MSE News

Millions of Virgin Media customers to be hit by £56/yr price hike – but here's how you can beat the rise

Millions of Virgin Media customers will see their bills increase in March, with broadband, TV and home phone customers seeing average price hikes of £56 a year. Virgin Mobile prices will also rise in April. But while you can cancel penalty-free, we've learnt Virgin Media is offering automatic discounts to those calling up for a better deal, while MoneySavers have told us haggling has led to even bigger price cuts.

In addition, BT, EE, Plusnet, Shell, TalkTalk, and Vodafone announced April price hikes for mobile and broadband customers of up to 9.3%. O2, Three and Virgin Mobile will hike prices by up to 11.7%. Sky also confirmed it would be hiking prices by an average of £43 a year from April. 

Below is a round-up of how prices are changing, when the increases take effect, and what you can do about it. If you're thinking of using this as an opportunity to check if you can switch and save, see our How to get cheap broadband guide and use our Cheap Mobile Finder tool.

Broadband, TV, home phone and mobile users all face price hikes

The 1 March 2022 price increase will affect most Virgin Media UK cable customers – those with broadband, TV or fixed-line phone packages. This includes those with both bundled packages of more than one product and those with just the one product, such as broadband.

But vulnerable customers, such as those on Virgin Media's 'Essential' broadband package for people on universal credit, will see no increase to their prices.

In addition, Virgin Mobile pay-monthly customers on its 'Freestyle' contracts will receive a letter or email separately to notify them of price changes that are due to come into effect from their April 2022 bills. These increases will only apply to the airtime (not handset) element of bills. 

Virgin Media 'Oomph' customers – who have a bundled service of Virgin Media's mobile products – are excluded from the mobile price change. But not all 'Oopmh' cable packages are exempt and so best to check.

How much prices will rise by depends on which product you have

Virgin Media wouldn't confirm the smallest and largest price increases cable customers face, but said the average monthly rise will be £4.70. The company did not provide a calculation for the rise, but it equates to an annual increase of £56.40.

For Virgin Mobile customers, January's Retail Prices Index (RPI) + 3.9% will be used to calculate price rises, but the total increase won't be known until the inflation figure is released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in February. Once confirmed, Virgin said it will write to customers again.

Virgin Media began to write to cable and mobile customers from 4 January either by letter or email. Virgin Media could not confirm an expected end date for when all customers will be contacted by.

Want to stay with Virgin Media? It's offering automated discounts if you call up

Virgin Media is offering automated discounts to cable customers (not mobile users, though there's no harm in calling to check) who call up seeking a price cut, we revealed earlier this month.

Just call Virgin Media's cancellation and retentions department directly on 0800 952 2277 as they have the most power to slash costs, as their job is to keep you. When you call, you're likely to be offered an automated discount when put on hold - take it if that suits you - but if you're happy to haggle in person it's best to hang on the line and speak to an agent to secure bigger discounts... 

But do try and haggle for a larger price cut instead

A number of Virgin Media customers have told MSE that after reading our initial news story on Virgin Media's automated discounts that they stayed on the line and haggled a better deal:

"I received a letter saying that they [Virgin Media] were going to increase my bill to £152 (an increase of £8.50 a month) from March. Following the advice on your website I armed myself with the price of the similar bundle (was the Ultimate Oomph, now the Ultimate Volt) and rang up. Credit to Virgin, there were no real issues and, in fact, they did better than I was hoping for.
"I was originally offered a £10 a month discount - basically wiping out the increase. But I stayed on the line and they gave me a £42 a month discount and an upgraded broadband connection. It took 40 minutes on the phone to sort it all out."
MoneySaver Dave
"Thanks to the advice from MSE I have managed to save £924 a year on my Virgin Media bill. I had received an email from Virgin Media notifying me that my bill will be going up to £162 a month.
"When waiting to speak to someone I heard an automated message, which offered me a reduction of £8.50 a month from my current bill. I followed the haggling tips and was able to get a new contract, with a better package for £85 a month."
MoneySaver Katie

Virgin Media comes top of our easiest firms to haggle with, with 83% of customers trying having some sort of success. If you're out of contract, here's what you can do to increase your chances of a discount:

  • Stay on the line and wait to speak to an agent and be prepared to cancel. First, find out what newbies are paying as this will be useful ammo when negotiating. Some of the best deals are had when you're prepared to cancel your service. It may help you get a better discount, or if you do cancel, they might try to entice you back with 'welcome back' offers. Just remember to use charm and be friendly. Aggression or anger will just put their back up. And don't panic if they call your bluff and say they'll disconnect you.
  • Ask yourself if you need all the optional extras and ditch them if you don't. Paying for movies, but never watch them? Do a channel audit to work out what you don't watch and consider ditching channels you don't need. If you don't use your landline - consider if it's worth ditching to save on your monthly utility bills. And if your broadband speeds are more than you need - consider a downgrade. If they won't slash the price, see if they can include any extras, such as a boosted TV package.

If you're still in contract you could also try to use the price hike as an opportunity to haggle when your existing deal is coming to an end. See our Haggling with Virgin Media guide for the full detail and tips. 

If you're unhappy about the price hikes you CAN leave penalty-free

If Virgin won't play ball, vote with your feet. The provider has confirmed that ALL customers affected by the price increase can leave their contract without paying any early termination charge. Customers will need to contact Virgin Media within 30 days of receiving notification of the price increase to do so.

It is worth noting that Virgin Mobile customers will receive another notification with the exact increase to be applied once January's RPI is confirmed by the ONS, but it's the first message that you've got 30 days from to act upon.

Remember, new customers normally have the pick of the best TV, fibre broadband and line rental deals and there are other providers out there. However, there's no point in leaving in a huff if your current deal is still the cheapest out there and bear in mind that other providers may up prices too. Check rival providers' prices using our Broadband Unbundled tool.

What does Virgin Media say?

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: "While we recognise a price change is never welcome, with rising costs and our customers using their services more than ever, we are reviewing our pricing to fuel further investment in our network and services, both now and in the future."

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