Elderly couple billed £500 for porn they never ordered

Updated: 

Virgin mediaKatie Collins/PA Wire

Ron Hayward, 74, and his wife Ann, 71 from Reddish near Manchester, have been sent an astonishing bill by Virgin Media. They have been charged £500, and the itemised bill reveals that this is a charge largely caused by the live streaming of porn to their property. On some days they have been billed for 14 of these films a day.

And this isn't the first time it has happened.

Charges

The charges were for 'adult' films, streamed through their cable service - and their bill shows that they have been billed for 150 of them.

Ron and Anne have been here before. They were charged £190 in 2009 for pornographic films streamed using their Virgin account, which they say they didn't order. The company agreed to waive the bill, but turned the service off.

After they resubscribed earlier this year they were shocked to discover the same thing had happened again. Yet again Virgin has agreed to cancel the bill, and turn the service off, but says that if they choose to reconnect, they will have to pay any charges they rack up.

Anne told the Daily Mail: "The family all think it is really funny - Ron gets ribbed at the post office where he gets asked if he's seen any good films lately."

What can you do?

Clearly the couple's predicament is providing plenty of entertainment for their friends and neighbours, and Virgin has waived the charges, so no-one is worse off. However, incorrect bills are not always a laughing matter.

The problem is alarmingly common. The big six energy companies, for example, received four million complaints last year, and the most common reason was incorrect bills.

If you have received a bill that you think is wrong, your first port of call is the company concerned. Start with the customer service department, explaining the problem and asking for a solution.

If you don't get anywhere, you will need to follow their procedure for making an official complaint. You may need to provide some evidence, and they may need to send someone round, but they should establish why your bill is higher than you expect - and if they have made a mistake.

If you are not happy with their response, you can go to the relevant ombudsman. They will weigh up all the evidence and make a call on whether the bill is correct, and whether you are entitled to any compensation.

Failing that, you can ask the provider for a deadlock letter. This means you will be able to take your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution service, where you should get justice without the complexity and expense of a court case.

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