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Virgin Media, Take Two

A screen shot of Virgin Media's new opt-out form.

Virgin Media has changed it's opt-out scheme. Instead of sending them an e-mail you should now go to https://keepup.virginmedia.com/optout and fill out a simple opt-out form.

I've asked Virgin whether or not opting out will also stop mailings addressed to a generic addressee, such as 'The Householder'. I've not yet had a response but I'm assuming this is the case.

Please note that opting out will not stop unaddressed junk mail from Virgin. To stop unaddressed Virgin Media junk mail you need to register with Royal Mail's opt-out scheme for unaddressed mail: the infamous Door-to-Door Opt-Out. Signing up should stop unaddressed from other notorious junk mailers as well, including Domino's Pizza, Farmfoods, Talk Talk and Sky.

Virgin has confirmed that the opt-out form is for prospects only. That is, you can only use the form to opt out if you're not an existing Virgin Media customer. If you're an existing customer you should phone the Virgin Intensive Care Team on 0345 454 1111 instead.

Opting out will stop all addressed junk mail, including adverts addressed to 'The Householder' at your address.

Finally, you don't have to enter your real name on the form! Virgin will opt-out your address, regardless of the name you enter. That also means that if you opt out any other people living living at your address will also be opted out (unless they're existing customers!).

Update 15/11/2015

If you have a query about the Virgin Media opt-out, both prospects and existing customers can phone Virgin Media on 0345 454 1111. I'm told that they don't have detailed information about individual registrations but they will be able to explain how the scheme works and confirm whether or not your address is already opted out.

I went to register my address to stop mailings and it says that my address had already been reported. I get 2-3 ("The Householder") mailings per month. I am signed up to MPS and I have never had an account with them at this address. I may make a complaint through MPS.

I've asked Virgin Media whether or not its opt-out page knows if an address is already opted out. Here's their response:

Our opt-out page is not able to tell you if an address is already opted out, so if the the customer has been told this it won't have been through this channel.

Please note that the Mailing Preference Services wouldn't be able to stop the junk mail. The scheme only applies to members of the Direct Marketing Association, and Virgin Media isn't a member. A better option would be to phone Virgin Media on 0345 454 1111. They should be able to confirm whether or not your address is marked as opted out.

I thought I'd test this. I opted out around this time last week. Since another envelope has arrived from them I thought I'd give it another go using the same address but a different name .... and I get a message in a yellow band across the top of the form saying that the address has already been reported.

I haven't been able to reproduce this. I submitted the form yesterday (second time) and again this afternoon (third time). I keep getting a green banner that reads:

All done! Your details will be removed from our mailing list.

While submitting the form I kept an eye on what cookies are set. There's one cookie that seems relevant; when you submit the form a cookie named gpv_pn is set. It has the value shop%20campaign%20opt%20out%20marketing%20thank%20you, which suggest the cookie might be used to check if the form has already been submitted. The cookie expires after half an hour though, so it shouldn't stop you from submitting the form again after 30 minutes.

If you got a screen shot of the yellow banner I could ask Virgin Media for a comment. Otherwise it will remain a mystery…

I've started sending my junk mail back to their head office at:

Virgin Media
Media House
Bartley Wood Business Park
Hook
Hants
RG27 9UP

I received a reply saying they were going to remove my address from their mailing list but that it would take 6 weeks or so. Meanwhile, I'll just keep sending the stuff back to them.

I have just used the Virgin Media opt-out facility, so far so good, the site has "confirmed" that my details will be removed. One of their more recent mailings was to notify people in my area that they will be installing new fibre optic cabling in the streets, so perhaps the monthly junk mail I have been receving is designed to maximise uptake.

Anyway, let's see if the opt-out works. I like the idea of returning the junk mail to them, I have a backlog of stuff from the last five months, so maybe I'll do a bulk return, all in their separate envelopes of course.

Hi guys, I too have been suffering for a while with Virgin junk mail but for once I read it rather than throw it in the bin. In the small print it actually states that you can opt out by going to www.virginmedia.com/mailoptout. I've done just that and it stated that it could take up to 6 weeks for it to take effect. Better than nothing and I'll definitely be checking the small print of hated mail from now on...

Best regards,
Duck

Taking six weeks to remove an address from a database seems to me like not a very good endorsement of the super-fast broadband they want me to buy. I've had to sign on to their opt-out service twice now as I was still receiving junk from them well after six weeks from the first time.

Having never knowingly opted in in the first place, I have been attempting to opt out of named Virgin Media marketing for years and have used all their officially sanctioned mechanisms (which curiously enough keep changing) to no effect. The new web form has made no difference after two+ months. Not only that but my wife is now getting them too :-( Next stop is the ICO.

If the junk mail is addressed to a human being, such as your wife, you can use a data protection notice to force them to stop "processing your personal details for direct marketing purposes". These notices won't stop junk mail addressed to a generic addressee, such as "The Householder", but it should work for the junk mail you're describing. (Should they ignore your notice you could lodge a complaint with the ICO).

Opted out using the form about six months ago and now we are back to normal with the same old stuff blocking up my letterbox.

I don’t know what success others have had at stopping the avalanche of Virgin Media mail but I’ve just been around their maze which seems almost designed to keep the mail flowing. And it’s still not a good outcome....

I'm not always able to empty my mailbox so have found that when Virgin Media’s envelopes are put in there is gets so full that there is no room for other, wanted, mail to go in.

I returned items, including polite notes to stop, for many months. That was ignored.

I contacted them on Facebook and Twitter hoping that a public highlighting of this would help. No, it didn’t.

I emailed them, and wads directed to their opt-out form. I completed those (twice), and waited the 6 weeks for it to take effect. The post just kept on coming.

I phoned Virgin Media and had someone complete the forms for me, and waited the 6 weeks. The post still kept coming.

I went back onto Twitter, and emailed their CEO. Neither he nor his office even gave me the courtesy of a reply.

I phoned again, and was told in so many words that ‘ they can’t stop the mail, they send a file to the Royal Mail and the Royal Mail produce all the mailings’. There was no concept of excluding me from the file sent.

I was told in the same phone call that ‘completing Virgin Media’s opt-out will not work for items addressed to The Householder but with an actual address’ (as mine are), ‘it is the Royal Mail opt-out which will stop these’. The Royal Mail’s opt-out service web page states specifically that that is not the case.

I was also told in the same phone call that my completion of Virgin Media’s opt-out forms wouldn’t work because the post I am receiving is ‘unaddressed’ (i.e. it is to The Householder or The Occupier but does have an actual house address). When asked why in the many months I’d spent talking to Virgin Media about this no-one had mentioned this I was told that they hadn’t known that was how their post to me was addressed, though in fact I had stated this in every communication, including in writing – a fact they eventually agreed when asked to review their records of their dealings with me.

In all, it appears that their opt-out routines actually result in those trying to navigate them continuing to receive Virgin Media’s unwanted mailing for a long, long time. Something which they failed to deny when I put this to them. As it stands I am still receiving their unwanted mail, and am still having my mailbox regularly unusable as a result. I have registered with the Royal Mail’s opt-out service, that of the Mail Preference Service, and of course, many times, with Virgin Media’s. And yet the only thing which should be needed is for Virgin Media to control the mail they send out – which is what the UK’s regulations oblige them to.

Opted out in autumn 2015 on their site & wrote to them by post. They replied and promised to stop. Mailings still arriving every fortnight (March 2016). I'm now religiously attempting to avoid using any of the companies owned by Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson.

I am also receiving dozens of large A4 style envelopes at my address. I am NOT interested in Virgin Media and have asked that they stop sending junk mail. They simply don't listen. On top of that Billionaire Luvvy Branson is campaigning for us to remain shackled to the EU. Stuff Virgin and Branson.

I have been bombarded by A4 white envelopes all from Virgin Media. I mean BOMBARDED - I receive 7 at a time on certain days. They are all addressed to The Householder. This is what I have done to try and prevent them coming:

Return to sender - for a good few months I marked them 'return to sender - please remove from database'. This had no impact at all on the volume we received.

Telephone call - I called Virign and spoke to HQ who put us through to a mailing company based in India. They assured us that it would take 30 days but we had been removed from their database. This seemed to work but then a few months later we started to receive the same A4 mailings again dressed to 'The Householder'.

Telephone call take 2 - I called the above number. Spoke to a customer service chap who said that he had marked the address do not mail. I explained how frustrated I was and he pretty much said that was all they did if someone called. I asked him to escalate the call. He said he couldn't. I said I was an existing Virgin customer (we use broadband through them) and he (reluctantly) put me through to a manager. I explained the situation again to the manager. The manager said that if it was addressed to 'The Householder' it was a problem with Royal Mail. I told them I've opted out of that and that the ONLY junk I get is from Virgin. The manager was a bit 'nothing we can do' but I persisted and needed them to sort it out - it's not my job to chase their 3rd party suppliers to stop junk mail. I said he would contact Royal Mail and make sure our address was removed. He again said t would take 30 days but that as far as he was aware that should sort the problem. BUT of course there is no way I can contact the manager again if the problem isn't resolved. There is no direct phone number, or e-mail I can use if this doesn't solve the problem. In other words there is absolutely no accountability from Virgin if this doesn't work. There is no-one saying 'yes, this is obviously and issue and I can sort it would for you'. I am crossing my fingers that this stops the mailings. I'm also frustrated that the only reason this was escalated to a manager was because I'm an existing account holder.

Frustrated by Virgin

Royal mail are obliged to deliver all post marked " to the householder" on behalf of the sender. Opting out of the door to door junk mail will NOT stop this kind of mail. The blame is with Virgins database centre where ever that maybe, best you can do is keep returning them if they are not interested in helping you.. I do not get this kind of junk thankfully but if I did, return to sender is what I would carry on doing

What a surprise, Virgin's opt-out form does not work if you do not take cookies (or perhaps they expect you to run code off an untrusted network? Both silly from our point of view, but both corporate norms).

But I got myself opted out before the official thing by addressing the junk back to Virgin, and standing the junk in milk for about 15mins before letting it dry a bit and putting it in the post. When it got back to Virgin it would have stunk, it would have been a health and safety liability probably. And Royal Mail might (if it cares about staff (hahahahaha)) even tell Virgin to stop being so aggressive with spam 'cause so much gets returned in poor condition.

The junk stopped arriving at my old flat, the householder wads of paper would be about monthly, but they really did seem to stop.

I think abusing the post is one way to fight back, it only costs the organisations and as they exist for money it is sending the message in their language. I recently posted off a pile of menus and stuff to Royal Mail's junk department (thanks for the freepost :) ), and badly taped it up with gaffer tape. Hopefully it got stuck in a machine and needed work to fix, directly and indirectly costing the businesses further. And actually helping (somewhat) with a person's economy, creating work for them. It isn't constructive to the overall economy, but care for that is in proportion to capital an individual controls.

Heh, some junk turned up for a past tenant offering debt. I used that return envelope to post a big tile that was in the garden. It barely fitted in the pillar box, and weighed at least a kilo. It would have cost them a bomb.

If industry ran things as opt-in, rather than opt-out, then none of these costs or risks of them would even arise.

I didn't get anywhere with the virginmedia.co.uk/mailoptout link, it just took me an "Existing customer" home page, but did a search and found https://keepup.virginmedia.com/optout. There was a simple form on there which promises a six week time frame to sort it out. Dunno if I believe that based on other people's experiences.

I'm getting mail for someone who doesn't even live at my address - I've been here for almost 10 years! - so perhaps they're making up contacts to get their mails out!

Thanks for the link. Virgin keeps changing the contact details – perhaps that's what Keep up refers to! Anyway, I've now updated the link.

Re the junk mail addressed to someone who doesn't even live at your address, they've probably bought a cheap and hopelessly out-of-date junk mail list somewhere. Whatever the reason, they're not processing personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act and so you can force them to update their junk mail list.

They are still sending me advertising addressed to the "householder". I filled in the opt out link about six months ago. It has made zero difference!

I opted out a year ago using their form and was promised the mailings would stop. They have just started again. Intolerable.

I collect all the Virgin Media junk mail I get and keep it in a cupboard for about 6 months. I then dump all the junk in the nearest postbox with "Virgin Media Spam -- Return to Sender" and this website's web address written in big letters across the middle of it. So I use Virgin Media's own envelopes to advertise THIS website, and anyone who handles the envelope will see what is written. Free advertising at Virgin Media's expense and amusement for anyone else.

Have fun.

I tried emailing optout@virginmedia.co.uk (found on the web) and got an answer which said "Just register online at virginmedia.co.uk/mailoptout and you won’t hear another thing from us. Not a peep." The URL simply transfers one to their home page virginmedia.com which advertises their services!

I found the keepup.virginmedia.com/optoutaddress via this site and filled the form in twice, both for my real name and for first name "The" and second name "Householder". Will now see if it works.

After three years of 'to the householder' junk mail from Virgin Media and countless 'return to sender' attempts, I finally did some research online which lead me here. I duly filled out my details on the Virgin opt-out webpage and awaited the result. Today a Virgin A4 envelope arrived addressed to me in my name! I am very cautious about giving out my name and address and I can only assume that the opt-out details I provided have now been added to Virgins mailing database. Fuming! Be aware of this and use a fake name on the opt-out page.