Pricewatch: Readers’ queries
This week’s concerns relate to difficulties cancelling a Sky subscription, and a broken phone bought through Meteor
Sky says the letter sent by the customer seeking to cancel his subscription ‘did not contain sufficient details’
Sky insists on hearing your voice to cancel a contract
A reader called Robert wanted to cancel his contract with Sky TV since the beginning of the year, but hadn’t managed to.
“I sent emails, and the reply was that an agent would be in contact. No contact. I sent a letter by post stating that the end of February 2014 was the last payment I would make.”
His letter was sent to the chief executive and copied to the customer complaints and customer care managers in Ireland. A month later he got a letter from Sky thanking him for his letter. It said, “to make a change to your Sky account we need to speak to you, as we don’t recommend providing security details in writing”.
The company then told him he owed them €36.75 to cover the month of March.
Robert says he has been “hounded by phone and post” by Sky’s debt collection agent, Emerald Isle Collections.
We contacted the company and were told that it regretted that our reader had experienced difficulties. It said the cancellation policy was included in the terms and conditions of the contract. “We need to verify the details by phone before processing the request. We believe this to be very important in order to ensure that the account holder is issuing the request.”
When our reader called in January “with the intention of cancelling, he was advised of a short waiting period to speak to the relevant team that handles cancellations, or alternatively to phone us back, but neither option was exercised and therefore the cancellation was not completed,” the statement says. “We received an email on February 3rd, to which we responded, advising the customer that we required further security details. We telephoned the customer on February 4th but there was no response. On February 6th, we emailed the customer.”
It then says the subsequent letter sent by the customer to Sky “did not contain sufficient details, so Sky wrote back requesting the customer to call us, which would enable us to verify the details in order to cancel. No call was received, which resulted in the customer’s account going into debt and being handled by our debt collection agency.”
The company tried to make contact with him again in June, with no success. “This week, we have managed to speak to the customer, resolving the case to his satisfaction, and have waived the debt amount as a goodwill gesture.”
The ‘battle’ to get a contract cancelled over the phone
Last week we carried an item about a reader’s long wait to get through to VHI when she pressed the “existing customer” option on the phone, and the very short wait when she selected “new customer”.
Paul McCrea was prompted to get in touch with us. Coincidentally, his story involves Sky. “Try contacting Sky to cancel a subscription,” he writes. “One will be told there is a 15-minute delay. However, if one presses the number for a new customer, one will get a service agent immediately. Then the battle begins to get that agent to cancel.” In his experience, he says, the agent “insists one has to wait 15 minutes” and will not allow cancellation by email.
He is of the opinion that this is a tactic many organisations employ “to make it as difficult as possible to cancel a subscription. There should be no impediment, in this technological age, to changing or cancelling any supplier’s contract by email, when relevant account numbers are quoted.”
In response, Sky said that customers who call to cancel “must speak to a member of the relevant team handling cancellations”. The company tries to “deal with customers as efficiently as possible and keep call waiting times to a minimum. Our average wait time is under two minutes, and we regret that Mr McCrea had a longer-than-average wait.”
Twenty-eight days later: a dud phone and a deadline
A reader called Leah bought a HTC Desire 610 from Meteor on July 20th.
“It stopped working on August 10th, when my family had arrived on our holidays. I logged the phone defect with Meteor through an international helpline number, as I am still within the 28-day warranty window,” she writes.
“I won’t be back in Ireland until August 23rd, and even though Meteor knows I have a dud phone, they have refused to replace it on my return, because, when I get back, the 28-day replacement warranty will have run out by a margin of a few days,” she says.
“This is absolutely not good enough. A phone that stops working within three weeks is defective, and no amount of repairs will change that. Meteor has been informed that the phone is defective, and as of now I am still within the warranty. I even offered to ship the phone back before the 28 days are up.”
We contacted Meteor, which then contacted our reader. She was told the company now understood she had made every effort to return the phone within the warranty period, and she was offered not only a replacement phone but an upgrade to the HTC One M8, a brand new model.
Our reader said she was “delighted” with the result.