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GRACE ON THE CASE: My mother has paid £65 a month for years to Sky for Call Line Identification fees

Earlier this year, I went through my mother’s bills since she is currently going through some financial difficulties. 

I was shocked to discover that an unknown payment was included in each of her Sky monthly bills since 2006.

I contacted customer services who advised they were Call Line Identification (CLI) charges.

After discussing this with my mother, she said at no point did she receive correspondence warning her of any such issue.

A Sky customer had unwittingly been paying £65 a month for Call Line Identification charges

The charge was roughly £65 per month and initially Sky agreed to pay back 24 months worth, adding up to £1,560. 

However, this leaves fees of around £8,500. Is it possible to get a full refund? S.C., via email

Grace Gausden, consumer expert at This is Money, replies: You were shocked to find your mother’s bills were Sky high when you helped go through her finances.  

The main expense that stuck out was the amount she was paying to her TV provider, Sky, in unknown charges at nearly £65 a month for 15 years.  

After contacting the telecoms giant, it advised these were CLI charges. These are most widely known for phone customers as the calling line identification allows the person receiving the call to see the caller’s number.

However, for TV customers, such as your mother, the CLI charges only apply to customers on Sky TV multiscreen – those who have additional Sky boxes at a discounted rate.

GRACE ON THE CASE 

Our weekly column sees This is Money consumer expert Grace Gausden tackles reader problems and shines the light on companies doing both good and bad.

Want her to investigate a problem, or do you want to praise a firm for going that extra mile? Get in touch:

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To use multiscreen, customers need to use all their Sky boxes in one household.

However, your mother only ever connected one box and Sky could tell the second box was never connected to any broadband or telephone line. 

I asked Sky why it applied these charges and it said it was a security measure.

Essentially, when the Sky box is connected to a broadband or telephone line, it can check its being used in the correct location.

If the Sky box is not connected, the CLI charges begin as the firm has no way of knowing where the box is being used. 

It is a ‘legitimate’ security measure which helps Sky prevent abuse of the heavy discounts it offers through multiscreen, it said.

For example, it means it can identify cases when customers purchase a multiscreen package with multiple boxes but go on to either sell the additional box, keep the additional box in a separate property or take the box to other properties when they’re away from home.

If the Sky box is not connected to the internet or telephone line and it is unable to verify its location after a number of attempts, customers will be contacted a number of times informing them how to connect the box.

They will also be notified that they will be charged if the box remains unconnected and when these charges begin. CLI charges will then be included on the monthly bill.

Sky said charging for CLI prevents abuse of the heavy discounts it offers through multiscreen

Sky said charging for CLI prevents abuse of the heavy discounts it offers through multiscreen

Therefore, these charges were automatically applied by the system on your mother’s account as one or both of the Sky boxes she owns were not connected to the phone line.    

You were frustrated by this response as your mother claimed she had not received correspondence advising her of this. 

It also shocked you that she was charged so much over such a long period of time without Sky contacting her to check this was still correct.  

I contacted Sky to see if it would offer a higher refund than just 24 months’ worth as your mother was still down a substantial amount of money at a time when she is facing financial difficulty. 

It agreed to refund a further four years’ worth £4,617 to your mother and she will also be exempt from future CLI charges on her two Sky TV digital boxes.

A Sky spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry for any distress caused to Ms C. Our CLI charges are in place as a security measure so we can check Sky boxes are being used in the correct home by the customers they’re meant for.

‘These charges end when the box is connected to the internet or telephone line and the location is verified.

‘Unfortunately, in this case, Ms C never connected one of her two Sky TV digital boxes so the charges continued. We have now refunded a substantial amount as a goodwill gesture and Ms C will be exempt from any future CLI charges.’

Sky said communications regarding the CLI charges were continually sent to your mother including up to three warning letters before the CLI charges begun and a final letter notifying her she was now being charged.

These fees were included on all bills including on paper statements she received from November 2015 which showed a breakdown of her monthly charges.

It added the only time your mother got in touch to query her bill was in November 2014, however when customer services requested the account holder the call was disconnected.

While your mother now has a substantial refund, it is still not the full amount you were hoping for which seems very unfair considering Sky were able to see she never used the second box – nor did anyone else. 

It may be worthwhile you casting an eye over her bills in future and advising her to contact firms if there is anything she is unsure of – and that goes for anyone reading this column. 

This will hopefully prevent a situation like this again when thousands of pounds were spent quite unnecessarily.  

A National Trust customer was left frustrated after being unable to fully use his membership

A National Trust customer was left frustrated after being unable to fully use his membership 

Hit and miss: This week’s naughty and nice list

Each week, I look at some of the companies that have fallen short of expected standards as well as those that have gone that extra mile for customers.

Miss: This week, the National Trust were criticised by reader, Jon, after he was unable to use his membership.

He said: ‘I was given a joint National Trust membership last May for my 60th birthday present from some close friends.

‘We were able to fit in one visit last September, but that was it unfortunately. Then Covid-19 hit us with all its travel and visiting restrictions which basically prohibited any further visits.

‘I contacted the National Trust to discuss extending my membership to cover the missing months that we missed through no fault of our own but I was told that was not possible.

‘This means I have pretty much wasted the gift that my friends gave me last year and I feel guilty about that.’

I contacted National Trust after months of you trying to get some form of compensation was dismissed by the firm.

A spokesperson said: ‘When we were closed, and much of the country was in lockdown, we offered discounts, which we promoted on our website and directly with our members.

‘We’re now pleased to say that the majority of our places are now open and we are seeing our membership grow again.’

However, giving discounts on further memberships did not help to solve your problem as it was a membership you hadn’t been able to use that was the issue.

Many other people have taken to Trustpilot to reveal they have also encountered similar issues with the Trust over the pandemic.  

But the National Trust wanted to stress that as a charity there were many people telling it they wanted to continue supporting it during lockdown.

Therefore it was decided there wouldn’t be a blanket discount but instead it would promote the fact that supporters could apply for these discounts. 

For a joint membership of £120, it sure was a costly outing for you.  

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help in this instance and can certainly understand your frustration but hopefully you will not be put off visiting the National Trust sites for good.  

ASOS offered a customer a refund after the parcel, including a wedding suit, got lost

ASOS offered a customer a refund after the parcel, including a wedding suit, got lost

Hit: In happier news, reader Adam, praised ASOS.

He said: ‘I ordered a suit for a wedding from ASOS with a few other items with the total coming to nearly £100.

‘Hermes tried to deliver on behalf of ASOS but no one was in so it took the parcel back. I decided to change the delivery address to a local newsagent so I could pick it up at my convenience.

‘The next day it said the package had been delivered but when I went to collect it, I was told it does not accept parcels and it was not here. Essentially the parcel was now lost.

‘I contacted Hermes and ASOS who said it would complete an investigation. In the meantime, I had to spend another £100 on a suit on ASOS for the wedding which was just a couple of days away.

‘Hermes could not seem to understand what had happened to the parcel but luckily ASOS agreed to give a full refund for the lost package. 

‘Strangely, it turned up nearly a week after the wedding, to our address, but ASOS said it would be fine for me to keep not only the parcel but also the items. Despite it being a stressful situation, ASOS’ customer service definitely helped the process.’

Whilst the parcel was fashionably late, it all worked out in the end and you now have some free items of clothing to enjoy for your next formal social occasion. 

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