Ofcom steps in after Virgin Media’s customers complain that the company is making it difficult for them to cancel.
The news follows recent regulatory and legislative action to make it easier for customers to cancel subscriptions and change providers.
Ofcom rules clearly state that the “conditions or procedures telecoms providers have in place must not act as a disincentive for customers who wish to cancel their contract.”
However, the latest revelations reveal the company has effectively trapped some customers, by making them overcome hurdles if they want to cancel. Ofcom now has to decide if these hurdles are too onerous and act as a disincentive to leave.
How has Virgin Media made it difficult for customers to leave?
- Customers find they need to call to cancel, despite being able to easily sign-up online.
- When calling, customers have complained about long wait times.
- Some found their call was dropped mid-way or they were put on hold for long periods.
- According to Ofcom, “many” said they had to make “lengthy and repeated requests to cancel, as their initial request was not actioned.
What will Ofcom investigate?
- It will probe whether or not Virgin Media as complied with Ofcom’s contract termination rules
- It will also look at whether the company has failed to meet Ofcom requirements on complaints handling.
- This will include whether customers were appropriately informed of their right to escalate their complaint to an independent ombudsman.
What are the consequences?
If Ofcom finds short-comings, it could fine the company and direct the company to take remedial action or change its procedures.
Is Ofcom tackling other telecoms companies as well?
- In a separate matter, Ofcom is investigating BT’s compliance with the regulatory obligation to provide customers with contract information and a contract summary before they enter into a binding contract.
- It is also pushing companies to offer social tariffs and has ordered providers to provide it with an update.
Virgin Media says it is making further improvements to customer complaints handling.