As connections sputter, Virgin Media hike prices
VIRGIN Media customers have been dogged by peak time buffering problems when trying to stream content online for weeks now.
To add insult to injury, many have now received an email informing them that, as of 1 February next year, the price of their Virgin Media deal will increase by up to 10%.
Broadband customers are entitled to leave their provider penalty free when prices increase: Virgin could have a revolt on their hands.
The current line rental charge is £13.90 per month, but this is set to rise to £14.99 next year. Virgin is also upping the price of all bundles.
The Classic Collection, which includes unlimited weekend calls, 30Mb broadband and 55 TV channels, will increase to £32.99.
The Essential Collection, Premiere Collection and VIP Collection will see their
price set at £40.99, £62.99 and £113.99 respectively.
Customers who subscribe to a customised package or with a negotiated monthly price, rather than one of these premade combinations, can also be affected.
We noticed one customer complaining that the price hike effectively wiped out a loyalty discount they'd been given, for example.
Virgin: 'You're still getting great value for money'
News of the price hike comes as Virgin Media struggle to completely resolve a network issue that has made streaming near impossible for many users.
One customer has vented their frustration by posting a series of YouTube videos of the ongoing buffering problems to back up their complaints.
Affected customers are becoming increasingly irritated with the provider who they accuse of providing only vague information and, in the first few weeks of the problem, dismissing the issue entirely.
Virgin Media have now confirmed that the problems are down to a peering fault with an unknown third party, although the company has continually shied away from revealing which business partner is causing the issue.
There is no definite fix but the ISP is continuing to add dedicated peering capacity in an effort to solve the problem.
Angry customers have taken to the internet to voice their grievances.
One customer stated on a forum that they would be cancelling their contract as a result of the price hike: "I've only been with VM for around 9 months, and this will be the second price rise... I'll be using this as my 'get out of jail free' card, and cancelling my contract."
"This simply isn't good enough," another said.
"It's been months now and vague information about a possible improvement to YouTube by the end of the week is nowhere near enough. The network is clearly in meltdown..."
Customer revolt on the way?
Despite the obvious problems some are experiencing with the Virgin Media broadband service, however, its worth noting that only a small minority of the provider's 4.38 million odd customers are experiencing problems.
Ofcom's latest complaints research - detailing complaints in the second quarter of the year - has found that its complaints were below the industry average.
Ofcom: complaints by ISP (average in purple).
Putting the buffering problems aside for a moment, it's also worth remembering that Virgin Media still has significantly faster speeds than its competitors, even those on the BT fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) network, commonly known as BT Infinity.
See this guide for more on that speed difference.
All in all, the long term peering issue combined with a significant price hike is likely to result in some customers jumping ship and certainly damages Virgin's speedy reputation.
However, given the low number of complaints the provider experiences overall and the typically high speeds most enjoy compared with alternative providers, peeved customers might regret cancelling their contracts in the long run.