Olive Press Exclusive – Jon Clarke
HUNDREDS of thousands of Sky users around Andalucia could face being cut off under a European regulations clampdown.
Many have already lost the signal from the satellite TV service after pressure was put on the UK broadcaster to reign in “illegal” foreign registrations.
The move comes after competitor Virgin complained to television watchdogs about Sky’s legion of illegal customers, estimated to number up to half a million in Spain.
As a UK-registered broadcaster, Sky is not allowed to broadcast here.
Users are technically not allowed to use their Sky card, even if they have it registered at a valid UK address.
But under some of the most blatant abuses, the Olive Press has discovered that in some cases agents have been registering up to 3,000 Spanish-based clients at one UK address.
Often taking a year’s subscription of around 1,000 euros in advance, the companies have been using a string of addresses in London, the Midlands and Scotland to register their clients.
No longer. Under the new clean up, Sky has warned it will be cutting off anyone registered at an address with more than five clients.
“Any address that has more than that is being cut off,” said Mark Wood from company Sky Doctor. “People should be more careful who they deal with.”
One couple, Tom Floyd and Janette Reddie, are furious that they have not been able to use their subscription for over two months.
The couple, who own the Red Lion pub, opening soon in Mollina, claim they paid 1,075 euros up front for a year’s subscription “which went off after about half a day.”
They were forced to pay this way because they did not have a credit card and were told they could therefore not get a monthly subscription.
“We have been complaining all the time but nothing has been done,” Janette told the Olive Press. “The company told us they registered 3,000 people at one address in Yorkshire, another in London and one in Scotland. Now it seems everyone registered at the Yorkshire address has been cut off.
“If true, that is thousands of people and it is just not on.”
Last week at a heated meeting at Saydo Hotel in Mollina, around 100 concerned customers met up with their local Sky provider.
During the meeting, the company – who we are not naming for legal reasons – promised to refund money to any customers who had paid their annual fee in advance.
A spokesman would not confirm or deny that thousands had been registered at one address.
“I cannot comment on the exact numbers, but Sky did not mind as it was business. They turned a blind eye,” he said.
“But now things have changed and Sky is having to be seen as being compliant. Basically, we are not allowed to use Sky overseas and some people have been cut off.
“Those who paid up front we cannot resolve and we have offered to refund their money. Those on subscriptions we are trying to resolve now.
“Unlike some other companies we are not just changing our numbers and doing a runner.”
His words however, did not go a long way to calm some customers’ fears.
Ken Platt, 71, and Michael Kydd, 65, are both worried about losing the service after taking a monthly subscription.
“I paid 900 euros for the Digibox and aerial and pay 50 euros a month in subscription so I am obviously very anxious,” said Platt.
Registered provider Paul Anderson, of Sky Digital, based in Mijas, fears the worst. “I fear quite a number of people are going to be cut off in the next few months. It seems that those who paid subscriptions in advance are being worst hit. It is quite unfair.”
Anderson, who has been in the business for ten years, continued: “There are many illegal installers in Spain not paying taxes, and if things go wrong they just change their phone number.
“I know a couple of companies that are not answering their phones at the moment.
“One company folded recently having taken the money for 100 Sky installations. They just did a bunk, before the cards stopped working.”
Janette Reddie at the Red Lion is staying optimistic and has filled in a claim form to get her money back. “But they have told us it will be at least a month before we get anything. It did not take them long to take our money, why should it take so long to get it back? We hope they stick to their promise. I have been assured that they will.”