Virgin Media is being questioned over its continual charging of some of the highest exit fees in the industry. These generally come about in situations where people move into a region that falls outside of the provider’s TV and ISP coverage.
Currently the internet giant’s broadband, cable and TV network is available to be used by over 50% of the population of the UK and there are plans to make it readily available to between 60-65% by 2020 to those in urban areas. Virgin’s focus on cities and large towns has caused issues when an existing customer chooses to move into a place that is not covered by Virgin’s network.
It’s not uncommon for internet and phone providers to have early termination charges (ETCs) in place should someone which to switch providers whilst they are still under contract. The costs will vary depending on which ISP you are with as well as how many months are on your contract, but you will generally be looking between to the £10-25 range.
The criticism being levied at Virgin Media is in relation to the charges issued to people who wish to remain a Virgin Media customer but are unable to do so as the provider does to service the area that they are moving to. The Guardian recently highlighted that some of these fees are coming in at over £100 which is especially damning as many other companies have been known to waive similar costs in the instance that someone moves to an area outside of their network.
Communications watchdog Ofcom has been investigating Virgin’s ETC’s since June 2017 and is expected to conclude and have a final decision by April. A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We note Ofcom’s investigation into early termination charges and are working with them during their inquiry.”
Cancellation fees have long been the subject of scrutiny from regulators and many instances have been discovered whereby people are forced to exit a contract early due to terrible levels of customer support or service and have still been told to pay. Generally, internet providers will charge customers for entering into a completely new service but try to prevent this from happening by offering longer contracts which in turn offer a better price. The issue here that customers face is that longer contracts generally make it harder to change companies if the service is dissatisfactory.
Many ISPs, including Virgin, do offer contracts for shorter periods but the monthly charge will typically be higher than it would otherwise be. Although you will pay more monthly it can be advised to begin with a shorter contract to get a feel for the kind of service you will be getting before committing to a longer-term deal.