The following is the text of a letter I’ve sent today to Guardian Money:
This morning I got up and as usual put on the Cartoon Network channel for my children on our Virgin “TV Choice On Demand” service. Instead however I got an on-screen message saying I had to pay to subscribe to this service. This seemed to be a fault, as TV Choice On Demand has been included in the “medium” TV, phone and broadband package I’ve had with Virgin for the past 20 months. I rang to report the fault but was told that in fact Virgin had now decided – at no written notice – to withdraw TV Choice On Demand from the medium package, for which I am paying £28 per month. An “upgrade” to the XL package (i.e. to the service I was getting until yesterday, albeit with some extra channels thrown in) would cost an extra £7 per month for 3 months rising to an extra £17 per month thereafter. When I complained, I was all but told I should be grateful for having had the TV Choice service free for the past two years, when in fact what Virgin are now doing is charging me the same monthly fee for fewer services. Although I feel this is unfair, I may not have minded quite so much if I’d been given adequate notice and therefore a real “choice” in the matter. Ending a service overnight so that your kids are suddenly prevented from watching their favourite cartoons unless you fork out more is sharp practice of the lowest order.