How to lose customers in 15 months
We’ve been Sky subscribers since February 2008. We moved to Sky because the reception from Freeview was (and still is) frankly appalling – it was great for many months during 2007…then had a bad period after summer 2007…then was great over Christmas 2007…then it was plain useless in January 2008. Naturally I tried a few options: a new aerial, checked the transmitter information and tried a different receiver unit. Nothing worked well enough to rely on. Sky seemed to be the solution to our problems. However it wasn’t without sacrifice, or so I thought…
The sacrifice: I was paying Zen Internet £29.99 per month for their 0.5MB broadband package – yes, that was perhaps a tad expensive, however it just worked, perfectly. After doing my sums, it looked like I could get Sky TV for £16 per month, plus £5 for their “Mid” broadband package (offering a 40GB per month cap). Add in a couple of “mixes” for a £1 a pop and I was up at £23 per month. The apparent win: TV and Internet for a £6.99 per month saving. What could go wrong?
Indeed, what could go wrong? Broadband speeds had increased to from 0.5MB up to 2MB+, a win! And all those Sky TV channels too, a huge win! And more episodes of Star Trek than I’ll ever have time to watch, huge win, for me at least! However, the winning was short-lived. The broadband connection has suffered from a lot of downtime – that green Skype icon went grey all too often. I had no such problems with Zen Internet. The TV subscription wasn’t without its problems too, as we’ll see later in this rant.
Well, in November 2009 Sky wrote to me advising that the price of their Broadband Mid package was to double. The cost was £5, it was going up to £10. I hadn’t even been with them a full nine months and they hit me with a price rise of 100%. Utterly scandalous. However, in the grand scheme of things, and this is something that Sky presumably knew, £10 is still reasonably good value for a 40GB monthly package. I did complain to Mark Anderson (Mark.Anderson@bskyb.com) – granted I did get an e-mail back from some sort of ‘escalated help desk’, but it rather lamely asked me for my postal address.
Sent: Tue 02/12/2008 21:49
Dear Mr Anderson
Thank you for your letter of November 2008 advising me of a £5 or 100% rise in the cost of Sky Broadband.
I realise that £5 is very competitive and that was one of the two reasons we switched to your TV and Broadband services.
However, in the 10 months that we’ve been customers, the cost of the TV service has risen and now the cost of the broadband provision is rising.
Further, I record a lot of Star Trek on the Sky+ unit, however it won’t let me use the COPY option to move the episodes to DVD – because 80GB of personal space is not nearly enough. With no means of recording the episodes for watching later, it really means I personally don’t have much use for the Sky+ box…I don’t have time to watch what I’ve recorded and I can’t move the recorded content to DVD overnight…there is no point in recording anything.
If memory serves me, it’s a 12 month contract that I’m signed up for. Sending out a 100% price hike notification at this stage in the contract is just plain crazy.
Please be advised that I will be re-considering my options at the end of January 2009…you would be surprised how many friends and colleagues are telling me how good FreeSat is…Humax do wonderful HDD recorders too…
…and I’ve been chatting to other Sky “Mid” users, they haven’t received their 100% price hike notification yet…I do hope that you’ve not been selective about who is being subjected to the price hike?
To make matters worse, during November 2008 there was the great copy protection fiasco, which severely limited my use of the Sky+ service. I was not at all happy about that, so much so, The Guardian picked up on it and quoted a large chunk of that blog entry.
Last week, at the end of June 2009, Sky’s Mark Anderson wrote to me again. This time he was advising of ANOTHER price hike. In a nutshell, my Sky TV subscription was about to rise, making a total of £30 per month. Again, a scandalous mid-contract price rise. Of secondary concern, the font size used in Sky letters is very small – I can still read it with ease, however I’m sure that some subscribers might struggle. The letter itself makes no mention what changes to expect, but refers to an “enclosed leaflet”. Clever. Very clever. And utterly scandalous.
The leaflet that accompanied the letter was titled: “Sky Broadband now even better”, “All for the same low price”. Here’s a snapshot of what it looked like:
Looks like it’s just a re-branding, nothing to worry about…
…until you look closer. The 40GB monthly cap Sky Mid package is being re-branded to Everyday…with a monthly cap of 10GB.
It has something to do with “bring the usage allowance in line with what the majority of customers actually use”…HELLO? Granted Sky rather wisely included a paragraph stating that we could cancel the broadband portion of the contract without charge (well, thanks for that, from the company who raise their prices mid-contract). I am an individual, I do not like be grouped into a pot and treated like the “majority of customers”. I chose the 40GB package for a reason: it was ideal for my needs. Sky, you have moved the goal posts, changed the size of the nets and made the pitch four times wider at your end. Have I told you that this is scandalous? Utterly scandalous.
[UPDATE 07/07/2007 – after checking out the speed test here: http://www.skyuser.co.uk/speedtester/, it turns out I’m not even getting the average speeds for my package. Yet “more for less”.]
Given my distance from the BT exchange, it’s unlikely I’ll ever see more than 2700Kbps (via http://www.broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk/) download and 160Kbps upload speeds. Therefore, the other so-called upgrades do not appeal or apply to me.
So now I am paying 30% more than I was 15 months ago FOR LESS. A lot less as it happens: where did Sky channel 795 go? I’m trying to learn Spanish and may well have chosen to pay the extra £1 per month just for a single channel…however it has vanished from the channel line up. Scandalous, utterly scandalous. “Paying more for less”, that should be Sky’s tag line: I’m not the first person to say this, but Mark, I’m sorry to say this: you’re charlatans. [Update 06/07/2009 – Channel 795 has reappeared. However, let’s not forget this thing called Sky Anytime – it takes up 80GB of my 160GB of space, it records channels that I cannot get with my subscription: more “getting less”]
“Sky Believe in better” – I will be switching broadband provider as soon as possible and will be reconsidering our TV options too – that is something you can put money on, you had better believe it. FreeSat and Freeview may cost me upfront, but at least they don’t demand money downstream. I’ll be ‘phoning 08705 515 515 to request my MAC key next week.
Sky: Paying more for less.