Sky’s the limit: Customer foiled as he tries to cancel broadband contract
Pricewatch: ‘Sky’s Hotel California policy’ taxes one man’s patience to the limit
Repeated calls to Sky failed to produce the desired response for the frustrated customer. Photograph: David Jones/PA
A reader named Paul Davy got in touch because he wanted us to know about what he called Sky’s Hotel California policy, a policy which, he says, means “you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave”.
He has spent much of the past 12 months trying to cancel his Sky broadband account to no avail so far and in his mail he promises a “quick” version of the story but – to be honest – it is not at all quick so you might want to settle in.
“I was approached by an eir salesman in May 2017 as they were installing fibre in our remote area of Co Galway and he advised that if we didn’t sign up with eir we’d be waiting more than two years for Sky fibre,” his story starts.
Davy says he found the salesman “a bit pushy”, and having had Sky TV for eight years and its broadband for around three years “albeit with miserable download speeds” he decided to contact Sky before he signed with eir.
I can still hear myself spelling that out as a condition of renewal and Sky reconfirming that if my neighbours have fibre I’ll have fibre through Sky
He did that on May 25th last year “and they confirmed I was out of contract but also advised that if my neighbours were getting fibre from eir then there was no reason that Sky couldn’t provide me with fibre – more or less rubbishing what the eir salesman had told me,” he says.
So he renewed his contract with Sky “on the clear understanding that what they were telling me was correct”, he says.
“I can still hear myself spelling that out as a condition of renewal and Sky reconfirming that if my neighbours have fibre I’ll have fibre through Sky. I was even willing to wait one or two months for the fibre.”
He never got his fibre. He called Sky “a few times” over the next few months, each time giving them a history of events, and each time he says he was given conflicting information.
Last September a Sky agent confirmed the company couldn’t provide fibre in his area “as eir had pulled in new lines to my neighbours and hadn’t released them yet to other providers. As I was running a home office on still miserable download speeds I cancelled Sky broadband and phone that day”, Davy says.
He was, however, persuaded to keep the TV package with the promise of a discount. Then he signed up for eir fibre and phone and the Sky agent confirmed that he would send the cancellation request to the relevant department.
He got his eir fibre installed a few days later “without any hassle”, and all was well. Then he realised Sky were still taking the full amount of direct debit out of his account when they should have only be charging him for his discounted TV package.
He contacted Sky again on October 6th. An agent confirmed his cancellation had not been processed but she said she would contact the Cancellation Department and ring him back that day. The agent did not call back that day but he missed a call from her the following day “and she left a message to say she’d call me the following Wednesday – four days later”.
The call came as promised. The agent said there would be an early disconnection charge as I was cancelling “in contract”. Davy disputed this and asked for transcripts of his calls with Sky to prove his case.
“The forms I was supposed to sign requesting the transcripts never arrived and I let it slip for a while as I was very busy in work and didn’t have time during the day to be still following this up,” he says.
Then in early January “with full direct debits still going out to Sky” he spoke to another agent and went through the story again.
“I also pointed out that I had an opportunity to cancel Sky in the meantime as they were increasing their broadband fees and I could have opted out but didn’t as I believed my cancellation request was going through at the time. He [the agent] said he’d send out the transcript request forms again and also agreed that I would be due a full refund if Sky agreed that I was correct that they hadn’t met their side of the contract.”
Time passed and he contacted Sky again as the transcript request form wanted him to submit £10 (sterling) when returning it. The company confirmed they’d sent out the wrong form and that he shouldn’t have to pay anything and that they would send out a new transcript form in the post.
“I finally got the transcripts in the post toward the end of February 2018 but it came in the form of 40 pages of every transaction and call in Excel format, a hard copy of emails sent to me and a CD Rom – hello – who still has a CD player on their laptop in this day and age? I mean Sky can reboot your TV from India so you think they could email me the call recordings? I also had to call Sky again as the form requested €5 this time – I was told that I was misinformed and that there was a €5 fee but if I paid it that Sky would credit me for same.”
Again Davy let it slip for a spell as he was very busy in work “and needed to source an old laptop/PC with a CD player. But when I finally did source one last weekend, the security ‘passphrase’ they emailed me separately to open the CD did not work. I’ll be contacting them yet again today advising of same, but either way I know I renewed in good faith on the basis that Sky could offer me fibre like eir.”
Apart from the efforts to get the transcripts he has also contacted Sky on numerous occasions to cancel his broadband and having been as polite as humanly possible all along, “on one occasion I finally lost it a little when pitted against an alpha male supervisor who had raised the tone of our conversation to a higher level, when I uttered the words 'get your head out of your ass for a minute' it was duly followed by 'I’m now terminating this call'. I mean I work in construction and that’s about the least vulgar thing you can say to someone in conversation,” he says.
“On another occasion I was told I could only cancel Sky exactly a month before the renewal date and not before. So I did ring Sky on 25th April 2018, someone in the Cancellation Department listened to my summary of the whole fiasco and confirmed that she’d process the cancellation herself, do a follow-up on the 14th May 2018 to make sure it went through and also confirmed when I asked the question that 'nothing can go wrong' with it this time”.
I haven’t heard anything from anyone in Sky since and am beginning to think that this is some kind of sick game
He never got a follow-up call or email from the Cancellation Department and the full direct debit went out again in May. So he contacted the company in early June 2018 “relayed my troubles to [an agent] who, when he saw the extensive call history on his screen, requested he take 5 or 10 minutes to read it all and call me back!"
“He did call back 10 minutes later and promised to sort things out within the Cancellation Department and call me back later that day. I haven’t heard anything from anyone in Sky since and am beginning to think that this is some kind of sick game that the Sky Cancellation Department play on people or maybe it’s just with me.”
He says what he would like is the cancellation of his broadband, a refund of his money, and “an official apology from Sky to acknowledge that you can’t treat people like this and you can’t continually give them misinformation depending on what operator they’re talking to”.
He also said he would like “compensation for the wasted hours on the phone where you’ve got to psych yourself up to make the call in the first place, go through their voice recorded options, utter the words “Cancel Broadband” for the umpteenth time when they ask you to clearly describe how they can help you today, relay your life story to another poor unfortunate Sky operator who you know sympathises with you but are only doing their job and probably have another 10 or 20 Paul Davys to listen to after your call finishes”.
We got in touch with the company and received the following statement.
“Having investigated the case highlighted we wish to apologise to the affected customer. We pride ourselves on providing customers with a high standard of customer service and acknowledge that the customer’s experience in this instance did not meet those standards. We have reached out to the customer and have resolved this matter.”