Virgin Media is one of the first internet service providers to make a clear cut effort to protect customers that are deemed the most vulnerable. This includes pensioners, the unemployed and those with disabilities.
The 100,000+ Virgin Media customers that fall into these categories will either have their phone, TV and broadband prices frozen or will be automatically moved onto better, more affordable plans.
To make broadband pricing fairer across the board, industry regulator Ofcom is working on a set of guidelines for ISPs to follow, encouraging the industry not to penalise vulnerable customers by leaving them stuck on expensive plans after their introductory periods have expired.
Virgin Media has said that it's listening, releasing a statement detailing the “enhanced package of measures” it is taking to achieve this.
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.”
It is great news that a major media provider is making these efforts, however it can be fairly tricky to identify vulnerable customers without them volunteering personal information, such as their employment status and details of any disabilities.
Virgin Media plans to tackle this by helping these customers on a case-by-case basis, and it has already introduced measures such as annual package reviews, bespoke engineer visits, family and friend account management, bill management and talk-protected plans.
Ofcom’s ‘Fairness For Customers’ programme aims to make the telecoms industry more transparent by giving customers access to more information, more support and, ultimately, a fair deal, whichever provider they choose for their broadband service.
A big part of this is the upcoming Ofcom policy that will instruct media providers to notify customers when they are nearing the end of their contract, due to become compulsory in February 2020.
End of contract notifications will inform residential phone, broadband and TV customers about the end of their contracts and provide details of the best tariffs available from their current provider. Those customers that are already out-of-contract will also be given new tariff information offering them the opportunity to shop around for better TV and broadband deals.
Armed with more information about their current plan and provider, these notifications are set to make switching broadband providers significantly easier.
Thinking of switching to Virgin Media? Take a look at some of its top broadband deals.