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Virgin Media O2 customers: Will you pay 8.8% more or face the exit fees?

Virgin Media O2 logo in front of stone henge

The UK-based consumer rights group, Which?, has warned that Virgin Media O2 customers are stuck between a rock and a hard place as they make a choice between rising bills and huge exit fees of up to almost £692.37.

Virgin Media O2 customers are set to see their prices for broadband and mobile increase by a big 8.8% from April. This figure was arrived at by the company by taking the retail price index (RPI) figure of 4.9% plus an arbitrary 3.9% that it’s entitled to add on top.

This hike represents the highest figure from all of the major broadband and mobile companies in the country and to add insult to injury, there is the potential for a large exit fee if you’re still under contract.

According to Which? if a customer was with Virgin Media for broadband and O2 for mobile and still had 12 months left on both contracts, they would face an exit fee of £692.37. The longer the contracts have to run, the higher the exit fees cost.

The consumer group has warned that the price rise could lead to an increase of £39.14 to the annual broadband bill of the average Virgin Media customer. It said that the average customer pays £37.06 per month so this price hike would be the equivalent of paying for an extra 13th month.

Which?’s data from July to September 2023 shows that Virgin Media was the most complained about broadband, landline, and pay-TV provider. The company has persistently performed badly in ratings and has been given just one star for customer service by the consumer group.

For average O2 mobile customers, bills are expected to rise by about £26.44 annually, though, if you took out a contract before March 2021, only the RPI part of the increase will be applied but not the added 3.9%. Average O2 customers currently pay £25.07 per month.

If an O2 customer decided they wanted to quit the provider, they would face an exit fee of £288.46 if they left their contract 12 months early.

Commenting on the news, Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:

“Virgin Media and O2 customers face a lose-lose choice between huge price hikes and crippling exit fees. This comes on top of up to 17 per cent increases faced by some O2 customers last year - few would have anticipated such steep price rises when they signed up.”

While not much can be done about broadband contracts, you can limit increasing mobile contract bills by buying an unlocked phone outright and going with a carrier such as Smarty or Giffgaff which offer pay-as-you-go or monthly rolling plans. This gives you the freedom to swap providers at short notice without getting ripped off by exit fees.

Source: Which?

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