Virgin doubles your speed, but could it lead to a new contract?

by , Social Media Manager Technology 11 May 2013
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When it comes to internet connections, I think speed is everything. So when Virgin Media offered to double my speed for free, I leapt at the chance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite that simple…

Virgin Media Logo Black

If you’re with Virgin Media, you’ve probably seen the adverts, emails and letters proclaiming the good news: Virgin has embarked on a huge project to double the broadband speed of its UK customers.

It’s no mean feat for the company, and I was really excited to hear about the project. According to the instructions on my online account, all I needed to do was select a time for an engineer to come round and swap my old router for the new ‘Superhub’. Then, I’d get twice the speeds without paying any extra.

Unfortunately, as it got closer to the installation, I realised they’d booked me in for the wrong day. So I phoned to change the date, and that’s when the confusion started.

My free 12 month contract

‘No problem,’ said the cheerful guy in the customer service centre. ‘We’ll schedule you for a different day. Your new contract won’t start until it’s installed.’

‘I’m sorry,’ I said, ‘a new contract? I thought this was just a free speed upgrade?’

‘Well, it is,’ he said, ‘but when you get the free upgrade, you’ll start on a new 12 month contract.’

I scratched my head and asked him to cancel the upgrade. Even though I was excited about the double speed broadband, I wanted to give it some thought before I locked myself into a new contract.

Personally, I had no idea there was a new contract until I called the customer service team. So, if I hadn’t phoned, I might be locked in for another 12 months without even realising.

The cost of a free upgrade

When we spoke to Virgin Media about this issue, it told us that no one who’s upgraded as part of the free speed doubling programme should be locked into a 12-month contract, even if they’re supplied new equipment.

We’d love to hear from you if Virgin Media has contacted you about the free upgrade, as we’re investigating whether there might be a wider problem. If you took the upgrade, were you locked into a 12 month contract and, if so, were you warned about it first?


Add your comments



I had a letter saying I’d been doubled, but when I tested the line it was still coming in at under 10mb. There was no mention of needing a new router, although I kinda guessed that that would be part of the problem.

I’m still annoyed that since they started going on about this free doubling, my price has gone up 3x , so to me its not free at all.



Ok, I’ve just rang up and requested a super hub (as I thought that was why I still only getting 10mb). The lady mentioned that getting a Super Hub would require a new 12 month contract as the superhub allows for upto 30mb and is therefore a change on my existing package. After mentioning that I’m still on 10mb and haven’t noticed the “doubling” she agreed to pass me over to a technician. Turns out everything was fine, but my modem was still thinking it should only give me a 10Mb connection. My account was setup for 20Mb though. So after the technician rebooted the modem and upgraded it, I’m now on 20Mb with no extra contract.

I guess something didn’t happen correctly as part of their doubling process. As according to the technician it should have all just worked without me needing to ring up.



So in a way then it did cost, unless you got VM landline or mobile phone?



It didn’t cost anything apart from the 3 ninja price risies between them advertising the doubling and me getting it.

Luckily the 0845 call to customer services is free on the package I’m on. although I shouldn’t have needed to do that.


Steve Ellis

I’ve been upgraded from 20mb to 60mb recently and absolutely no mention of a new 12 month contract. If I decide to switch (which I’m not) good luck with them trying that one on me !!!! However, it was a bit of a coincidence that my monthly bill went up by nearly £5 shortly after the upgrade.



Check ya bills then. It seems to me they have done sommat with ya contract without telling you, which in itself is against the law. A contract works both ways. If you’d of broke it VM will soon jump on ya but if VM break their side of the contract they don’t really care. People seem to forget a contract is a 2 way thing.



We were 10MB and it did double to up to 20MB (basic virgin modem) ,however I noticed we were being charged an extra £1.15 per month,not much I know but new customers were being charged less for 30MB per month. Hubby phoned to complain and we were offered a free virgin superhub with 30MB but we would have to pay £20 postage! Hubby says no way,VM eventually agreed to send free postage. We were told it would be a 12 month contract. (We did the set-up ourselves, otherwise would have had to pay for engineer) We were refunded the extra we paid while on 20MB and we are now paying the same price as new customers are for an upto 30MB speed.



Sounds ok but I’d still keep an eye on ya bills for a few months just to be sure hun.

I’m with e-on for gas and levy, been with them for nearly 8 years. About a month ago I called just to check how much I owed to keep tabs, and they said on the phone cos I’ve been with them a long time there was a tariff witch would save me x £ over 12 months. This tariff was only a12 month thing and if i didnt like it i could go back to my origina tariff. think they wanted me to say yes there and then. I’m daft but I ain’t stupid as the saying goes. I asked them to post out the information to me. Got it with in a few days, checked it and did the sums. It wasn’t that much cheaper. So didn’t do anything about it.

The moto is don’t sign up for anything until you’ve done ya homework, read the small print as there are always catches, and as the saying goes if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.



Um, I was on 10 meg and was upgraded to 20 meg then I asked for a Superhub. Arrived via courier (no postage charged). Now I’m on 30 meg for the same monthly price as 10 meg. Pretty sure there is no new contract involved.



I’d still check ya contract details just to make doubly sure. The big companies won’t volunteer the information that they owe you money, but soon jump on ya if you owe them money :-(


Angie Hopkins

Because my bill went up and up, I phoned to ask to be disconnected as I could get a better deal elsewhere, they persuaded me to stay by reducing my bill by nearly £40 a month, I also got a superhub into the bargain. I did have to agree to a new contract, but in the circumstances I think I got an excellent outcome.


nick davies

Was on 10Mb/s, went up to 20Mb/s – basic modem and there’s no obvious reason to change it. My account now says ‘up to 20Mb/s’ though the advertised break points as now 30, 60 and 100Mb/s. I am currently paying less than the advertised 30Mb/s price – the legacy 10Mb/s tariff I guess. I expect they’ll get wise to those of us in this position sooner or later.

A note on abbreviations:

Mb = Megabit
MB = Megabyte, which is different. The number of bits in a byte depends on the system or context.
mb would be millibit, except that doesn’t make much sense!



I always get my MB mixed up with Mb lol – thanks for pointing it out Nick :)



Quick clarification. There are 8 bits in a byte. This is a fixed thing, there is no context or system dependant variables.


Mb = Megabit
MB = Megabyte = Mb x 8



I was on 10 MB so supposedly doubled to 20 although it wasn’t. Was getting about 17. When I complained they agreed to send me a new Superhub which I set up myself, therefore no charge. A few weeks later I got an email – I think – saying that if I paid £20 I would be upgraded to 30 MB. After a bit of deliberation I decided it would be worth it so coughed up. Did negotiate a new 2yr contract with extras but for less that I was paying. Was advised to ring at the end of 1yr “to see what they could offer.” Now get between 20.03 and 23.10. Am at end of first year so about to contact them to get a free Tivo which they are offering new subscribers but not loyal clients that have stuck with them for several years.


Gregory Hudson

Been with virgin just over a year on a 18mth contract. They have doubled the speed ages ago in my area and they never charged me a penny more or extend my contract. I check it weekly with speedtest and never falls below 59mbps


Virgin Customer

Have you noticed that Virgin have put their base prices up at least twice in the last 12 – 14 months. It was not a free upgrade.



I started paying online.
then realised it said month by nonth bill.
that’s why 1 bill was due 15th the next month 13th and the next month 09th.
am I being short changed by virgin media it wasn’t even 28days..or a month.
oI thought when I paid I would make sure the next one was around the same time so I didn’t pay my £5 I owe them for being a day or two late paying..much to my surprise when I logged in it was due ..yes the day before I thought it was due.



I have been with Virgin Media -used to be Telewest – since they laid cable here approx 15 years ago.. I’m surprised at some of the comments as I have had my broadband speed upgraded continually since it was just 1Mb. I think it’s now 30Mb, but I have only paid extra following the usual increases. I have the XL package which gives unlimited ‘phone calls and broadband for £34.67 per month. I also have a superhub that was provided free of charge.

I have just signed up to their mobile phone package for £15 per month that includes unlimited calls, unlimited texts, and unlimited data. I really can’t criticise Virgin in any way.



Robbie: Are you sue you are getting at least close to 30Mb?


Gareth Schofield

I was also told that by taking the super hub to upgrade that i would need a new 12 month contract and like the blog writer i declined the upgrade,in the current financial climate locking into a new contract makes no sense,even if your planning to stay with them as no one knows what can happen 2-3 months down the line


Ken Brock

As Virgin contracts are agreed over the phone and a voice contact with Virgin UK is a very rare animal (it is usually a call centre in the Indian sub continent-kindly and efficient but idiomatically challenged) it is as well to know that you have an entitlement to be given a transcript of the phone call on which the contract was made. (According to Which Legal Service). Virgin’s accounting methods are rather unique and that makes keeping track very difficult. I am just about in recovery after changing my mobile contracts eight months ago so I dare not attempt to change my broadband speed until I get the medical all clear.



I was contacted and advised that they would double my speed, no mention of a new contract, my new speed is faster but certainly not double… I have been with Virgin for 5 years so don’t really plan on changing…



Speed doubled from 10Mb/s to 20 with existing equipment – virgin then sent me an email to apply and request a self install new wireless router saying speed would go to 30 Mb/s – I had to prompt them to put it up to 30 by email – at no time was a new 12 month contract mentioned



We downgraded from the Xl tv package to just virgins freeview, broadband and phone in February 2013 and at the same time they offered us to get the superhub and a free speed upgrade from 10mbit to 30. All was fine, until e other week when Sky had such a good offer we wanted to switch. When contacting the call centre we were told we had entered a new 12 month contract in receiving the equipment. This was not made clear to is at all during the “downgrade” conversation. It would cost us over £100 to leave so we decided to stay… Even though the Sky deal really was what we wanted.


David H

I contacted them today and they told me I was an 18 month. I thought this was strange as I had read your article first and have NOT upgraded.

I therefore rang back. They confirmed i was an 18th month. I asked why and they said I had upgraded on Friday. I asked how I had done this, as I had no recollection and i have paperwork saying i was on a 12 month.

they put me on hold for ages and then said you are right you are on a 12 month and we will make a note on the system.

Cheeky and unexpected as they have been pretty good apart from this.



Imagine how many people it’s happened to. And once their 12 month contract runs out, VM will keep billing them for an extra 6 months if they migrate away.


Phil Vossler

Just tried to cancel TV services with Virgin while keeping Broadband and Telephone. I thought no issue as I am out of contract and expected to be able to simply downgrade. No. If I downgrade my services I start a new 12 month contract. I am disgusted. This gives me no choice as I may well be moving in the next few months and it is likely Virgin will not be available.


Chris E

Hi, I just discovered that the same happened to me. 9 months ago someone from Virgin called me to offer higher speed broadband for free. Given having had lots of problems with Virgin in the past I specifically asked whether there would be any changes to contract term or condition and they person said no (I also took notes from that call). I now found out that they did extend it with 12 month at the time. Having spoken to Virgin media and escalated to a manger they claim that my subsequent bills fine print says that I have entered a new contract. I claimed that for it to be contractually binding they need to let me know at least verbally following up with a written confirmation but didn’t get anywhere with them. When I asked for the phone recording to be retrieved Virgin claimed that they don’t keep recordings for that long (which sounds strange given it was only 9 month ago). From the interaction I have had with Virgin I get the impression that they systematically attempt to exploit customers and then making it difficult to complain. I will write to the Ombudsman as the next step.


Chris E

I should add that I have also had the problem with incremental price increases. During the last 14 month my bill has gone from £33 to £48 (with no changes to my services during the period, apart from the broadband speed upgrade which was supposed to be free). There has been 5-6 change with the bill going up £1-£3 every couple of months, which doesn’t really makes sense unless the purpose is to make it less noticeable to the customer. In addition, my broadband speed did not increase with the alleged upgrade with landed me with a new 12 month contract (without telling me). For the last 12 months the broadband has been poor in particular after 6pm in the evening, something I have complained repeatedly about with Virgin but no improvement.



I am waiting for the upgrade to 50MB which they said was going to happen last year! then my bill went up, still no extra speed, then they tell me the extra speed will happen this year, and again my bill went up, so this 20MB to 50MB was to happen this month August, its now the 20th and still no better, yet they have had eight months of higher monthly payments from me,
Also had two guys phoned as i have been with them 8 years as a reward if i upgrade to 50MB broadband, tv etc it will only cost me another £5.00 month, I replied can’t afford anymore and what about the free upgrade, if i say yes the extra speed you will get now, but if i don’t upgrade you will have to wait,
They are just a bunch of cowboys!



Virgin are really cheeky as a supplier.

As shown in their CEO’s blog entitled:

“Superfast broadband customers shouldn’t be stuck in slow lane”

on these pages they claim they are leading the market in terms of value and service. However, the reality appears to be somewhat different.

I have friends in Swindon who are signed up to the “Superfast up to 152Mb fibre optic broadband” service.

In reality, their measured speed has never exceeded 50Mb. The latter is only equivalent to the slowest service band offered by Virgin, so arguably they should only have been offered (and charged for) that service, if it is the best that Virgin can actually deliver in their street.

My friends have now started to compile a log of speed test results and will be using these to support a complaint to Virgin about their under-performing broadband connection.

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