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Virgin Media offers to freeze line rental charges for most vulnerable

Friday, December 2nd 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Virgin Media says it will protect elderly and disabled customers from line rental price rises.

The company made the pledge yesterday, just hours after Ofcom announced a review into the cost of landline phone services.

Virgin’s new Talk Protected plan freezes line rental at the current rate of £17.99 and comes with the promise of no future price rises.

It will be available from January 2017 to customers already on Virgin’s phone-only plans who are over 65 or have accessibility needs including hearing, sight, speech or mobility issues.

Eligible customers will also get £5 off other Virgin phone plans such as Talk More Anytime and Talk More International Anytime.

Ofcom’s review is borne of its that people who only have a phone line are not getting the same value for money as those who also take broadband or a pay TV service.

It said the price of line rental has increased significantly in recent years despite a decrease in the underlying cost of providing a phone service.

Gregor McNeil, managing director of consumer at Virgin Media said: “For some people their landline is their lifeline – it’s important that those who rely on this service the most are not left behind.

“Elderly customers and those with accessibility needs who just want a reliable phone service are often less likely to shop around for deals and don’t benefit from cheaper bundles including broadband or TV.

“By freezing line rental charges and price changes through Talk Protected, we’re ensuring these customers receive even better value from us and get the service they rely on.”

'Life costs more if you are disabled'

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, said: “This is an important step by Virgin Media, and we are very pleased they have recognised the financial pressures its disabled customers face.

“Life costs more if you are disabled – from specialist equipment to higher fuel bills, research shows that these costs add up to on average £550 per month.

“About 25% of disabled people have never used the internet, making their landline an extremely important means of communication.

“We now need government, charities and the whole sector to target digital access for disabled people, which has the power to make life cost less. Many people go online to compare the best consumer deals and offers.”

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