I've had the misfortune of dealing with a number of stupefyingly incompetent and not-give-a-s**t companies, but Sky… they are in a league of their own.
Tempted by the possibility of getting some M&S vouchers, I called them up to see if I could get a better deal than I get with Virgin.
I was on the phone with a seemingly helpful operator, and after talking a while I got a package which wouldn’t save me money, but it would get me quite a bit more for my money.
All seemed fine, really fine – they’d even managed to book installation on a day I was already planning on taking off. Everything seemed perfect. Seemed.
A day later I receive a text message. It asks me to call Sky because there’s a problem with my order. So I phone them to find out what’s going on. That's when the fun began.
Virgin don't like to give up their phone numbers - to get Sky I need a BT line, and with that a brand new number. That's fine with me, but there might be a charge. Naturally I wasn't keen on that, but Sky can waiver the charge, and I get transferred to someone who can apparently do that for me.
Except that I’m not transferred to someone who can sort that out for me. I get transferred to someone who doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
3 transfers later, I finally speak to a woman who says she can sort it out, but she would need to get someone to call me back as she’s not authorised to put through the transaction. I will hear back from them tomorrow at the latest.
Did they call me back? No they did not. A week goes by and I call up for a second time. A man explains the problem to me again but this time the cost of correcting it has now gone up by £40.
He apologises and says Sky will pay for it, but again, he will have to get someone else to process the transaction as he’s not authorised to do it. Someone will have to call me back. They will call me back by tomorrow at the latest.
Did they call me back? No they did not. Another week passes and I give them a very aggravated phone call. A disarmingly polite man answers (don't you just hate it when that happens?); he tries to explain the problem to me again, but I quickly butt in and explain that I know what the damn problem is, I just need them to actually do something about it.
He apologises in his best sincere voice, this problem’s never happened before. He’s never even heard of anything like it happening before.
But of course the isaue still remains – he can’t process the transaction himself and will need to get someone else to do it. They will need to call me back. He promises, that absolutely, someone will call me back tomorrow latest. He’ll leave a note; someone will definitely call me back.
Did they call me back? I sense you’re noticing a pattern here - I sure as hell noticed one. I thought to myself, maybe there’s something amiss with their computer system. Whoever’s inbox ought to get the message saying I needed to be contacted, wasn’t getting it. So I thought I’d email them instead as an experiment.
I emailed their customer services and left a rather angry message, threatening that I might cancel my order. I got an automated email to say that they’d received my email and would respond within 48 hours.
Did they email me back? Did they f**k. Weeks have gone by and there’s been no response. So I pick up the phone now approaching four weeks since the problem came up and start angrily shouting at some guy insisting that the problem be resolved right now, or else I’m going back to Virgin.
I spent a long time on hold. Eventually, he got back to me to say that he was going to reprocess my order. Finally, it seemed like I was getting somewhere. Or was I?
There was, of course, one snag. After eventually reading me the full set of terms and conditions, I noticed he was mentioning nominated times for installation.
Now I thought I’d arranged this for the day I’d conveniently already booked off. But because of the problems and delay, they can’t guarantee that they can get it installed all on the same day.
So I hit the roof – this isn’t acceptable, I’d already had a day set aside, now because of their incompetence I’m going to be further inconvenienced.
But what’s more, is that this guy can’t confirm a day and time with me now. Guess what? He’s going to have to get someone else to call me to arrange a date. They’ll get back to me tomorrow latest, blah, blah, blah. I warm him, if no one gets back to me this time, that’s it, I’m quitting.
Did they call me back? Do bears defecate in dense forest areas? All I get, days later, is a text saying they’ve arranged a date for me – thanks for consulting me you stupid useless b******s!
I call up again one more time (this isn’t a Freephone number I’m calling by the way) I angrily tell some guy the whole tale, and in a surprising act of honesty, he admits that this stuff happens all the time, far too often, he completely understands why I want to quit.
Of course he doesn’t cancel my order himself, he transfers me to someone else who makes me explain the whole thing again. He makes a pathetic attempt to try and make me happy, but the only thing I’m interested in is massive discounts – that’s what I really want. He doesn’t offer one, so I tell em to shove it.
So I stuck with Virgin. This whole scenario may seem like a tragic waste of time, but I did thankfully manage to use Sky’s stupidity to my advantage.
You see, while all this was going on, they sent me £50 of M&S vouchers. Cheers Sky.
They’ve also sent me a broadband router, more than a week after I cancelled my order. I’ll perhaps wait a week or two to see if they ask for it back and then see how much they go for on eBay.
And if all this wasn’t enough to convince you that Sky are incompetent to an unbelievable degree, I got actually got a phone call from them this last Monday. Well, not from them exactly, but from an engineer. He was on his way over to install my new phone line and wondered if I was home now to let him in.
He was annoyed when I told him that I had long ago cancelled my order. Yet… he did not sound so surprised…