Warning for Virgin over broadband contracts
Virgin Media has been warned that customers can rightly assume that prices during the minimum term of contracts are fixed after a watchdog upheld complaints about its broadband ads.
Two customers complained that they signed up to the operator's 12-month broadband contracts only to be told that their monthly charges would be increasing during the minimum term, which they believed was misleading.
Virginmedia.com offered two 12-month broadband packages, one for "just £4 a month for six months then £17.50 a month plus Virgin Phone line (£16.99 a month)" and another for £25 a month for 12 months then £32 a month.
Defending itself against the complaints, Virgin Media said it might increase prices such as line rental occasionally which would affect the majority of customers, including those who had signed up for a 12 or 18-month contracts.
The company said it did not know if, when or by how much a customer's "core price" might rise at the start of the contract and was therefore unable to advertise potential increases.
Under rules introduced last year by Ofcom, which is led by Sharon White, consumers can leave their telephone and internet provider mid-contract if bills are increased. Providers must give 30 days' notice if they are increasing prices and customers must be able to cancel their contracts during this period without penalty.