Hello readers, I won quite a large victory over Virgin Media recently and thought of the best way to get the message across on how you can also save yourself a bit of bother and money. I came to the conclusion to write a blog post around this!
The specific circumstances are so:
If you signed up to a Virgin Media contract before November 2016
If you have moved home to an area away from Virgin Media OR if you are planning to move to an area without Virgin Media.
If you tick both of these boxes, then read on. If you don’t, read on anyways, you might be able to help out a friend or you’ll at least have a nice David vs Goliath story to read!
I signed up with Virgin Media and was with them for about 6 months, after that due to unforeseen personal circumstances I had to downsize and move elsewhere into a city centre. When I had planned to switch over my contract and ended up giving them less than 30 days notice (I did end up paying the difference in this which I feel is perfectly fair) I found that they could not supply service to my new city centre address.
This was fine, “I’ll just cancel my services a bit early, this shouldn’t be a problem” I thought, as they are unable to provide services to a city centre address which I feel should be a reasonable expectation for someone who claims to be the fastest widely available broadband provider in the land, at least twice on their homepage.
I was then told explicitly in no uncertain terms by no less than 3 chat agents that I need to reread the terms I signed (online) to see that I was in fact held to termination fees. I figure most people being told by a large corporate like Virgin Media being told to read their terms would just assume that Virgin Media know what their own terms and conditions say and give up at this point. Well I thought I would at least have a precursory glance at the document I signed online.
Oh, nevermind then.
Now this doesn’t mean they have voided my contract (At least I don’t think so, but I’ll find that out when my subject access request comes through) but it does mean the document I signed is now unavailable for me to view. I then ask for a copy of the contract I signed and was told they can provide me with a copy of their current terms and conditions. Not good enough. If I am not shown a contract with my signature on I’m not going to take Virgin Media’s word that this is what I signed.
I spoke to a friend of mine who works in the legal sector and he pointed me to the web archive. I will now pass 2 links along with the relevant screenshots, these are both paragraph N2. The first one is the contract I signed, as the web archive shows this was still available on Virgin Media’s public-facing site until November: https://web.archive.org/web/20160911101951/http://www.virginmedia.com/shop/the-legal-stuff/terms-and-conditions-for-fibre-optic-services.html#moving
These are the terms and conditions I was passed when I asked to review the terms I signed: http://www.virginmedia.com/shop/the-legal-stuff/terms-and-conditions-for-fibre-optic-services.html#moving
Paragraph M9 is below:
So you can see the difference between what I signed and what I asked happened to be significantly different. I was not notified of these changes to the terms and conditions, and Virgin Media stipulate that if these changes affect you in any way you can give them 30 days notice to end the contract with no termination fees. I would have made sure to end my service if I were aware as I knew of my intention to downsize for a while.
Now after discussing these differences with my legal colleague he mentioned that as much as Virgin Media may argue from a legal standpoint that the second half of the new N2 paragraph was a clarification, the fact that the “In addition” language was used says otherwise and implies this is a new ‘addition’ to the terms.
At this point I had left my Virgin Media bill run over for over 2 months longer than I would have, as I felt that cancelling my contract was the same as accepting the termination charges.
Given that information I escalated an issue with Virgin Media and got a call back off of one of their managers (who was a really kind and helpful guy), he offered to cancel the outstanding termination charges and only ask for the balance I had not yet paid. After informing the manager that I only hadn’t paid said balance because I refused to pay the termination fees he himself had just revoked, which confirms I was right in that they were incorrectly applied to my case he saw fit to agree with me and only asked for the previously mentioned difference in my giving less than 30 days notice of cancellation, which I was more than happy to do.
With the above result, Virgin Media have set a precedent in which they have basically admitted they cannot charge the fee as it was simply not in their contract until November 2016.
Now the details of my case and your case may differ slightly (such as the fact that Virgin Media cannot supply services to my new area whereas for your new area you may have just not wanted them in there) but if you fit the criteria I emboldened at the start of this post and really double down on their “In Addition” language I am confident you will get the same outcome as myself.
Even if this is a past issue and you ended up settling by paying off your balance get your money back.
If you would like a copy of the final statement I sent to Virgin Media please don’t hesitate to get in contact with myself via the form to the left.