How to haggle with Virgin Media — save more than £100 with these tips
Last week, we covered the inflation-busting 13.8 per cent increase in Virgin Media’s broadband pricing, which allows customers to walk away from their contract without penalty.
Now, the Standard has seen an example of the emails sent to customers informing them of the imminent price rise, and the offer to leave without penalty.
“If you’re not happy with any of the changes announced in this email… you can change or cancel your package, any time before 4th April 2023, without paying any cancellation fees,” the email reads. This date will likely vary on a customer-by-customer basis.
A Virgin Media spokesperson confirmed the penalty-free break to The Standard, but was keen to highlight that vulnerable customers on Essential Broadband packages (for those on Universal Credit) and with Talk Protected landlines are unaffected.
The increases, Virgin Media says, are required to insulate against its own rising costs.
“We know that price rises are never welcome, particularly right now, but like many other businesses, we are experiencing significantly increased costs while investing to keep pace with growing demand, as broadband usage rose more than 10 per cent last year and speeds increased by 40 per cent,” the spokesperson continued.
Get discounts by threatening to cancel
Cancelling your contract and finding another provider can be a lot of hassle, and it’s not something everyone will want to put themselves through — but it needn’t come to that.
Plenty of customers have reported that even the threat of leaving has been enough to see Virgin Media row back on the promised price increase — something we were able to verify ourselves.
When we phoned about a specific account, an automated voice offered a £3.50 discount that could be applied by pressing #1, while holding on for a customer service representative quickly saw the monthly £7 increase cancelled altogether. That’s a cumulative saving of £126 over the duration of a standard 18-month contract.
Those prepared to play hardball could unlock even greater savings so, if you’ve had a similar letter, here are some useful tips for getting the best possible deal on your Virgin Media broadband.
How to haggle with Virgin Media
While it seems that simply threatening to leave will get you some kind of offer, here are some tips to help you get the best possible discount available.
1. Do your research
Don’t just phone Virgin Media and threaten to leave if you’re unsure what the alternatives are. Being able to point at a rival broadband supplier and say that ‘X will offer you Y for £Z less per month’ is a very powerful weapon, and makes it clear that you’re serious.
Use our broadband-comparison tool to find out what’s available in your area, and note down the best deals. Don’t forget to check what Virgin Media is offering new customers, rather than loyal ones like you, too. All of this makes your negotiating hand significantly stronger.
2. Show them you know your stuff
If you mention other providers, the operators will often attempt to bamboozle you with reasons why rival offerings are inferior. Counter this to prove you know your stuff.
If they say that a rival broadband provider doesn’t offer the same speed, say that Xmbps package is ample for your needs. If they point out that rivals don’t include TV, say you’re happy with Freeview. You don’t have to be entirely honest here — it’s just a way of cutting through the scare tactics and showing you mean business.
3. Bring up grievances
Bad experiences = reasons for a discount. Perhaps the speeds haven’t been as advertised (you can check by visiting Speedtest.net) or you’ve had to deal with outages and long support lines? All of this is valuable ammunition when looking for a discount.
4. Don’t accept the first offer
Just because the threat of leaving is enough to get a price reduction doesn’t mean it’s the best they can do. Remember, Virgin Media is giving you a ticket out of your contract, but it really doesn’t want you to take it — you can drive as hard a bargain as you like.
In particular, you may find that the first person you talk to has limited power to offer a discount. Hold your nerve and say it’s not low enough and you’re taking your business elsewhere. This will likely see you put through to the disconnections department — which isn’t as final as it sounds. It’s reportedly more about retention than disconnection and reportedly has more powers to offer bigger discounts.
5. Be firm, but personable
The trick to good negotiations is to remember that, while you hold all the cards, that doesn’t give you a licence to be a jerk. And, in any case, that’s counterproductive: put someone’s back up by acting in a rude and entitled manner, and they’ll definitely be in no mood to do you a favour.
The aim is to be polite and friendly, but firm. You appreciate they’re just doing their job, but you have to look out for your finances and you’re trying to keep your costs down at a difficult time. Nobody can really argue with that logic, and it may make them more inclined to help you out.
6. Get more for your money
If you’ve reached a point where Virgin Media simply isn’t budging for more than you want to pay, see if they can sweeten the pot with some extras.
Maybe you could get faster speeds for the same price, or some extra channels on the TV package. Even upgrading to the Hub 5 or the company’s Intelligent WiFi pods can be worth negotiating if you have connection issues.
7. Try a different operator
You may get to the point where you’re getting nowhere and the operator agrees to disconnect you. If you were bluffing, don’t panic: just tell them you have to confirm it with your partner and hang up.
Then try again later. Virgin Media is a big company, and there’s every chance you’ll get a different operator who’s feeling a bit more generous (or is authorised to offer something better).
8. Don’t be afraid to walk away
If they don’t budge at all, maybe it’s time to vote with your feet and walk away?
Companies like Three can provide a 5G connection with next-day delivery on a month-by-month contract, while Hyperoptic will offer you nine months free if you’re switching provider.
There’s also a 30-day cool-down period with Virgin Media, so you can always walk back your disconnection, if you like. It’s also not unheard of for retentions to reach out to departing customers during this period to offer them improved terms, either, if you like to live on the wild side…