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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.