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DC
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Contract Problems - can someone advise?

Any VM colleagues able to help sort out my contract, I've went from agreeing a new package to being cancelled all in one day!

Spoke to VM on WhatsApp today as my bill is due to increase to £127 per month and I was thinking of leaving.

VM Colleague offered an upgrade to include 1 gig broadband, maxit tv and weekend plan with new upgraded HUB 4 router "and the package is offered at 87 per month - no contract or charges".

1 hour later I get a new 18 month contract emailed to me alongside a £35 bill for the new router.

I tried to reply using the link in the email and got a mail delivery message - "relay message denied". 

Phoned VM. Billing: "I can wave the £35 but you will be tied to a new 18 month contract".

Transferred to retentions. "It's not a contract but you will be billed for the package and connection fees ... as 1gb is a new contract".

I didn't want to be forced into a new contract so I now have an email in my inbox advising that my package is being cancelled.

Anyone able to help sort this out!?

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Andrew-G
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Re: Contract Problems - can someone advise?

@DC VM Colleague offered an upgrade to include 1 gig broadband, maxit tv and weekend plan with new upgraded HUB 4 router "and the package is offered at 87 per month - no contract or charges".  1 hour later I get a new 18 month contract emailed to me alongside a £35 bill for the new router.

These "didn't get the deal I agreed" situations happen from time to time.  However, your legal rights are crystal clear - information provided by a company verbally or written is binding if the consumer relies upon it when entering a contract (Consumer Rights Act 2015, S50), so VM have to honour whatever was promised, whether they like it or not.  

As an important point of detail there is ALWAYS a contract between a customer and VM, what seems to be the issue here (apart form the outrageous £35 charge for the hub required to deliver 1 Gbps) is the concept of a fixed term contract.  VM may claim that this was a "mistake by the agent", but that doesn't matter, the law is clear - if you rely on information provided by the company, then when you agree to the principle terms then they become part of the contract.

Hopefully the forum staff can pick this up and get it sorted - by which I mean that you get exactly the deal you were promised, not some less attractive compromise.  That would be the cheapest and quickest resolution for both parties, and the best way of trying to recover some goodwill in a bad situation.  If they can't get it sorted in that complete manner, you need to search, read and follow the Virgin Media Complaints Code of Practice.  Don't start a complaint until you've seen if the forum staff can get this sorted, because I believe they can't get involved once it has become a formal complaint. 

If you do need to raise a formal complaint (I suggest in writing, by recorded post), reject the contract they're trying to impose, and demanding that as per your legal rights the company honour what was offered and accepted, and pointing out that if the company can't honour its agreement you will escalate to the industry arbitration scheme CISAS as soon as permitted by the rules.  In the meanwhile, don't do anything daft like stopping your direct debit, that'll be recorded as a credit default, and opens up whole new realms of difficulty for you.  Don't worry if VM contact you claiming that they couldn't get hold of you, so will close the complaint if they don't hear to the contrary, this doesn't stop you being able to take the matter further.

If VM still won't honour the contract despite the complaint, or say they're going to close the complaint, then you follow the process and escalate to the industry arbitration scheme no sooner than eight weeks after your initial complaint was received by VM (or if you get offered an unacceptable resolution, reject that and ask for a "deadlock letter").  Explain the background and request that VM be required to give you the promised deal, fully backdated, and add on a request for compensation for the hassle.  CISAS will ask VM if they want to offer a settlement or contest the case - latest data shows VM settled 38%, and contested 62% of CISAS complaints.  Of those they contested, three quarters were found in the customer's favour.  Fighting an adjudication costs VM money - I guess around £400 in CISAS case fees, plus VM staff time to argue the case, plus the costs of extracting all relevant information.  Since you'd accept a rolling contract at the offered price, the company would have to employ imbeciles to fight this - on the other hand you don't lose or concede 84% of escalated complaints if you're smart.

If VM choose to contest, CISAS will ask for VM's evidence, which should include call recordings or chat transcripts.  They'll then take a view on whether that backs your case or not, and rule accordingly.  There's no charge to you whatever the outcome, possibly they'll side with VM, and either way it's a certain amount of effort and delay, if it comes to that do you want to stand on your rights, or roll over for the big corporation? 

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DC
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Re: Contract Problems - can someone advise?

Thank you for that extremely helpful post Andrew, and for all of the detail. Thanks for taking the time.

That's all I'm asking for - what VM offered and what I agreed to. 

I'm hoping I can avoid the official complaint route as if I do, I'll need to start it soon as I have a cancellation pending email which I understand gives me only 30 days to sort this out. 

I have copies of the WhatsApp conversation and there is no doubt what was offered and under what conditions so if I do have to take it as far as CISAS to get this resolved satisfactorily, I'm in no doubt that they will agree that I was offered the package, with no fixed contract and with no install fees, that's all I'm asking.

Thanks once again for your advice. I Would mark it as the answer (as I will follow that advice to the letter) but I fear the VM forum members may consider it closed if I do. 

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Tom_W1
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Re: Contract Problems - can someone advise?

Hi @DC thanks for your post although I'm really sorry to hear of your concerns raised.

All package changes are subject to a new 18-month contract, especially package upgrades so I'm sorry if this wasn't made clear to you at the point of sale.

I'd like to discuss this further with you in a PM so I can look into things further for you though, so please expect this to arrive soon and respond when you can!

Many thanks

Tom_W
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DC
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Re: Contract Problems - can someone advise?

It wasn't that it wasn't made clear @Tom_W, it was that I asked clearly if it would be subject to a new contract (twice) and was told clearly no (twice). This isn't a 'mistake' or a 'misunderstanding', it's a deliberate action. Would it help if I shared screenshots of the conversation with you so that we're both clear on what was and wasn't said? 

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DC
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Re: Contract Problems - can someone advise?

This issue has now been resolved by a VM Customer Relations Specialist via WhatsApp. The package has been honoured in full as offered which makes me both very happy and feeling valued as a customer. 

It might be helpful for VM and anyone looking at changing their package if I confirm that the package offered is not a package that's available and able to be applied to customer accounts on a call by call basis. I was offered this deal with a monthly rolling contract and no fees which has been explained to me isn't something VM do for package changes however, as Andrew helpfully pointed out, as it was offered to me, I had proof in writing and I agreed to it VM were obliged to honour it.

Happy that it's all sorted now.

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