Monday, 26 January 2009
The story so far...Sky decides to charge £5 a month for its previously free base broadband. It's a very slow, capped service, so we call Sky and ask for a MAC. The customer services operator decides to cancel the broadband instead. When asked to transfer the call to a manager he hangs up. Now we'll have to wait until Sky remove their service before any new provider can get onto our line. Under regulator OFCOM's rules Sky must provide a MAC to all customers who ask.
After a brief discussion about this fiasco my partner decides dealing with Sky's off-shore call centre is a hassle she can live without, so decides to cancel her entire subscription.
I telephone and ask about the status of the broadband.
'Cancelled' is Barry's reply. This time I'm speaking to a UK based customer services operator. 'Can you provide a MAC?'
'Unfortunately no, not if the cancellation process has started'.
In that case can you cancel our entire contract.
'I'll have to transfer your call to another department'.
I've researched this scenario and I know I'll be put through to 'customer retentions'. It's their job to dissuade customers from leaving. Call handlers have set options they can offer, including upgraded packages and credits. We plan to cancel whatever they offer, but I'm interested to see what Sky think their mistake - a breach of the OFCOM rules - is worth.
Laura says she'll see what she can do to help. She announces that she can order a MAC and we'll have it in 72 hours, she gives me a case reference. She apologises for the errors made yesterday and says my call appears to have been handled by an 'outsourced' agent. She'll report this because, yes, it is a breach of the Ofcom code. Its an isolated incident, all staff know the procedure.
'Er, except Barry doesn't. I just spoke to him and he said nothing could be done to rectify the error. But you've just done it.'
'I'm sorry about that, but we'd like to make amends to you. I see you have the standard box and family pack.'
In December Sky was offering new customers a free Sky+ box, free installation and £50 in M&S vouchers to join. So I calculate it costs Sky almost £200 to win a new subscriber.
Laura continued 'How about Sky+?'
Sky also offers free or reduced cost Sky+ boxes to people who threaten to leave. Accepting their offer usually ties you into a new 12 month minimum term contract.
'We can't get Sky+ here, we share a dish.'
'Oh. Do you have a BT telephone line?'
I've also read Sky is giving free line rental worth £10 a month to some customers who agree to switch their phone service to Sky.
'We don't want to buy any more services from Sky after our experience with your call centre yesterday and today I'm afraid.'
'Well to make amends I can credit your account with £10.'
'Did you say £10?'
Sky has broken OFCOM's rules. Their apology is worth a tenner.
'We'd like to cancel please.'
'I might be able to do a bit better, what would you like?'
'You'll have to do a lot better than £10. Six months free subscription might make amends.'
'I can't do that, but I can credit your account £30.'
'In which case will you cancel our subscription please.'
By now I've been on the phone to Sky trying to cancel for 33 minutes. By the time Laura has verified all this again with my partner (the account holder) we've spent 44 minutes on the phone to Sky. At last its over. We've given 30 days notice. Bye Bye Sky. Hooray no more irritating calls to off-shore call centres and poorly trained staff who don't know what they're talking about.
When I posted last week about Sky remotely reprogramming our set-top box to switch off, cancelling Sky didn't even occur to us. But after a 23% price increase, 40 minutes to a call centre in India and 2 terminated calls we just couldn't take any more. Funny thing is we used to pay £21.50 a month to be treated like this.
Let's hope that MAC comes through...