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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Ben
    • By MSE Ben 30th Jun 17, 4:51 PM
    • 38Posts
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    MSE Ben
    MSE News: Ofcom investigates Virgin Media over exit fees
    • #1
    • 30th Jun 17, 4:51 PM
    MSE News: Ofcom investigates Virgin Media over exit fees 30th Jun 17 at 4:51 PM
    Ofcom is investigating Virgin Media over exit fees when customers move to an area where Virgin's service is unavailable...
    Read the full story:
    'Ofcom investigates Virgin Media over exit fees'

    Click reply below to discuss. If you havenít already, join the forum to reply. If you arenít sure how it all works, read our New to Forum? Intro Guide.
    Last edited by MSE Luke; 30-06-2017 at 5:31 PM.
Page 1
    • michaels
    • By michaels 30th Jun 17, 6:37 PM
    • 19,739 Posts
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    michaels
    • #2
    • 30th Jun 17, 6:37 PM
    • #2
    • 30th Jun 17, 6:37 PM
    So we all want free installation and a free superdooper TV box where free obviously means paid of as part of the monthly fee during the minimum contract period and then we also want to be able to leave with no notice. Simple economics means this can't happen - if they ban minimum contract lengths then the install and tv box will have to be paid for upfront.

    Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.
    Cool heads and compromise
    • dekaspace
    • By dekaspace 30th Jun 17, 11:16 PM
    • 3,577 Posts
    • 2,907 Thanks
    dekaspace
    • #3
    • 30th Jun 17, 11:16 PM
    • #3
    • 30th Jun 17, 11:16 PM
    So we all want free installation and a free superdooper TV box where free obviously means paid of as part of the monthly fee during the minimum contract period and then we also want to be able to leave with no notice. Simple economics means this can't happen - if they ban minimum contract lengths then the install and tv box will have to be paid for upfront.

    Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.
    Originally posted by michaels

    It doesn't, if people knew what they were talking about they would realise the equipment you get from VM does not belong to the customer and they charge you for it if its not returned at end of contract.


    and people may be ok paying a fee but if they are charged close to or more than £100 then they may be very angry.
    • iniltous
    • By iniltous 1st Jul 17, 9:15 AM
    • 1,394 Posts
    • 488 Thanks
    iniltous
    • #4
    • 1st Jul 17, 9:15 AM
    • #4
    • 1st Jul 17, 9:15 AM
    So we all want free installation and a free superdooper TV box where free obviously means paid of as part of the monthly fee during the minimum contract period and then we also want to be able to leave with no notice. Simple economics means this can't happen - if they ban minimum contract lengths then the install and tv box will have to be paid for upfront.

    Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.
    Originally posted by michaels
    Tend to agree with this, and although may seem harsh, signing up to a minimum term , then before the end of that term, moving to another address, is not the service provider changing the terms of the contract, but the consumer.
    If Ofcom decide that ETC's are not good for the consumer and insist they are removed, no doubt the 'law of unintended consequences', will kick in, like when they decided BT offering 2 directory enquired searches for £0.40p was anti consumer , so introduced 118 numbers, that went well didn't it ?
    Providers will just move the costs to the front end instead of spreading the installation and equipment charges over the period of the minimum term, so get ready for £100+ installation charges , even when there is service already at the property, £75+'equipment rental' charges' and disconnection charges of £30+ when there are nothing but 30 day notice periods to quit,but don't expect the couple of hundred extra ££'s that you effectively pay now over the 12/18/24 months as part of the monthly fee to be given up by the provider either, the larger than it needs to be cost, to cover the currently free install/equipment charge ,will stay the same, it's just the punter will pay twice, once up front and also via larger than they need to be monthly charges.
    • Kim_13
    • By Kim_13 1st Jul 17, 10:26 AM
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    Kim_13
    • #5
    • 1st Jul 17, 10:26 AM
    • #5
    • 1st Jul 17, 10:26 AM
    Largely I agree that customers should have to pay, however there are a few exceptions:

    - Good tenants who have looked after the house, paid rent on time and who the landlord decides to give notice to. They have not done anything to cause the move, or chosen to move and I think it's wrong to expect them only to get services/make any changes with Virgin (at which point they enforce a new contract) at the start of a 12 month fixed term tenancy. They may not be able to find a new rental in a Virgin area in time.

    I'm sure there have been cases where some members were moving to a non-Virgin area and wanted to just let the period lapse and pay at the usual rate, even though they wouldn't receive any services. Virgin said no, they had to pay the ETF, which was more than the sum of the fees for the months remaining on the contract. Why should Virgin profit from it if someone needs to cancel? They are only supposed to be put into the position they would have been in had the contract continued to the end. They already profit from the early return of the equipment (less time for it to depreciate/become outdated) so they should just be happy and charge only the remaining months' bills.
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    • robin58
    • By robin58 1st Jul 17, 2:28 PM
    • 1,960 Posts
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    robin58
    • #6
    • 1st Jul 17, 2:28 PM
    • #6
    • 1st Jul 17, 2:28 PM
    What people writing here don't understand that Virgin Media is not owned by Richard Branson any more apart for 5% stake to kerp the name.

    It's now owned by an American company called Liberty. You may know them as they just brought F1.

    All that company is interested in now is squeezing as much money as they can from the customer base.. Why do you think they had 3 price rises in a year. Charging customers over the top to leave doesn't surprise me.

    It was a good company once until Branson sold out.

    Recently, after being with them for 7 years as a customer, I couldn't get a better deal for my loyalty. So I left them. I doubt I will ever go back.
    Last edited by robin58; 01-07-2017 at 2:31 PM.
    The more I live, the more I learn.
    The more I learn, the more I grow.
    The more I grow, the more I see.
    The more I see, the more I know.
    The more I know, the more I see,
    How little I know.!!
    • mije1983
    • By mije1983 1st Jul 17, 2:48 PM
    • 2,580 Posts
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    mije1983
    • #7
    • 1st Jul 17, 2:48 PM
    • #7
    • 1st Jul 17, 2:48 PM
    As far as I'm aware, Branson has never owned Virgin Media outright at any point so it's not really down to Liberty taking over 4 years ago.

    That's by the by though. People want competition, but then complain when they have to pay for it. It's not cheap creating your own network as Virgin have found out.

    How do they pay for it? By holding people to the contracts they willingly agreed to. Not sure there is much wrong with that. Pay TV is a luxury not a neccessity.

    If the ETCs are judged unfair, then all it will do is push prices up for everyone including those who abide by their agreements as Virgin will need to keep up their profits.

    I agree there should be 'some' leeway in exceptional circumstances, but it's ensuring that this isn't abused by people after a free get out clause that will be the challenge.

    • robin58
    • By robin58 1st Jul 17, 5:44 PM
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    robin58
    • #8
    • 1st Jul 17, 5:44 PM
    • #8
    • 1st Jul 17, 5:44 PM
    As far as I'm aware, Branson has never owned Virgin Media outright at any point so it's not really down to Liberty taking over 4 years ago.

    That's by the by though. People want competition, but then complain when they have to pay for it. It's not cheap creating your own network as Virgin have found out.

    How do they pay for it? By holding people to the contracts they willingly agreed to. Not sure there is much wrong with that. Pay TV is a luxury not a neccessity.

    If the ETCs are judged unfair, then all it will do is push prices up for everyone including those who abide by their agreements as Virgin will need to keep up their profits.

    I agree there should be 'some' leeway in exceptional circumstances, but it's ensuring that this isn't abused by people after a free get out clause that will be the challenge.
    Originally posted by mije1983
    Branson at one time did hold enough to control the direction though.

    Plus if your theory holds true why doesn't Sky run in the same way?

    At least they will try and give you a better deal.

    Plus none of Virgins competitors have this large exit fee.

    As for knowledge about Virgin system it has been in my road since the days of Ntl / cable & wireless when our town was one of the first areas to have it because they wanted to connect the business area but also had to supply so many domestic properties at the same time. That was about 24 years ago.
    Last edited by robin58; 01-07-2017 at 5:49 PM.
    The more I live, the more I learn.
    The more I learn, the more I grow.
    The more I grow, the more I see.
    The more I see, the more I know.
    The more I know, the more I see,
    How little I know.!!
    • MothballsWallet
    • By MothballsWallet 1st Jul 17, 5:55 PM
    • 11,435 Posts
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    MothballsWallet
    • #9
    • 1st Jul 17, 5:55 PM
    • #9
    • 1st Jul 17, 5:55 PM
    Ofcom will screw this up, as they usually do: they're less useful than a limp bean plant.
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    • mije1983
    • By mije1983 1st Jul 17, 6:23 PM
    • 2,580 Posts
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    mije1983
    Plus if your theory holds true why doesn't Sky run in the same way?
    Originally posted by robin58
    What theory?

    Just because one company does something, it doesn't mean that everyone has to follow suit. It also doesn't mean that what another company is doing is wrong, unfair or illegal.

    For example, some retailers price match, other retailers don't. It doesn't mean other retailers are wrong. It is just the way they choose to do business and people can pick and choose who they deal with. Is it unfair? No.


    Plus none of Virgins competitors have this large exit fee.
    Originally posted by robin58
    Because Virgin are the only ones who have invested billions into their own network that they have 100% responsibility for. And in the bluntest way they need to recoup that cost, plus still make profit.

    I also believe Virgin cap their ETC at about £200ish no matter if you owe them more than this.


    Also, let's not try and make out that Richard Branson was a consumer champion who was in it for his customers happiness and now a big bad corporate have taken over and are making people pay. I have nothing against him but he is a businessman first and foremost who's aim is to make money, and he is very good at that.
    Last edited by mije1983; 01-07-2017 at 6:26 PM.

    • Heng Leng
    • By Heng Leng 1st Jul 17, 7:40 PM
    • 4,206 Posts
    • 1,286 Thanks
    Heng Leng
    What theory?

    Just because one company does something, it doesn't mean that everyone has to follow suit. It also doesn't mean that what another company is doing is wrong, unfair or illegal.

    For example, some retailers price match, other retailers don't. It doesn't mean other retailers are wrong. It is just the way they choose to do business and people can pick and choose who they deal with. Is it unfair? No.




    Because Virgin are the only ones who have invested billions into their own network that they have 100% responsibility for. And in the bluntest way they need to recoup that cost, plus still make profit.

    I also believe Virgin cap their ETC at about £200ish no matter if you owe them more than this.


    Also, let's not try and make out that Richard Branson was a consumer champion who was in it for his customers happiness and now a big bad corporate have taken over and are making people pay. I have nothing against him but he is a businessman first and foremost who's aim is to make money, and he is very good at that.
    Originally posted by mije1983
    With Sky, moving is rarely an issue.

    The Virgin fee becomes an issue as their cable network essentially a merger of the old NTL / Telewest networks. I've been in two newish properties surrounded by VM Cable (and in both instances) I was told that VM aren't interested in cabling new properties/streets.

    The cable networks were actually built by providers that went bust and were taken over. VM didn't spend billions setting up the network, they inherited it.
    • mije1983
    • By mije1983 1st Jul 17, 9:03 PM
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    mije1983
    I was told that VM aren't interested in cabling new properties/streets.
    Originally posted by Heng Leng
    They weren't (again probably due to big cost issues) but in the last couple of years they most certainly are now. They even have a dedicated team for it called Project Lightning. The street I moved to last year (not a recent build) had just been cabled before I moved in and they offered a fantastic deal. However, their atrocious CS was enough to make me cancel between order and installation.


    The cable networks were actually built by providers that went bust and were taken over. VM didn't spend billions setting up the network, they inherited it.
    Originally posted by Heng Leng
    VM is really just the licensed name though isn't it. In practice it is NTL/TW and Virgin Mobile. NTL for sure spent heavily on expansion and acquisitions. As far as I'm aware, when the merger happened NTL's debt wasn't just written off.

    • sultanabran
    • By sultanabran 2nd Jul 17, 8:48 AM
    • 154 Posts
    • 103 Thanks
    sultanabran
    At least Virgin charge you an early termination.

    I moved home and still had a couple of months of my Sky TV contract remaining. I offered to pay the remaining balance of my contract in a lump sum for them to terminate my contract early, they wouldn't be losing out, they said they couldn't.

    So I've got to keep a direct debit running for a service I can no longer use, that I was willing to pay to get out of.
    • mije1983
    • By mije1983 2nd Jul 17, 12:30 PM
    • 2,580 Posts
    • 18,381 Thanks
    mije1983
    At least Virgin charge you an early termination.

    I moved home and still had a couple of months of my Sky TV contract remaining. I offered to pay the remaining balance of my contract in a lump sum for them to terminate my contract early, they wouldn't be losing out, they said they couldn't.

    So I've got to keep a direct debit running for a service I can no longer use, that I was willing to pay to get out of.
    Originally posted by sultanabran

    If I were you, I'd call them back and refer them to their own website which states you can actually cancel and pay an ETC when you are within your minimum term.

    https://www.sky.com/help/articles/remove-a-package-or-cancel-your-subscription

    Have a look at the fees table, and see if it would be cheaper to insist they cancel or just carry on paying monthly as you are now.

    • HornetSaver
    • By HornetSaver 3rd Jul 17, 3:07 PM
    • 2,144 Posts
    • 3,443 Thanks
    HornetSaver
    So we all want free installation and a free superdooper TV box where free obviously means paid of as part of the monthly fee during the minimum contract period and then we also want to be able to leave with no notice. Simple economics means this can't happen - if they ban minimum contract lengths then the install and tv box will have to be paid for upfront.

    Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.
    Originally posted by michaels
    And the one, indeed only, good reason it's not paid up front is that the companies are trying to compete with one another and are terrified of breaking ranks.

    Up front fees would make the market a better place by not making it so easy to enter for people who are woefully unprepared for the ongoing financial committment. However, that's not the case, and it's the companies who are to blame. As has been said above, transparent charges are preferable to semi-suprise penalties (penalties that should have been understood at the point of agreement, but for whatever reason, including in some cases that the customer was not a librarian, weren't).
    Last edited by HornetSaver; 03-07-2017 at 3:09 PM.
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    • littleboo
    • By littleboo 4th Jul 17, 8:55 AM
    • 539 Posts
    • 240 Thanks
    littleboo
    And the one, indeed only, good reason it's not paid up front is that the companies are trying to compete with one another and are terrified of breaking ranks.

    Up front fees would make the market a better place by not making it so easy to enter for people who are woefully unprepared for the ongoing financial committment. However, that's not the case, and it's the companies who are to blame. As has been said above, transparent charges are preferable to semi-suprise penalties (penalties that should have been understood at the point of agreement, but for whatever reason, including in some cases that the customer was not a librarian, weren't).
    Originally posted by HornetSaver
    I don't think you can lay that entirely at the providers door. There are plenty of people who cant or won't pay upfront fees and for whom costs spread out equally over the contract period are just what they want. And over the contract period, upfront fees and lower monthly charges, or no upfront fees and higher monthly charges, the total cost is the same anyway. The real issue I think is that the public won't read the small print until the small print comes into effect, so maybe th answer is for providers to be more clear in highlighting the costs for early termination and in Virgins case, they should highlight that the service is not necessarily portable to a new address.
    • boatman
    • By boatman 5th Jul 17, 10:52 AM
    • 3,465 Posts
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    boatman
    What if you move out and don't tell them, then 2 months later when its the end of the contract, you end it?
    • michaels
    • By michaels 5th Jul 17, 1:50 PM
    • 19,739 Posts
    • 90,113 Thanks
    michaels
    And the one, indeed only, good reason it's not paid up front is that the companies are trying to compete with one another and are terrified of breaking ranks.

    Up front fees would make the market a better place by not making it so easy to enter for people who are woefully unprepared for the ongoing financial committment. However, that's not the case, and it's the companies who are to blame. As has been said above, transparent charges are preferable to semi-suprise penalties (penalties that should have been understood at the point of agreement, but for whatever reason, including in some cases that the customer was not a librarian, weren't).
    Originally posted by HornetSaver
    I suspect the providers might actually prefer to charge high upfront fees because it would make people much less likely to switch as most customers would balk at £200 up front plus £10 per month but happily remain on £30 per month.....

    Edit: As is amply demonstrated by the market for mobile phones where it is much cheaper to buy an iPhone sim free and a contract separately but how many happily pay £40 per month for 24 months (£960 over two year) rather than £600 up front and £10 per month.... (total £840)
    Last edited by michaels; 05-07-2017 at 1:52 PM.
    Cool heads and compromise
    • maude87
    • By maude87 13th Sep 17, 8:26 AM
    • 1 Posts
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    maude87
    Exit Fees
    The issue is the transparency.
    I was out of contract when I moved , decided to take virgin with me. They increased my monthly bill by 77%. Called to haggle they were not interested. They let me haggle for 14 days then once over 14 days when I cancelled tjey let me. Then out of the blue I get a cancellatoon fee for 15 days of 'service' at 250 pounds.
    You do not understand how slimy these people are. They have actually lied to cisas about phone conversations .
    • VisionMan
    • By VisionMan 13th Sep 17, 7:13 PM
    • 1,545 Posts
    • 671 Thanks
    VisionMan
    Tend to agree with this, and although may seem harsh, signing up to a minimum term , then before the end of that term, moving to another address, is not the service provider changing the terms of the contract, but the consumer.

    If Ofcom decide that ETC's are not good for the consumer and insist they are removed, no doubt the 'law of unintended consequences', will kick in, like when they decided BT offering 2 directory enquired searches for £0.40p was anti consumer , so introduced 118 numbers, that went well didn't it ?
    Providers will just move the costs to the front end instead of spreading the installation and equipment charges over the period of the minimum term, so get ready for £100+ installation charges , even when there is service already at the property, £75+'equipment rental' charges' and disconnection charges of £30+ when there are nothing but 30 day notice periods to quit,but don't expect the couple of hundred extra ££'s that you effectively pay now over the 12/18/24 months as part of the monthly fee to be given up by the provider either, the larger than it needs to be cost, to cover the currently free install/equipment charge ,will stay the same, it's just the punter will pay twice, once up front and also via larger than they need to be monthly charges.
    Originally posted by iniltous
    Difficult one this, as its a highly complex area and topic. Just one thing though, iniltous -
    "If Ofcom decide that ETC's are not good for the consumer and insist they are removed, no doubt the 'law of unintended consequences' will kick in."
    OFCOM are actually looking at UNFAIR ETCs only and not scrapping them completely, and if a company needs to amend them.
    In my opinion Virgin Media (Liberty Global) are going to lose this one and will be forced to change their T&Cs as they are unfair (I'll go into why in a minute).
    But facts first - all these companies we have to deal with are businesses, and are only in it to make a profit.
    The way contracts are loaded today (12/18 mths) is that they make no profit in the early term of ones contract but do at the back, which is usually the last 3 to 6 months. So early termination can effect their profits badly. Hence ETCs (early termination charges).

    There are 2 providers at high risk of having their ETC T&Cs changed and these are Virgin Media and Sky (UK) PLC, but for far different reasons...

    Virgin Media's cable network only covers 44% of the UK, or 15m homes of the 26 available. So if a user moves home, and then requests Virgin to switch to it, but they don't cover it, thats not the users fault. It is ultimately Virgin's, but that'll be £200 pounds please. Going forward, I think not and they will lose, as its an unfair condition.

    Sky - Sky build into their T&Cs that they may (and often do) push up their prices by up to 9.9% without giving the user the right to cancel. Why?
    Why should Sky be allowed to push up their prices without giving a user the right to cancel when all the rest do? And under OFCOM edict have to. So they will lose that one as well, in my opinion.
    But as iniltous points out above, this could going forward have unintended consequences for the way contracts are loaded in the future.
    Sorry for the long post, but its a very complex subject. Heck, I haven't even covered half of it.
    Last edited by VisionMan; 13-09-2017 at 7:16 PM.
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