Money Wellness
A Virgin Media van
category iconcost of living
calendar icon24 Aug 2023

Call for Ofcom to investigate Virgin over ‘unlawful’ broadband price hikes

Which? has called on Ofcom to investigate whether Virgin Media is breaking the law by giving itself the power to increase customers’ broadband bills by as much as it wants, when it wants.

The consumer group is concerned that Virgin Media is:

  • applying aggressive inflation-linked, mid-contract price rises each year
  • removing the right for affected customers to cancel without paying a hefty exit fee
  • reserving the right to increase bills again at any time

Rocio Concha from Which? said:

“Virgin Media is trying to have its cake and eat it by imposing eye-watering inflationary price increases while also giving itself the power to hike customers’ bills whenever it chooses.”

Although Which? acknowledges it’s not just Virgin Media adopting these practices, it says the company “is the most egregious example of unacceptable price hiking”.

There are almost six million Virgin Media broadband customers in the UK. This year, they faced average increases to their bills of 13.8%. This is equivalent to over £100 a year for some of the more expensive packages.

Woeful customer service

Which? says Virgin Media’s pricing practices are being made worse by “woeful customer service”. Ofcom is already investigating claims that the broadband provider has made it difficult for customers to cancel their services.

In Which’s annual broadband provider rankings, Virgin Media received just one star for customer service in this year’s survey.

Customers reluctant to switch

Which? also suggests that Virgin Media is capitalising on the fact people are often reluctant to cancel their broadband contracts. They put this down to:

  • the complexity of the market
  • the inconvenience of switching
  • fear of losing broadband connection

What will happen now?

Ofcom could tell Virgin Media to drop its unfair practices and ask a court to declare them unlawful.

A court order could also demand Virgin Media refund money to customers subject to unfair contracts.

Ofcom is already reviewing mid-contract, inflation-linked price rises. But Which? is concerned the review will not be finished in time to prevent next April’s likely increases.

The consumer group is urging providers to stop the practice, regardless of the review’s findings.

 

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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