Feeds

Virgin Media: SO SORRY we fined your dead dad £10 for unpaid bill

'Being deceased, it's probably slipped his mind' says son-in-law

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Virgin Media has apologised after charging a dead man £10 for being unable to pay his broadband bill.

The bloke's son-in-law Jim Boyden posted a photo of the demand for the tenner on Facebook, along with an open letter accusing the UK internet provider's staff of a "special kind of meanness".

Almost 100,000 people have now shared the picture, prompting Virgin Media to cancel the charge in a bid to avert a serious public relations disaster.

The snap shows a ordinary-looking £63.89 fee and then the words "D.D Denied-Payer deceased", suggesting the direct-debit payment was rejected as the account holder had died. Underneath, the uncharitable Virgin Media computer had added a £10 "late payment" charge.

Virgin Media has now refunded the money and donated cash to the hospice in which Boyden's father-in-law died, according to a poem keen Facebooker Boyden published in the wake of the web outrage.

"I'm really sorry for my father-in-law not paying his bill last month, but what with him being dead and all, it's probably slipped his mind," he added.

"[Virgin Media] are to be publicly commended for swooping in with all the sensitivity of a charging rhino [for] instantly fining him an extra ten pounds for having the unheard-of nerve to be dead and therefore being unable to pay you."

Boyden went on:

You also deserve a further honourable mention for promptly sending us next month's bill as well. I'm simply not paying it as, ever since passing away, I have noticed a sharp decrease in the amount of television my father-in-law has been watching. I simply cannot think why that would be.

I might pay it if you can prove to me he's been watching any of your channels in heaven, but given that British Sky Broadcasting is beamed in directly from the clouds I think he's much more likely to be enjoying that. Your infernal cable pipes seem only to come up from the ground (same location as hell - spooky coincidence) where I imagine you train people in the art of customer service.

It is understood that the slip-up was the work of an automated system, which doles out bonus charges when payments fail.

A Virgin Media spokesman said: "We've spoken to the family and offered our sincerest apologies as automated responses from banks should not appear on customer bills. We have a team in place to ensure bereavements are managed sensitively and are investigating how this happened. Once Mr Boyden brought this to our attention on Facebook, we sought to identify his father in law's account straight away which we have since closed with late payment charges removed."

Social networking expert Dr Lisa Harris, head of the digital marketing master's degree programme at the University of Southampton, told the BBC that big firms hadn't quite mastered new-fangled forms of communication.

She said: "Corporations are very good at promoting themselves, they recognise that everyone needs a Twitter and a Facebook account, they are aware the networks exist but they don't have the strategies in place to deal with the issues that can arise from those networks.

"A lot of people as a result of seeing this will now think, 'I had that problem as well' - it can mushroom. Companies need to recognise that people have more power than they used to." ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.