Virgin Mobile hikes prices by 2.4% adding £10 a year to bills – and furious customers found out during major outage

VIRGIN Mobile is to hit millions of users with 2.4 per cent price hikes from July 1 – and it told customers during a massive mobile outage.

The increases will see pay monthly and Sim-only users' bills rise in line with March's retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation.

That's an 86p a month or £10.37 a year price rise for those with Vodafone's £36 a month iPhone XS contract, for example.

We've asked Virgin Mobile how many customers are affected but when it upped costs last summer 1.6million users were hit.

But the price change will only affect the amount you pay for your airtime plan – so your data, minutes and texts.

If your handset is on a separate plan, these repayments will stay the same.

HOW TO CUT YOUR MOBILE BILL

FIRSTLY, decide if you’re happy with your current deal and whether you want a new deal or handset – or both.

If you’re outside the minimum term of your contract then you can leave penalty free – and you might be able to find a cheaper deal elsewhere.

The network says the increase applies to the airtime element, which is typically £18 on a £35 a month contract.

Pay-as-you-go deals are better for people who don’t regularly use their phone, while monthly contracts usually work out cheaper for those who do.

The best way to find a new deal is by checking comparison websites, such as MoneySupermarket and uSwitch.com, which compare tariffs and handset prices.

It’s also worth trying Billmonitor, it matches buyers to the best pay-monthly deal based on their previous three months of bills.

It only works if you’re a customer of EE, O2, Three, Vodafone or Tesco Mobile and you’ll need to log in with your online account details.

MobilePhoneChecker has a bill monitoring feature that recommends a tariff based on your monthly usage.

If you’re happy with your provider then it might be worth using your research to haggle a better deal.

Pay-as-you-go customers are unaffected.

Sadly, you can't leave your contract penalty free as a result of the increase unless you're already out of your contract's minimum term.

Under regulator Ofcom's rules, mobile providers can get away with annual inflation linked hikes as long as they notify customers at the time of purchase and in their contract.

You can use the telecom provider's calculator to find out how much your bills will rise by.

But pay monthly mobile users are furious after finding out about the increases during a 10 hour outage this week.

A technical glitch saw mobile users unable to make calls, send texts or go online on their phones yesterday – although the media giant says the issue is now resolved.

'Got an email about a price increase… on the day my phone hasn’t worked'

One unhappy customer tweeted: "@virginmedia @virginmobile No mobile signal all day in work. What's the first text I get, when I connect to wifi?

"You guessed, "Hi, it's Virgin Mobile, we're putting your plan price up". You couldn't write it."

Another former customer wrote: "Wow. So happy I left days before this! After 10 years with Virgin I moved on due to your ridiculous RPI price hike!

"And also, this isn’t the first time you’ve had an outage recently. Happened all the time in my local area and I was never compensated."

Someone else tweeted: "@virginmedia got an email from you telling me about a price increase… on the day where my phone hasn’t worked. Nice one Virgin!"

Another disgruntled customer said: "@virginmedia So network been down all day had no network but then you send me a text saying my prices are going up on the 1st July, are you dizzy blood?

"Lol get your s**t in order before sending price rise sms".

A statement on Virgin Mobile's website says: "Although we don’t like to, sometimes we increase our prices. This enables us to continue to invest in the network and offer exciting new additions to our services.

"We are always committed to giving the best products and services to our customers for the best value which is why being a Virgin Mobile customers gives you access to Data free messaging, monthly Data Rollover, access to Virgin Media hotspots throughout the UK and Worldwide and F-Secure internet security."

The Sun has asked Virgin Mobile to comment and we'll update this story as soon as we get a response.

It's not the first price hike Virgin Mobile users have seen this year. Around 250,000 people on older tariffs saw hikes of up to £107 a year in April.

But other providers are also upping monthly costs. Millions of EE customers were hit with 2.7 per cent hikes from March 31.

While O2, Three and Vodafone all upped bills by 2.5 per cent, taking force in April for O2 users and in May for Three and Vodafone customers.

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