Pricewatch: Readers’ queries

A Sky customer is charged for two accounts; and a reader is heartbroken over dating website charges

Sky apologised for the mistake and offered a full refund

Sky apologised for the mistake and offered a full refund

 

 

Sky customer charged for two accounts 

Last week on the Ray D’Arcy Show on Today FM,

Pricewatch highlighted a problem a customer had with Sky Television, but we think it deserves repeating here.

In December 2011, the husband of a woman we will call Yvonne became ill and died. “At the time I found it very difficult to pay the Sky subscription, so I contacted Sky in early 2012 and confirmed that my husband, in whose name the account was, had died, and also that I wished to reduce my payments by cancelling multiroom and the sports and movie packages,” she writes. Sky agreed, and said it would change the account to her name.

It didn’t. “I noticed at the end of 2013 that Sky, instead of reducing my payment, had actually taken the original payment and the new reduced payment from my account each month. Indeed, for several months between October 2012 and May 2013, they took the larger payment twice,” she said.

She has been in contact with Sky on at least eight occasions since she first noticed what was going on, to no effect. “More recently, they have got more aggressive, saying that as far as they were concerned I had two accounts. I asked them why would I do this, and they said I had sold one card on to a third party. I take extreme exception to this, as we have been customers of Sky for years and would never do such a thing. I can’t see how they can justify charging me for a service they had discontinued.”

She was so fed up that she cancelled her subscription. Sky Television then started sending her letters threatening her with debt collectors and legal action over about €130 it claimed she owed because she cancelled her contract without giving the required level of notice.

“I have refused since to pay the subscription, so I no longer have a service but I reckon they owe me at least €1,700,” she said. When she contacted Pricewatch she felt that the only avenue left open to her was the Small Claims Court.

We contacted the company and within 24 hours received the following statement. “We have examined the details regarding the complainant. We have established that the customer was mistakenly set up with a dual subscription. We have made contact with the customer, apologised for the mistake and offered a full refund for the period of dual subscription as well as a goodwill gesture, which has been accepted by the customer,” the statement said. “On this occasion, we failed to live up to our high standards and we apologise for this. We are currently reviewing our processes with a view to ensuring that such mistakes do not recur.”

We then heard back from Yvonne. She said that the company had made contact with her, and agreed to repay all money taken on the second account, which came to more than €2,000. “They will give me a new account with the most basic package, which is what I need, with the price reduced to €14 per month till end of year, and will terminate proceedings started against me last week for €130.

“What a pity a company like Sky can’t have a customer-friendly complaint resolution system in place.”

 

Heartbroken over dating website charges 

A reader has sent a query about a subscription to a dating website she signed up for. “Earlier in the year I subscribed to Parship.ie. I subscribed for six months, used the site for about a month and then never went back,” she writes.

“About a month ago I got a reminder from Parship, saying I owed them for another six months. I ignored this email as I obviously didn’t want to renew another six months for a service I had barely use,” she says.

She then got more emails from the site “threatening me with a debt collector. I emailed them immediately and said I didn’t use the service and had no wish to renew for a further six months. Their reply was that when I signed up originally, it stated that it would automatically renew after six months and I should have cancelled one month prior to the end of the first six months. I did not know this. They are still saying that they are passing this on to a debt collector. Is there anything I can do? The amount in question is €120.”

We had a look at the website and in the terms and conditions we came across a sub-section under the heading “Automatic renewal”. Underneath that it read: “All premium membership subscriptions automatically renew on the last day of a current subscription. The relevant amount will be charged to the credit card used for your original transaction. Standard subscriptions relate to terms of three, six or 12 months.”

It also said that these “automatic renewals continue until you decide to cancel them. You can cancel the automatic renewal facility at any time up to one day prior to the start of the next renewal period. Instructions for cancellation of automatic renewal can be found within the My Membership area of the Data & Settings sections of the website.”

So, while it is annoying for our reader, the company is legally entitled to impose the charges – and it did alert her to the fact before her account fell due for renewal. Such auto-renewals are not uncommon, and the story highlights the need for people to be aware of what they are signing up for.

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