United Kingdom

Pensioners who paid twice for a TV licence wait months for a refund 

Pensioners pressured into mistakenly paying twice for their TV licence are being forced to wait months for a refund.

Readers have told Money Mail they assumed their £157.50 cheques had been lost in the post after receiving further demands. 

But the letters were sent out following payment processing delays at TV Licensing due to the pandemic.

Pensioners who were sent further demands for TV licences having already paid had assumed their cheques had been lost in the post

Around 4.2 million over-75s had free licences last August and, so far, around 2.7 million of these households have started paying for them. 

A further 750,000 have applied to keep watching TV for free because they are on pension credit and TV Licensing is still waiting to hear from the remaining households. TV Licensing sent 525,223 'reminder letters' to over-75s by the end of November.

Margaret Mullahey, 84, sent off her cheque in early October but, four weeks later, received another letter demanding she pay up. 

Her bank told her the cheque had not been deposited, so she cancelled it and sent another that day.

But when Margaret checked her bank statement, TV Licensing had cashed both cheques within a week of each other. The pensioner, who lives near Stockport, repeatedly tried to call TV Licensing.

She was eventually told she would be sent a refund. But she still has not had one two months later. She says: 'I'm just so fed up with the diabolical service.'

Dennis Reed, of pensioners' campaign group Silver Voices, says: 'TV Licensing should have set up an admin system which would be able to cope with these changes - and the influx of older customers who were likely to pay by cheque.'

Delivery driver Paul Baker, 67, is also waiting for a refund after paying twice. He posted his cheque in October, but panicked when he received an email asking for payment. 

He called his bank to cancel the cheque and paid online a few days later. Paul, from Calverton, Nottinghamshire, says: 'It was a straightforward mistake. It shouldn't take so long to resolve.'

TV Licensing says Margaret and Paul will receive refunds this week. It says the average processing time for a refund is 20 working days. 

A spokesman says: 'At times last year, we were operating with a scaled-back workforce, due to staff sickness and compliance with strict social distancing measures.'

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