Sky in breach of contract?

It’s an important question to ask, and one I feel compelled to share with you following my ongoing battle to receive the broadband service I signed up for – with Sky. I feel duped by their marketing, by their approach of doing a Sir Robert Armstrong – for our younger readers that means being “economical with the truth”, and a victim of their hard line approach to customer service. The final straw was when the lady at Sky’s customer service put the phone down on me last night when, after 30 of my time and my phone bill, I suggested that I would prefer it if the cancellation team would phone me – rather than me hang on for heavens knows how long for them to deign to take my call.

I’ve been a Sky TV customer for years, paying full whack for all the channels and I have to say Sky+ is bloody brilliant! Back in February I reviewed the costs of things – TV, telephone and broadband and looked at the deals available and decided to go with Sky for my phone and broadband as well – it seemed that it would a: save me money and b: increase my download capacity to 40Gigabytes. The changeover was very smooth, the new Sky router appeared and I installed it (shame it was only a wireless G and not N) and off we went!

My son was the first to really notice a problem, suddenly he started to have problems logging into and staying logged into X-Box Live. Then my wife started to complain that the Tesco’s online store kept hanging so I did a broadband speed check online – instead of the up to 1.5Meg promised in their letter I was experiencing up to 500k – the router actually says the line can deliver 1.8Meg! On one sunday afternoon I got a result of 24k – yes you read that right – 24k a speed slower than the old dial-up modems of the 1990’s.

…and so the battle began – I use the word “battle” as that is how it has felt. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve called to discuss the speed I’m getting, the hours I’ve spent on their customer services lines going through troubleshooting technical checks and even to the point of having an engineer arrive and check sockets, the line etc etc. All to no avail!

Yesterday things reached tipping point – for starters here’s some of the replies I got on twitter yesterday afternoon – “I understand how frustrating it is sorry we cant do anything to increase the speed. Ik” and “The package you have is subject to traffic management which would affect the speed at peak times. IK”

And then trying to download a film to my iTunes account last night at around 7.30pm it started off by telling me it would take 4 hours – this morning at 7am it still said 34 minutes!!

Well I lost the plot at 7.30pm last night and started a very interesting 30 minute experience with a nice lady in Scotland somewhere. The end of the call was her putting the phone down on me and to be fair to her I did talk over her a lot – but when all she’s doing is offering to go through – yep you guessed it “troubleshooting” – and given the history what do you expect of me? I’ve been reasonable and patient long enough – the time has come for action.

She has a script to follow, and when it gets tested, as it was by me she has to go and ask for assistance form a supervisor who gives her a really customer focussed message – tough shit the contract is the contract if you want out pay up!

Now if I was simply wishing to change broadband, and telephone provider on a whim I’d agree this is absolutely the right approach – but I’m not acting on a whim, there’s a great deal of history, of poor service, and what I (and I’ll warrant many others) consider to be an inability to deliver what was contracted and hence a breach of contract.

I’ve read all the “help” about when they will throttle throughput speeds and I understand that is what happens but the service, for which I am paying a handsome price is actually second rate and does not represent reasonable value for money and one would hope that a reasonable company would accept they are not delivering on their side of the bargain and agree to terminate the contract – but Sky won’t.

Believe me if there was an alternative supplier of TV, telephone and broadband I’d change tomorrow (sadly no BT Infinity nor cable in my area). I resent paying for crap service! But rest assured I will be reviewing my commitment to Sky – I will terminate my phone and broadband contract in February if not before. but in addition I will also be reviewing my Sky TV commitments – I’m sure the way they operate their packages may make it a challenge but as long as I can get their sports package I can always get FreeSat/Freeview to pick up the other channels that interest me – movies I can easily live without – it would cheaper to by the DVD or rent one from Apple than to continue.

So I will be fighting the inertia that exists to let things pass – Sky, your customer service has been so appalling that you deserve to be penalised. I may be one person with one voice but if you feel that breaching your contract with me is OK then I’m of the view that you should be held to task – publicly.

I reckon if we all re-evaluated what we pay Sky for and what we actually use we could put a significant dent in their earnings!

**UPDATED copy**
Well, well, well what serendiptitous timing(!) As reported on the BBC news website this very afternoon – From April next year, providers will no longer be able to advertise maximum speeds for net packages unless 10% of customers can actually get them. I encourage you to read the article –

I agree with Which – “Ofcom should step in where the advertising regulators have failed, and make sure consumers can’t be misled about the broadband service they’re paying for” – but I wonder if it’ll make any difference?

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