Questions Of Cash: With set-top TV boxes, Sky sets the limits...


Q. I have a Sky TV package, which gives me a second Sky set-top box for £10 extra a month – £45 in total – allowing me to watch Sky on two TVs in my house. A condition is that there must be two phone lines, with each set-top box permanently connected to a phone line. When I moved home, I arranged for two phone lines, and Sky engineers installed the two-box service. One phone line failed and Sky warned me I would be charged in full for two boxes if this continued. I had the phone connection repaired and performed Sky's on-screen system check, which gave me the message "line connected". I thought the problem was settled. I recently checked my bank statements and found that I had paid the full amount for two boxes for at least a year, which is more than £300 extra. I pay by direct debit and I have not received any bills by post. JC, Reading

A. Sky's policy is to require each set-top box to be permanently connected to a phone line to prevent a box being used elsewhere without a subscription. This requirement is enforced rigorously. Sky insists that it notified you at least six times that the phone line was not correctly connected to the set-top box and that failure to correct this would lead to you being charged the full rate for the second set-top box. Sky's spokesman says it is not its fault that you failed to respond to its letters or monitor your bank account. "We believe that we did all we can," says Sky's spokesman.

Q. I placed an order online with Debenhams on 16 May. I was overcharged, which Debenhams advised me. They offered me an additional 10 per cent discount and made the refund in two payments. Initially I thought I had been refunded correctly, but I now believe I am still owed £20.29. I returned several items on 5 June and I am awaiting an additional refund for two items. I have repeatedly emailed and phoned Debenhams, without success – its customer service is terrible. NS, Maidenhead

A. Debenhams had an IT systems failure on the day you placed your order and the company says this led to a series of problems with the processing of your order and the refund. It has promised to fully refund you.

Q. I have shares in Tesco. I received my voting form on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's resolution against it selling intensively reared chickens, and tried to vote online. Despite repeated attempts, I could not vote, despite using several computers and different web browsers. I kept getting notices that my attempts to vote had been unsuccessful – but despite this I received an email saying that my vote was registered. I was also annoyed that the printed form was shaded to encourage shareholders to vote against the resolution. RH, Peterborough

A. Tesco's online voting is conducted independently by Equiniti. Tesco says that it has had no other reports of difficulties in voting online and that your vote must have been registered for you to have had a confirmatory email. Tesco suggests that the problems may lie with the computers you used, though you dismiss this. And while you may regard it as unfair that shading on the voting forms makes clear how Tesco's directors want you vote, this is standard practice.

Q. Last December, my easyJet flight from Gatwick to Barcelona was cancelled because of fog. We were told that as we had no insurance, nothing could be done. We tried to use the cost of the cancelled flights as a credit to book online for new flights – but easyJet's website was down, so we could not do so. We ended up paying more – £371.04 – for the replacement tickets. But our repeated letters requesting a refund for the full cost of the new tickets have been ignored. IR, London

A. When we took your case up, we were caught between easyJet, which insisted that it had repaid you in early February, and yourself, who said that no such payment had been received. We asked you to double-check your bank account, whereupon you found that you had been refunded the full amount of £371.04, but had overlooked the payment.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; cash@independent.co.uk

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