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Stick, twist, or argue with the dealer? What to do about the Virgin Media 4.7% price hike

Thursday, August 3rd 2017 by Dan Howdle
Just about every provider out there raises their prices at least once a year. Despite three price rises last year, Virgin Media has not yet hiked its prices in 2017. But all that’s about to change. Come November, customers will bear an average 4.7% increase on the price of their services. So what can you do about it?

Broadly speaking there are three options you should consider: Stay and do nothing, switch, or stay and try to haggle Virgin Media down to something you find palatable. Or, as I like to think about it: Stick, twist, or argue with the dealer…

When you should stick (with Virgin Media)

Are you happy with your services? If you’ve got a bit of everything from Virgin Media there are a number of ‘sticky’ factors that when put alongside a price rise of under 5% are simply more important.

For example, if you have broadband-only at any speed of 100Mbps or greater there is no way to replicate that speed with another provider. If you also have TV from Virgin Media, chances are your set-top box is busting at the seams with recorded programming you’ll lose if you switch. If you’ve taken advantage of cheap TV/broadband customer-only Virgin Mobile SIMs for you or your family, you’ll likely end up paying more than that 4.7% price hike by switching away.

So if you’re happy, and you’re tied in by any or all of these factors, and you’re a relatively new customer (a year or less) you might as well just stick. New customers are rarely able to haggle successfully, but if you’ve proven to be loyal over a long period of time, you’re in with a chance. In which case, take a look a bit further down this page under ‘argue with the dealer’.

When you should twist (switch provider)

What’s that faux wise-man saying? I can only show you the path, it is you who has to walk it. I think that was from The Matrix, actually. Morpheous. Anyway, point I'm making is you’ve got to want to switch. I’m not going to try to convince you.

Perhaps there’s more to your ire than this paltry price rise? Perhaps you’re getting speeds a lot slower than you’re paying for? Perhaps you’ve seen an unbeatable special offer from another provider. Perhaps you fancy a change and you’re not particularly fussed about the services you’re currently getting.

If you're going to switch, though, there aren’t many providers that seriously compete with what Virgin Media has to offer. Only two, actually: Sky and BT. Both offer high-quality equipment, competent (excellent in the case of Sky) TV, and the ability to bolt on cut-priced mobile SIMs if that’s what you’re after. I’ve suggested a couple of the best current deals from those providers below…

  • Sky Broadband Superfast

    • Ideal for movie streaming and gaming in busy homes
    • 59Mb average speed
    • Unlimited usage
    • PAYG calls
    £9.95 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • BT Superfast Fibre 2 + Weekend Calls

    • Stay Fast Guarantee or £20 back
    • Perfect for streaming, gaming, downloading in HD
    • 67Mb average speed
    • Unlimited usage
    • Inclusive calls
    Reward Card
    £39 .99
    £9.99 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal

When you should argue with the dealer (haggle)

You’re in a good position to haggle with Virgin Media for a better price if:

  • You’ve been a customer for more than a year (the longer the better)
  • You have a lot of services from Virgin Media (the more the better)
  • You want to upgrade something on the same phone call
  • You’ve seen a better deal you can wave under Virgin Media’s nose

Loyal customers are more valuable than switchers, so it’s bitter-sweet irony that the more you care about getting the best deals at the best prices, the less your service provider will care about you, what you think, what you want, and how much you want to pay. Loyalty can cost you money, but so can switch addiction.

Likewise, the more ’stuff’ you have on the go from Virgin Media – or any other provider for that matter – the more it’s going to want to keep you. If you want to switch your TV service because you feel it’s too expensive, providers know you’re likely going to walk out on all the other services you get from them too. They will try to stop you by cutting the price down a little in most cases.

Providers like people who upgrade stuff. An upgrade is a clear message that you’re in for the duration, but only if the price is right. Make that point and you’re likely to find yourself in a favourable position to get some money knocked off.

Finally, when haggling it really does help to be able to say “I’ve seen this deal from Sky, and they’re offering me… yadda, yadda, yadda’. If Virgin Media wants to keep you, it will try to compete in some way. There are no guarantees, though, and after all if you can’t find a better deal elsewhere, perhaps you should be asking yourself why you’re trying to haggle in the first place?

Dan Howdle, Cable.co.uk

Dan Howdle is Cable.co.uk’s resident telecoms expert. Dan appears regularly in the UK press to talk about issues faced by UK consumers on matters of broadband, TV and mobile, and has appeared on BBC Breakfast, ITV News, Sky News, and on a number of BBC and non-BBC UK radio stations. If you have a question for Dan, you can email him at expert@cable.co.uk.

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