Virgin Media investigated over contract cancellations

13 July 2023 13:14   By Lyndsey Burton

Ofcom have announced they'll be investigating Virgin Media over customer difficulties cancelling contracts.

Virgin Media is to be investigated over whether the provider is failing to comply with contract termination and complaints handling regulation.

The investigation comes after customers complained they found it difficult to cancel their services due to long-wait times, an inability to speak to customer services, and having to repeat their request.

Ofcom rules state that providers must not act in a way that prevents or disincentivises customers from switching or cancelling services.

ofcom site on mobile
Source: Ofcom

Contract cancellations

The regulator is investigating Virgin Media after receiving a high number of complaints from customers who said the provider had made it difficult for them to leave their contracts.

Virgin Media customers said they struggled to get through to a customer services agent on the phone to cancel, with long wait times and some having their calls dropped mid-way through or left on hold.

Concerningly, many customers said they had to make lengthy and repeated requests to cancel their services, after their first attempts at cancelling weren't actioned.

Ofcom's investigation into these complaints follows analysis carried out in May 2022 and December 2021, that found over half of Virgin Media customers remained out of contract with the provider, with only a 9% decrease on the previous year.

Virgin Media have also recently updated their contract terms on annual price rises, implementing a Retail Price Index (RPI) + 3.9% increase and removing the option for customers to leave their contracts early if they increase prices.

Customer satisfaction

Ofcom's latest report into customer satisfaction, published in May 2023, focused heavily on call waiting times and complaints handling. Two areas now being highlighted as poor performers for Virgin Media.

The May 2023 report found Virgin Media had one of the lowest scores for complaints handling satisfaction with just 46% of customers satisfied, compared to an industry average of 51%. The provider also had the highest number of customers with a reason to complain with 25%, compared to the average of 20%.

The number of complaints resolved on first contact was also poor for Virgin Media, with only 33% resolved on first contact, compared to an industry average of 39%.

While the total number of complaints for Virgin Media decreased from 2021 to 2022, from 78 per 100,000 customers, to just 66, complaints remained high compared to the industry average of 44.

Virgin Media's call waiting times are also greater than average, with customers waiting 3 minutes, 7 seconds to speak to an agent on average.

At the time, Ofcom's Director of Market Intelligence, Ian Macrae, said, "[customers] want to get through to the right person on the phone quickly, and have their complaints dealt with first time."

Despite this useful insight into provider performance however, Ofcom are also currently deliberating on reducing the frequency of these reports to every other year - a move we feel would hinder accountability and consumer protection as this issue highlights.

Complaints handling

Ofcom have said they'll also be looking into whether Virgin Media has followed regulations around complaint handling, specifically whether they informed customers of their right to escalate complaints.

Typically, if a provider doesn't resolve a customer complaint within eight weeks, or the customer is still unhappy with the outcome, the provider should issue a letter which allows the customer to take their complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.

Virgin Media is registered with CISAS as their ADR scheme, which we cover in more detail in our guide to complaining about broadband.


While the new One Touch Switch system was due to be up and running by April 2023, it's now been delayed until at least early 2024. As things stand only customers on the Openreach network can make use of easy switching, while customers on alternative networks like Virgin Media have to handle cancellations themselves.

When this system is eventually running however, it will mean customers on any broadband network can simply order a new service and the gaining provider will handle the switch including cancelling the old service.

Until then, customers on non-Openreach networks will have to rely on Ofcom regulations and investigations like this, to ensure they can switch away or cancel services when they want to.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom's Chief Executive, said, "Our rules are there to protect people and make sure consumers can take advantage of cheaper deals that are on offer. That's particularly important at the moment as households look for ways to keep their bills down.

"We're taking action today, on behalf of Virgin Media's customers, to investigate whether the company is putting unnecessary barriers in the way of those who want to switch away.".


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