Saturday, 20 July 2013

Cancelling a Sky subscription

Dear Sky broadcasting,

You didn't cancel when asked - twice - you didn't refund correctly - you didn't answer emails - you didn't provide a facility to reply to some emails - you have a premium-rate phone number - you didn't provide requested FreeSat card - you wrote standard, irrelevant letters - you dealt with me through multiple 'handlers'. And now you bombard me with envelopes. Already there is yet another envelope on the doorstep which I will reply to after writing this. It will just say to read this:

What is Service?

It was a long, cold, night in December 2011 and I decided that if Sky TV didn't deliver something decent over Christmas I could no longer justify paying £26ish a month for a subscription service I rarely watched since the advent of Freeview in the rest of the house. Don't get me wrong, I watch loads of stuff squirted out of Astra satellites, just none of Sky's paid-for channels any more. I don't just not watch the diet of dreadful drossy American Cop/Gun/Car/Explosion/Reality shows where the hero never gets on with his boss, but I really have not been impressed by Sky's occasional own attempts at drama or comedy or the sameness of their advert-laden music channels and LSD-induced children's programming. Are colour-blindness and a total lack of photo-sensitive epilepsy pre-requisites to work in commercial-laden children's television? They should be.

I used to watch Sky's science fiction when they showed new series on their own channels: the nerd in me first subscribed to Sky in early days to watch Star Trek's various 'colon: something' series which they easily stole from under the BBC who still to this day think science fiction is for children or BBC Wales and should be shown before 7pm. When all TV Trek was eventually cancelled in favour of similarly-named Hollywood special effects extravaganza "movies" it was superceded on Sky by the Stargate franchises. They didn't last forever either and nothing as good has appeared since. At least, not in my opinion. Everything new these days has to have the drossy elements mentioned above. New series seemed to be designed by production companies who only feel safe copying each other. For once, could a hero like his boss? I never liked any of mine in the real world: drama is supposed to be fictional! Please could some TV characters and "personalities" at least appear to have more than average intelligence and better manners than a slob?

Hour-long episodes of anything on Sky's subscription channels and other commercial TV now often consist of 40 minutes programme and 20 minutes advertising. To this day, I find it hard to understand why a subscription service has advert breaks at all. I found that as their programming became more mediocre, I would mute the overly-loud adverts (another irk) and easily lost interest in second-rate programmes and would eventually switch off or migrate to the uninterrupted BBC. Friends tell me I should have a Sky plus box so I can skip the adverts but I like to watch in real time, without a live pause or having to fiddle and remember to record everything. (Is there anything more irritating than watching TV with someone who repeatedly winds/rewinds/pauses something you are trying to watch?)

I also believe Sky has been touched by the Murdoch mafia. And not in a good way. Probably.

Subscription cancelled

On 13th January 2012 I phoned Sky to cancel my subscription and asked for a FreeSat card so I may watch free-to-view as well as free-to-air channels. I was assured that my subscribed viewing would cease in a month and the last Direct Debit in February would be for less than usual and be the last. I made the mistake of  trusting that anything at all would happen. Nothing did, except I pulled the Sky card out of my box to see what I could watch. I never put it back in and I never kept a close eye on my bank account either.

On 23rd June 2013 (over a year later) I looked more closely at my bank account(!) and phoned Sky again and asked if they had a record of the conversation in January 2012? Yes they did! And guess what? The lady who dealt with me then didn't work there any more. My file was marked for cancellation but nothing had been done. Of course I was due a refund of all the Direct Debits they had erroneously kept taking but the amount was such that it would have to be rubber-stamped by a manager. She would be in touch by email, she said.

All sound good so far? It's all lies, of course, or at the very least Sky management is the type who expect loyalty from their staff but who return none. No email. No call. No letters. Until I took action. I gave up waiting and contacted my excellent  bank who were far more efficient. By 4.30 pm on the day I phoned them, all the Direct Debits from 13.1.12 to date were refunded under the terms of the Direct Debit Guarantee. About £400. A few days later, I receive a letter from Sky advising me that I will be receiving a refund of £70.02. WTF? And now the letters keep turning up. Almost daily now. Probably marketing?

I received unanswerable emails from Sky too because I cancelled the Direct Debit at the bank and they still send letters asking if I want to upgrade to sports and movies, but no apology for the woeful incompetence beyond the nice lady I spoke to in June who understood my predicament and seemed sympathetic. I am only guessing but "refer to a manager" is too often synonymous with  "pluck up courage to talk to senior coward" these days. Yet again (insert long story about mischievous employment agency) someone who ignores the  law but is too scared to face the public, fucks about with my money and doesn't think a truthful explanation or an apology is in order. When someone expects and has been told to expect a refund of something like £416 (16 x £26) and that this is only subject to management approval, the customer's expectation is that you can do simple sums and not behave like dicks. How did you arrive at £70? By being a dick. I don't know: you have not bothered to explain yourselves. In banking this behaviour was known as "trying it on". I had a boss who used to charge someone £100 when he deserved £25 and graciously refunded £50 when they complained: "just this once" and "as a gesture of goodwill" he would lie. Please note: my birth date does not precede the date of this article by one day.

When you read this, faceless cowards of management at Sky, let me make this quite clear: the only medium of communication I will accept from you now is through the comments boxes below. All letters and email from you will be assumed to be junk mail and destroyed, unopened. Oh, and DO NOT phone me under any circumstances. And you DO NOT have any authority to try and reclaim any excess refund from my bank. Be on notice my bank: do not believe Sky or their rascally bankers. If Sky think I owe them something they can try asking me nicely instead and  may get something from me once I have made a deduction of £20 for lost interest and £100 for my time incurred in having to put up with useless incompetence.

So, Sky, what have you to say for yourselves? I expect this to be good.

P.S. I am still waiting for my Freesat card.


  1. I have an EMAIL from Sky. That proves only they are inept (knew that). Here is my reply:

    To: Sky Help Centre
    Subject: Re: TV Escalation (####################)
    Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 09:35

    Well, John, you could write to this address as you have, but I don't hold out much hope that this reply will be read or will ever reach you. My previous attempts at emailing Sky have gone unanswered or bounce. I don't know why I am bothering to write this.

    Why are you unable to reply to my blog? Because you don't want to admit to providing the shittiest customer service experience on the face of Earth?

    "Service Excellence Consultant"

    Ha, ha, ha. Good luck with that.

    My blog and your records should make the situation crystal clear and your next actions obvious to an idiot.

    There is nothing to discuss. That would imply negotiation or explanation and neither is required.

    Reply on my blog. A child could manage that.

  2. Postscript email to Sky. Only just noticed the email to my address begins "Dear Mr Allan".

    I describe this sort of mistake on my blog elsewhere as a form of "Complaint Amplification" or "when your house is on fire, add petrol".

    (What's the emoticon for 'walks away slowly shaking head in disbelief'?)


  3. A letter from Sky has arrived. Addressed to 'Mr Timothy Allan'. I don't open other people's post so it has gone back, unopened.

    I have had just about enough of this incompetence.

  4. Update. I have received a waterfall of bumph from Sky since leaving, all trying to tempt me back with such huge discounts, I am even more angry at the level of their subscription.

    Nevertheless, they have passed a made up "debt" of £104 and passed it to their broadly hated debt collectors Wescot Credit Services Ltd who seem only to be able to use harassment to meet their goals. Such a deluge of messages and correspondence is taking up so much of my time, I am having to charge them £50 an item to handle it.

  5. Wescot Credit Services never paid my invoice of £350 but agreed to let the matter drop as they could not explain the amount. Unbelievably I have now received a demand for £40.67 from Pastdue Credit Solutions Ltd. They and anyone else who contacts me about fictional debts owing to Sky will be invoiced handling charges of £50 an hour (or part thereof).

  6. I have written to PastDue but though I would Tweet Sky to see if I can nip this in the bud. They asked me to phone. Thirty minutes later they admit they don't know how the £104 was arrived at or the £63 reduction to £40 or what that's for. Nor do they have the discretion to do anything about it. Useless. Another thirty minutes of my life wasted by Sky. Another £50 on their bill. I see I am going to have to sort this out myself once and for all. And Angela, I am sorry I got very cross but what do you expect? Your management doesn't trust you, me or anyone with any discretion no matter how much we all agree this is stupid.

  7. Please note: comments here need to be from genuine accounts over a year old and not sockpuppets of Sky nor adverts. Don't waste my time. Delete it yourself.

  8. Hi Tim

    I sent Sky an email 10 days ago notifying them that I want to cancel but haven't heard anything back. I also put it in writing and sent it recorded delivery signed for. I do have a signature and have printed it out. I have also cancelled my direct debit as it was a 12 month contract and all 12 payments have been taken. What I am worried about is they haven't responded to either letter or email. Do I have anything to worry about or should I just ignore them when they start sending me letters about a failed direct debit collection?

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