Use the increases to cut what you pay.
I feel like there’s a broadband, mobile and TV price increase every few months… and the latest is from Virgin Media. Letters and emails are being sent to customers detailing increases to bills in March.
Usually those in a utility contract are tied in and have no choice but to pay the extra cash. The good news is that’s not the case if you’re with Virgin Media. Depending on what services you use, you might actually be able to ditch your contract and save money.
Here’s what you need to know.
How much Virgin Media prices are going up
From 1 March this year, most Virgin Media customers will see an increase to their monthly bills. The average increase will be £4.70 a month, or £56.40 a year.
It’ll apply to broadband, phone and TV customers. There’s a separate increase on 1 April for Virgin Mobile customers.
Exactly how much more 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.
Obviously if you have just broadband it’ll be less than those with TV and / or phone as well, and the more expensive your package in terms of speed and channels will likely also have an impact.
Why this isn’t necessarily bad news
Since the increases are a change to your contract, you’ll have 30 days from getting the letter or email to give notice and not get charged any penalties for leaving early.
So Virgin customers in the middle of a contract can use this hike to move to a different provider and potentially cut what they pay for their broadband, TV and landline services
Or, if you don’t want to leave Virgin, you can still use the increase to push for a better deal. And I’ve used that to my advantage in the past.
How to use the price increase to get a better deal
Wait for your letter or email
This is really important. You’ll need this to start the process of moving away or negotiating. It might be sent as an email rather than a letter so keep an eye on your spam folder. Once you have it you’ll see the date you have to take action by.
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.
Ideally you’ll stack different deals to really bring the price down -e.g, combining a sale price, freebie and cashback, though these aren’t always all available at the same time.
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 receive extra 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. 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.
My Virgin Media haggling experiences
I’ve been with Virgin Media for the last four years, and during this time there have been three, if not four, times when prices have been increased. On each occasion, I took the opportunity to give notice. And each time I got a discount on my bill.
The first time, Virgin were especially eager to keep me as a customer. The cancellation department not only waived the price increase, they also gave me an extra discount for the bad service I’d had.
Fast forward to February 2019 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!
And I’ve done this at each price increase and end of contract, keeping my price down.
With either leaving Virgin and sticking around, you can use this as a chance to drop some of the services you’re paying for but don’t actually need.
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 eight 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), but there are plenty available (including this one for £129 at Argos. Mine is currently seven years old, working out at the equivalent of just 77p 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 and Boost pass (required if you want HD and no adverts).
Combined that’s less than £4 a month for channels and services which would cost much, much more from Virgin.
Should you ditch Virgin Media?
I’ve given you the how to reduce your bills, but should you? I’d say if the saving you make is decent then yes, go for it.
But I appreciate it’s not all about price. If you’re happy with the service you get then it might be worth paying a little more (if that is the case) rather than switch away.
And don’t forget you Virgin Media customers can now get discounts on O2 SIMS and access to the O2 Priority loyalty app, with all sorts of freebies.
Personally I’ll be staying put. As you’ll know I do a lot of video work on my YouTube channel, so the extra upload speed makes a big difference to me so I’m happy to pay a little more than any deal I might be able to with a non-cable company. But I will be haggling to see what extra discounts I can get.