Customers of streaming service BritBox, which specializes in British content, couldn’t keep calm and carry on after receiving an eye-watering monthly bill nearing $800.
Paul Sonnenberg subscribes to BritBox for his teenage daughter, who is “really into British television.” The monthly fee for the BBC and ITV-backed streamer, which launched in the U.S. in 2017, is $6.99 per month. But for July, Sonnenberg was charged $757.
The Austin, Texas-based paralegal got a shock to the system on Wednesday when his wife said their bank called to notify the couple that their account was overdrawn, with a $757 charge from BritBox.
“I texted [my daughter] and asked if she was doing anything special with BritBox,” jokes Sonnenberg. “I wasn’t sure if she’d maybe downloaded every series of ‘The Last of the Summer Wine.’ There are, like, 30 series. Maybe she bought the whole show?”
But after immediately calling customer support, the 61-year-old was informed he wasn’t the only one who’d been drastically overcharged, and would need to wait until Thursday to reach billing services.
“The next day, I called again 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,” said Sonnenberg.
On Twitter, a number of incredulous BritBox users also complained about their sky-high fees. User Lee Harris (@limey_lee) said he, too, was charged $757 for his $6.99 subscription, but went so far as to cancel his credit card upon seeing the charge.
“If anyone else got charged $757 today instead of $6.99 for their monthly @BritBox_US 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 said.
Meanwhile, Pat Coakley (@patcoakley) claimed the exorbitant 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 directly to BritBox on Twitter. “What is a customer to do??? Your phone line told me to call back later after 45 min!”
Variety has confirmed that around 5,000 of BritBox’s U.S. and Australia customers were accidentally overcharged by the company’s billing vendor. BritBox has roughly 1.5 million customers in North America. The streamer hasn’t yet disclosed its subscriber figure in Australia, where it launched only in November, but the total subscriber base across both markets is believed to be around 2 million.
In a statement, a BritBox spokesperson told Variety: “We are aware that a small percentage (a fraction of 1%) of our subscribers in the United States and Australia experienced an overcharge by our billing vendor yesterday. 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.”
Sonnenberg — who subscribes to around six SVOD services, including Netflix, Hulu, Mubi and The Criterion Channel — says he’s yet to be refunded. While he’s been offered a free four-month subscription to the service, he’s disappointed it’s taken more than two days to be paid back.
“They assured me they are working hard to fix it, with a resolution expected in 24-48 hours, but if I took $757 from you, how would you feel about waiting 48 hours to get it back?”