Media giant Sky allowed an elderly Alzheimer’s to pay £110 a month for his TV package.
Rachel Holdsworth says the family was astounded to learn her uncle, Rodney, was parting with so much.
They thought initially that the 72-year-old, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia a couple of years ago, was paying for broadband despite not having a computer or mobile phone.
But, after finally convincing Sky that she was a relative and gaining access to the account, she learned her uncle was paying out the hefty monthly sum on TV channels.
“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,” she said. “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 spent almost two days trying to convince the company that she was “no kind of fraudster” and finally gained access through the company’s executive team.
Rachel said it was doubly frustrating as the Sky help team said they could not assist her without her uncle’s password – something she did not know and he could not recall.
“I did ask them if they every conducted reviews of accounts that pay higher than average – they can see the age of account holders – but they said they did not,” she added.
“I think the onus should be on big companies to carry out reviews.”
Sky has now agreed to cut the bill to about £50 a month, putting Rodney on different, cheaper TV packages for six months.
Her uncle, a former cloth cutter in a clothing factory, lives with in Leeds, well away from the majority of his family, who are angry and bemused as to how he has been signed up to this and various other contracts.
Rachel also revealed Rodney pays for a heating servicing contract despite living in a council flat, a dental insurance plan and £120 a month for energy.
“It seems obvious to us that someone has called him up at some point, said it would be a good idea if if you had this and this and he’s said ‘OK’.
“He lives in a council flat, the same flat where he’s lived for 35 years, so any boiler repairs or problems with appliances are covered.
“He’s not the most socially aware, he’s not got a big pension, he should not be paying these large sums,” she said. Again, in respect of the energy bills, she believes he is on separate gas and electricity deals and these are just ‘legacy’ tariffs as he has never switched.
Rachel, a digital content specialist, highlighted the issue with her uncle on Twitter. A large number of people contacted her to tell of similar problems with their own family members.
“It does make you wonder just how many other people are in the same situation,” she said. Rachel is planning to travel up from London, where she lives, to Leeds next month to sit down with her uncle and work through exactly what he is paying to who.
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.”