re officially notified of the new prices to use their ‘get out of jail free’ card and leave their contract penalty-free. So customers should keep an eye on any communication from Virgin Media over the next few days.
“There is good news for those who do want to leave Virgin: the best deals are generally available to new customers.”
Want to stay with Virgin Media? You still might be able to negotiate a better deal. See what rival providers are offering and quote the price to Virgin Media. Then threaten to leave if they don’t match it.
Stay calm and don’t get angry, just let them know you’re not happy with the price rise. Speak to the retentions department – their job is to keep you as a customer, so they have the power to slash your bill.
Don’t be afraid to mention any previous problems you’ve had with its service. Say you’ve been thinking of leaving for a while because of X, Y and Z, and this price rise is the last straw.
Don’t take the first offer and don’t be pressured into agreeing something there and then. If you want time to think about it or talk it over with family members, tell them. You can always call back.
If they refuse to give you money off, ask for perks. They might be willing to upgrade your broadband or TV package at no extra cost to as a compromise.
How do I contact Virgin Media?
You can call Virgin Media on 0800 064 3836. You can also use its online chatting system to speak with an operator – head to virginmedia.com and click the chat bubble icon.