Letters are being sent to customers detailing increases to bills later this year. But you might be able to use it to cut what you pay.
I feel like I write about broadband and TV price increases every few months… and that’s not far from the truth. This time it’s the turn of Virgin Media.
How much Virgin Media prices are going up
From September or October this year, most customers will see between £2.50 and £4.50 added to their monthly bills. The average increase will be 4.9%.
Exactly how much you’ll get charged will depend on the package you have right now, so you’ll have to look out for the letter to learn the exact amount.
But, this isn’t necessarily bad news. Virgin customers in the middle of a contract can use this hike to potentially cut what they pay for their broadband, TV and landline services
Since the increases are a change to your contract, you’ll have 30 days from getting the letter to give notice and not get charged any penalties for leaving early. Or, if you don’t want to leave Virgin, you should still use the increase to push for a better deal. And I’ve used that to my advantage.
My Virgin Media haggling experiences
I’ve been with Virgin Media for the last 16 months or so. Service has been hit and miss, so when prices increased in autumn 2018 I took the opportunity to give in my notice.
Eager to keep me as a customer, the cancellation department not only waived the price increase, they also have me an extra discount for the bad service I’d had.
Fast forward to February this year and the end of my 12-month contract. I got in touch again, but this time the call centre team couldn’t match what I would get as a customer elsewhere. So I gave my 30-day notice.
The next day though I got a call from Virgin, offering me a deal even cheaper than the one I’d signed up for as a new customer 12 months earlier. It meant I’d have to ditch my landline – but that was no problem as I didn’t even have a phone plugged in!
So I stuck with Virgin, but I’ll certainly be getting back in touch when I get my letter about the increase. And if I can get a better deal elsewhere I’ll be off.
How to use the price increase to get a better deal
Sign up elsewhere
Many of the best prices for broadband and TV are for new customers. It’s not just special offers and reductions for signing up, you can also get a bonus for going via cashback sites.
For example, right now signing up Fibre broadband and a phone line from BT via TopCashback could get you £295 in vouchers, monthly discounts and cashback – plus you’ll get an Echo speaker on top.
It’s also potentially possible for you to cancel your Virgin contract and get your partner to sign up as a new customer to get special incentives. I’ve done this before with other providers, but I’ve also heard Virgin are cracking down on this.
Even if you’re not keen to leave Virgin you can use the change to get money off your bill or extras thrown in for free. Do a little bit of research on what other companies are offering, and see if they can match it.
They might try to appease you by giving you extras for nothing, which is fine as long as you are actually going to use them. Personally I’d rather have money knocked off the bill than channels I won’t watch.
And if you don’t get the deal you want, I think it’s worth giving your notice and waiting to see if they call back as they did with me. If they don’t and you really don’t want to go you can always call them back up and say you’ve changed your mind.
Do stay polite throughout the chat though – it won’t help you to get angry.
With both options you can use it as a chance to drop some of the services you’re paying for.
First have a quick audit of what you’re paying for – whether that’s call packages, TV channels and even the speed of your broadband. Then think about how much you use them – if at all. Ditching or reducing some of these are good ways to help bring down your bill further.
Look for alternatives
You also don’t need to get all your services from Virgin. It must be four years now since I stopped paying for TV via my broadband service.
Instead I opted for a YouView recording box to record Freeview channels. I’ve got a BT one (you don’t need BT to use it), and it’s available for £125 at John Lewis. Mine is currently four years old, working out at the equivalent of £2.60 a month.
I then top up my channels by buying discounted NOW TV passes to get my Sky Atlantic fix – which you can’t get with Virgin anyway. I tend to pay under £3 a month for my Entertainment pass.
Combined that’s less than £6 a month for channels and services which would cost much, much more from Virgin.