Virgin Media’s broadband price hikes are “potentially illegal,” says Which?
- Which? Says the telecommunications giant may be “breaking the Consumer Rights Act”
- Claims that Virgin Media can increase the price of invoices by any amount at any time
- But Virgin says which one? she is ‘misrepresenting’ her pricing rules
Virgin Media is under pressure to investigate the legality of its broadband contracts, after consumer advocate Which? he stated that he could currently increase bills “by unlimited amounts whenever he wishes.”
Which? has urged Ofcom to investigate Virgin Media’s broadband contracts in what it considers to be “potentially breaking the law” as it says the telco could be “in breach of the Consumer Rights Act”.
He said he believes Virgin Media, which has nearly six million broadband customers in the UK, is trying to “take the cake and eat it.”
Consumer Champion Which one? has urged Ofcom to investigate Virgin Media’s broadband contracts in what they consider “potentially in breach of the law”.
The consumer giant said it believes Virgin Media is “applying aggressive annual mid-contract price increases linked to inflation, while removing the right of affected customers to cancel without paying substantial exit fees.”
The news comes after the group raised existing customer bills by 13.8 percent.
A Virgin Media spokesperson said: ‘We reject these baseless allegations in the strongest possible terms, which amount to a one-sided, selective and ill-informed reading of widely used contractual terms.
‘We have always been open and transparent about any price increases. While we know that price changes are never welcome, against a backdrop of rising costs, increased usage and continued investment, we have already told customers openly that we will be introducing inflation-linked price changes from April next year, which are widely used and Give customers greater certainty about what to expect from their invoices.
“Customers had the right to cancel their contract within 30 days of receiving this notification.”
According to Virgin Media’s terms and conditions, customers will face “annual price increases based on Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation plus an additional 3.9 percent.”
Which? they have argued that this may mean that the telecommunications provider “could be in breach of the Consumer Rights Act by creating “a significant imbalance” between the rights that Virgin Media has granted itself and those of the customer.”
Virgin Media added: ‘It is very worrying that Which? you are choosing to intentionally misrepresent our pricing practices. Our terms and conditions are very clear: inflation-linked price increases only apply to a customer’s monthly subscription charges, and we have no plans to increase monthly bills multiple times within the same year.
‘If at any time separate charges are increased outside of the package, this would be clearly defined and customers would have the right to cancel.
‘Our terms and conditions have been drafted in accordance with standard industry practice, consumer law and Ofcom guidelines, and we are extremely disappointed that Which? has chosen to make misrepresented claims in relation to a single supplier, especially one that has gone above and beyond to be transparent with its customers.’
Price increases: which ones? Says inflation-linked mid-contract broadband price hikes by telcos ‘unjustifiable’
Rocío Concha, which one? director of policy and promotion, said: ‘Virgin Media is trying to take the cake and eat it by imposing outrageous inflationary price increases while giving itself the power to increase customer bills whenever it wants.
‘Which? believes this is not only unacceptable but potentially illegal and Ofcom must urgently investigate.
‘This should send a clear message to all telcos that the time is up for these unjustifiable inflation-linked mid-contract price increases.
“Providers should now commit to not trying to impose these increases next year, to reassure customers already struggling with a cost-of-living crisis that they won’t face another unpredictable hit to their finances.”
In July, Ofcom opened an investigation into Virgin Media, following complaints from customers that the phone and broadband company was making it difficult for them to cancel their services.
The telecoms watchdog said it was concerned about the number of complaints it received from Virgin Media customers who tried to leave, but said the company had made it difficult for them.
Some customers said they had difficulty reaching an agent over the phone, while others found their call dropped midway or they were put on hold for long periods.