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Sky Apologises For Letting 72-Year-Old Alzheimer's Sufferer Pay £110 A Month For TV

Niece raised concern about consumer protection for vulnerable people.

29/08/2017 22:24 | Updated 30 August 2017

Media giant Sky has apoligised after letting an elderly Alzheimer’s sufferer pay more than £100 a month for his TV package.

His niece, Rachel Holdsworth, took to Twitter to express astonishment that her 72-year-old uncle, Rodney, had a hefty monthly bill of £110 since he was living in a council house on a basic state pension.

Her uncle is a former cloth cutter in a clothing factory, and lives in Leeds some distance from the majority of his family. On Monday, Holdsworth explained on social media she had just got hold of his bank statement.

Holdsworth, an editor based in London, revealed her uncle was paying for other expensive services as well.

This included a gas boiler servicing contract which was unnecessary since he was already covered as he was living in a council house.

A day later, she wrote Sky’s ‘accessibility team’ said they were unable to help without his password, which Holdsworth’s uncle could not recall.

Hours later, she revealed Sky had agreed to halve his monthly bill.

Holdsworth assumed her uncle was paying for broadband but Sky told her that the bill was just for TV channels.

She told Yahoo News: “I was just astonished, I thought what package could he possibly be taking to pay £110 a month. But it was just TV packages and line rental.

“Basically, it was a legacy issue, he was taking about four or five different packages.

“He has been a customer of Sky for something like 30 years and it was just a bunch of legacy channels.”

She told Radio 5 Live that her uncle was a “trusting soul”, and suspects he had agreed to various packages when a telephone salesperson suggested the service would be a good idea. She also thinks he is being charged ‘legacy’ tariffs on other services after never switching.

She said many people on Twitter had told her they had experienced similar problems when elderly family members were being charged for services they could not afford: ″After I’d spoken to Sky’s accessibility team, and said there was nothing we could do, it got picked up. A lot of people started tweeting at Sky saying this is a disgrace, surely there’s something that can be done.

“As it’s turned out, we got a phone call from Sky’s executive team and they have now managed to halve his bill. Whether that would have happened without the outcry I don’t know. But it does make me think who else is this happening to and aren’t being helped by the amplifying voice of Twitter?”

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, she urged companies to establish an “automatic review system” to ensure contracts were affordable.

A Sky spokesperson: “We’re sorry for the inconvenience Mrs Holdsworth experienced trying to access her uncle’s account details. We’ve been in touch with Mrs Holdsworth and will work with her to ensure her uncle is on the best package for his needs.”

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