Customer Service (Or The Lack Thereof)

Rant ahead.

So, I currently receive my television (what little I watch of it) through a certain satellite provider. Barring the two year disaster that was NTHell (now Virgin and probably far, far better), I’ve been a customer of this company for around fifteen years. I’ve never had a problem with them. But now, finding myself in a situation where I need to deal with them, I’m discovering that like so many other organisations in this woeful country, they don’t understand the importance of customer service.

Screw it, it’s Sky.

Some explanation.

I currently have the basic setup. We simply don’t watch enough TV to warrant anything else. We buy our films on DVD, we don’t really watch anything other than the odd programme here and there (or when Small-to-Medium Son is home, cartoons). But gradually, over the past twelve months, I’ve been increasingly losing quality with digital breakup to the point where there are now many channels I can’t watch at all. So I have the following options where Sky are concerned. Here they are for your consideration and in the same order I worked on them.

  1. Speak to Sky and explain the problem. The box is well out of warranty, but they will charge me £60+ for the joy of sending me an engineer. Who will tell me that I need to upgrade. Do I choose this option? No.
  2. Check the website and look at the cost of upgrading from the basic digibox to Sky+. Here’s the lowdown. £99 for a new box plus an extra £60 for setup. Investigate a little further and note that if you are upgrading from Sky+ to Sky+ HD, you have a self set-up option for £15. Note, with irritation, that a new customer will pay £49 for the box and £30 for set-up.
  3. Email Sky and ask what the feasibility of £99 + £15 self set-up would be given that I’m not a complete spanner and have been a customer for a while.
  4. Wait for three days.
  5. Receive email from Sky telling me that if I upgrade to Sky+ HD AND take the year’s HD films subscription, both the box AND set-up will be FREE! Call us NOW to activate this EXCITING opportunity.
  6. Politely email Sky back. Explain that thanks, but if I’d wanted Sky+ HD, I’d have asked for Sky+ HD. Would they mind very much addressing my original question. Am faintly irritated at having had my question completely squashed in the perceived opportunity to upsell.
  7. Receive email from Sky saying ‘oh. In that case, it’ll be £159 all in (£99 + £60 set up). Call us to organise.’
  8. Politely email Sky back again and point out customer longevity. Ask if there is anything that they are prepared to do to acknowledge loyalty. Am also curious to know if their policy is to screw over their loyal customers in favour of new business. Not in those words, but it is implication.

No reply as of yet. I’m presuming they will reply with a repeat of step 7. At which point I’m going to have no choice but to cancel my subscription. Because I’m sick of paying £24.50 per month to watch either crackly blocks or blue screens telling me that NO SATELLITE SIGNAL IS BEING RECEIVED. Of course, then I have to consider getting Freeview and if I do that, I believe I will have to fork out still MORE money to move the aerial as we currently  have an internal one. I can watch terrestial… right up until the moment they switch that off with the digital changeover.

It’s so irritating that this world has gotten to the stage where keeping customers is no longer important. That loyalty to a company and their services, despite the fact they’ve been shoddy for the past few months, is ignored and no incentive is offered to keep a customer. They know that they have a captive market in this area as we aren’t cabled and if we want a wider TV range, it has to be Sky. That gives them certain leverage because I can’t turn round and tell them I’m taking my business elsewhere. And at the end of the day, I’m just one customer. They’ll only lose £24.50 per month from me. Why should that matter to them?

It would be nice if they were prepared to consider my statement that as an existing customer, it’s little short of an insult that a new customer is offered the same product for half the price. Where is the incentive to stay? They’ve had £24.50 a month off me for the best part of fifteen years. But that means nothing to them. And I find that truly sad.

Well, they’ve got their chance to prove that they are more than just another faceless, uncaring company. I wonder if they’ll take it?

What bad experiences do you guys have with UK organisations?

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12 thoughts on “Customer Service (Or The Lack Thereof)

  1. AJ says:

    All that bitterness can’t be good fer ya 🙂

    Anyways all I can really say is cheer up. Perhaps good things are ’round the corner. /shrug /endMotivationalCrap

    That said, that is extremely retarded procedure. I can honestly say that I have never come across a situation like this.

    Fortunately, my experience with British services (of any kind) is limited to an idiotic Immigration Officer having the balls to insult me by suggesting I might be a terrorist because I am Indian (not in as many words though). FFS, that has never EVER happened to me in America, yet it happens in UK? The immigration officers in LA are the nicest bunch I have ever met, extremely professional people.

  2. Tim Kenyon says:

    I’ve had a myriad of bad experiences with companies, especially those with no loyalty policy. Lloyds Bank used to charge me a tenner every time they sent me a letter telling me I was overdrawn – I switched bank. Simply Computers sold me a duff PSU and took two weeks to fix it after telling me it would take only a day.

    The world is full of negative and idiotic business practices. My only advice would be to shop around and see what the best deal you can get it.

    On the other hand, could you not cancel your Sky subs? Then after a month or so call up and be a ‘new customer’?

  3. AJ says:

    I was thinking the same thing. Cancel current sub and (i am assuming the contract is either under your name or ben’s name) just get a new contract on spot?

  4. Rob P says:

    This is what happens every 12 months or so:

    1) I e-mail Sky and whine about any signal/set box problems I have and tell them that I want to quit, because a) I’m not prepared to pay for re-installation, b) Sky £24.50 package only gives slightly more watched channels over freeview (i.e. Sky 1, Atlantic, Discovery).

    2) Sky contact me and offer me a deal that involves paying more (like HD or Active). I refuse and the customer service person eventually offers me a free re-install. I can get away with this because I wouldn’t be hugely fussed if they turned round and just switched me off.

    It’s worth a try.

  5. Jay says:

    I work in Marketing and I can tell you that while Sales Directors hate to admit it, current customers are far more profitable that investing in trying to secure new ones. What many big companies fail to realise is that Brand Loyalty is better for the bottom line than transient new customers looking for a deal. It SHOULD all be about long-termism and the amount of money a customer will spend with your brand for many years.

  6. Tim Kenyon says:

    Jay – if only a certain miniatures company were so inclined towards long termism.

  7. Jay says:

    Tim – hmmm I’m not so sure that they aren’t. Their business model does involve the evolution of products and introduction of new products as a way or retaining customers longer term. The 5 year or so rules revision (for W40k) is one example. All existing players have to fork out for the latest shiny rule book – kerrrching. The introduction of codexes = more kerrching. Updating the model range etc. Take me as an example. I played RT and 2nd ED. until the mid 90s and then stopped. For a decade I did not spend any money on GW products. They had lost me as a customer – I occasionally walked passed a GW store and had a look at the window display but would never go in because it was “full of kids”. Then one day in a bookshop I noticed the BL section and fancied a bit of nostalgia so I picked up the Eisenhorn omnibus. I was hooked again and while I do not play the game I have purchased the 40k rulebook and all the codices (because I am a fluff junky) and have bought and read maybe 70 W40k novels (much to my wife’s amusement). So through product innovation (having a publishing arm and ensuring that the books are not all squarely aimed at teenage boys but have more substance) they now have a returned and valuable customer. The fact that GW do not actively market or advertise in a way means they are not spending lots of money trying to attract new customers but are instead focusing on product development to retain existing and build on the word of mouth generated by an exciting hobby.

  8. Sarah,

    SKY are tossers of the highest order. Call their bluff. If they don’t go for it then walk. Wait a while then sign on as a new customer.
    Just a thought…. people are always selling sky boxes on eBay. Take a look – they go for a bag of sugar.

    Oh, and incase you need a giggle, check out my recent post. I can’t take credit for it, but it epitomises exactly what you’re going through with customer service – and its bloody funny too.

  9. Well, on a whim, I picked up a Freeview box. It works beautifully. Sky have two more chances to get things right (including my surname, which they’ve got wrong on two emails so far) and then they go the journey…

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