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My First Experience With Sky

Posted on 22nd Sep 2009 at 15:00 by Mark Mackay with 39 comments

Mark Mackay
Having recently moved into a shiny new flat I decided that it was time to get Sky TV. After learning that my flatmate and I could get Sky+ HD, a 16MB broadband connection with no download limit and a phone line with free line rental for a entire year, for just under £20 a month, each, we made the leap of faith and signed up.

It wasn’t long before the nightmare began. I'm cataloging the series of events I had with one of the UK's only premium (HD)TV providers.

Below is the first letter of complaint that I sent Sky. Helpfully, you’re only allowed to use 1000 characters, hence the shorthand.

"Hello I ordered Sky in June to have TV installed on July 6. Sky got my address wrong when sending out the activation card [it was originally given in correctly] so I had to wait 1 extra week. They came round, told me that to sort it properly they'd need the 'special heights' team. This costs £120. 1 more week. Special heights said the dish was fine. 1 week later the signal failed. Someone came round again to say special heights were needed AGAIN. 3 weeks. They fixed the dish and replaced the box which was broken. I was downgraded to the old Sky software. The new box loses audio completely until I flick through the inputs until i get back to HDMI. It's also broken. Amongst these shambles I learned that my phone line installation was cancelled. After phoning up I was told I would have to wait a further 2-3 weeks for the phone line. So far, your service has been appalling, and has cost me a lot of time and money not to mention frustration."

My First Experience With Sky

After a little to-ing and fro-ing, Sky eventually reimbursed me £56 for my troubles. This seems like a lot, but after deducting over a month of services that I never received, it’s not much considering the problems that were caused.

However Sky never got back to me about the broken box and didn’t send out new firmware after ours was downgraded. They also denied further compensation despite the fact I had to take four days off work to get Sky TV organised.

After we eventually got our line ‘activated’ (inverted commas are used here as it didn’t actually work), I spoke to Sky and learned that I was no longer getting a year’s free line rental as the sales person promised when I coughed up £75 for my initial payment. I then had to email them with the details so they could trawl through the telephone conversations to confirm that they did actually offer me this. Thankfully this problem was sorted out with relative ease, but what if I hadn’t checked my bills or spoken to Sky? I would have been almost £100 out of pocket through no fault of my own by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better. After doing basic trouble shooting on my telephone line it became apparent that there was a bigger problem at hand. After several hours of my free time (and money, as I had to use my mobile due to my phoneline still not working) on the phone to Sky, re-explaining things to staff that didn’t have any previous record of the shenanigans so far, and waiting another two weeks or so without an internet connection, I sent a third complaint to Sky. Sky replied to say it had already given me compensation for my problems, but I'd made it clear this further complaint for was an entirely separate batch of continuing issues. I’ve emailed Sky again to explaining this, and am still awaiting a reply.

This whole ordeal started on the 6th July and it’s now late September. I’m still messing around with this company instead of enjoying my service. Our Sky box doesn’t work 100% though we’ve finally had working broadband for a few days now. (semi-)Hurrah!

I can't understand how Sky can absolutely falter at every-possible-stage of the installation and trouble shooting, in what can only be described as the most epic failure in customer service I have ever received. As you can imagine, the amount of time and stress the whole ordeal has cost me and my housemate is considerable to say the least because the last thing you want to do when getting home is to chase up an ongoing problem for months on end. It’s something I’d thought I’d share with you guys in the hope that it may save you going through the same nightmare.

/endrant

Am I alone in this? Have others had the same issues or has your service from Sky been better? Let me know!

39 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Krikkit 22nd September 2009, 15:09 Quote
Ouch.

I think this kind of thing is inherent in all the big companies really - customer service is the first thing to go down the toilet as a company grows, I'm sure there's a list as long as my arm of companies that do this kind of crap.
Combinho 22nd September 2009, 15:13 Quote
I've only ever had to use their customer service once to get a dead box replaced, and it was no issue. Sounds like you've been very unlucky. But the customer service could definately have been handled a lot better. The problem is, they can do this to people, but not lose too many customers, as they have a virtual monopoly.:(
whisperwolf 22nd September 2009, 15:16 Quote
I take it that Sky still have the installation teams that won't go above the first floor, will not go into lofts, infact, will refuse to install any thing other than a first floor dish and drilling through the living room wall? When we had the block of flats in my development fitted with dishes everything had to be done by external contractors as Sky refused to work in the loft spaces due to health and safety issues?.
CrapBag 22nd September 2009, 15:29 Quote
Hmm was thinking about changing to sky from TalkTalk as they seem to be screwing me, price wise on everything now. Used to be cheap to start with and the promise of free broadband never surfaced.

The idea of TV, telephone and broadband all on the one bill and cheaper was appealing.

Gonna have to think about this now :(
Blademrk 22nd September 2009, 15:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by whisperwolf
I take it that Sky still have the installation teams that won't go above the first floor
I don't see the point of this policy. Sky fit Satelite dishes. 99% of homes would require them to fit a dish as high up as possible (i.e. 1st floor or higher) :(.
DraigUK 22nd September 2009, 15:41 Quote
About 2 years ago I had really, really bad service from Sky regarding the broadband service. I have had the TV with them for many years and never had any problems and the TV service has always been excellent, which was the main reason I went broadband with them. At the time the LLU service was unavailable, so I had the £5 a month Connect package.

I cannot describe in detail (because there was so many issues over a period of months) all the problems I had with them. However it started when I gave them my MAC code from my previous ISP. They agreed on a day for it to be transferred, letters were received confirming the day. The day came, and my internet was switched off. However as they insist on you using their own router, it had not arrived. I was told it was only ordered that day, instead of beforehand, so that was 3 days without internet waiting for it to arrive, instead of about 2 hours loss of internet as told by sales. Reason? They don't bother to send out your router until the day you switch to them. Idiots. That was just the start of a few months of many and varied troubles. it culminated in an email to rupert murdoch, and his people not only arranged for decent compensation, but also my MAC code and release from the 12 month contract.

Fast forward to today. My exchange is now LLU ready, and I have ordered the Sky broadband again at £20 a month for unlimited up to 20mb download speed. I am expecting about 14mb. So far, so good. The router arrived several days ago, with letter and information. Activation is for today, so should be ready when I get home from work. We shall see. Setting aside the 10 day "line training" period, I will let you know how it goes for me, and if it goes badly Mr Murdoch will be getting another email from me.

I have ZERO confidence in their broadband customer service, which going on past experience was worse than useless, sent me on a global tour of Asia each time, sometimes ending up back in Scotland, and it was a case of broken callback promise, one after another and (literally) weeks of no internet access randomly, with an "urgent" callback to me sometimes happening 3 days later.

I just hope it all works this time around, and I don't end up having to phone their technical "support".

Will update soon!

;)
Jack_Pepsi 22nd September 2009, 15:44 Quote
WOW!

That is freaking harsh - especially as Sky have been nothing but fantastic! Not to rub it in. Whenever a problem has arisen with the package I bought my parents, Sky have been prompt and professional - repairing the issue immediately. Obviously I can't blame Sky for BT being retarded and crippling my connection speed & I don't mean to rub it in your face that I've received fantastic quality of service.

Still, you've done what most people don't and shout the hell up when such awful issues arise.

I can still relate to receiving such a pathetic service - T-Mobile. I've never felt so much pent up aggression against a company, but they take the biscuit.

Ranting aside - let's look at the positive - you've got an net connection, that means you should check out my community, and finally play some games.

\m/
thehippoz 22nd September 2009, 15:56 Quote
sounds like a little overnight company overstretched or bad management.. here we can file a claim with the ftc and they look into it- if it happens on a wide scale they actually have the ability to shut them down
Paradigm Shifter 22nd September 2009, 15:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack_Pepsi
I can still relate to receiving such a pathetic service - T-Mobile. I've never felt so much pent up aggression against a company, but they take the biscuit.

My experiences of T-Mobile have been less than stellar in the last year, too. :(

My parents switched from Virgin Media to Sky as they could get Sky+HD, phone and internet for less than the cost of the Virgin TV (without phone or internet...) with the package deal Sky was running. So far the only complaint has been that despite BT installing a brand new phone line (that they tested out and "assure" us should be able to work at at least 8Mbps) for the internet, the Sky broadband is barely hitting 2.5Mbps.

Oh, and the Sky+HD box has a tendency to crash every few days, although it's not yet got so bad as Virgin, which we usually had to reboot at least twice a day.
Dosvedagna 22nd September 2009, 16:12 Quote
You should report this story to the office of telecommunication ombudsman - theyll act as a mediator for you in settling financial disputes with companies. Personally i feel sky has treated you outrageously, and the level of customer services, for the inflated prices we are expected to pay by large companies these days is nothing short of ludicrous!

You should report these glorified robbers and teach them a lesson!
death_munky 22nd September 2009, 16:13 Quote
I had really terrible problems with Virgin Media and their numbskulls in customer service to the point where i gave up a 20+mb broadband connection over fibre-optic to go for Sky and <2mb over copper wire. Totallly the right decision in my mind as after i told sky why i left VM they gave me free top package broadband for 6 months, a free sky+ box, free sky sports for 4 months and waived the installation fee. That's well over £400 for slagging off their competitor and a bit of negotiation!
DraigUK 22nd September 2009, 16:17 Quote
The ombudsman won't even look at your case until 6 months have passed. (just FYI unless things have changed from my last run in with Sky - I checked and was willing to do it at the time).

I would email the main man murdoch. I know he doesn't read them, but someone with clout does, because as described above my issues were sorted out with compensation, (credited to my TV bill) a MAC code and dismissal of the contract within 48 hours of sending it.
kosch 22nd September 2009, 16:21 Quote
They are quite cheeky sky when I signed up for the TV/ADSL package a year ago I specifically asked the person on the phone 5 times if I could use my own router and he said it wouldnt be a problem. Low and behold when I came to set it up it was.

Luckily there is a website that explains how to extract your adsl user/pass so you can use your own router. I really didnt like the idea of sky being able to manage my router!
Psytek 22nd September 2009, 16:31 Quote
This is why I don't have a land line, steal my TV and only have cable broadband.
Dosvedagna 22nd September 2009, 16:34 Quote
i find it daft that the sky official website is advertising the service described above for 18.50 a month on this page haha...

and draiguk is quite right, itd be drawn out to go through an ombudsman, but its an option if all else did fail, but its definately worth aiming higher in the organisation with a well worded email first, sound advice.

I personally was having a nightmare of a time with BT broadband, and was using sky tv in conjunction ( which i had relatively no issues with), but after all the hassle i switched service providers to virgin , for the whole deal, and its been perfect since installation 4 months ago.

it seems to me that sometimes its a roll of the dice with service providers
(considering other stories here describe sky as brilliant and virgin as naff =P)
TSR2 22nd September 2009, 17:30 Quote
As long as all the companies have equally awful service, which they do, you can't get anything better. Do you think they'll treat you better now they realise its on t'internet?
CardJoe 22nd September 2009, 17:43 Quote
You've sent them this link via upper management, right? They know you work for one of the biggest technology publishers in the country, right?

Actually, sod the subtlety. Let's you and me just go down and egg their HQ, yeah?

Also, this is why I don't use Sky and why my family and friends cancelled their subscriptions.
Cptn-Inafinus 22nd September 2009, 18:33 Quote
I have had nothing but terrible experiences again and again with Sky. We gave up two years ago now when I think about it...
MajorTom 22nd September 2009, 18:34 Quote
Damn that is harsh! I hear nightmare stories about Sky a lot.

I can't recommend "Be There" enough on the other hand.
delriogw 22nd September 2009, 18:48 Quote
we've had sky for about 20 years (give or take) and i can safely say we've NEVER had a problem with them.

people tend to hear nightmare stories because how many people are going to sit on the net and right a blog/report about how wonderful an experience they've had with a big corporation. this only happens when the company has such a bad reputation that anything good comes as a surprise.

we've had the HD service for a few years now, and have only had to make one phone call to sky about a problem... the box/signal or something was freezing up. whilst we were on the phone with them, they rebooted our system and it works fine.

heck we don't even have the thing off at night like you're theoretically supposed to.
Cupboard 22nd September 2009, 22:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TSR2
As long as all the companies have equally awful service, which they do, you can't get anything better. Do you think they'll treat you better now they realise its on t'internet?

It can hardly get much worse can it?
At least looking on the bright side you should be able to get a decent net connection eventually :)
mi1ez 23rd September 2009, 00:37 Quote
Sky, BT, O2. So many companies know that their poor service won't lose as many customers as they gain with a decent ad campaign.
bobwya 23rd September 2009, 01:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
Sky, BT, O2. So many companies know that their poor service won't lose as many customers as they gain with a decent ad campaign.

Nah... My experience of O2/ Be has been very positive. Luvin my 15/1 Mbit connection!! Compared to my previous experience of ISPs (Nildram, Plusnet, Bulldog/ C&W) O2 have been very efficient and actually have English speaking telephone support!!

As for Sky it sounds to me like the blog author would be wanting to take a Small Claims action against them... I certainly would!!

Bob
dolphin-promotions 23rd September 2009, 08:50 Quote
Yeah I am a fan of Be too. Use it at work and used it at my old house. Luckily I live near the exchange so I get around 22Mb. Also at work I am on the pro service and you get 2.5Mb upload which (i think) is more than any other ADSL or Cable service (at least in my area).

I also download quite a lot and I have never had an issue with traffic management as the service is supposed to be unlimited.

Just moved into a new house and they previously had Virgin so I thought what the hell and have just gone with them. So far my experience has been positive. They are not cheap but I am on the 50Mb connection which is about £35 just by itself. One concern is that they will implement traffic management sooner or later (on the 50MB lines) but I think I can work around it by keeping any large downloads for night-time.
l3v1ck 23rd September 2009, 09:52 Quote
Freeview. It's the way forward.
skunkmunkey 23rd September 2009, 10:40 Quote
Ive had no probs with Sky but my bill comes in at £67 for phone, 8mb and HD with movies (no sport) which is pretty damn extorionate. I cant get half the freeview channels as I live in a really poor signal area and I hate BT so no BT vision for me :(
phuzz 23rd September 2009, 10:55 Quote
Sounds like our experiences with SkyHD, partly due to a crap installation (only one aerial works), but we've had constant problems, information will only be displayed on the current channel (want to know what episode of [tv show] that is? You have to change to the channel and hit 'i' first). It regularly can't pick up any schedules at all (solution: unplug the power).
This month it has decided that it no longer likes our viewing card so we're stuck with freeview, since this is the second time this has happened Sky are saying it's the boxes fault, which apparently isn't their problem (despite the box being ~6months old), but we should go direct to the installers (FutureTV in Bristol), guess who they say is responsible?
So we're stuck with a Sky+HD box that only does freeview, and sky still get paid.

Thank **** our internet is with Be* is all I can say.
Plastic_Manc 23rd September 2009, 14:34 Quote
Have to say that my experiences with Sky have been excellent. Came and installed it when agreed and have dealt with any problems swiftly. The best bit was being able to take my line rental over to them so I didn't have to use the god awful BT anymore.
skunkmunkey 23rd September 2009, 22:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
Sounds like our experiences with SkyHD, partly due to a crap installation (only one aerial works), but we've had constant problems, information will only be displayed on the current channel (want to know what episode of [tv show] that is? You have to change to the channel and hit 'i' first). It regularly can't pick up any schedules at all (solution: unplug the power).
This month it has decided that it no longer likes our viewing card so we're stuck with freeview, since this is the second time this has happened Sky are saying it's the boxes fault, which apparently isn't their problem (despite the box being ~6months old), but we should go direct to the installers (FutureTV in Bristol), guess who they say is responsible?
So we're stuck with a Sky+HD box that only does freeview, and sky still get paid.

Thank **** our internet is with Be* is all I can say.

that happened to me with my sky+, i had had it for 13 months. I found a letter you can write to mr Murdoch, within 3 days I had an engineer booked to come out and replace it. I have a copy of it i can send you if you pm me your email address.
DeathAwaitsU 23rd September 2009, 22:37 Quote
Go with virgin dude, they rock :D
(sky really does suck, ive used both and virgin>sky :D)
kenco_uk 23rd September 2009, 23:15 Quote
Thankfully, I've not had much dealings with Sky customer service. The SkyHD box I've had to up the caps on the psu as the caps started leaking. It needs a power cycle now and again (I reckon it's with each update, it either powers on and freezes/becomes unresponsive after a few minutes or stays in standby). Broadband has been fine though. Went with 8MB at first, went to 16 (should be on 20 shortly, apparently). New viewing cards (on my third) have never caused problems. Because there was an existing dish, the engineer's visits (once for the original Sky box, then again to put a quad lnb on and and extra cable in for SkyHD) have never been any trouble. I don't think either checked the dish alignment though and the signal strength, whilst never becoming a problem, isn't high (I get higher signals on a 40cm camping setup).
Madness_3d 24th September 2009, 09:13 Quote
Waited 6 months for our uncapped 16mb sky broadband to be put in, all the time while they were charging us the £10 a month for it. We had a BOOK to log all the telephone calls to various people in a faraway land. We went round and round in circles and then eventually spoke to a nice compassionate guy who just looked at it from there end and flicked a switch and poof! An 8Mb connection... Ah well can't complain. Although my friend has been hacking his neighbours 50Mb BrdBnd for over a month now. Naughty naughty
stoff3r 24th September 2009, 13:11 Quote
Do you guys still have to struggle with download limits? We went away with that evil years ago...
DraigUK 24th September 2009, 13:59 Quote
Update for you all, as promised.

Got home from work Tuesday, unplugged my own router, plugged the Sky one in, connected first time no problems at all, and also got the laptop up and running wirelessly with no problems at all.

Still in the 10 day training period, and first time connected at 3.5mb download speed. No big deal, at least it worked, but it was about half of what I had on the old 8mb service from Newnet.

Today it was still at 3.5mb, so as I have today off from work I thought I would face the nightmare of calling Sky and see if they would do anything to help.

I called them, the phone was answered in 3 rings by a very pleasant lady named Lisa. Obviously UK based, and working from Scotland judging by her slight accent. Result!!!

I explained the situation to her, fully expecting her to fob me off with the "give it 10 days" routine.

Couldn't have been more wrong. Not only did she say she would try and help, but that she would make adjustments to the line so I would see the internet lose connection while she was doing this. It might take her some minutes, so she offered to call me back once she had finished.

"Oh god, here we go again, with the callbacks, I will never hear from her again" I thought to myself. Inwardly sighing I thanked her and hung up, after all she did sound nice and helpful.

Less than 10 minutes later, the phone is ringing and it is Lisa, informing me she has made some changes and the internet should be back on now and for me to try a speedtest and see what happens, bearing in mind it is still in the 10 day training period, and speeds can go up a bit more.

I nearly fell over.

Your current bandwidth reading is:9.50 Mbps

which means you can download at 1.19 MB/sec. from our servers.


So, despite every single grain in my body dreading this switch over, so far Sky have delivered everything they said they would, I have phoned the tech support line and actually spoken to someone who was willing to help, and they made and kept a promised callback to me, with a very postive result.

Well done Sky. ;) (and thankyou Lisa)
DraigUK 24th September 2009, 23:27 Quote
In all fairness, it was no fluke :-

9.55 Mbps - which means you can download at 1.19 MB/sec. from our servers.


Good night all from a very (so far) happy Sky broadband customer!

(Never thought the day would come when I said those words)
DraigUK 24th September 2009, 23:29 Quote
Speed Test Results
Date 24/09/09 23:28:35
Speed Down 12384.76 Kbps ( 12.1 Mbps )
Speed Up 858.90 Kbps ( 0.8 Mbps )
Port 8095
Server speedtest1.thinkbroadband.com
Zoon 25th September 2009, 10:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzz
Sky are saying it's the boxes fault, which apparently isn't their problem (despite the box being ~6months old), but we should go direct to the installers (FutureTV in Bristol), guess who they say is responsible?
Given you had the install done by FutureTV, I'm guessing you live in a flat, as they do the rooftop dishes in most of the flats in Bristol (guess where I live?).

Sky are responsible for the set top box - I know this as my HD box was recalled and replaced by Sky.

FutureTV are responsible for the internal wiring to dish, as they installed that and set that up.

This may not help you sort it out but equally it may.

Going back closer to the main topic, used to live with my parents and had Sky, and Sky+ later on, for about 4 years. Was quite happy with the service and reliability. Generally every set top box I've had needed a reboot once a month or so.

Since moving to Bristol, I had Virgin V+ with cable modem (2 for £20 with a TV package upgrade and the £10 charge for V+) when V+ pretty much came out. I liked the fact you could record 2 and watch a third live program; with Sky+ or HD you can only record 2 and watch a recording. The internet was OK, stable enough. But V+ was a disappointment, generally being unstable and requiring a hard reset several times a week. And it was tucked in the back of a display stand, annoyingly.

I eventually bought an off-net flat, so went with SkyHD on a half price for 12 months deal. Which they cocked up, and after chasing them, I got a credit for 6 months of free service. Not quite the same thing, as I gotta pay full price for the other 6 :(

To summarise: I've tried both and V+ is crap IMO. I'll stick with rebooting my SkyHD box once a month instead of several times a week for V+.
BLC 27th September 2009, 20:37 Quote
This is why I like Virgin Media. When we moved into the current flat and set up Virgin Media broadband, all they had to do was push a button at their end. I had the equipment the next day and was up and running straight away.

Haven't bothered with their TV package, as we don't watch much TV any more and we haven't bothered with a landline as we'd have no use for it.

I do have to power cycle the router every now and then, but that's because the supplied equipment is a pile of cack - I have plans to change that however, possibly using one of these little beauties: http://linitx.com/viewcategory.php?catid=180&pp=176,180
tumblebomb 29th September 2009, 22:19 Quote
Well my experience with Sky wasn't that bad. A couple of little niggles: The guy doing the installation gave my mum attitude when having to wait 15mins for my dad to get back so he could talk o the guy. The crimp connectors he made for the phone are completely pants, they're almost falling off! I'm gonna have to redo it before they can use the pay per view.
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