Virgin Media investigated over customer cancellation complaints – are you owed compensation? | The Sun

OFCOM is investigating Virgin Media over claims its broke the regulator's rules on cancellations.

Customers at the broadband and TV provider have complained that they've found it difficult to cancel their services.

The regulator is concerned about the number of complaints it has received relating to this issue.

If Virgin Media is found to be in breach of Ofcom's guidelines, the company could be fined as well as ordered to pay affected customers compensation.

Customers have claimed that the telecom provider has made it difficult for them to leave their contract.

Ofcom said that some struggled to get through to an agent on the phone.

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Others found that their call was dropped mid-way through or they were put on hold for long periods.

And many said they had to make lengthy and repeated requests to cancel their service, as their initial instruction was not actioned.

The regulator has also highlighted concerns that Virgin Media might have failed to meet its requirements on complaints handling.

This includes issues of customers not being appropriately informed of their right to escalate their complaint to the Ombudsman Service.

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Ofcom has said that if it finds Virgin Media in breach of its rules it could issue a fine and direct the company to take remedial action which could include issuing customers with compensation.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom’s chief executive said: "Our rules are there to protect people and make sure consumers can take advantage of cheaper deals that are on offer.

"That's particularly important at the moment as households look for ways to keep their bills down.

"We're taking action today, on behalf of Virgin Media's customers, to investigate whether the company is putting unnecessary barriers in the way of those who want to switch away."

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: "We are committed to providing our customers with excellent service, supporting them with any issues and giving clear options should they wish to leave.

"Complaint rates relating to 'difficulties leaving' have halved over the past year, showing the progress we're making, and we will keep working with Ofcom throughout its investigation, while making further improvements in how we handle customer complaints to provide a better overall experience."

Virgin Media customers who think they've been treated unfairly in these circumstances should make a formal complaint – we've explained how to do this below.

Virgin Media was last fined £7million by Ofcom back in 2018 after it broke similar rules on cancellations.

The company was found to have failed to publish up-to-date and clear information on early termination charges.

How do I complain to my telecom provider?

If you're unhappy with the service you've received, you'll first need to contact your provider's customer services department and explain the problem.

If this doesn't resolve the issue, you can make a formal complaint to the company.

Details of how to do this will be on the back of your bill and on the company's website.

Depending on your complaint type, you may be able to contact the team by web chat, telephone or by post.

You'll need to let the company know what has happened and what you want it to do to put things right.

If a formal complaint gets you nowhere, after eight weeks you can ask for a "deadlock letter" and take your dispute to the appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.

How do I take my complaint to an ADR scheme?

ADR schemes are free to use and will act as an independent middleman between yourself and the service provider when an initial complaint cannot be resolved.

There are two ADR schemes in the UK – Ombudsman Services: Communication and CISAS. 

Your provider is required to be a member of one of these and you can find out which one your provider is covered by on the Ofcom website.

Before you can submit your complaint to it, you must have logged a formal complaint with your provider and worked with the firm to resolve it.

You must also have received a so-called deadlock letter, where the provider refers your complaint to the appropriate ADR.

You can also complain if you haven't had a satisfactory solution to your problem within eight weeks.

To make a complaint fill in the ADR scheme claims form on its website – or write a letter if you'd prefer.

The ADR scheme then bases its decision on the evidence you and the company submit.

If you choose to accept its decision, your supplier will then have 28 days to comply.

But if an individual chooses not to accept the ADR's final decision, they lose the right to the resolution offer.

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Customers still have the right to take their complaints further through the courts.

But remember this can be a costly and lengthy exercise, so it's worth thinking carefully before taking this step.

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