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Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

Back in March I spoke to an agent in cancellations, informing them that I wished to cancel my broadband/phone contract. I was informed that I had been placed under a new contract in August of the previous year - something I had no knowledge or notification of, verbally or in writing. I had, however, renegotiated the price and service I was subscribing to. This was the second time in a row that Virgin Media had used my calling to renegotiate the price I was paying to place me on a new contract WITHOUT INFORMING ME either during the call, by email, or in writing.

As such, I informed the agent of my intention to withdraw from the contract. He informed me that there would be a ~£80 charge and one month's notice to pay. At this stage, I cancelled the card payment authority with the intention of taking up the matter at a later date.

Shortly afterwards, a second agent rang me, asking to speak to me about upgrading my account. I informed this agent that I had informed cancellations of my intentions to leave Virgin Media. The agent responded that this was fine and there was no need to continue the call.

Since then, Virgin Media have continued to attempt to bill me every month - affecting my credit history. I was not so worried about this, but when I reviewed my account - with the intention of sorting this out for once and for all - I was shocked and angered to see that Virgin Media had placed me on yet another new 12 month contract - shortly after I had informed them that I was cancelling my subscription.

This is unbelievable. I had twice informed agents of my desire to cancel my services. Furthermore, I proceeded to inform Virgin that my services were being changed to BT, as was neccessary. My previous contract was due to expire in August. As far as I can tell, all this occured before this new contract was generated.

There is no rational explanation for me renewing - on more unfavourable terms - whilst a previous contract was in place. Definitely no reason for me to renew after I had entered into a contract with a new supplier.

The only possible interpretations are that one of your agents fraudulently and dishonestly created a new contract after one of our telephone conversations - or that this is an administrative mistake.

Either way, Virgin have got some nerve to send me a letter telling me I was in breach of contract as per the Consumer Credit Act.

It is clear that Virgin cancelled the previous contract and dishonestly/mistakenly created a new one. I would challenge Virgin to present ANY evidence of my consent to entering a new contract - as I know that you cannot.

As such, both the new and old contracts are obviously unenforcable. All charges generated under the new or old contract are totally unenforceable and unjust, must be withdrawn and written conformation of this should be sent to me.

Virgin must also make an amendment notice to my credit file to reflect that no contractually enforceable payments were missed.

If Virgin don't agree to this, I will pursue it as far as I can. Frankly, I want this little saga over and done with. I can only reiterate that I am completely satisfied and wholly confident that in the event of me having to take this matter further, Virgin media will not be able to supply any evidence whatsoever of my consent or intention to entering into this latest contract. Unhappily, I am less than satisfied with my new supplier and was considering a return to Virgin Media - as it stands, these events make such a move impossible.

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Message 2 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

The August one will be binding for a few reasons.

You rang with the intention of changing the contract terms yourself. Can’t chsnge the terms without a new contract happening.

Youve then used the services of your negotiated terms. In contract law (I’m not lawyer caveat) there has been cases where this is acceptance of the new terms of a contract. Don’t have them to hand as I’m not at my computer. The alternative is you say you stole services from VM.

 

Now you were told you had £80 to pay, and 1 months notice on that, did you pay it? As the way you word it sounds like you just cancelled your direct debit, without paying the fee. If that is the case the default notice on your credit file will stand as it’s an accurate reflection of events. Tell me if you did that differently however.

you can dispute by emailing the credit file team at creditfileamendments@virginmedia.co.uk give all details in your email, they can take up to 28 days for a response and will only change your credit file if they were wrong.

 

 

the next new contract (from the cancellation) is a different kettle of fish and I’ll leave that for the forum team to comment on. 

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Message 3 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

The August contract does not stand as VM superseeded it with a new contract in May- unilaterally, and without informing the other party (me).

Anyway, it doesn't matter - you can renegotiate (new) terms - bilaterally - without instancing a new fixed term contract. My point is clear - I was in a contract with VM, I contacted them, but they offered me a different service and price, which I agreed to proceed with. However, no mention is or was at any point made of this constituting the start of a new contract.

You may be trying to be helpful but please don't muddy the waters by suggesting I somehow unilaterally changed the terms of our agreement without their agreement, or suggest that any alteration to a service and price that is agreed by both parties is impossible without a new fixed term contract happening. It's just not true, especially not in the case of one party misleading the other by implementing new terms without any notification.

You are way out of line making any suggestion that I 'stole services from VM'. They accepted my payments and continued to provide a service.

Regardless, if you reflect on it, to say that there are only two outcomes - both of which are unarguable as the facts stand - is the epitomy of a false dichotomy.

Whilst I may appear to be rude, at this point I would sincerly ask that you keep you opinions out of this.

The rest of your questions are answered in the original message. As I was up to date with all payments in April, the real problem is Virgin's unilateral creation of a new contract in May.

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Message 4 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

Hi quizz

I appreciate you taking the time to get in touch with us about the contract.

I understand the points @Shafreya was making and would like to just add a little to this before moving on:

  • Almost every new offer we give, unless your main discount is not changing, will add a new 12 month contract to your Service Level Agreement with us.
  • If you have negotiated a new price I can almost certainly guarantee this would have generated a new contract.
  • We email contracts to our customers so this may have gone to an email address we have on file for you as a contact that you no longer use?
  • The contract can also be found online if you access this via My Virgin Media under My Virgin Media > My Bills > View Contract
  • I know Shafreya was just illustrating a point to support when the statement was made regarding ' The alternative is you say ....' and this was just an example to explain what may happen in a potential dispute given a certain set of circumstances, not personally directed at yourself.

 

With respect to your account and your contract dispute if you would like to pop back to me on the PM we have sent to you that you can find n the top right hand side of the forums that would be great. I'd be happy to take a look into this and see how we can help if this is still unresolved. You can find this on the top right hand side of the forums.

Kindest regards.


Forum Team

Need a helpful hand to show you how to make a payment? Check out our guide - "How to pay my Virgin Media bill"

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Message 5 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

Shamiya, thankyou for your reply.

 

  • Almost every new offer we give, unless your main discount is not changing, will add a new 12 month contract to your Service Level Agreement with us.

Why must it? Also, I don't understand the terminology. What is a 'main discount'? 'Service Level Agreement'? This appears to be very opaque language. It implies that the 'SLA' is a contract of contracts. How have I gone 5 years as a customer -including several changes to the services that I subscribe to - and the prices thereof - without ever hearing that term?

Most importantly, why is the creation of this new, fixed term, legally binding contract never discussed verbally during renegotiation, or as I would describe it 'Virgin's presentation of their offer'? This has happened to me TWICE. I am looking forward to discussing this matter in court, if neccessary, as I am not daft - I know for a fact that the creation of a new agreement binding on a 12 month basis was never mentioned, and I am sure that Virgin's phone records - if they are to be exhibited - will back me up.

In addition, I do not accept whatsoever that the new contract was emailed to me. I have every single Virgin Media email ever sent to me. One for every single month as a customer - except the three times when a new contract was generated without my verbal consent.

Virgin must accept that not mentioning the creation of a new binding fixed term contract when presenting it verbally to a customer is sharp practice. At best.

We are consumers. Not contractual lawyers, or organisations with legal secretaries. The way an offer is presented to us (and agreed upon) verbally must be open and honest. The creation of a new binding fixed term contract is a serious matter for a consumer. When considering Virgin's offer, it is the most significant piece of information - beyond the particulars of the service offered and the monthly cost.

What is Virgin's policy? Do you require your agents to inform customers that they are entering a new, binding, fixed term contract at the point of sale?

If not, you are a disgrace. It is a gross abuse of what is already almost a virtual monopoly - clearly anti-consumer. It is in stark contrast to the image of an organisation that purports to deal with customers in a transparent and respectful way.

If you are requiring, then the implication is clear - agents are abusing their position - and management is failing to ensure basic standards are being adhered to.

Why is my experience that Virgin agents NEVER inform the customer that the new offer comes with the obligation of a fixed term contract?

Why do I never get these emails? I assure you, it is not because I use more than one email. I have used this same account for all important business for 10 years, and have emails from Virgin

Finally, I am disappointed that you have NOTHING to say on the matter of the creation of a new contract at the point where i have asked to leave your service. Common sense says it is extremely unlikely that any consumer would act in a way so blatently and obviously against their own interests.

The first agent - whom i agreed the exit terms with - was in an overseas call centre. He was astonishingly rude, impatient, demanding and abrupt.

The second agent - who, in retrospect, didn't display any knowledge of the previous call or any agreement to terminate the service - when informed of the situation - just said 'That's ok!' and terminated the call. This clearly implies acceptance of the situation as I outlined it to.

Yet still - and despite me obviously informing Virgin directly about the transfer of my telephone service to BT - you continued to charge me monthly, inform the credit agencies that I was defaulting, and have somehow contrived to place me upon a new fixed term contract.

It all begs the question:

Are you incentivising Agents to renew contracts? Isn't it very obvious that this inevitably incentivises them to mislead customers? For example - 'Forgetting' to inform the customer that accepting the verbal offer means signing a new fixed term contract? And worse - what is to stop an agent from simply falsifying consent and hoping that the email gets lost?

One more time.

If you think my verbal consent extends to significant terms that are not communicated verbally - I think that is beyond shabby.

If you want my written/digital consent to a contract you say you emailed me - then ask me to reply.

You may have legal precedents to hide behind  - I am sure this is a consumer matter and can be treated as such, in much the same manner as PPI, or Payday Lenders. The ground can shift very quickly when the consensus forms that consumers are being treated unfairly. Sharp practice, when exposed, is rarely tolerated under either UK or EU/EC jurisdiction - particularly when it affects Consumers (with a captical C).

As this has happened to me repeatedly, I am confident I will not be the only consumer willing to pursue the matter through whatever means - Consumer Agencies.

I am not entirely happy with your offer to deal with my issue in private. Too convenient.

You need to be upfront.

What are your policies?

 

 

So what guidelines are in place to make sure this doesn't happen? And how are you ensuring this is not happening.

Do Virgin

 

 

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Message 6 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?


@qizz wrote:

 

I am not entirely happy with your offer to deal with my issue in private. Too convenient.

You need to be upfront.

 

 


The offer to deal with it in private is so you can pass the DPA checks, and then not have your data given out on a public forum. The law governs most of this. Usually if it can be said publically it will be.

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Message 7 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

That's an interesting case, mine is similar but although I was explicitly told and agreed to a brand new 12 month contract, Virgin had agreed certain things with Ofcom which render the contract "unfair" in Ofcom's view.

In my case, after the end of our fixed contract, I called to reduce the payments we were making. Like many people we are on a 12 month tenancy.

I specifically mentioned a number of things

1:/ I did not use the phone line and did not even have a phone attached

2:/ We might be moving at any time depending on building works outside our control and dependent on our landlord.

3:/ I would like a shorter term if possible

4:/ I did not need TV as we have Netflix, Prime Video, BBC IPLAYER and Freeview already

I was specifically told that no shorter contract was available and therefore the best that could be done was to pay 35 pounds by cancelling our Sports subscription (Whose term had ended already). I was told that this was a discount  - otherwise I would have had to pay minimum  56 pounds per month.

I was NOT told there was an option to remove the phone line - despite specifically mentioning that I didn't even have a physical phone connected and that it was useless to me.

I was extremely concerned about the minimum term despite the discount and then was told that I would probably not have to pay the rest of the contract as the "moving team" would normally reduce any payment but the actual amount of liability could not be absolutely guaranteed.

On that basis, I agreed to take out the 12 month contract and as i said "take the risk" that the "moving team" would deal with me fairly.

I was told that I would receive notification of any changes and would have 14 days to cancel.

2 days  after this 14 day "grace period" my neighbor (who I actually referred to virgin when they moved in) told me in passing that they subscribe to a  40 pound per month internet only "rolling contract" and that it is month to month so I called Virgin to complain.

The second operator i spoke with said not only was there a 40 pound 100 MB rolling contract but an even cheaper 35 pound per month rolling contract  if 50MBPS was adequate.  I said absolutely since my phone only connects to the WIFI at about 5Mbps anyway but he said I would have to get this dealt with by yet another department and put me through to another person.

After 3 different operators and 1.5 hours, the final operator said that her boss refused to release me from the contract as I was 48 hours outside the grace period and the manager was satisfied based on my statements that I had verbally agreed a new 12 month contract.

Not happy, I subsequently checked the ofcom website and immediately found a link where Virgin promised to deal with renewals more fairly.

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2018/ee-virgin-media-fined-overchar...

Specifically for my case (and for the original person who posted) Virgin told Ofcom

Virgin Media has agreed to:

make it clearer in contract terms, on its website and in conversations with customers, that Virgin Media’s network does not cover the whole of the UK; and that, if a customer moves home to an area outside of its network, they may be liable to pay an early-exit charge;
promote 30-day rolling contracts as an alternative option for customers who are aware they may need to move house in the near future; and
update its training processes and customer service agents’ scripts and materials to ensure that customers who indicate they may need to move home are provided with correct information."

The 2 items I have a problem with are

1:/  promote 30-day rolling contracts as an alternative option for customers who are aware they may need to move house in the near future;

In my case, I actually asked if a rolling contract was available and was SPECIFICALLY told that it was not.  That is not "promotion" therefore Virgin has breached a public commitment which informs the terms of any subsequent contractual arrangement.

2:/ update its training processes and customer service agents’ scripts and materials to ensure that customers who indicate they may need to move home are provided with correct information

This means that the Virgin has failed to update it's scripts as promised to OFCOM otherwise both myself and the original poster would have been given clear options. This can only be actioned by Ofcom should they receive sufficient complaints.

The original poster credibly claims that they were not made aware of the 12 month minimum term and various respondents seem to take the view that if they agreed any change they should have been aware of the terms - i.e.  "caveat emptor".  This is absolutely not the case, in general. If a consumer enters into an agreement on the basis of missing, faulty or misleading information the contract may be "unfair" for example if it is credible that the consumer would have entered into a different agreement had they been made aware of the possibility given the context due to the exercise of prudent communications by the provider.

Of course Virgin can't be expected to second guess every consumer's intentions, however, In these cases, Virgin made a commitment to "promote 30-day rolling contracts as an alternative option for customers who are aware they may need to move house in the near future;".  Not only did they fail to "promote" the idea they actually denied they existed when presented specifically in my case and effectively in the case of this respondent.

I have a voice recording of my calls, which I will post as soon as I download from onedrive archive.

In the meantime, I am preparing a casefile and hoping that someone will deal with this properly, it's just silly to try to enforce contracts with people where, even if I am being generous there is a genuine miscommunication/misunderstanding,  due to a 48 hour technical delay on the consumer realising this within a "Statutory grace period". That's poor general business practice when dealing with consumers who may spend a future lifetime either potentially using or instead decrying your Brand, dependent on their experience.

JJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Message 8 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

Afaik the ‘new’ rolling contracts are only available to new customers.

 

All contracts default to 30 day rolling ones at the end of the 12 month minimum period, but they are at the higher price, any change has to go as a 12 month new one.

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Message 9 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

Thanks for the comment but i don't think that exempts Virgin for the following reasons.

1:/ As I posted (see Ofcom ruling) , Virgin promised Ofcom to "promote" rolling contracts for existing customers who indicated that they might move - clearly they exist, otherwise that undertaking would be meaningless.

2:/ It was a Virgin sales man who quoted the prices to me and told me after I had specifically requested using the correct terminology. The previous sales person had specifically told me they didn't exist (at any price) - therefore removing my opportunity to even consider it.

3:/ Even if I was quoted a higher price - it is still less than than the 420 pounds they are asking  for possibly as little as 2 weeks of internet service.

4:/ To be clear - I had served the 12 months minimum already - when I made my enquiry. I wasn't making a "change" per se but simply removing the 6 month Sports option. I was only aware that i had an option of 12 month contract at 56 pounds or 12 month contract at 35 pounds with no option to remove telephone or TV service.

So, from what you are saying I should have been told that if I did nothing a  rolling contract would have been automatic, if so then the failure to tell me that is even worse for Virgin actually - given their promise to OFCOM.

 

Brgds

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

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Message 10 of 21
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Re: Placed on new contract illegaly/fraudulently?

1) the Ofcom quote says nothing about existing ones

4) I neveree changed ‘but’ is not a solid foundation for any argument.

 

 

the current end of minimum term 30 day rolling contracts are in the T&Cs you say you’ve read when you’ve accepted the minimum term. Do you mean to tell me you didn’t read them like you were suppose to?

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