When you're signing up for a new broadband or TV package, the last thing on your mind is how you're going to get out of it.
However, the time may come when you're unhappy with the service you're getting, you think you can get a better deal, or you're simply moving to an area where Virgin Media isn't available. Cancelling your contract can be a tricky business, especially if you're unclear about your rights. We look at how to switch from Virgin Media to another provider and do it with the minimum of fuss.
If it's just broadband that you're planning on switching, then your choices are endless. The chances are that, as a new customer, you'll be able to shave quite a bit off what you're currently paying. You can see which broadband providers are available where you live with our postcode checker.
Do make sure, though, that the speeds you're getting are going to be good enough for what you need. With its own fibre network, Virgin Media promises speeds averaging 362Mbps with its VIVID 350 service, and you simply won't be able to match that elsewhere.
If it's TV services you're looking to change, your choices are rather more limited – you'll be choosing between Sky TV and BT TV, basically. Both have a wide range of sports and entertainment channels, so it's a question of finding the package that suits you best.
You could also consider plumping for NOW TV, although this has a rather more restricted range of content - or even just making do with Freeview, Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Dig out your original paperwork or get in touch with the company to find out when your contract comes to an end. Once it has, you can cancel with 30 days' notice without paying a penny.
It isn't actually impossible, of course, to cancel during your contract unless under certain special circumstances. But depending on how long your contract still has to run, it can in theory cost you an arm and a leg, with Virgin Media, for example, sometimes billing you for the full monthly cost up to the end of the contract. It'll generally impose an early disconnection fee instead, which is guaranteed not to be as much, but which can still often top two hundred quid. All this applies if you're on a fixed term contract; if you're on a 30-day rolling contract, you'll just need to give 30 days' notice to get away without having to pay.
One exception to the early cancellation charge is if you're cancelling within 14 calendar days of having taken out the contract. Virgin Media operates a money-back guarantee covering this period for broadband, TV and home phone.
If, in this case, you decide you're unhappy with the service, you can cancel and get a refund of your first month's rental charges and any installation charges you may have paid. You will, though, be charged for any transactions – such as calls, purchases or service upgrades – that you've made.
You can also cancel mid-contract without being charged in the case of certain unexpected price rises. If, during the initial term of the contract, the cost goes up by more than the Retail Price Index measure of inflation, you should be able to cancel it cost-free. This doesn't apply if you're on a tiered contract where it's specified that the price rises after a certain number of months.
Usually, if you're switching broadband provider, you don't need to call your current one at all - your new provider will do all that for you.
However, when it comes to Virgin Media, things are a bit different. Because it has its own network, you need to follow what's known as the 'cease and provide' system, and contact both Virgin Media and your new provider yourself. You'll need to co-ordinate times and dates for the switch-over to make sure you don't get any downtime. You should also make sure that you don't actually cancel Virgin Media until you've got your new deal in the bag.
You can get in touch with the company by calling 150 from a Virgin Media mobile or landline, or on 0345 454 1111 from any other phone.
No broadband or TV provider ever wants to lose a paying customer, and telling Virgin Media that you're cancelling your contract may well get it offering you some incentives to stay. The company even hints as much on its website, suggesting that you can 'review the cost of your monthly package' if you're unhappy.
If you think there's any chance you could be tempted, it's a good idea to check out what other providers are offering. With cut-throat competition for new customers, the chances are that there will be something much cheaper out there. You'll be able to negotiate much more effectively if you can cite a competitor with a cheaper or better deal.
Another good bargaining tools is to cite any problems you may have had with the company: for example, many customers were able to get a better deal by giving the company's November 2017 price rise as one reason for wanting to quit.
While you certainly can't count on this happening, customers report being offered as much as 25% off their bills after calling and saying they are planning to cancel their contract.
When you sign up for broadband or TV services with Virgin Media, the router and TV box come as part of the service. You'll usually be expected to return them when you leave, and the company could charge you for them if you don't.
In the case of a V6 TV set-top box or Hub 3 router, this means waiting for the company to send you some pre-paid packaging, with which you can return it via a Collect+ point. Virgin will then ship it off to another customer. Remember to include any power supplies and remote controls, or you could be charged for these.
It's different if you have an older piece of kit like the company's TiVo boxes or Hub 2; in this case, you're advised to recycle it yourself, and there's nothing to stop you hanging on to it if you wish.
If you quit Virgin broadband, you'll get a grace period of 90 days, but you'll then lose your mail service. You'll need to make sure you save any contacts, emails and files you wish to keep before your account is closed.
In some cases, where you've paid for services in advance, you may be due a refund when you leave. In this case, you'll get a cheque sent out 35 days after your account is closed. And you could be waiting even longer, with Virgin Media claiming the cheque could then take another ten days to arrive.
The short answer is yes – you can usually take your broadband or TV package with you when you move, so as far as the company is concerned, your contract still applies. It may come as a shock, though, to discover that this is still the case even if you're moving to an area where Virgin Media isn't available. Yup, life isn't fair.
However, Ofcom is currently considering whether it's reasonable for Virgin Media to do this, and is expected to announce its decision soon.
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