(Disclaimer: I need to vent, so this might not be the most fun read, unless you also hate dealing with cable companies and can relate.)
Ever since we moved into this flat we’ve been having off and on problems with our HD channels. In January it got to a point where some channels, like BBC 2 HD, just flat out wouldn’t work. It was a major first world problem.
So I eventually broke down and called Sky, our cable company. I can think of few things more dreadful then calling the cable company. I explained to the man what my problem was and he walked me through steps he thought might fix it, including the always helpful “turn the box off and then turn it back on.” I told him we tried that many times, but he wasn’t having it. He had to follow all the steps in his protocol. After a good half hour I asked if he could just send someone out to look at it. He scheduled the appointment for early February.
The day of the appointment came, the Sky engineer arrived, pushed some buttons on our box, plugged something into our wall, then said, “Sorry, can’t help you.” He was here five minutes, max. I had to contact the porter who contacted the guy who wired our flat, and he adjusted something behind the face plate, and now we can watch Jeremy Clarkson in HD. But Sky was absolutely no help.
Which is why I was shocked when I looked at my bill for February and saw they charged us £65 for the engineer appointment. That’s over $100 US dollars! For a guy who came out for five minutes and didn’t fix anything.
I reluctantly picked up the phone, dreading the inevitable want-to-bash-your-head-on-the-wall conversation with the cable company, but was told all the operators were assisting other customers and it would be quite a long wait. So I hung up and tried the next best option: live online chat.
“This might even be better!” I thought. “I’m much better at writing than talking! I’ll get my money refunded in no time!”
Flash forward 90 minutes. 90 MINUTES. An hour and a half. That’s how long it took to finally get the agent to refund me.
Now I’ve heard horror stories about Comcast and other cable companies, but allow me to show you British customer service at its best (no really, Sky was rated best cable customer service in the UK, that’s how bad everyone else is!) (This is not an exact transcript):
Me: Hello, I was looking at my bill and saw a £65 charge for an engineer visit. I was not told there would be a charge when I scheduled the appointment and I was still under my 12-month warranty. I would like the fee waived and credited to my next bill please.
Sky: Hello, Renee, I can certainly help you with that. Just let me pull up your account details.
::10 minutes pass as she pulls up my account. Meanwhile the agent tries to make small talk about my favorite TV shows. We share a mutual love of The Walking Dead::
Sky: I see your box was installed by Spectrum somethingsomething so unfortunately I cannot authorise a free engineer visit.
Me: I have no idea what Spectrum is, but can’t you please just credit me £65? I should have been told about the cost upfront and my box was under warranty.
Throughout the 90-minute conversation I tried different tactics. I tried being angry, but I knew that wasn’t going to work. I even tried begging, actually using the phrase “If you did this for me, you would make my day!” I said “Pleaseeee” (with multiple E’s). I used emoticon smilies. I tried being rational, explaining that I pay Sky to provide a service for me, and when that service doesn’t work, it is Sky’s responsibility to pay to fix it, not mine. She was having none of that. I needed a new plan of attack. I had three talking points:
1. I should have been told when making the appointment that it would cost £65.
2. I was still under the 12-month warranty.
3. The engineer stayed for 5 minutes and did jack squat.
Of these I realized No. 2 was my strongest defense, so I focused on that.
Sky: I see your viewing card was activated on 22/02/13. Your engineer appointment was on 07/02/14.
Me: [Yes! We're getting somewhere!] Yes, see, it was within 12 months.
Sky: Spectrum did the installation so I cannot give you a refund without confirmation from them of the date of installation.
Me: Isn’t the viewing card activation date, 22/02/13, the installation date?
Sky: You need to call Spectrum, I can’t give you a refund without their confirmation.
Me: Can’t you just contact them? Do we really need to make this needlessly complicated?
Me: Ok fine, what’s Spectrum’s number?
Sky: ::gives phone number:: Do you mind answering some questions to make sure you’re getting the best value from Sky?
Me: Seriously? Sure, I’ll humor you, but the best value would obviously be not charging me £65 for a 5-minute engineer visit! [Yes, I actually said this]
So I called Spectrum, still unsure what company they were, until someone answered “Love Digital” and I realized it was the authorized Sky reseller that represented our old flat. I had a hard time explaining what I needed from the representative, but after giving her my old address she eventually told me my box was installed 22/02/13. I asked her how I could confirm this information with Sky.
“Um, Sky could call us?” she said with hesitation. I still had the chat box open so I told the Sky representative I called Love Digital and they confirmed that my box was installed on Feb. 22. I had no confirmation code, no way whatsoever to prove that I actually spoke to someone from Love Digital, but suddenly it was OK. The Sky representative got confirmation from her manager and credited me the £65 off my next bill. I never felt so simultaneously victorious with a burning desire to bang my head against a wall before.
Just when I thought we were done, that after more than an hour of needless back and forth I could go grocery shopping, she decided to walk me through my bill. The number she quoted me monthly was £10 more than what the guy said it would be when I upgraded to fibre broadband. I started getting into it with her again, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t have any more anger or begging in me. Not today. So I ended the 90-minute chat victorious over my £65 Sky engineer fee, but knowing I had only won a battle, not the war. Stay tuned for Fun Times Dealing with Sky Part III: Why is My Bill Not What You Told Me It’d Be?
If only my exchange had been something like this.