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'We tried to change our broadband provider – then ended up with a £500 bill'


A couple tried to switch broadband companies – and ended up facing a bill for more than £500.

Julie Roberts-Marley, 52, and Simon Marley, 55, attempted to change from Sky to Virgin Media for a cheaper phone and internet deal.

But the couple, from Sittingbourne, Kent, later decided to cancel the new deal after waiting more than two weeks to have an emergency hospital phone line switched to their new provider.

Julie, who had a frontal lobe stroke and is medically retired, needed to keep the same number as it is linked with a machine which uses mild air pressure to keep her breathing airways open while she sleeps and monitors for any irregularities.

The readings from the machine are monitored by the hospital which calls the landline immediately to notify her if anything is wrong.

But after deciding to cancel following what they describe as “abysmal” customer service from Virgin, they were eventually told they’d passed their cooling off period – and would have to pay £509 to cancel.

Virgin Media have now waived the fees.

But the couple are insistent on speaking out now so no one else goes through similar trouble to them.

Former Network Rail manager Simon, who also suffers from a heart condition, said: “Virgin are a big company, and we’re just little people and they know we can’t afford to pay for it.”

“They mess you about after promising the Earth. It feels like it’s taken over our lives, trying to get a telephone.”

“Something like this, with the threat of having a £500 bill, for some families could push them over the edge.”

Julie and Simon, who share two sons together, decided to make their switch from Sky to Virgin Media in late March to save money.

As part of the switch, they’d asked to keep their landline so their hospital could contact them in an emergency.

The couple were given a temporary number whilst Virgin made the switch, which they were told could take five to eight days, they say.

But ten days later, the switch still hadn’t happened, and on April 10 they called to cancel their new contract

The couple were told it would be sorted within 72 hours, but by April 15 – after calling again to cancel – they were told they would incur a £459 early disconnect fee and a £50 administration fee if they were to cancel.

They spent more than seven hours calling Virgin on their mobile phones to try to resolve the problem.

Virgin Media disputed the couple’s claims that they’d called to cancel on April 10, saying the request was made five days later.

However, the company has now waived the fee after local news site KentOnline contacted them about the problems.

A spokesman for Virgin Media said: “We’ve contacted Ms Roberts-Marley to apologise for the delay in processing the number port.

“Whilst we can find no evidence to suggest Ms Roberts-Marley was ever without a working landline, we have agreed to waive all early disconnection fees as a gesture of goodwill. She’s happy the matter has been resolved.”

Julie insists she never wants anyone else to suffer with a similar ordeal.

She said: “No one else, especially those more vulnerable, [should have to] go through the stress of this situation.

“If we can stop another person from having to do this ordeal – and it has been an ordeal – then my time and energy, and it’s a lot of energy for me, has been useful.

“I just want to forewarn other people because the bulk of people that find they need a TV package are someone like us who are disabled and are at home all day.

“[A telephone line] is vitally important for us because of my disability. My telephone line can’t be done through a mobile – it has to be done through a landline.”

The couple have now gone back to Sky and have been told the request to transfer their landline number came through from Virgin Media but was cancelled three days later, as the number was not transferable.

The Virgin Media spokesman, who stressed that at no point were the couple left without a phone line, confirmed the initial request to change was denied and the second request failed.

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