Cape Town – TopTV has found itself in a new debit order drama exactly a year after the pay TV operator was engulfed in a previous double debit order disaster.
After outrage from subscribers who discovered money missing from their bank accounts, TopTV admitted that 17 000 TopTV subscribers had money taken out of their accounts at the wrong time when TopTV ran a debit order incorrectly.
Many TopTV subscribers incurred bank charges because of insufficient funds when TopTV suddenly ran a debit order instruction on 16 March – weeks earlier than subscribers' chosen debit order date.
TopTV explained: "Approximately 17 000 of subscribers' monthly debit orders were incorrectly debited on 16 March, which was earlier than their chosen debit order date.
"The debit for these subscribers was not reversed. Of these, only those customers who defaulted on their payments had the debit order resubmitted on their chosen debit order day.
"TopTV sincerely apologises to those affected subscribers for this error, which was of a different nature to the one that occurred last year," said TopTV.
"Checks and balances have now been put in place to ensure that this will not happen again."Outrage
Several reacted with outrage about the unexpected gap in their monthly budget.
TopTV targets lower to middle class income earners in South Africa.
Irate subscribers who had the money unexpectedly taken from their accounts struggled to suddenly pay for essentials, from transport and taxis, to electricity and food.
Several also complained that TopTV then debited them twice, running another debit order after the first debit order which was done incorrectly, did in fact go through.
TopTV told angry and tearful subscribers that it was "a technical problem".
The debit order mistake from On Digital Media’s (ODM) accounting and payment department on subscribers’ bank accounts comes exactly a year after TopTV's first double debit order disaster. Same disaster, a year apart
In 2011 TopTV took double the amount of money from 1 500 TopTV subscribers’ bank accounts, and in some cases more.
TopTV then apologised profusely and blamed an upgrade of TopTV's accounting system for the double billing.
Last year TopTV said the company is "adamant not to have a recurrence and is better able to handle this".
Earlier this year TopTV's new interim CEO, Eddie Mbalo, promised better customer care and an improvement in customer service levels.