Posted by Mine Hifzi, Virgin Media
Accessibility and Vulnerability Policy
Date first published 28 September 2018
Updated on 10th March 2020
1. Policy Overview
1.1 Virgin Media is committed to understanding the needs and preferences of customers in vulnerable circumstances and those with accessibility requirements. Our aim is to respond to these needs by removing barriers they may face or avoiding creating such barriers in the first place.
1.2 Virgin Media has adopted the social model of disability which we also apply to our understanding of customers in vulnerable circumstances. This means that we:
o Look at the effects of the world we live in on an individual’s ability to be themselves
o Consider the effect of the condition or circumstance, and the barriers to accessing our products and services, rather than the condition or circumstance itself
o Constantly challenge ourselves to find and remove those barriers that get in the way of personal choice and having a memorable customer experience
o Not make assumptions about disability and vulnerability. These are often not visible, can be acquired, temporary or situational. Not all disabled people are vulnerable.
1.3 Vulnerability comes in many forms. It can be permanent or temporary, constant or intermittent. Many people in vulnerable circumstances would not regard themselves as ‘vulnerable’, and two people experiencing the same issue or event might interpret their degree of vulnerability very differently.
1.4 Virgin Media recognises that businesses can exacerbate the effects of vulnerability or create barriers for disabled customers through poor practices. We seek to mitigate this at each and every stage a customer interacts with us: from a potential customer engaging with our marketing and joining us, through to accessing, using and paying for our service.
1.5 We are committed to ensuring our policies and processes support the identification of vulnerable customers and protect them from any detriment.
1.6 Virgin Media is therefore focussed on transforming our workplace, practices and processes to change the way we support disabled customers and customers in vulnerable circumstances. This means that we seek to:
o Design inclusive products, services and processes
o Equip our people with the confidence and skills to remove barriers for disabled or vulnerable people
o Engage our disabled customers and, working with external experts and organisations including the Ofcom Consumer Panel, make sure we are best informed when it comes to disability and vulnerability
o Provide access to services that remove barriers to accessing our products and services
o Ensure policies and processes are in place to protect vulnerable customers
1.7 This policy sets out our approach to supporting disabled and vulnerable customers and the services we provide to remove barriers and protect them.
1.8 In addition to our continual work to ensure that products are inclusive, engaging with relevant stakeholders, and acting on specific feedback to implement appropriate improvements, we also commit to reviewing our policies and procedures on an annual basis to ensure they remain effective and provide the right support.
2. Identifying our customers’ needs
2.1 We are committed to ensuring both vulnerable and disabled customers get fair and appropriate treatment.
2.2 To ensure we meet the needs of current and prospective customers, our sales and support teams are trained to identify and support the accessibility and vulnerability needs people may have.
2.3 When joining Virgin Media, we encourage customers that have specific accessibility needs or are in circumstances which could make them vulnerable to inform the Virgin Media employees they are in dialogue with. For vulnerability, this could include age, physical or learning disability, physical or mental illness, low literacy, communication difficulties or bereavement. These needs will be recorded in our systems, ensuring all employees are aware and take any appropriate action when required.
2.4 At any point during a customer’s time with Virgin Media, our customer service agents can amend this status to reflect any changes to the accessibility need or vulnerability. This can be done by contacting us through any of the options outlined in the ‘Contact Us’ section of this policy.
2.5 We understand that bereavement can be a difficult time. All of our team are provided with training to support bereaved customers. On a customer’s direction, our team will help to make appropriate changes that are needed to a customer’s account, or manage the closure of an account. Customers can contact us through any of our channels in the ‘Contact Us’ section to talk to a member of the team. Alternatively, if it is the account holder who has died, and another member of the household wishes to close the account or transfer the existing account into their own or another person's name without any changes, they can download our Bereavement form and email it back to us. You can find the Bereavement form here along with supporting information.
2.6 Depending on a customer’s personal circumstances at the time they contact us, we may also encourage customers to seek help and support from external services that offer professional advice, such as helplines for financial assistance or advice and support for disabled people and their families.
3. Joining our service
3.1 Personal information
3.1.1 At Virgin Media, we take the safeguarding of customer information very seriously. One of the ways we do this is by adhering to the requirements of UK data protection legislation, as part of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR for short) in force from May 2018.
3.1.3 Customers can manage their marketing preferences at any time either through ‘MyAccount’ or by contacting us by phone.
3.2 Billing formats to meet our customers’ needs
3.2.1 Online billing. Customers can access their bill through their My Virgin Media account whenever they like.
3.2.2 Large print bill. For those who cannot read small print very well we can supply bills in a large print format.
3.2.3 Braille Bill. For blind or partially sighted customers, we can supply bills in Braille.
3.2.4 Audio bill. We can send bills on a CD containing audio and data tracks. This disc plays in most standard CD and DVD players, including some games consoles.
3.3 Contracts and account related correspondence
3.3.1 We can provide our contracts and terms and conditions in one of the accessible formats outlined above.
4. Using our products and services
4.1.1 We want everybody to enjoy their favourite things on TV, whether it's a movie, live sports or the news. For more information about subtitles, audio description, signed programmes and our Virgin V6 and Tivo box features, visit www.virginmedia.com/accessibility/virgin-tv.
4.2.1 We are working to improve the way our websites work with assistive technologies like screen magnifiers and voice activation software. Visit www.virginmedia.com/accessibility/virgin-broadband-and-the-web for more information.
4.3 Home Phone
4.3.1 We think everybody should be able to enjoy their home phone. It is great for chatting to loved ones, or helping you live an independent life if you are not mobile.
4.3.2 We have access features to help you keep in touch, find business numbers and make sure you do not miss that all important phone call. For information on our services including video and text relay, visit www.virginmedia.com/accessibility/virgin-phone for more information.
4.4 Talk Protected
4.4.1 Talk Protected is available to customers who are over 65 or those with:
o Limited mobility
o Limited speech and language
o Limited dexterity
o Cognitive or learning disabilities
o Blindness or poor sight
o Deafness or being hard of hearing
4.4.2 Talk Protected applies to customers using just landline phone services – it does not apply to bundled customers (broadband, TV).
4.4.3 Talk Protected line rental charges are fixed at £17.99, and eligible customers also receive £5 off of other Virgin Phone plans such as Talk More Anytime and Talk More International Anytime. In addition, Talk Protected customers receive:
o Inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and mobiles
o Inclusive calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers and directory enquires (118 180)
o Paper billing at no extra cost
o Voicemail at no extra cost
o Flexible payment options
4.5.1 Mobile phones today can do some fantastic things. Everybody will find something that helps them. For more information about our Video and Text Relay services, visit http://www.virginmedia.com/accessibility/virgin-mobile for more information.
4.5.2 The Emergency SMS Service allows deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired people in the UK to send SMS's to the UK’s 999/112 Emergency Services. These messages are passed to the police, ambulance, fire rescue, or coastguard who can also reply by SMS.
4.5.3 Access to E-SMS is available to all Virgin Mobile customers. Before using the service the Virgin Mobile number must be registered at https://www.emergencysms.org.uk/. It’s free to text the E-SMS Service. An active SIM card and network coverage from a UK operator is required in order to make an emergency call.
4.6 Directory Enquiries
4.6.1 We know that not all customers are able to access information, such as through the telephone book or online.
4.6.2 To help customers to contact local companies or services over the phone, Virgin Media offers a Directory Enquiries service which is free of charge to all customers, up to 10 times a day. Visit https://www.virginmedia.com/accessibility/virgin-phone for more information.
4.7 Video Relay Service
4.7.1 Customers can contact our support team through a sign language interpreter. To use this service, visit our secure page to download the plug-in when prompted. Make sure you have a webcam then press ‘Make call’. A broadband speed of at least 1Mb is required.
4.7.2 The service is available Monday to Friday 9am until 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am until 4pm. Visit https://www.virginmedia.com/accessibility/virgin-phone for more information.
4.8 Relay UK Service (Previously Text Relay/Next Generation Text Relay)
4.8.1 The Relay UK service is available for customers that cannot speak on the phone, or prefer not to.
4.8.2 The conversation is typed in to a textphone's keypad, and then connected with the person being contacted. It doesn't matter whether the other person has a telephone or a textphone because a Relay Assistant will help connect the customer and the person being called.
4.8.3 You can use Relay UK if you have a textphone (Minicom/Uniphone) in the usual way or you can download the Relay UK app and make & receive calls on the go, providing you have internet connection. For more details on Relay UK customers can visit a dedicated website https://www.relayuk.bt.com/
4.8.4 Calls to UK local and national numbers made via the Relay UK service with the 18001 prefix get an 80% discount. Calls to UK mobiles made via the Relay UK service with the 18001 prefix get a 20% discount. You can also give family, friends, and businesses your own unique TextNumber so when they call you, they automatically connect to a Relay Assistant without having to dial 18002 first. Find out how to get a TextNumber via the Relay UK website.
4.8.5 Relay UK is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
4.9 Priority fault repair for broadband and home phone services
4.9.1 We understand how important it is to be contactable and have the ability to contact others. When it comes to faults with phone or broadband, we give priority to customers who have an impairment or disability and have an urgent need for repair.
4.9.2 To make use of this service, we ask customers with an impairment or health condition to pre-register their requirements with us. Just give our Customer Care team a call on 150 from your Virgin Media Phone or Mobile, or call 0345 454 1111 – Select option 1.
4.9.3 Please note: we’ll prioritise repair over standard care levels but there may be circumstances beyond our control that mean we cannot provide an immediate response. For example, weather conditions like floods or storms can stop our engineers carrying out repairs to overhead cables or working down manholes.
4.9.4 Priority fault repair service is available where a customer has no dial tone or cannot receive or make calls on the landline phone, or when experiencing a total loss of broadband connection with no access to the internet. This service is not available for TV or mobile faults.
4.10 Protected bills
4.10.1 For customers that may find it hard to pay their bill, or worry that their bill may go unpaid due to things beyond their control, our Protected Service scheme provides peace of mind.
4.10.2 The scheme allows a friend or family member to manage the customer’s account. They can do things like pay the bill or ring us to sort out any issues.
4.10.3 Please note: Your nominee has to agree to this, and will need to understand the arrangement. They will need to know that their details will be passed onto Virgin Media and that we may contact them about your account in the future.
4.10.4 If for some reason the friend or family member does not pay the bill on time, a reminder will be sent. If the bill isn't paid after 30 days, we'll contact them to make arrangements for payment.
4.10.5 If a bill cannot be paid, a Payment Plan can be arranged with our Customer Accounts team to clear any outstanding amounts. Please know that if this happens we may downgrade services until a Payment Plan is agreed.
5. Paying for our services
5.1 Financial difficulties
5.1.1 If financial difficulties lead to issues paying a bill, a specific process is in place to support customers. A specialist team review the customer’s account and will contact them directly by phone to discuss their needs.
5.1.2 If no contact is able to be made, a letter will be sent notifying the customer that their services may be restricted if they do not contact Virgin Media. A further review of the account and payment status is then made 2-3 days later. A further attempt to contact the customer will be made.
5.1.3 If there is no response, the customer’s services will then be restricted, with a letter informing the customer of next steps sent. Customers can continue to make calls to emergency services.
5.1.4 Where financial hardship results in the customer being unable to pay their bill, there are a number of payment plans that we can offer. Depending on your services we can look to reduce your monthly cost and provide a limited package whilst you pay off your arrears. This may mean you receive a limited set of channels and incoming calls only or reduced broadband and limited channels.
5.2 Mobile loan agreements
5.2.1 Virgin Media Mobile Finance (‘VMMF’) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’), which enables it to provide credit to customers to purchase phones under the handset financing model called Freestyle.
5.2.2 Virgin Media ensures that customers with circumstances that require particular care and who have specific needs that limit their ability to engage effectively are treated appropriately.
5.2.3 Before an agreement is entered into, Virgin Media will have regard to a customer’s ability to make a decision. This means considering whether the customer is able to understand, remember, and weigh up the information and explanations that they are provided with, and ultimately make an informed decision based on this information. This is particularly important for Freestyle customers who are taking out both a loan and an airtime agreement.
6. Contact us
6.1 Broadband, TV and Phone Customers: Dial 150 from your Virgin Media home phone or mobile. It's free. Or ring us from any other phone: Dial 0345 454 1111* Alternatively you can text your query, visit
https://www.virginmedia.com/accessibility for more information
6.2 If you want to contact us using our Text Relay Service, call our Text Relay freephone number 18001 0800 052 2164
6.4 Call from a textphone: Dial 18001 0800 052 2164*
6.5 Video Relay Service - Monday to Friday 9am until 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 9am until 4pm
6.6 Contact us through a sign language interpreter. Visit https://my.virginmedia.com/customer-news/articles/Sign-Solutions.html for more information