Ofcom investigates Virgin Media over contract terminations


Ofcom has opened an investigation into Virgin Media following complaints from customers that the company is making it difficult for them to cancel their services. 

Ofcom is concerned about the number of complaints it has received from Virgin Media customers who have tried to leave, but said the company had made it difficult. Some struggled to get through to an agent on the phone, some found their call was dropped mid-way through or were put on hold for long periods. And many said they had to make lengthy and repeated requests to cancel, as their initial request was not actioned.

As well as probing whether Virgin Media has complied with its contract termination rules, Ofcom’s investigation will also look at whether it has failed to meet requirements on complaints handling. This will include whether customers were appropriately informed of their right to escalate their complaint to an independent ombudsman.

Says Virgin Media spokesperson:

“We are committed to providing our customers with excellent service, supporting them with any issues and giving clear options should they wish to leave.

“Complaint rates relating to ‘difficulties leaving’ have halved over the past year, showing the progress we’re making, and we will keep working with Ofcom throughout its investigation, while making further improvements in how we handle customer complaints to provide a better overall experience.”

Adds Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie:

“Any allegation that Virgin is making it tough for customers to cancel its services is a very bad look for the UK’s third-biggest broadband provider, particularly in the midst of a bitter cost-of-living crisis.

“With its focus on high-speed fibre broadband, Virgin Media packages are among the most expensive on the market and, as households look to trim their bills, the company is likely to be at greater risk from consumers wanting to downsize than many rivals.

“Regular cases of broadband outages involving Virgin Media this year are also likely to have boosted complaints and requests to cancel.

“Customer retention is likely to be the provider’s top priority, but there is never an excuse for any lapses in service. Latest figures on call handling showed that Virgin Media customers still had to wait longer than the industry average. Their website’s help section on billing and payments is also tough to navigate with no live chat or phone number.”

Supporting customers through the cost-of-living crisis

Ofcom has also today published an update on its action plan to support telecoms customers during the cost-of-living crisis.

This includes renewed pressure on the major telecoms providers from Ofcom’s Chief Executive, Dame Melanie Dawes, who – in a letter to their chief executives – calls for immediate action from them on social tariffs.

Dawes urges providers who have yet to introduce a social tariff to do so as soon as possible and, for those providers that do offer them, to step up their efforts to raise awareness – for example, through social media campaigns.

Ofcom is summoning representatives from the providers to update them on the progress they are making, and will, for the first time, publish take-up of social tariffs by provider in its annual pricing trends report, due later this year.

Ofcom’s cost-of-living action plan update also includes preliminary research findings into customers’ awareness and understanding of inflation-linked in-contract price rises.


Chris Price
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