SKY Ireland has issued a grovelling apology after wrongly sending letters of condolence to the families of almost 2,000 customers it believed had died – and then asked for outstanding bills to be paid.
The broadcasting giant has admitted it sent the letters "accidentally" to approximately 1,900 of its customers, following "a systems error" last week.
A spokesman said it took immediate steps to remedy the error by contacting each customer directly by phone or by letter to apologise and offer a goodwill gesture.
Denis Sheehan, who has been a customer of Sky Ireland since September, received a letter of condolence addressed to the "executors" of his estate on October 27.
He said when he first read it he thought it was a joke.
The letter addressed to the executors of the estate of Mr Sheehan said: "We are sorry to hear of your loss and we'd like to offer our condolences to all those concerned."
The letter offered to make everything as "straightforward as possible" as had been requested and the service to Mr Sheehan's account had been cancelled. The letter went on to point out that the current balance outstanding on the account was €25, adding that a final account statement would be sent shortly that would also show any further amounts that were due on it.
Mr Sheehan, of Chapeltown, Valentia Island, Co Kerry, said when the error was pointed out to the company he received a telephone call from Sky apologising for the mistake.
"He offered me three months Sky TV free for the inconvenience. I'm only sorry I didn't tell him to give me six months free," Mr Sheehan told the Irish Independent.
Mr Sheehan said when he got an incorrect bill from the company, charging him the full amount for the two months instead of a discounted rate, he tried to contact them to point out the mistake but found it very difficult to get through.
He then received the letter of condolence addressed to his executors at his home address.
"Can you imagine an older person and how they would take it? There's really no excuse for a company of that size making a mistake like that," he said.