Virgin Media unveils new measures for vulnerable customers
07 August 2019
Virgin Media has today unveiled a host of new ways to support customers who may find it difficult to stay in touch with the Company and take advantage of the best deals on offer.
The new measures, which build on Virgin Media’s existing plans and policies, are designed to help overcome some of the obstacles that vulnerable customers face. They will include annual package reviews together with a more tailored approach to engineer visits.
Virgin Media is committed to understanding better how vulnerabilities may create barriers for some customers when it comes to contacting the company, as well as ensuring that they are receiving the best possible deals and service.
The range of measures announced today will be available to vulnerable customers depending on the issues and problems they face. They include:
- Annual package reviews
Some customers who have not made contact with Virgin Media for a prolonged period of time will have their prices frozen and automatically receive an annual package review. One of the Company’s specially trained agents will assess whether a customer is on the best tariff available to them based on the services they use. If no contact can be made, the customer will be moved to the most appropriate and best available package.
This package review, which goes beyond the requirements of Ofcom’s end of contract notification rules which come into force next February, will ensure customers who struggle to shop around don’t get left behind in a competitive UK telecoms market.
- Bespoke engineer visits
Virgin Media already provides free engineer installs and prioritises fixing faults for those customers who need it. This new service will reflect that certain physical disabilities and accessibility requirements need to be taken into account for an engineer visit. Small changes, such as giving customers more time to reach the door after a technician arrives, can make a big difference.
- Family and friend account management
To make contact with Virgin Media as simple as possible, and provide support at every stage of their relationship with the Company, both new and existing customers will be able to more easily opt for a friend or family member to manage their account and package on their behalf.
- Bill management
For customers finding it difficult to manage their finances, unexpected monthly bill variations will be addressed by a specialist team through proactive customer engagement and account management.
Text and video relay, and alternative formats for bills and other communications are also already provided for those who require them.
- Talk Protected
Virgin Media’s Talk Protected Plan, which launched in 2016, keeps prices fixed for its elderly and disabled phone-only customers. Customers who were on Virgin Media’s phone-only plans and over the age of 65, or who had additional accessibility needs, were automatically upgraded to the new tier. The plan includes inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and mobiles, inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers and directory enquiries, free paper bills, flexible payment options and more.
All of these measures build on the work Virgin Media already does to support its customers. In September 2018, Virgin Media published its Accessibility and Vulnerability Policy setting out its commitment to support the needs and preferences of customers with accessibility requirements and those in vulnerable circumstances.
Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media said: “While we fiercely compete on a daily basis with other providers to offer better deals and services, there are some customers who, for many different reasons, find it hard to shop around for the best deals and speak to their provider.
“Businesses shouldn’t be sitting on their hands about this important issue, which is why we are going the extra mile to break down the barriers and make sure those who might need a helping hand can get it from Virgin Media.
“With our track record of supporting customers who have disabilities and other requirements, I’m proud that we are leading the way with this enhanced package of measures which reflect the very heart of what Virgin Media is all about. I hope this will encourage other businesses to follow in our footsteps.”
Identifying customers who need a helping hand
Identifying customers with disabilities, accessibility needs or those in vulnerable circumstances is not a clear-cut or simple process. Factors such as age and disability, or life events such as bereavement and illness can all contribute to make it hard for customers to get the best from their broadband and mobile provider. These factors can change at various times in a person’s life, so Virgin Media will continue to evolve and adapt its policies and services over time and improve its ability to identify those customers who might need additional support and help.
Virgin Media understands that some people may not wish to proactively disclose any problems or issues they face. To ensure help is available wherever it might be needed, the Company will look for potential flags, such as uncharacteristic late payments. A specialist Virgin Media agent will then get in contact to discuss the specific services and options available, with no obligation or requirement on the customer to change anything if they feel comfortable with their current package.
Notes to editors
Clear, fair and transparent plans for all loyal customers
Virgin Media works hard to ensure its packages and pricing is made clear to all customers.
For cable customers taking broadband, TV and phone services, Virgin Media makes sure pricing details – such as the discounted price, contract length and on-going price once the minimum term ends – are clearly communicated to customers in its advertising and when they sign up. The end date of the discount is outlined at the bottom of a customer’s bill each month and from February 2020, following Ofcom rule changes, customers will be actively notified when their minimum contract period is coming to an end. This communication will include information on the best plans available. Rolling 30 day contracts are also available for customers who need more flexibility.
For Virgin Mobile, its Freestyle contracts are split into two parts; one for the interest free handset loan agreement and another for airtime. Once a customer has paid off their handset loan they will automatically be moved onto a SIM-only airtime plan.
Classic mobile contracts combine the airtime element and handset cost into one agreement. At the end of the minimum contract period, Virgin Mobile will reduce the price of a customer’s plan by moving them onto the nearest equivalent SIM-only airtime plan. In addition Virgin Mobile will soon move the small number of out-of-contract mobile customers to the equivalent 30 day SIM-only deal.
Virgin Media has partnered with the disability equality charity, Scope since 2015 to help transform the lives of disabled people. In September 2017, we set an ambitious goal to support one million disabled people with the skills and confidence to get and stay in work by the end of 2020. In May this year, we launched the #WorkWithMe pledge; a free, five-step plan for businesses to take accountability and receive practical advice on how to improve workplace policies, practices and culture for disabled people. More than 45 businesses have now signed up to the pledge, committing to becoming a better employer of disabled people. Find out more at www.workwithme.support.
In addition, Virgin Media is funding Scope’s digital employment service, Support to Work, offering disabled people and their families employment information and advice.
Virgin Media has also been transforming every part of its business in order to become more inclusive for disabled candidates, employees and its customers. This includes having Board-level accountability for disability, updated HR policies, providing new training for managers, and streamlining workplace adjustments. As a result of this extensive work, Virgin Media has made positive progress on how it supports disabled employees and customers while recognising there is further work to do to improve its workplaces, products and services.
James Lusher, Virgin Media – firstname.lastname@example.org