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Dr Zoiberg

Virgin Media restricted my landline due to "excessive use" advise please

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Hello,

I've been a customer with virgin media for several years ( to be clear the account is in my mothers name and I am a named person on their records). I have landline, basic tv package and minimum speed broadband, and my monthly bill is usually around £65 which I pay by debit card.

Last month we made a lot more calls than usual, mostly to mobile phones. Yesterday evening Virgin's credit dept called and asked to speak to the account holder, and as she wasn't there and I was busy with my kids, my husband asked them to call back. This morning I found that I am no longer able to call any mobile phone number.

I called 173 (as advised in the telephone call) and was told that they had restricted calls to mobile phones from my landline number as there had been an unusually high volume of calls to mobile phones. They explained that their policy was to protect customers from unexpectedly high bills and that it was in the interests of the customer and the company to do this.

I was then advised that I could have the restriction removed if I paid a minimum of £95 of my current bill. I asked when the bill was due. I was advised that as I was not paying by direct debit payment was due as soon as the bill was sent out. So I asked when payment for the bill became late ie overdue, and was told that it would become late on the 23rd July. I then queried why it was necessary for me to pay any amount of my bill immediately when the restriction to my landline was not due to nonpayment. They said that this was their policy and that they were unable to lift the restriction until I had paid £95.....

I then spoke to the manager in charge who gave me exactly the same line. After that I found their head office number and phoned them. They also gave me the same treatment.

I really don't understand why I should have to pay any amount of my bill immediately to get this restriction lifted since it is purely down to an abitrary decision on their part and not due to nonpayment. I feel that I am being held to ransom, blackmailed, and that this policy amounts to extortion. I am sure that their actions....restricting the landline service and demanding payment to have it restored....in this case must be illegal, or at the very least unfair, but I have no idea what to do about it. And frankly, I'm livid.

Any comments or advice on this matter would be very welcome!

Respect.

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They explained that their policy was to protect customers from unexpectedly high bills and that it was in the interests of the customer and the company to do this.

 

What rubbish! Protect customers! - that's a new one.

 

Absolutely agree with you. Put in a formal complaint to Virgin Media -send it recorded delivery. Send a copy to the boss - I cannot see him turning down extra business and risking that you change companies.

 

Complain to the regulators - Oftel.

 

I suppose for a while you will save on making calls to mobiles for a few days!

 

If you do not get immediate satisfaction change to someome else and make sure you tell the boss why you have done it.

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This is a common practice in all telecoms companies. It is not unknown for a third party to be running up an account holder’s bill without their knowledge or consent.

 

How would you feel if you received an enormous telephone bill unexpectedly? You would then be demanding to know why your phone provider had allowed the unusual usage to continue without notifying you about it.

 

Similarly the request for a payment upfront is common practice in this situation; essentially they want proof that you can afford this level of consumption.

 

I am the last person to defend Virgin Media having had far too much experience of their appalling customer service however in this instance they are not doing anything wrong.

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How would you feel if you received an enormous telephone bill unexpectedly?

 

The customer has already made it quite clear that a larger bill won't be unexpected because they know they've been using their phone. I can think of situations where 'usage' changes - the most obvious being some sort of family crisis. Exactly the time you don't need this sort of ridiculous reaction from a company.

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Sadly Virgin Media are only concerned with one thing and that is whether or not the customer will be able to pay the unusually large bill - expected or otherwise.

 

His refusal to pay a portion of it upfront, whilst understandable, will have only served to suggest he cannot.

 

He could route his mobile calls through BT by using the prefix 1280 but any unusual usage would be picked up and handled the same way.

 

Would it not be less hassle just to pay the £95.00?

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Yes, I'm sure it would be a lot less hassle if we all rolled over and did what these companies want us to. That is not the point of my complaint, nor is it the point of this forum as I understand it.

The contract we have reads:

"I. Suspension of services

1. We may suspend the Services immediately upon giving you notice if:

a) we are entitled to terminate this Agreement; or

b) we need to carry out any maintenance, repairs or improvements to any part or the System; or

c) we are legally required to do so; or

d) any credit limit on your account is exceeded; or

e) in our reasonable opinion it is otherwise necessary or desirable to do so;

2. If the Services are suspended as a result of a breach of this Agreement by you, we may make a charge to reflect our costs incurred in connetion with suspending and/or recommencing the Services. In normal cucumstances the charge must be paid before the Services will be recommended."

 

My points are:

This clause requires that they give notice before suspending services, they did not do so.

Does this place them in breach of contract.

I am not in breach of the contract.

They already have measures in place to deal with circumstances where customers have difficulties paying bills, where payment history has been good (which mine is) they will agree to accept smaller payments over a period of time whilst the customer continues to receive full services.

This being the case is it fair or legal/lawful to insist that part of the current bill be paid before the restriction be removed.

Is this even a legal/lawful clause regardless of whether they have acted within the clauses of the agreement or not.

I would be grateful if these points could be discussed.

 

Respect.

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I agree with the complaintant, from what I can see and previous experience it is not the suspension but the manner of it.

 

Why couldnt they call and check with the account holder that the phone was not being used fraudently?


I'm worse at what I do best and for this gift I feel blessed

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This clause requires that they give notice before suspending services, they did not do so.

Does this place them in breach of contract.

 

 

No because that was the call you were not there to take, they made a reasonable attempt to contact you by their definition.

 

e) in our reasonable opinion it is otherwise necessary or desirable to do so

 

And this bit means they can do anything they like whenever it takes their fancy.

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so what the warrior hailing from zazen is saying is "put up or shut up"


I'm worse at what I do best and for this gift I feel blessed

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so what the warrior hailing from zazen is saying is "put up or shut up"

 

 

Lol, not at all, please don't shoot the messenger; I don't speak for Virgin Media, I loathe them if truth be told. It is entirely up to the OP what he does. I can only unravel where they are coming from having previously worked in the industry.

 

I have seen the £1000.00 overnight telephone call more than once and this is why telecoms companies are so ‘forthright’ in their response to the ‘unusual.’

 

Try not to take it personally.

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This clause requires that they give notice before suspending services, they did not do so.

Does this place them in breach of contract.

 

 

No because that was the call you were not there to take, they made a reasonable attempt to contact you by their definition.

 

e) in our reasonable opinion it is otherwise necessary or desirable to do so

 

And this bit means they can do anything they like whenever it takes their fancy.

 

 

 

Making a telephone call is not the same as giving notice. I understand that legally, notice has to be given in writing, with a timescale for a response before the stated action is taken. If they had done so the issue could have been resolved without inconveniencing my family.

Contractual clauses must be fair, a clause which allows them to do whatever they like 'whenever it takes their fancy' is not fair.

 

Its all very well saying their actions are reasonable from their point of view, of course they are; so are non direct debit admin fees and late payment charges. Virgin Medias definition of reasonable is not the same as the legal definition of reasonable. Are their actions actually, legally, reasonable and fair. I maintain that they are not.

 

What is even more objectionable is the implicit assumption of guilt by Virgin Media the moment they were unable to speak to the account holder by phone. The restricition of only part of the service makes it obvious that an individual within the company has looked at the account and made a decision either that the unusual use was fraudulent or that there would be difficulties obtaining payment. In the second case they already have other policies in place which would resolve the issue without restricting any services. Given that there are many legitimate reasons for unusual use of telephone services, and many legitimate reasons why an account holder may not be available at the time of a single phone call, there is no legitimate reason to assume fraudulent use. To do so is against the account holder's human rights, and their family's and amounts to libel.

I'm not talking about a £1000 overnight call here, I'm talking about an extra £100 over a month. Thats not unreasonable use of the service they provide in my opinion.

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'The restricition of only part of the service makes it obvious that an individual within the company has looked at the account and made a decision either that the unusual use was fraudulent or that there would be difficulties obtaining payment'

 

Yes, this is exactly what has happened.

 

I'm afraid life isn't fair. :oops:

 

Just out of interest, how have you chosen to resolve this?

Edited by zazen.warrior

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So you agree with me that their actions are unfair then?

 

 

For your interest I have written a letter detailing exactly what I think is wrong with how they have dealt with my account. Someone from VM has tried to call today but my phone doesn't ring when its in the back room and their CS department said that they would call back later, so I'm waiting for that.

I paid my bill in full on the day I had always intended to, got the restriction lifted; I also asked for an increase in my broadband speed and got upgraded for an extra £5pm, they then offered me the xl tv package for an extra £5pm, the cs explained that I was being given a loyalty offer and the full price of both those upgrades would normally be £22 increase on my bill. After I took the upgrade he phoned back to say that actually since I'm now on the xl tv package I no longer pay £5pm to rent the v+ box so I got both upgrades for just £5 pm.

Nice:).

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So you agree with me that their actions are unfair then?

 

I have no opinion one way or the other however I am pleased that you have resolved this to your satisfaction.

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