“Virgin Media charged me massive exit fees when I moved house”
Moving house costs a fortune.
Delivery fees, mortgage repayments and agents charges can empty your wallet.
But there are costs you might not have expected, like broadband contract cancellation fees.
Virgin Media broadband exit fees
We’ve heard from two Virgin Media customers who were furious at being asked to pay a hefty exit penalty to leave their contracts.
Ralph Dinnick, from Fareham, Hampshire, was told to pay £154 if he wanted to move to his new home.
“We would have transferred our service to our new home, but Virgin have no service in the area,” Ralph said.
“Virgin are insisting that an early exit penalty must be paid. In view of our 20 years custom, we feel this charge is totally unacceptable.”
Elaine Wilson contacted A Spokesman Said on behalf of her sister-in-law, Jean Laurent.
Jean, who suffers from heart disorders and relies on an Oxygen machine 15 hours a day, was told by Doctors she needed to move to a ground floor apartment if she wanted to live independently.
But to move to a suitable new home, she would have to pay Virgin Media a cancellation fee of £160.
"This seems unfair," said Elaine, "it's not Jean’s fault she is not continuing her contact. She is elderly, disabled and unable to afford this bill.”
Like Ralph, Jean wanted to continue with Virgin but the company didn’t service her new address.
A Spokesman Said raised both cases with Virgin and, to the company’s credit, it acted immediately.
As a goodwill gesture, it agreed to waive both Ralph and Jean’s cancellation fees.
A spokesperson for the company added: “We urge all of our customers to consider the length of contracts before entering into them. Details of early disconnection fees are placed at the top of our T&Cs in clear English to help ensure customers have sight of them.
“The cost of early disconnection fees is dependent on the services the customer receives and the duration left on their minimum contract period for each of the services.”
Virgin Media has a review process in place if customers need to leave their contract early due to ‘unforeseeable or unfortunate circumstances’, such as illness or disability.
The company said it was investing £3 billion to expand its network to cover more UK homes.
Keep reading for what to do if you're hit with exit fees.
If you need to make a complaint about your broadband provider, get in touch with A Spokesman Said.
We'll fight for you.
Exit fees when cancelling your broadband: what you need to know
Most broadband contracts run for 12 or 18 months.
If you want to leave yours early, the chances are you’re going to have to pay an exit fee, plus any remaining monthly payments.
Here are a few tips that might help
Have prices increased during your contract?
Under Ofcom rules, broadband providers are not allowed to jack up the price of a fixed-term contract without telling you thirty days in advance, and giving you the chance to leave without paying.
If your prices have increased since you signed up, contact your provider and ask to switch without a penalty.
Is your broadband service consistently poor?
Constant buffering, slow connectivity speeds, service dropouts, delays in installation – all these may all constitute a breach of contract.
Customers who suffer consistently poor service may be entitled to leave a contract early.
Top Tip: You’ll need to build up a credible case file, including screenshots and audio recordings, to present to your provider.
Even if you are within your contract, it’s worth ringing up your provider and seeing if you can come to an agreement.
As Virgin Media demonstrated, suppliers can find wiggle room for loyal customers wanting to move free of charge.
Are there any other ways I can leave a contract without paying fees?
Compare broadband deals to see if any other providers are offering perks to attract customers jumping ship from rivals.
Sky, for example, offer a buyout scheme to customers who switch to Sky broadband.
The company will pay some of your exit fees by crediting your Sky account with £100, although the offer is only available if you order a new Sky package over the phone.