ASK TONY: Virgin gave us a debt collection agency


I have been a customer of Virgin Media for many years but when we moved in May 2014 they were unable to provide our new address.

Virgin said we would be charged a £240 disconnection fee, although it wasn’t our fault.

We couldn’t afford it but it forced a debt collection agency on us and we were forced to pay £10 a month initially and then £5 a month when our only income was state pension . We paid each month without fail and now owe £25.

Then we received a letter saying our April payment had not been received. I checked with my bank and was assured that the payment had been made.

The debt collection company is very intimidating and this is not the first time I have had to call.

Mrs PH, Swindon.

Outrageous: Virgin charged two loyal customers a £240 disconnection fee because they were unable to connect to their new home

Most debt collectors are just monkeys operating on behalf of an organ grinder, in this case Virgin Media.

He reassessed your case and decided to cancel the entire debt. This means that he will not ask for the remaining £20.17 and will refund £219.83 in addition.

You will hear no more from the debt collector.

However, I was intrigued by your situation, so check out the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Virgin website.

It says that “if you are still within the minimum term of your contract, the only thing you can do is cancel it and pay the termination fee – which can be quite costly”.

That doesn’t seem fair to me at all. If someone knows they’re about to move and signs a broadband and TV contract, they may be justified in charging a termination fee.


But in some cases people have no idea a move may be on the cards, and it’s not their fault that Virgin doesn’t offer service in the new area.

You were waiting for a council bungalow to become available, so you really had no choice but to move.

This is really no way to treat loyal customers and it certainly wouldn’t tempt me to go back to Virgin if I moved again. And yours isn’t the only letter I’ve received about moving to an area Virgin doesn’t provide.

It appears that telecommunications watchdog Ofcom is investigating these exit charges. I have asked Virgin Media for further comment on their disconnection charges, but so far have not received any clarification.


Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails regarding our stories.

Here is some of the best in our history on how buyers are to be attracted by the immediate purchase, pay-later offers that have hidden interest charges and late fees:

People need to learn the difference between wanting and needing. If you want something but can’t afford it, you have to wait. You shouldn’t spend money you don’t have SV, Cornwall.

These companies want you to forget to pay. That’s how they make their money. The conditions are set out in the contract, TB, Blackpool.

What happened to saving your money and paying cash? Who would even take one of these offers? People must learn to live without debt, DE, Edinburgh.

Very few people leave school knowing about credit cards, mortgage rates, and the tricks companies use to make money. We need to teach this to children so that they know more about money when they enter the real world, VG, Southport, Merseyside.

There should be more rules on how companies advertise these types of financing deals.

Yes, individual responsibility comes into play here, but department stores thrive on the fact that most people don’t know much about money, GF, Southampton.

I bought a large item from a High Street store with a year’s deferred payment.

I put a reminder in my calendar and paid for it with a month to go. If you don’t want to pay interest, that’s how you should do it, AD, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

I was an accountant for a company that went into liquidation in February 2013. The building has been empty since and I applied to npower in June 2015 to have the power cut off.

In March 2016, npower started sending me invoices in my name. I wrote to explain that I am retired and not responsible for bills and was just tidying up.

Last June, I went to see the ombudsman, but that avenue seems to have fallen silent.

SS, Middlesex.

I’ve been back and forth with npower on your case for months and now I have to throw up my hands and admit I’m none the wiser. It is clear that npower was sending you invoices when you were not responsible for them and these were, in some cases, massive. But his story and yours differ significantly in many ways.

I’m sure on 16th December last year npower sent a statement saying you owed £1953.38. This was nearly two months after the ombudsman asked that the account be suspended while he makes a decision.

However, this bill was miniscule compared to the £11,700 requested by npower on October 3. Even after knowing that the ombudsman services were investigating, npower wrote to you suggesting that you set up a direct debit of £121 per month.

So no doubt npower messed up this account.

Earlier this year, the Ombudsman ruled in your favor and acknowledged the “distress and concern” you suffered. Npower was asked to remove your name from the account and instead contact the insolvency practitioners who handled the liquidation. It was also said to apologize to you.

But, strangely, you only received £50. I thought that was quite inadequate given that you were faced with demands for over £10,000, threats of legal action, your pleas that the bill was not yours have ignored, invoices continued to be sent even after mediation services intervened, and npower appeared to have made little effort to establish the true level of indebtedness.

But the mystery persists as a third party continues to npower insist that you are the company secretary and the owner.

You have also given npower conflicting information, at one point saying the property has been empty since 2007 and more recently that it has only been empty since 2015. One clear fact is that the unpaid bill is £776.24 – and nothing like the thousands of pounds requested.

In the meantime, you have rejected the resolution proposed by the mediator. Npower says they are still trying to verify correct details and I am at my wits end.

I’m posting this to remind readers that I can only help you if you’re willing to help yourself – and that means providing complete, factual information and being willing to compromise to reach a solution.


I purchased a jacket from an Ambrose Wilson catalog several months ago. I posted a check for £15 but keep getting payment requests. I have written three times but the letters always arrive. I am 85 years old and I am afraid of having bad debt, CH, Ayrshire.

Ambrose Wilson has written to confirm that you owe nothing. He also refunded the £15 you paid as an apology for the difficulties you encountered.


I’m struggling to clear my credit card debt after divorce and unemployment. I owe around £1600 and the minimum monthly payment is £40, but I can only afford to pay back £20 per month, DS, Kent.

Talk to a charity that can help you set up a repayment plan with your bank. Try StepChange on 0800 138 1111, the Debt Advice Foundation on 0800 043 4050 or the Money Advice Trust on 0808 808 4000.


Our grandson and his wife have combined incomes of £35,000 a year and have saved £10,000 for a deposit on a £100,000 house. But they find it difficult to get a mortgage because they have no credit history. They tried to get a credit card out to solve this problem, but were declined for the same reason, MD, Bridlington, Yorks.

Try Aqua or Vanquis. These companies offer credit cards for the very purpose of building up a credit history. Interest can be high, so always clear the balance each month.


I recently discovered £240 in ten shilling notes hidden in my old travel wallet. Can they be converted into today’s currency? GG, Winnersh, Berks.

Yes. You can change old notes at the Bank of England. You can either do this in person at the bank in Threadneedle Street, London (the safest option) or by post. The postal address is Department NEX, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AH.

You will need to download a postal note exchange form from You can ask a local library to do this if you don’t have internet access. As a rule, the bank pays within ten working days.


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