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.
So @virginmedia what's your reason for playing unfair in negotiations and laying all blame at the @UKTV channels doorstep. You're clearly VERY poor at understanding your customer demographic. When did you ask everyone what they want? #virginmedia #disgrace
— JayBird (@LycanEclipse) July 20, 2018
This is the SAME response you've given everyone. Word for word. No individual responses, you kept this hidden from all your customers. You don't know your customers at all.
— JayBird (@LycanEclipse) July 20, 2018
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:
From Sunday all UKTV channels and programmes will be replaced on Virgin TV. More information here: https://t.co/Yl9kD2kiVJ. We currently have no plans to change your bundle charges right now – we’ll always let you know well in advance should this happen. JY
— Virgin Media (@virginmedia) July 21, 2018
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!
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 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.
We’ve worked with @VirginMedia since its launch in 2006, supplying @Davechannel, @Goldchannel, @Wchannel, and more. We’re so sorry for the viewers who may miss our channels, but demands for price cuts mean we can't continue our partnership. More from UKTV’s Steve North: pic.twitter.com/NEkxgwuYfB
— Official UKTV (@UKTV) July 20, 2018
Well at least we have a statement and a face from UKTV unlike Virgin! The so called new channels from Virgin are channels we should get anyway as they are free on other platforms and just don't cut it! UKTV is a staple in many homes and will be missed greatly on Virgin.
— Jay S (@jayjdb) July 21, 2018
Update 23 July 2018
— Official UKTV (@UKTV) July 23, 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.”
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.”
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:
a) people don't care that you have invested in other channels, you didn't ask them what they wanted
b) UKTV hasn't cut off VirginMedia customers you won't pay the going rate
c) people are sick of your cut and paste replies
— Helen Dewdney (@ComplainingCow) July 21, 2018
There’s a petition against Virgin Media too!
Also be careful if you go for a price reduction. Look through the offer carefully:
Beware if you are offered a price reduction. The one they offered me was a reduction of £10 per month but on close examination it was a lower specification bundle. So the price reduction was for a further reduction in services!
— Hull Lass (@HermesLass) July 24, 2018
Also be warned. The scammers were quick off the mark:
Be careful everyone someone trying to scam you now to get your card detail pic.twitter.com/hBfbuSI8OF
— Shaun131 (@shaun_131) July 21, 2018
Oh and new customers?
I note they are also still advertising the channels they have chosen to axe on their site for potential new customers ! pic.twitter.com/PLAftd6mqu
— Dabe1971 (@dabe1971) July 21, 2018
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.
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.
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