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I know that the OFT/consumer helpline are more in this field but they haven't been all that helpful. There are a few legal people on here however so I wondered if anyone knows:

We had a Sky dish about 5 years ago when we lived somewhere which couldn't get cable.

When it was installed, it plugged into the phone line also. That aspect of it never did work. I actually noted this on the contract.

We moved about 7 months later because we had no cable (our error when we moved, we failed to check) one mile up the road, as we had to have broadband; the BT DSL product wouldn't work over the phone line because the quality of the phone line was so bad.

Anyway: since we then got cable we had no need for Sky and didn't want to take it with us. So I spoke to Sky who agreed that the subscription could be taken down to the cheapest tarriff and "run out". We did this.

Five years later I get a letter from a debt collection agency in respect of a £75 debt to Sky. I ignored this thinking it was a scam or an error.

I get another and so ring up, and it transpires that because we moved home, the digibox was not connected to the phone line for those 5 months, hence we now need to pay £75.

This despite the fact that the advice given - to switch package then terminate - was given by Sky. And in any event they would never know whether it was in fact connected to the phone line since that never did work.

Re-reading the original letter, what I am suspecting Sky have done here is to pull out the details of subscribers who had one year of service, who did not renew, and can now safely be scammed for £75 because they're not likely to sign up again (there is a separate section in that if you are a Sky customer, ring a specific number to ensure you 'are not troubled again')

Hmmm - let's say this letter goes out to 20,000 people and half of them pay up, there's a nice quarter of a million pounds.

I have never received any invoice or communication from Sky and have never previously been asked to pay anything. I believed you had to be invoiced for a debt within a certain period and given the opportunity to pay before any action could be taken.

In any event the "must be connected to the phone line" sounds like an Unfair Term to me that could be disputed, after all even if we had moved and taken it with us, we'd have breached the term carrying it from one house to the other.

Does anyone here know if Sky can enforce this apparent "debt"?

If I sign back up with Sky the debt gets voided off. Convenient, that. This is why I think this is actually a scam.

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Sky TV can be a right pain in the **** when it comes to any dispute on payment. A few years ago they billed me for a film I had supposedly chosen. As I never subscribe to their films on demand I phoned them up to query this. Some stupid Scottish woman then kept telling me that I had chosen this film to watch. She then asked if there were any children or visitors that might have done this without me knowing.

By this time I am screaming down the phone to stop bloody patronising me and to delete this charge. She then said on this one ocassion that I would not be charged.

I wrote a very strong letter to Sky and told them they can stick their service up their jacksie if they ever tried to pull this stunt again. Needless to say I received the standard "We are very sorry etc" letter. They seem to be similar to Ryan Air and their cavalier treatment of customers.

They are a greedy company that have no serious competition to deal with.

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Your original contract with sky stipulated that the digibox needed to be connected to the phone line for 12 months. This is done because the digibox calls out and uploads market research data which is sent to the company that pays for the "free" digiboxes. If the box was not connected to the telephone line for the full 12 months the you have broken a term in the contract and are liable for paying the balance on the digibox.

The advice sky gave was to reduce your tariff and the then stop after 12 months, which seems quite fair.

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Thanks for the posts. The digibox would not have been able to operate over the phone line, as that part never did work. For instance to order films we had to ring a number as the box could not communicate over the phone line.

At the time I put this down to the abysmal quality of the phone line, having said that it could dial up at 14.4 kbps so an internet/data connection was possible, so maybe the box was simply faulty although I believe the engineer actually disabled it because he couldn't get it to work which is why anything interactive was disabled.

So I marked on the contract "Does not work as installed" next to that part and I'm about 50% certain I would have crossed out the part about it needing to be connected also, thus voiding that part of the contract.

At no stage did Sky mention this in the close down of the account four years ago and no invoice for this has ever been presented. I had thought you had to present an invoice within six months of a charge being due otherwise it could then not be invoiced at all. Over four years have passed, I still have no invoice, just a debt collection agency sending letters.

There were other issues with it too. None of these alter that Term, but guaranteed we'd never have had Sky again, it was a shambles, the digibox and card went in the local tip when we moved.

Typing the words "sky tv complaint" into Google brings up dozens of pages from people who have suffered exactly the same issues at the hands of Sky TV, even down to the billing issues we had where Sky basically ignore the terms of the DD guarantee and debit what they like when they like. Seems they're still up to the same tricks years later. Seems some other people are having this one too: http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=125512 and http://www.blagger.com/db4/company_id/4502...-Financial.html

I have asked the collection agency to send a copy of the original contract to me to see whether I did indeed cross that part out and initial it. I'm assuming it won't be taken to Court for the sake of just £75 nor will they bother digging out the contract, but if it does go to Court then the contract will be needed anyway.

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