The Sky saga (a.k.a. Sky sucks!)…

On May 11 I moved into a new flat (I moved to the flat next door and, leaving my router connected in the old flat, I could access my broadband service from the new one). On May 12 I went onto the Sky website to order the basic TV service, plus broadband and their phone service, including line rental. As my new flat has no phone line, I called the phone number Sky gave for such an eventuality. I discussed what I wanted, pointing out that I quite definitely had no phone line and specifically asked them to confirm that this wouldn’t be a problem. No, I was told, everything will be fine.

On the 16th my Sky dish was installed and, because I had no phone line, over which the dish would normally be configured (apparently), I had to pay £40 instead of the normal £15 for installation. The engineer spent a total of 15 minutes – he connected the Sky box, for which I had to provide a SCART extension as the poxy SCART lead was too short (pure luck I had one) – and then he buggered off. I am currently waiting for Sky to tell me how the fuck this represents £40 worth of engineer service!

I asked – delaying his mad dash for the door – when I could expect my broadband and phone services. In about 5 days – and then he was gone.

In 5 days what I actually got was a letter from Sky confirming my order – just the basic TV service, no mention of anything else. So I phoned Sky.

Have you ever done that? If not, my advice is not to. I spent over 5 minutes wandering through menu land before getting an incomprehensible Scotsman on the line (Sky are based in West Lothian). Now this always pisses me off – customer service staff should speak minimally-accented standard English, no matter what their nationality – if they can’t be understood, especially with the bleed-through noise from their colleagues in adjacent cubicles, what the hell is the point?

This guy was a close relative of Rab C Nesbitt, it seemed, and I got no more than one word in 3 (and that’s being generous), but the gist was that I can’t have broadband or phone without a phone line. I’d rather naively supposed that their entire network was run through their satellites – well, how the hell was I to know? They certainly don’t tell you.

So then I thought I’d borrow a friend’s PC and check out their website. Before I could do that I had to log in – their half-assed system had me typing in Captchas for almost 10 minutes (yes, they were accurately typed!), before one was accepted, at which point I just couldn’t be bothered going any further. I tend to judge organisations by their websites, and Sky failed, miserably, to impress me.

Anyway, I eventually spotted, at the foot of the afore-mentioned letter, in tiny type, a Customer Service phone number. So I called that, and was plunged once more into the horrors of Sky’s menus – not just one menu, but five or six of the buggers. Eventually I heard one that seemed close to what I wanted (nothing I was offered equated to “Where the hell’s my order?”), so I hit that button. “Please key in your phone number,” said a recorded voice (difficult one, that, not having one), so I waited, assuming the system would default to putting me through to a real live human (who, hopefully, I could understand!). Nope, it just kept on repeating itself and seem set to go on doing so indefinitely, so I hung up.

So, I’m back in the clutches of BT, locked into a 12-month contract, which is somewhere I really didn’t want to be, and having to pay £122.50 to have the dead line reconnected. That’s a bigger rip-off than the Sky engineer, but beggars can’t be choosers, sadly.

I will, though, be going back to Tiscali for my broadband service, as it worked perfectly without a single hitch during the year I had it. I’ll keep the Sky service for a year, until my 12 months with BT is up, then ditch them both and sign up with Tiscali again (or whatever it is by then), for the service I had previously, assuming new owners TalkTalk haven’t screwed up. In the meantime, I’ll go with Tiscali’s basic 8Mb broadband, rather than any of the offerings from BT.

I was a BT customer for almost a decade and, in all that time, their mail servers were hopelessly unreliable – I see no reason to suppose they’ve got any better in the year since I left BT. Then there’s the India-based customer support, a misnomer if ever there was one. They have a stock response to every problem, no matter what it is – it’s your fault.

On one supremely bizarre occasion, BT flashed a warning that their ever-fragile mail servers would be out of action for maintenance for an unspecified period. Since no mail is no mail, prior notice or not, I emailed customer “support” asking how long this was likely to be (I also pointed out that my enquiry was prompted by the message that they had posted on their portal). Even so, some Sub-Continental retard bounced perkily back telling me he was sorry I’d screwed up and he would now tell me how to fix the problems that I’d caused! That episode, as much as anything else, especially BT jacking up my Direct Debit, completely without justification or notification, drove me to dump them. If I had my way I’d have nothing to do with them at all, ever, but as I said, my new flat has no phone line, so I’m stuck with the bastards, at least for now.