Virgin on the ridiculous – UKTV dropped. Your RIGHTS!

Update 12/08/18 Virgin Media and UKTV reached an agreement. So well done to those who followed my advice and got a discount! BONUS!!!

What’s going on?

On Thursday 19 July 2018 Virgin quietly released a statement on its website. It announced that it would be removing Drama, Really, Yesterday, Home, Gold, W, Alibi, Dave, Eden and Good Food. This includes +1 and HD channels, as well as On Demand and TV Go content.

The situation seems to have arisen because of  a failure by Virgin Media and UKTV to reach an agreement on fees to be charged for the television content that UKTV provides to Virgin Media customers.

Eagle eyed customers took to social media to vent their frustration. JayBird summed up most people’s comments in both her original tweet to VirginMedia and her reply which did not get an answer.

What did Virgin Media say?

Questions regarding cancelling the contract and getting a reduction in the price people are currently paying were met with the same statement and link or blanked.

I challenged VirginMedia and got the following response:

So what can you do?

I disagree with Virgin Media’s tweet. People wanting to cancel the contract should be able to do so. When consumers signed up to the package it included UKTV. If UKTV is removed from the bundle it is not the bundle they paid for under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Virgin’s Terms and Conditions state that it can, at any time modify, amend or alter the terms of the agreement and/or the services if: “We decide that the services should be altered for reasons of quality of service or otherwise for the benefit of customers or, our reasonable opinion, it is necessary to do so;”

I am not impressed. This could be considered an unfair contract term, as it is weighed in favour of the company. Who decides if the channels replacing UKTV are better quality? Offering Murder She Wrote rather than the award winning TaskMaster – about to enter its seventh series – is questionable! (If you haven’t see in it you are missing out, it is THE funniest programme on telly).

If consumers are unhappy with the new bundle and want to change or end their current contract without any penalties I advise writing to Virgin Media and stating that it is in breach of contract under the Consumer Rights Act. This and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations both protect consumers from unfair contracts. You should not be out of pocket and so any refund should be backdated to the date of the change so long as you notify Virgin Media within a reasonable time.

You could also email  Virgin Media’s CEO. He won’t respond personally but hey let’s fill up the inbox with hundreds of emails requesting a refund or cancellation! Virgin Media CEO contact details (and any other CEO for that matter!) As a Virgin Media customer for many many years I can tell you that  the Executive Office aint good! But keep at it!

I am hearing of lots of people who can’t get through on the ‘phone. You do not need to so this. It would be an unfair contract term to say you can only cancel by phone. There would be no evidence if you want to take the matter further or proof that Virgin Media made the offer it did. To say nothing of saving you time. Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively

Some people are not getting discount some are. Some people are getting out of their contracts penalty free some aren’t. My guess is that the people who are winning are quoting consumer law. Make sure you are armed.

Mixed results from people who are ringing Virgin (see the comments under the blog post!) But! People who are following the advice above are getting good results, so do it!

FB post - complained to CEO weekly discount for year FB post terminate contract for free or £3 a month reduction

Trading Standards

You can also report Virgin Media for this breach through CAB. Enough people do that perhaps we can get them fined as well! Just copy and paste stuff from here or simply send the link, it gives the law breach and their stance. (Unless you write and quote your rights!)

Ofcom

Ofcom also now says could be considered unfair contract term and is in discussions with Virgin Media. So mention this when you negotiate with Virgin Media too.

UKTV

Meanwhile:

Update 23 July 2018

26/07/18 In a statement to me UKTV said:

“UKTV ratings have been down by 4% since we’ve been off Virgin Media, and we’ve had thousands of viewers telling us that they’re in the process of switching to other providers so they can continue to watch our channels. We’d love to thank our viewers for all of their support.”

Taskmaster

Currently the best programme on tv.  A spokesperson for @TaskmasterUnoff  (the Twitter account set up by the makers of the programme before the official account was set up by UKTV/DAVE) said “4 million customers have the bundle so that’s 4 million potential viewers down.”

4 million!!!

Virgin Media comment

I asked Virgin Media press office for a comment. It refused to provide one.

Didn’t get a response to this either:

There’s a petition against Virgin Media too!

Warnings

Also be careful if you go for a price reduction. Look through the offer carefully:

Also be warned. The scammers were quick off the mark:

Oh and new customers?

How’s that for misleading consumers? Those who sign up for UKTV tonight (Saturday 21 July 2018) find that they don’t have it? Oh yes breach of consumer law! Feel free to copy and report to the Advertising Standards Authority.

ITV

Looks like could be an issue with ITV programmes too. Virgin Media could lose ITV programmes in long-running dispute. 

Certainly the same legal rights and what you should do apply.

28 July 2018 last minute deal has been signed to  keep ITV on Virgin Media for 3 years.

Greg Davies Alex Horne Taskmaster on tv on wall

More help

Want help writing that complaint? See Top 20 tips for complaining effectively.

For more help complaining about telecom providers see All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

 

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BA flies in the face of consumer law and decency

Customers who bought tickets for the economy cabin on short-haul and domestic flights from Heathrow and Gatwick flying from January 11, 2017, and from London City and London Stansted by summer 2017 are being stung and will find that food and drinks are no longer free! Has it become a no frills airline? On the 29th September this year BA announced to great fanfare that it had partnered with Marks and Spencer. The new British Airways menu, which will replace the airline’s current complimentary snacks, includes items from the M&S Food on the Move selection. Well that’s nice isn’t it? Well maybe spending a few quid might be better than the free alcoholic drink and a few free nibbles in the future but what about those people who bought their tickets before the 29th September? They lose out, that’s what.

You may think that customers only lost the cost of a drink and a few nuts. But stop, don’t flee yet. How many tickets do you think were purchased before the 29th September this year for flights after the 11th January 2017? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Ok, so just how much have they actually saved? That’s the principle after all. Couple of pounds on every flight, you do the math, it’s thousands and thousands of pounds right?

“Oh” I hear you cry “But BA will refund the cost of the “free” drink and nibbles so they won’t make that money”. Really? It wouldn’t appear so. Those people who have already booked flights received an email starting with “Thank you for booking your flight with British Airways. We’re writing to let you know about some key changes that are taking place to our on-board catering.” The press release followed. There is no mention at all of compensation, partial refund or how to make a complaint. They may not refuse any calls of this nature but why the lack of transparency or assistance for customers. There’s nothing on their website either!

I asked the BA Press Office for a response and so far have not received one. I tweeted BA and they said all flights after 11th Jan will have new catering menu. “Breach of contract” says I and here is their stance on that:

@Airways 

@ComplainingCow Hi Helen, sorry for the delay in replying. We’ve given our customers a four month notice period of the changes… most short-haul customers do not book this far in advance, but any customers who hold bookings from January 11th 2/3… and are unhappy are welcome to contact us to discuss their booking.

So, there you go. BA will discuss your bookings but will not actively point out that they have broken the terms and conditions of contracts.

Right, well that’s it. It’s the principle of the thing. It doesn’t matter if you think it is only a few quid or you are just a bit miffed or even if you don’t care. BA appears to be making money from this. Instead of doing it properly and offering vouchers/AVIOS points or partial refunds to affected customers it would appear that it has simply informed them that the terms and conditions have changed and hoped that the majority of people won’t bother complaining. They would not be out of pocket and the PR would have been much better showing them to be doing the “right thing”.

So, we can’t catch all the customers affected and of those we catch we can’t get them all to complain. But we can have a damn good try at knocking the BA profits and making sure customers actually get what is legally due. How? Like this:

  • Email the CEO. You can find his address at ceoemail.com
  • Provide details of when you bought the tickets and the booking reference numbers
  • Tell him that BA is in breach of contract for breaking the terms and conditions of the contract you have.
  • Say that you are aware that the breach falls under The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, Regulation EC 1008/2008 – Article 23 Transparent pricing, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and Consumer Rights Act 2015 (including Part 2 Unfair Terms).
  • State that you are entitled to a full refund on the ticket or you will accept a partial refund for the value of the “free” drink and food that formed part of the contract. (Both ways!)
  • Inform him that should you not receive a satisfactory response you will not hesitate in taking the matter further such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme.
  • Optional – say that you are disgusted with the way BA has handled this matter and will be spreading awareness of people’s legal rights via social media. (And then of course do so, the more people we empower to fight for their rights the better so do your bit!)

Don’t be fobbed off by any  requests to call an 0844 number either as these are no longer permitted for after-sales enquiries and issues, Regulation 41 of  aforementioned Consumer Contracts (Information Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Refuse to ‘phone anyway because you want your answer in writing should you need the evidence! A call won’t give you that. Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively.

If you bought your ticket(s) through a travel agent you will need to contact them as if you paid the travel agent directly the contract is with them.

Beat BA at their own game and don’t let these big businesses get away with it. Call them out on it and ensure you get your legal redress whilst you are about it.

If you want to do more about asserting your legal rights and need some help. See the Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively and the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results packed full of information, guidance, advice, consumer law and template letters.