Clarify Virgin Media policy on exit fees for out-of-network moves
Some of Virgin Media’s (VMO2) UK broadband and TV customers have complained that the ISP, which recently scrapped exit charges for those traveling to off-network areas (here), is now sending messages contradictory by not clearly communicating the change and instead specifying that the Early Break Fee (EDF)”may” apply.
The change, which was introduced in mid-February 2022 (note: not everyone reads these announcements), was widely welcomed and was seen by many as an indication that the newly merged company (VMO2) was taking steps steps to improve its support and foster a much friendlier image for consumers (much like the decision to continue to offer free roaming in the EU on the O2 mobile platform). So far, so good.
Previously, the carrier tended to hit out-of-network movers (i.e. when you move to an area where Virgin doesn’t have a presence) with Early disconnection fee (EDF), which are based on the remaining months of your existing contract term and can add up to hundreds of pounds in additional costs.
The only minor snag is that those affected would have to provide proof of their new address, albeit with a wide range of readily available documents accepted (e.g. mortgage and tenancy agreements, utility bills, bank statements and driving licenses) – this is necessary in order to prevent abuse (e.g. simulating out-of-network moves to avoid such charges).
Play Spot the Policy Change
However, since then a number of Virgin Media customers, particularly those facing an off-network move, have told ISPreview.co.uk they have struggled to confirm that the change actually exists. Instead, many of the relevant pages on the Virgin Media website still give the impression that customers are likely to be charged for such a move, which is achieved by failing to mention relevant details and contrary context.
For example, at the time of writing, the EDF page still say this – “If you move to a property outside of our network area during your minimum period, you may have to pay an early disconnection fee to end your contract early. So, before taking on a new service, if you think you could move to a property outside of the Virgin Media Network area before your minimum term is up, one of our 30-day rolling contracts may be more appropriate. for you..”
The statement above is technically correct, as those who do not provide proof that they have moved to an off-grid area may still be charged FEDs, but the paragraph makes no mention of this key detail and does not state not clear that the related exit fees have been largely removed – an essential piece of context.
Newest from operator terms and conditions for fixed home broadband packages are also uninformative: “If you move to a property outside of our network, we will no longer be able to provide services to you. If this happens during your minimum period, it means that you will request to end your services early, so you may have to pay an early disconnection fee. Please visit the Early Disconnection Fee area of the Virgin Media website by clicking here for more information..”
The ‘Moving house‘ also lacks an FAQ to cover the above situation when traveling outside Virgin’s network area. Suffice it to say, customers could easily be forgiven for feeling a little confused or for thinking that ancillary charges still apply, as that seems to be the impression Virgin Media is giving through its failure to clearly communicate the ‘alternative.
What does Virgin Media say?
We raised this issue with Virgin Media, and a spokesperson informed us that they use the wording “early disconnection charges may applyas this remains the case to reflect that the customer must provide proof of the out-of-network move for the charge to be waived (you won’t get this crucial context from their website or terms and conditions, of course).
The operator added that he was “it is the customer’s responsibility to provide the proof in good time as the charge will be applied by default unless they do so(another detail that should be put on their website or, at the very least, inside the TOS).
“There are some limited exceptions (eg moving overseas), but generally customers moving to an out-of-network address who provide proof of moving within 30 days of cancellation will not be charged ‘EDF.“, added the operator. That’s good, but the main complaint was that the operator does not make the policy or its implementation clear – via its website or its conditions – to customers who may be considering a move out Customers should not have to contact VM directly for these details.
Virgin said they weren’t trying to “hideThis from customers and added that those who speak (phone) their team of movers will be informed of the process, along with written communication to cover it in more detail.
However, the operator said they would check the FAQ to see if “Somethingcould be included to make everything clearer. It’s unclear how long this will take, but adding a few extra words of context should be extremely easy – a 5 minute job.