Virgin Media customers in the county are being told to brace themselves for huge monthly price increases to their TV and broadband packages - but here's how to negate the hike.
The company is currently contacting existing customers to tell them that prices are going to jump in May - up by a staggering average of 13.8%. And that applies even to those on fixed-term contracts.
It outstrips planned price hikes for rivals such as Sky which is planning a rise of around 8.1%. Price increases are likely to hit the majority of customers of the major TV, broadband and mobile providers.
The move has enraged many customers who are already feeling the squeeze due to the on-going cost-of-living crisis.
VirginMedia is writing to customers to say: "As you can probably imagine, with costs like energy bills rising fast, our running costs are increasing too."
However, because the price increase will impact on many with fixed term deals, customers are being told they can cancel their contracts with no penalty charge - a legal obligation - if they contact the company within 30 days of receiving a letter or email notifying them of the increase.
As a long-time customer, I was told my existing package - an all whistles and bells deal - was shooting up by an eye-watering £21.50 a month from May.
Happy to jump ship at such a price hike, I immediately contacted their customer services - not a department, experience has told me, which often lives up to its name.
However, no sooner had I told them, politely, I wasn't prepared to pay and would, as a consequence, seek to cancel my contract - or at least heavily downgrade it - they immediately offered me a deal.
In fact, before I had even got through to a real person, an automated message offered me an immediate discount of in excess of £10 for the duration of my contract - due to expire in July. An encouraging sign I thought if they were prepared to off-set half the price increase without any input from me.
Declining the offer and opting to speak to someone, I outlined my issues.
Without any delay I was immediately offered a discount for the duration of my 18-month contract with them which would completely negate the price hike.
To make matters somewhat better, the discount was applied immediately...which meant money off my March and April bills too.
I didn't have to commit to any further contract either.
VirginMedia was sold by Richard Branson's Virgin Group to US telecommunications giant Liberty Media in 2003. It pays a licensing deal to continue to use the Virgin logo in its branding.
In a poll by the MoneySavingExpert.com website - founded by consumer champion Martin Lewis - in December, it revealed 85% of VirginMedia customers who tried to haggle with the firm over their TV, phone, broadband or mobile packages were successful in negotiating a better deal.
But it warned you need to be proactive. The website said: "Companies make their best deals only available for newbies, and they love loyal customers as they stay with the firm through thick 'n' thin, paying full price and never looking for a better deal.
"This lets big firms rake in easy, guaranteed profit. So ask yourself a question: do you want to be a customer whose business is fought for. Unless you want to be taken for granted, take the haggle challenge."
VirginMedia is also switching its price increases as of April 2024, linking it to the Retail Price Index (RPI) - a measure of inflation - plus an additional 3.9%. The RPI rate will be determined by the rate in the previous February.
In addition, and as an aside, I had also contacted Sky about a similar replacement deal if VirginMedia wasn't going to budge. They also discounted the list price in the hope of winning me over.
The moral of the story? Don't accept these price hikes - companies would rather keep customers than lose them altogether - and always ask if the advertised price is the best they can offer.
How much is your broadband or phone contract going up by? Let us know in the comments...