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‘Hi, we’re Virgin Mobile and we’re putting prices up by 2.9%’

Virgin Mobile logo

Virgin Mobile’s increasing its prices by 2.9%. For new customers? No, for existing customers who’re locked into fixed contracts. We say ‘fixed’ – like other providers before it, fixed doesn’t seem to mean fixed price.

Vodafone, Three Mobile, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, EE, Talkmobile and now Virgin Mobile. To these providers, a fixed contract only appears to mean ‘fixed-term’.

But what does ‘fixed’ mean to Virgin Mobile customers? When they sign up for two years at £25 a month, do they think the only thing that’s fixed is the duration of the contract? I doubt it.

In fact, not even mobile companies’ own staff seem to understand that prices can change on a fixed contract. As you may have seen in our latest undercover investigation, when we asked mobile phone shop assistants outright, 57% still maintained that prices would stay the same throughout the duration of the contract. You can’t blame them – it’s common sense, isn’t it? Apparently not.

Price rise on a ‘contract I agreed to at a set price’

Anyway, back to Virgin Mobile. Ryan on Twitter alerted us to the price rise:

‘Virgin Mobile letting me know that the price of my s***** mobile phone contract is going up. The contract I agreed to at a set price. Going up.’

We got in touch with Virgin Mobile, in the hope that it was all just a bad dream. However, the rise was confirmed – from 22 July 2013, your monthly mobile tariff price will go up by 2.9%. That’s around 70p extra per month on a £25 contract. The price of calls, texts and data outside of your monthly tariff allowance won’t be affected. You can see how much extra you’ll be paying by using Virgin Mobile’s ‘handy’ calculator.

The mobile provider will be contacting those affected to give them 14 days’ notice of the price changes.

Can you cancel your Virgin Mobile contract?

So, the big question is – can you cancel your contract? Yes, but not without paying an early disconnection fee as the possibility of a price rise is mentioned in the small print. These exit fees are usually the remaining charges on your contract term, which doesn’t exactly give you the freedom to leave. A Virgin Media spokesperson told us:

‘We’ve protected our customers by not passing on increasing business costs for many years now. However, in order for us to be able to continue to invest in our mobile services and to develop market-leading tariffs, including unbeatable customer benefits such as free calls and inclusive insurance, we’ve had to apply a small increase in line with rising operational costs due to inflation.’

It looks like Virgin Mobile is trying to get its hike in before Ofcom announces the outcome of its consultation into price rises during fixed contracts. Ofcom’s consultation was launched off the back of our Fixed Means Fixed campaign, following more than 45,000 pledges of support.

It’s simple really – we think fixed should mean fixed. And if providers don’t want to keep their end of the bargain, you should be able to exit your contract without penalty.

We want Ofcom to introduce new rules that enforce this and we eagerly await its announcement later in the summer. You can put the pressure on Ofcom by pledging support for our Fixed Means Fixed campaign – and if you’re an affected Virgin Mobile customer, shout about how you feel.

Comments

I’m very interested to see if Tesco actually honour this ( around the 0:18 mark)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiEUzyA0MfM

We’ll have to wait and see.

I had hoped that being so public about it, it might force others to up their game, but I guess not 🙁

It might be an idea for Which? to push them to update their T&Cs before they decide that it isn’t such a good idea to hold prices during a contract.

If this is a sign that Tesco values its customers, it is very welcome and long overdue.

Daniel T says:
10 July 2013

Well,

Its a touchi ground as supposedly you are within your right to exit an agreement, should there be changes leading to material detriment. So, my humble logic says that if a provider rises their prices to RPI inflation of 2.9% and you, as a consumer, have not had your wages adjusted to reflect such change, then this leads to material detriment – it has a negative financial impact on you.

Although Virgin will tell you over and over that their increase is ‘in line with RPI’ and approved by the Regulator, who are Virgin, CISAS or Ofcom to judge if such increase would add to a change of your financial circumstances?

Therefore, VM customers, clauses 5.3 & 5.4 of your T&C’s in conjunction with each other state that you have the right to terminate your contract, should any changes lead to material detriment.

After being messed about for a week and sending two complaints letters, as well as registering my complaint and sending copies of communications to CISAS, I decided to share my approach on the matter.

I have not had a salary adjustment for the duration of the contract therefore, legality says that any increases, especially on services that I cannot get out of, would cause me material detriment.

If there is a posibility of campain or publications going forth, I’m more than happy to ptovide copies of complaint letters, etc.

Thanks,

D

graham Wheeler says:
10 August 2013

EE Customer service
6 Camberwell Way,
Sunderland,Tyne and Wear.SR3 3XN 30 July 2013
In the absence of realistic or workable communication channels with Orange

Dear Orange.
Account no ;on request
Confused , some clarification please
I am not aware of any contractual changes .My last three bills have shown significant changes .
I have a letter from EE’s CEO assuring me that there would be no changes to my account.
Could you explain the following please
Pre 01/05/2013 my answer phone service was free (0.00)
Post 01/05/2013 charged at 0.208 Why?
Pre 01/05/2013 my text messages were charged at a flat rate of 0.085
Post 01/05/2013 .125 Why?
Pre 01/05/2013 orange to orange mobile calls average charge 0.159
Post01/05/2013 1.150 Why?
Pre 01/05/2013 to other mobile networks average charge 0.371
Post01/05/2013 1.2024 Why?
Pre 01/05/2013 calls to landlines average charge 0.181
Post 01/05/2013 average charge 0.363 Why ?
Also the number of minutes charged has increased expedientialy .From a pre 01/05/2013 average of around 15 minutes and 16 text to a post 01/05/2013 average of 80 +minutes and 25 texts .also the number of repeat calls and drop out has increased ( could this be the cause of the increased charged minutes?? (My life style /phone use has not significantly changed through this period!!)
Also I have two consecutive bills 00944916780 & 00957557768 from either side of 01/05/2013 therefore different charge rates for a completely different call / text conformation for the identical amount…£23.94, £23.94… HOW? ……Coincidence ??? (suspicious!!)
Also what is …AR?
Also what is 1215 MT SMS Free?
If there has been a non-advised change to my contract /level of charges may I request that I return to my original and agreed contract ,and that I am reimbursed these non-advised or agreed changes to my contract.
Many thanks in advance for your assistance
Billing from EQ Virgin
Graham Wheeler (LOYAL orange/EQ Virgin since at least 2000)
No Response fro EE Orange or virgin as yet

Surely, if you agree to, and sign up to, a Contract at a ‘fixed’ price then any change to that price, unless you have specifically agreed to it, is a breach of contract?
And if there is anything in the small print to allow changes like that to be made then isn’t it contrary to the Trades Description Act, if it is not made clear in the initial advertisement?

We’d all like to think so but the regulators will probably say its down to say to read what we’re signing.

Maybe everyone should manually amend their contracts before signing to add if you up the price for any reason before the end of the contract period, you the supplier agree to pay £500 compensation to me or words to that effect

And see how they like if if there’s contract clauses they don’t like.

stu e says:
16 June 2014

They can only materially raise prices mid contract by statute;

5.4 Non acceptance of changes: If you do not accept a change that falls within clause 5.3 you may cancel this Agreement by writing to us within 1 month of us telling you about any change, to let us know that you want to cancel. However you may not cancel this Agreement if such change: (a) has been imposed on us by any regulator with appropriate authority, for example OFCOM, or as a direct result of new legislation, statutory instrument or government regulation.

Also;

10.2 Your right to cancel: You may end this Agreement immediately in the following circumstances:
(c) if you do not accept any change that we notify you about in accordance with clause 5.3 and you notify us in accordance with clause 5.4 that you do not accept such change.

Therefore, as inflation is not “imposed” for the purpose of these T&Cs, these charges can be contested and I believe a severance made by Virgin mobile.

Cheers.