back to article EE, Virgin Media hit with £13.3m fine: Squeezing users for fees for early contract termination not OK

The UK's comms watchdog claims to have slapped a £13.3m penalty on EE and Virgin Media for fleecing customers who wanted to exit their broadband or mobile phone contracts before they were due to expire. Ofcom today claimed both providers had ignored its customer protection rules that state agreements with consumers must make …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin's overcharging was absolutely not "mistaken". It was quite clearly deliberate. I had no option but to move house, and my new location was unserved by Virgin. I repeatedly challenged the size of the in-contract ETC they were claiming when I arranged termination over the phone, but as life was far too busy (like having a 96-year old father to arrange care for, move house, etc., etc.) I didn't have time to take it further with a formal complaint.

    6 months later I received a cheque for over £100. Don't tell me they weren't deliberately trying to fleece me, when I quite clearly challenged their calculations.

    After hearing this response from VM, I'm even less likely to use their services in the future. Not that they'll ever serve the deeply rural spot I'm now in....

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Virgin's overcharging was absolutely not "mistaken". It was quite clearly deliberate."

      In other countries when companies have come out swinging against findings like this, the fines have been tripled.

      UK regulators have small teeth and a lack of spine.

  2. andy gibson

    18 month contracts

    I had a similar problem, had a "new" 18 month contract due to a change of package (even though I'd been with them for 6 years previously) because they don't seem to do 12 month ones any more - but also had to move to a place where there was no Virgin coverage, I wouldn't mind but it was a new estate so I've no idea why they didn't cable up the place during construction.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin on the ridiculous.

  4. Flak
    Flame

    It wasn't a cease order, but a downgrade - with a new contract!

    A couple of months ago I helped a relative escape VirginMedia's claws by calling up their helpline to advise them that the landline would be ceased and the number ported, as well as TV and Internet services terminated.

    My relative received an email several days later, welcoming her to VirginMedia on her new - landline only - contract, with a new minimum term and charges.

    It took several calls to their unhelpful helpline to finally get written confirmation and acceptance that a new contract never was entered into and that the 'new' landline didn't have a number (as it was ported).

    Bandits!

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: It wasn't a cease order, but a downgrade - with a new contract!

      This is specifically why I pay extra to have the company's legal aid benefit. They write a letter with all the magic words like "sueball" and "FTC" and "massive fine" and the problem goes away.

      1. PhilDin

        Re: It wasn't a cease order, but a downgrade - with a new contract!

        @Gene Cash, could you explain that one a bit more? From what you've said, it sounds like there's an option to have a third party legally represent you with your interactions with Virgin Media, have I understood correctly? I'm not contradicting you, I've just never heard of this so if it exists, I'd be interested in learning more about it.

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Gaucho rides again...

    Gaucho Rasmussen. It's a great name. I'm minded to think of him riding on a dusty old mule into Ofcom wearing a poncho, a bandolier, and a sombrero; gnawing on a cheroot whilst grimly scanning a copy of Kierkegaard.

  6. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    I haven't requested any change from Virgin Media for years and I only use their slowest fibre broadband. They keep upgrading my broadband speed (with a price hike shortly afterwards) every few months.... automatically starting a new 12 month contract, therefore I'm perpetually subject to an early exit fee. Bastards.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "They keep upgrading my broadband speed (with a price hike shortly afterwards) every few months.... automatically starting a new 12 month contract,"

      THAT practice has been illegal for a number of years.

      If you can show this, then Ofcom will be nailing hides to walls.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I had a problem with VM trying to charge me for early exit fees back in 2012 when I went to cancel after 12 months.

    They claim they only did 18 month contracts and therefore I would have to pay exit fees. But I knew I had only taken 12 month contract as this meant it ended the month before I was due to move. Luckily I could go back into my email archives and show them welcome email which showed that I had signed up to a 12 month contract and so they waived the fee.

  8. teebie

    "claimed it had "mistakenly overcharged" 1.5 per cent of its 5.5 million cable customers"

    What percentage of customers left their contract during the period in question? Was it 1.5% by any chance?

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