Can it be done?

The simple answer – yes it can! Today I achieved a ~60% reduction in virgin media costs by removing just the Movies, Sports and altering my phone line package. My original bill was around £127 per month which included the following services:

  • 20Mb broadband
  • Phone line + talk anytime/unlimited
  • 1x V+ Box with HD
  • 3x additional V boxes
  • “TV XL” package (all channels)
  • HD package
  • Movies
  • Sports

My bill is now £54 per month and includes the following services

  • 20Mb broadband
  • Phone line + talk evenings and weekends
  • 1x V+ Box with HD
  • 3x additional V boxes
  • “TV XL” package (all channels)
  • HD package

Whats the secret?

Doing some research online I gained some insight into how the ‘retentions’ team try to keep customers. The retentions team are the people you get put through to when you call customer services and press the “I’m thinking of leaving Virgin media” button. I’m led to believe (for example) that these people are given incentives for every customer they persuade to stay with the Virgin media service. They can use reductions in your monthly bill to persuade you to stay, however im told that the more they reduce your monthly bill by, the less of an incentive they get. I’m also told that if your are adamant and disconnect all of your services, they get no incentive at all. This means to me that when you call the retentions team and they have listened to your reasons for wanting to leave, that they will make several ‘offers’ to try to get you to stay.

How to go about it
First, call Virgin (150 from your phone) and navigate the horrible menus until you get the the options for ‘I’m thinking of leaving virgin media.’ Don’t worry about being on hold in a long queue for ages, and don’t worry about speaking to someone who is clearly in another timezone, speaks 2nd language English and is reading from a script – Virgin media realise how annoying such things are so immediately put any customer who is thinking of leaving directly to a UK call centre (based in Teeside apparently). Simples.

When speaking to the retention agent, its always best to start off the call with a list of your complaints about the service. This will gain you a sympathetic ear and usually some apologies. Just getting on the phone and saying ‘I’m leaving unless you reduce my bill’ is not likely to work (or if it does, dont expect much of a reduction). Im going to make the assumption that if you are reading this, you have already have complaints about the service. My complaints with the service (as well as some common complaints that many people seem to have) included

Once I had listed my complaints, the agent was sympathetic but did go onto a little sales pitch about how the complaints were “confusing” as VM offer the best ‘fibre optic’ broadband service. At this stage I told the agent that while that may be the case, it certainly was not my experience of the service. I then told him that Sky had offered me a better ‘all in one’ deal of Phone, Internet and TV which nearly matched the virgin media package in features; but did not include movies, sports and only had unlimited calls in the evenings and weekends. I told him this package was offered to me at £45 less per month than I was paying Virgin media and that at this stage, it was up to Virgin to not only match it, but offer me assurances to the quality of service received if I were to stay.

By now we are about 10 minutes into the call and the agent has offered me a reduction in my bill to £75/month, retaining most services but removing movies and sports as well as switching to free calls in the evenings & weekends (instead of free calls 24×7). This matched the SKy price for the HD and 4 boxes and I would have switched to this on the spot, however the catch was that we would need to now renew our (currently month to month) contract for an extra 12 months. Given the problems we had experienced I was reluctant to do this however the agent said this was the best they could do.

Now this is where some tactics came into play – I asked the agent for pricing of keeping the TV XL (all channels) package, the HD package, no movies, no sports, keeping the V+ box and keeping the 3 additional boxes and removing broadband and telephone. The price offered was £42 per month which seemed very reasonable for 4 HD boxes and nearly every channel, while also opening the door to broadband and phone options from other providers. I then said that given we were removing services only, that could the agent confirm that this would not be a new 12 month contract and treated as a downgrade only to which he replied ‘yes it would.’

Before I could talk any further the agent interrupted me and said “I’ve just had a check on another system and I can offer you everything you have now, minus movies, sports and talk unlimited for £54/month as long as you agree to stay for another 12 months.” Paydirt. A near instant ~60% reduction in my telephone, TV and broadband costs for a 20 minute phone call and some perseverance. Losing movies, sports and daytime free phone calls (which none of us actually used anyway) should have only brought the cost down by £20 (ish) per month, based on the pricing breakdown from our last bill, and the new price they offered was much better than Sky.

The things I learned from this were

  • It seems that the first bill reduction offer the retention agents give (after about 10 mins on the phone) will match the price and package offer you received from Sky
  • It seems the agents will not stretch to the ~60% discount offer until you persevere and have been on the phone for 20 minutes (get the wife on the phone to complain too, it seems to help).
  • It seems retentions agents have some kind of drive to retain customers on a new 12 month contract and will offer a further large discount to stay on 12 months contract, rather than have you remove some services and stay off another 12 month contract
  • It seems like a good idea to tell them you are keeping one service, but removing the others to reduce the costs. Doing so does not result in a new 12 month contract (im guessing this means they get less of an incentive) so they will likely come back with a better offer of discount if you do

These are my personal experiences and reflect what information I found on the internet, as well as what information I got by putting 2+2 together from my interaction with the retentions team. I hope this information helps you to get the best deal for your Tv, phone and Internet costs

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29 Comments

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    September 27, 2014 Reply to this comment
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    July 28, 2014 Reply to this comment
  6. abdelkak

    I signed a contract with a virgin media agent for a simple bundle includes £120 pounds to be paid within the first 12 months, duel 30 MB broadband, new super hub, free wireless , free installation and a £50 cash back towards line rental. This will give me a free line rental for the whole year and then I have to pay £31.49 for the last 6 months of the contract. I ended up in being cut off 4/5 times for bills coming through the letter box asking for more money. So far, I paid nearly over £200 and I received another bill for £117 for next month. I have no alternative apart from taking legal action against them as some of the agent told me that I changed the bundle which I never did. All scam and hard selling.

    July 22, 2014 Reply to this comment
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  10. Mrs Margaret Davies

    Ive, been with Virin Media for just over a year, and I have received a fantastic service and support from them, all the telephone staff have been most helpful, and always make sure I am happy with my package/contract. WHICH I AM. VIRGIN MEDIA, is a reliable service, they got it right.

    April 7, 2014 Reply to this comment
    • Steve Dutton

      Their useless overseas call centre offered me a package at a discount if I extended to 12 months again. Tv packgage went up to xl but so did bill. Liars!!!!

      May 21, 2014 Reply to this comment
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  13. christine bullen

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    checking other providers this week for better deals.
    my virgin media bill around 54pounds also.
    and that’s with standard tv..I’ve been with them a while.
    if your bill is every 26 days how much are you really paying in a month if you divided or added..not happy.

    April 21, 2013 Reply to this comment
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  16. vxboimle

    Ok ok ok, I work for Virgin Media retentions and all I can say to is that this post is not how it works. We arent incentivised to retain customers we dont get anything per customer staying, any incentives are run on an average, not per individual customer and tend to be on statistics such as hold and wrap up time than customers staying. Whether we can take £1 or £10 off your bill has no impact on us in terms of an incentive, we can only offer the packages that are available. Being on the phone for twenty minutes wont magically allow us to know extra money off your bill, but rearranging the package to suit you better sometimes will. Some people are on standard bundles and some are on mix and match and there are different offers for each combination. The person you speak to has no control over what is offered.
    What I will say though is that the deals now are MUCH better for exsisting customers than they are for new customers as the discounts are continuous rather than lasting 3 months or so.
    My best advise for customers calling for better deals is to be totally honest with why you are calling, if you ring and say ‘I need to make my bill as cheap as possible’ then thats what we’ll aim to do, if you arent honest, we cant help you quickly which appears to be what you want. Its also good to realise that if you do take a deal with a maximum discount then it will recontract you, the same as if you were a new customer with us or another company. It makes business sense to retain a customer in a 12 month contract if you are offering hefty discounts! Its as simple as that!

    March 10, 2012 Reply to this comment
    • steptoe

      The wife has had enough of prices being increased, yet justifying the increase by claiming to offer better services like more HD channels. We don’t get any HD channels due to not having a HD box and refusing to pay yet more for this priveledge so still have an ancient 6 year old box that locks up on occasion and also frequent blocking and drop-outs on the signal due to HD taking more bandwidth off non-HD broadcasts. I can’t speak to ‘customer services’ about reducing the package as I am ‘only’ the 2nd account holder. I can increase the package but I am blocked from reducing it without the main account holder sat there and saying its OK to customer services for me to reduce the package. I can see everything being cancelled and losing everything as the wife has zero patience when ‘customer services’ tries to ‘help’ and keep customers without Virgin losing too much money as she does not have the patience or time to waste being on hold for 15-20 minutes with constant sales pitches and ‘offers’ when all we now want is nothing but broadband ONLY . At the end of the day we can get basically the same TV package (or the channels we watch) from FreeSAT which would pay for itself in 3 months with what we will save and have nothing to pay ever again, and as a plus get a host of HD channels where currently we get none at all, if we choose to eventually get FreeSAT which at the moment is not something considered essential

      March 14, 2012 Reply to this comment
  17. Jack

    I’ve had not a lot of luck with Virgin, I’ve been a loyal customer of theirs for the last 10 years. After being on call with them, they did not offer me any incentives, saying that I was already on the best deal possible, and then went on a rant about their competitors! Quite unprofessional really!

    As for race and being forwarded to a call centre in another country, I’ll have to agree with you. Yes, I understand that English might not be the primary language, and they are using a script, I do think it is frustrating when things do not go according to their script and they cannot provide you with an answer! It’s not a question of race, it’s about customer service!

    February 8, 2012 Reply to this comment
  18. Reader

    You’re a racist piece of shit.I bet you can only converse in one language and very badly at that too. Furthermore, your advice is very unlikely to bear results.

    October 12, 2011 Reply to this comment
    • derby county fc

      Why is the comment racist???? Why do people say its racist when it clearly isn’t, these kind of people actually promote racism!!

      It is true that you get a person who’s first langague is not english when calling the customer service team, who have no leeway in reducing your bill, yet the team based in the UK can do so.

      SO please stop the ridiculous racism comment, why does it always have to be about race??

      December 6, 2011 Reply to this comment
      • admin

        I have to agree actually. I find it very frustrating when speaking to overseas call centres as most agents are given pre written scenarios and a rarely able to actually help with much other than standard, bulk queries. Im not sure how stating the truth, that many overseas agents speak english as a second language, could be construed as racism. theres no pleasing all of the people all of the time I suppose. For the benefit of the user “Reader” I would like to point out that I speak several languages and have lived all over the world, including many years in countries within central Asia.

        January 5, 2012 Reply to this comment
      • andy

        I don’t think this is racist at all. Also, I do not agree/believe the ‘virgin worker’ who initially answered the post as I phoned once and said I wanted a reduction in price and was told I was getting as good a price as I could get but when I phoned back to say that I wanted to leave I got a totally different answer. It seems that they want you on a new contract and are willing to ‘pay’ for this privellage.

        February 12, 2013 Reply to this comment
    • gris

      “Reader wrote You’re a racist piece of shit.”

      where on earth does racism come into this – can you read ?

      and furthermore you’re Shittest

      January 26, 2012 Reply to this comment
  19. Dean

    Although true the article is slightly misleading.

    Don’t expect a result 100% of the time. Also expect a long wait to get through.

    Once through the retentions team will notmally offer you a deal but that is not always the case. 90% of the time they should offer you a reduction if you are polite enough about it.

    On a positive the call centre is located in Teesside as you stated . (Nice UK call centre)

    Source – I used to work for the retentions dept. in the Teesside call centre. :(

    May 24, 2011 Reply to this comment
  20. Kal Ross

    Virgin Media have no regard for existing customers.

    Being out of contract, I’ve called many times to see if they wish to retain me with more packages or discounts and they just quote me stupid money, double or triple the deals for new customers. One department in the company knows nothing about what the other department is doing. They’ll send you an offer on a leaflet and when you ring up, they’ll know nothing about it.

    I only have 20MB broadband and as it’s really no cheaper to not have the phone line, have that too. I’m paying them nearly £40/month and prices are going up.

    I’ve just called to cancel my subscription and thought they might offer some goodies to keep hold of me, but alas…offered nothing…just patronised me and tried to discredit other companies!! 30 days notice (today is 18/2) and will be disconnected on 30/3…that’s 40+ days isn’t it…….one last elbow in the face from Vermin!

    February 18, 2011 Reply to this comment
  21. sam

    what i have read is very intersting but i have another little problem my bill is at a good price, but i dont want some of the channels.i have xl package but i dont want the music aswell as other things. can i remove channels individualy to save money? because i know with sky its alot easier to manage what channels you get. can you help?

    September 16, 2010 Reply to this comment
  22. Phil T

    i tried the retention dept for Verizion… (fiber optic web/telephone/cable tv) but didn’t have any luck. However Sprint PCS wireless phones are easy to get a retention deal. (ie two lines for $50 not including WAP or Texting)

    April 25, 2010 Reply to this comment
    • admin

      Verizon have always been very lax over their retentions. Sprint and Tmobile are much keener to keep your business. I was with sprint for many years when I lived in california – 1000 minutes daytime, unlimited evenings, weekends, unlimited text, unlimited internet and multimedia messages/picturemail for $43 a month.

      May 8, 2010 Reply to this comment

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