BritBox overcharges thousands of subscribers after error

BritBox overcharges thousands of subscribers after error
One user was so alarmed by the price hike he cancelled his credit card

Customers of streaming service BritBox were shocked to find out they had been overcharged by £550 ($757) due to a major billing error.

The regular monthly fee for the BBC and ITV-backed streamer, which launched in the US in 2017, is just over £5 ($6.99) per month. But for July, dozens of users were charged £550 –100 times the true cost.

Fewer than 5,000 US and Australia subscribers are thought to have been affected by the glitch, with one telling entertainment magazine Variety he thought the sharp increase was down to his daughter downloading “every series of The Last of the Summer Wine”.

Paul Sonnenberg, a 61-year-old Texas-based paralegal, added: “The next day, I called [BritBox] having sent a screenshot [of the bank account] and a few demanding emails and that person acknowledged that I’d had to wait so long to get through because there were lots of people calling in about this problem.”

While Mr Sonnenberg was given a complimentary four-month subscription to the service, he is upset that it has taken more than two days for him to be reimbursed.

“They assured me they are working hard to fix it, with a resolution expected in 24 to 48 hours, but if I took $757 from you, how would you feel about waiting 48 hours to get it back?”

On Twitter, a number of angry BritBox users also complained about their increased fees. Lee Harris went as far as canceling his credit card upon seeing the charge.

“If anyone else got charged $757 today instead of $6.99 for their monthly [BritBox] subscription, know that it’s entirely their fault and I hope you see this before you cancel your card disputing fraud like I did,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Pat Coakley claimed the charge “emptied her account.”

“I love your service but you just charged my account 699.00 instead of the usual 6.99 and have emptied my account!” she complained to BritBox on Twitter. “What is a customer to do??? Your phone line told me to call back later after 45 min!”

In a statement, a BritBox spokesperson addressed the issue. “We are aware that a small percentage (a fraction of 1 per cent) of our subscribers in the United States and Australia experienced an overcharge by our billing vendor yesterday,” they told Variety.

“We took immediate action to correct the mistake by contacting all affected BritBox subscribers and issuing them refunds. The underlying cause has been resolved, however, this is an unacceptable experience and we deeply regret the disruption this has caused some of our subscribers.”

BritBox has two million subscribers around the world, according to figures released earlier this year, 75 per cent of which are based in the US and Canada.