TV Licensing pays compensation over threats of a fine

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Peter Troy and his late mother

TV Licensing has paid £250 to Peter Troy, of Rushyford, Country Durham, to compensate him for the stress they caused him after his mother's death. After his mum passed away, he was repeatedly pressed to pay for a TV licence for her empty property. Even after he explained the situation he was threatened with a fine.

So how did he get this compensation, and how common is this sort of problem?
According to the Daily Mail, five months after Troy's mother passed away, he started to receive demands to pay for a TV licence for her empty house. He explained that his mother had died and that her house was empty, but the demands kept coming.

Capita, which collects money on behalf of TV Licensing, sent letters threatening to take him to court and fine him £1,000.

He told the newspaper that he decided to sue the company for £1,000 for the stress involved in dealing with a company that would not listen.

Compensation

It was then that the company apologised and offered to pay £250. He received a letter from Operations Director, Alison Roberts, saying: "If the process had been followed correctly the adviser and indeed the team leader should have taken the information you provided regarding the property being unoccupied and noted the systems accordingly. This one action would have prevented the follow-up letters sent to the property."

She added that as a result of his case, the procedure had been changed to avoid this happening to anyone else.

Not the first

This isn't the only time when a company has heaped stress on top of the horror of losing a loved one.

Last month we reported the horrible tale of the father who was told he couldn't cancel his 14-year-old son's mobile phone contract after his sudden death, because the contract was in his father's name.

A month earlier we reported on the family who tried to cancel a flight after their 78-year-old mother died before she was able to take her trip. The airline initially refused to refund the ticket price because she had not died within 28 days of the flight. It changed its mind after the story hit the newspapers.

In April Virgin Media sent a bill to a dead man, fining him for a direct debit that had been refused. The notes on the bill explained that the direct debit didn't go through because the account-holder had died. Virgin apologised, dropped the charge, and made a donation to charity.

The same month a woman from Davenport was reduced to taking her father's ashes to the bank to prove that her father was dead - after a £6 charge on the account after his death grew to a debt of £625.

What can you do?

Dealing with an estate after someone has died is a traumatic business, but you cannot afford to put it off. You'll need to tell everyone from the utility company to the mortgage firm and the mobile phone provider that the bill payer has died and that you're going through the legal process. The Money Advice Service says that they should back off once they know, and give you breathing room to sort out payments.

In most cases they will require a copy of the death certificate to avoid racking up any charges, so it's worth buying extra certified copies of the certificate when you register the death.