Virgin Media is currently embarking on a p***-taking exercise. It’s writing to customers, informing them that their prices are increasing, sometimes by extraordinary amounts. In my case, for example, the company attempted to increase the price of my broadband by 21%. I say “attempted” because you don’t always have to put up with it. Here’s how to avoid Virgin Media’s price increase.
Virgin Media price increase: when you can leave
Under regulator Ofcom’s rules:
If your provider doesn’t specify a price rise in your contract (either a set amount or one linked to inflation) – then raises their price – you are free to exit that contract and move to another provider without penalty. They should tell you about a price increase, or any other change, 30 days before it happens.Ofcom
Now, to be fair to Virgin Media, when it wrote to me informing me of its ridiculous price rise, it did clearly stipulate that I could leave my contract before a set date without paying any cancellation fees. Check the letter you got from Virgin Media carefully to see if you’ve got a similar get-out clause. If not, it’s worth checking the terms of your current Virgin Media contract to see if a price rise is mentioned. If not, get on the phone to Virgin Media. But before you do, carry on reading…
How to negotiate a better deal with Virgin Media
Here are a few tips on how to negotiate a better deal when you contact Virgin Media about your price increase:
- Don’t take the deal offered by the pre-recorded message – Virgin is expecting your call. So when you ring 0345 454 1111 and select the option for ‘you’re thinking of leaving Virgin Media’, you’ll immediately be offered a discount on the pre-recorded message. In my case it was £3.50, exactly half of the price increase. Do not take this. I got a better deal by speaking to a human representative. Even if you can’t get a better deal, they won’t go back on this initial offer, so it’s always worth talking to a real person.
- Research current broadband deals in your areas – When I rang Virgin Media, I was armed with the information that rival fibre broadband providers are offering faster deals at cheaper prices than Virgin. Note down exactly what other companies are offering and quote these prices to the Virgin Media team. Virgin will know if there are other fibre providers in your area, so don’t attempt to bluff them.
- Set your price – Don’t let Virgin Media dictate terms to you. Tell them what you’re prepared to pay. In my case, I told the Virgin Media rep that he’d have to match the price being offered by the fibre provider or else I’d cancel. Take it or leave it. After a discussion with his “manager”, he decided to take it. Guess what? It was less than I was paying in the first place!
- Don’t get angry on the phone – Although Virgin’s attempted 21% price certainly got my blood boiling, there’s no point taking it out on the person who answers the phone. It wasn’t their decision. Be firm, but polite. Shouting at the call centre staff will get you nowhere.
- Be prepared to walk if you threaten to – There’s no point in threatening to leave if you’re not prepared to. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that people who do cancel get a call in the following days, offering a much cheaper deal. Hold your nerve, but make sure you’ve got an alternative to go to if Virgin does decide to play hardball.
- Explain what you can afford – Not all price rises automatically allow you to leave your contract without paying exit fees. If Virgin’s not prepared to rip up your deal, but you cannot afford the price increase, explain this to the agent. They may be able to offer you a better deal or a cheaper tariff on a slower speed. Be honest with them. Explain what you can afford to pay and a compromise can normally be reached.
Virgin Media’s 2024 price increases
Note that next year’s round of price increases may not be as easy to get out of. Virgin Media is changing its terms and conditions, allowing it to implement a 3.9% annual price increase plus the rate of inflation, as measured by the Retail Price Index. This price increase will be applied automatically every April and “there is no right to cancel”.
My advice is to bear this mind when it comes to contract renewal time. Even if inflation does fall as predicted by April 2024, you’re probably still looking at an absolute minimum of a 5-6% price increase in 2024. So when it comes to the haggle over the price of a new contract, factor this price increase in. Tell the representative you’re aware of the forthcoming price increase and negotiate accordingly, using the tips above. Good luck!