Questions of Cash: Don't want direct debit? Sorry, but Virgin Media can't answer the call


Q. I wrote to Virgin Media in February requesting details of its charges, which are not provided in the company's monthly statements.

It took five months and six letters to obtain. I requested them as there had been an increase in my charges of almost 15 per cent.

After taking into account an extra service, Talk Mobile, for £2 a month, the increase in my charges was 11.7 per cent.

Virgin Media levies a "payment handling charge" of £5, which I feel is unjustified, because I will not pay by direct debit.

Each month I obtain my bill online, print it out and pay by bank transfer. I do not believe that it costs Virgin Media £5 to handle this. I have now requested that all bills should be posted – which I will then pay by cheque. 

MS, Swansea.

A. Virgin Media responds that price increases were imposed at the beginning of April last year, and then again in February this year.

In addition, as you say, you added the Talk Mobile service to your service package.

"As with any price change, we notify affected customers in advance," adds a spokeswoman for Talk Mobile.

"Almost two months after the 2013 price change had come into effect, [the reader] contacted customer services. He was advised we could offer him an alternative package but this would re-contract him for 12 months. [The reader] declined this offer."

If you move to paying by cheque, the £5 charge per month still applies as it is imposed for not paying by direct debit.

Also, there is a £1.75 charge for posting statements.

Virgin Media's spokeswoman adds: "Our products and services offer the best value around, but we always contact customers two months ahead of any price changes in case they'd rather end their contract.

"There are all sorts of ways customers can save even more such as paying for a year's phone line rental upfront or using direct debit, which is a simple and reliable way to make regular payments.

"We apologise for not responding to [the reader's] questions within 28 days, and have applied a £20 gesture of goodwill."

While we understand your unhappiness at being charged extra for not paying by direct debit, this has become normal practice by telecoms and other utility companies.

Virgin Media tells us that you have decided not to request a paper bill, given the extra charge.

At odds with brother over mum's money

Q. My mother died last October in a nursing home. When she became unable to handle money or bills, my brother said he would handle this for her and opened a bank account for her in his name. My mother said she had made a will sharing a small amount of money between my brother and myself. My brother now insists there is no money. What do I do?

TO, England.

A. Your mother should have made out a Lasting Power of Attorney – LPA – as well as a will, says Gary Rycroft, a solicitor with Joseph A. Jones & Co in Lancaster.

"An LPA is a way of appointing a named person or persons – called an attorney – to make decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself," he explains. "If your mum had made an LPA, there would have been a named person or persons in place to step in to take over in the event of her losing capacity.

"The brother here had no legal authority to open a bank account for the purpose of holding monies on behalf of mum. Her monies should have remained in her bank account to be used for her benefit by the named attorney."

Where there is an LPA and the individual has lost mental capacity, the Office of the Public Guardian supervises the actions of the attorney and will investigate where improper action is suspected. It is surprising that your brother suggests that all your mother's money has been spent on her care.

"It is very unusual for there to be no money left on death," says Mr Rycroft. "When mum went into a care home, a financial assessment with the local authority should have been requested.

If her capital was in excess of £23,250 (including the value of her house), she would usually be expected to pay for her care in full, unless she qualified for NHS continuing care. If her capital was below £23,250, she should have been entitled to financial support from her local authority. If she had capital below £14,250, she would have been entitled to maximum support. When a care home resident dies there is often around £14,250 left over in terms of capital."

The situation now is difficult.

"The executors of mum's will have a legal duty to call in the assets of her estate and distribute the same to her beneficiaries," he went on. "It may be that the two brothers are the executors and beneficiaries. The brother who took control of mum's finances should be asked to produce a full copy of statements for her bank accounts and the account he opened to deal with her money and provide an explanation for every deposit and withdrawal."

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn