Virgin Mobile is increasing the cost of pay-monthly contracts by 3.3%, plus the price of out-of-allowance calls and roaming costs from July – but some of those affected can leave penalty-free.
Virgin is pushing up costs for 1.6 million pay-monthly mobile customers from 2 July – in line with March’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.
Virgin is also upping out-of-allowance prices with the cost of calls to standard UK landlines and mobiles rising from 50p/min to 58p/min, and the cost of picture messages and international calls and texts also going up.
To cut your mobile costs and see how you could pay as little as £5/mth, see our Best Sim only Deals guide.
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Which prices are going up?
For pay-monthly customers who joined before February 2018, prices will increase by 3.3% from 2 July, meaning any subsequent bills will be charged at the higher rate.
Here’s a full list of the other out-of-contract changes which come into effect on 2 July:
- Out of allowance calls to UK landlines (excluding calls to the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands) and mobiles are going up from 50p/min to 58p/min.
- Numbers starting with 084, 087, 118 and 09 will also increase. Billing for these numbers is made up of an access charge (set by Virgin Media) and a service charge (set by the company you’re calling). The access charge is going up from 50p/min to 58p/min.
- Multimedia messages are going up from 40p to 50p. This includes picture and video messages.
- Some international calls from the UK Calls to Europe (excluding Ireland), USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
China, Japan and Singapore are going up from 90p/min to £1.20/min.
- Roaming costs of calls and texts back to the UK are also increasing outside of the EU roaming area. See the full list.
Pay-as-you-go customers won’t be affected by the price increases, except for the changes to roaming charges.
I’m mid-contract – can I leave penalty-free?
Unfortunately the majority of Virgin customers almost certainly won’t be able to. Mobile firms CAN increase prices mid-contract in line with inflation without you being able to leave penalty-free, as long as they include a warning about this in their terms and conditions, which Virgin does.
There is, however, a rule set by telecoms regulator Ofcom that means you can escape your contract penalty-free if you’ve suffered “material detriment” as a result of a price increase – but this is likely to be very difficult to prove.
Virgin has however confirmed just over 200,000 customers will be impacted in this way as a result of the out-of-contract price hikes, and so will have the right to cancel penalty-free – but you only have 30 days from the date of your price change notification to do so.
If you are in this group of customers your price hikes letter will say you can leave penalty-free, but it’s worth noting some Virgin customers have one contract for their Sim with the airtime allowance (data, minutes and texts) and another for the cost of the handset. The RPI increase only impacts the amount you pay for your airtime plan, so in this case even if you can leave penalty-free you will still need to pay for your phone each month.
See below for tips on how to save if you’re able to leave penalty-free. If you’re unable to leave penalty-free diarise the end date of your contract so you know to check for a new deal about 30 days before.
What if I’m out of contract?
Regardless of price increases, if you’re out of your minimum contract term you can leave without paying any penalty, and there’s a good chance you can save by switching to a better deal especially if your original contract deal involved paying for a handset.
Alternatively, if you’re willing to stick with your network, this is a chance to haggle a better deal especially as you have the right to leave penalty-free (you don’t need to wait for the price rise).
See our Mobile Haggling guide for detailed tips, but here are a few to get you started…
- Benchmark the best deal elsewhere so you ask for a realistic discount.
- Get through to the retentions (sometimes called disconnections) department. They have the most power to slash costs, as their job is to keep you.
- Use charm and be friendly. Aggression or anger will just put their back up.
- Don’t panic if they call your bluff and say they’ll disconnect you.
What does Virgin Media say?
A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “To continue giving our customers more innovation and fast, flexible plans, we sometimes need to review our pricing. We communicate any changes clearly to our customers and continue to invest to give them even better services.”