Two months after I cancelled Sky, a strange letter arrived in the post.
‘We are writing to you because we haven’t heard anything from you since we previously wrote to you about your overdue account,’ it said. Of course, I realise that it is easier for a rich man to get himself prosecuted for attempting to push his camel through the eye of a needle than for a customer to leave Sky.
But I had taken no chances.
My Sky account was terminated not by a call centre flunky trilling ‘And how can I help yourself today? Can I call yourself Melissa?’ It was cancelled by a ‘service excellence consultant’ on the executive support team.
I don’t much like doing this, but sometimes the only way to get anything done in this country is to push the cluck-it button.
On this occasion, I had spent so long first trying to move Sky to my new house, then trying to cancel Sky as the price went up and up, that I simply couldn’t get anywhere as a customer and had to start blabbing.
After I wrote about my troubles, the executive support team contacted me. Whereas before I was just a customer of 15 years arguing with a call centre in Naff-off-istan, once I was assigned to the crack team tasked with handling complainers who set off sirens in the PR department, my troubles really began.
A sweet Scottish lady telephoned me to conduct meandering philosophical conversations punctuated by impenetrable sophisms such as, ‘I want to reach an understanding of the type of journey you’ve had.’ ‘Yes,’ I would say, ‘but I really don’t want to discuss my journey, I just want you to let me move my Sky services from London to Surrey for a reasonable price.’
‘Yes,’ she would say, ‘we hear you and we want to action that and take it forward, understanding the journey you’ve had and building on it.’ ‘Yes,’ I would plead, ‘but can I just have Sky for less than £89 a month?’ To which she would reply: ‘Yes, I am going to go through this with you and action a solution surrounding the issues on your journey.’
After days of this, we were no further forward and the executive support service excellence consultant might just as well have been a travel agent from Thomas Cook, she was banging on so much about journeys. In the end, I had to tell her I just wanted to cancel. I simply didn’t have the time to go on any more journeys with her.
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘and we want your feedback so we can understand why your journey…’
‘No! Please just cancel my account!’ But alas, the cancelling journey dragged on throughout my house-moving journey and before long I was in my new cottage on a TV-less, broadband-less journey. And I was no further forward getting Sky for less than £89 a month or cancelling it. But then I hit upon the idea of telling the executive support team that my new house didn’t have a place to put a satellite dish, because the chimney stack needed work so we couldn’t fix anything to it (which was true). ‘I’m on a renovation journey,’ I told the excellence consultant. This worked a treat. She agreed to cancel my account and looked forward to the time when my chimney would allow me to recommence my Sky journey.
After making sure I was paid up, I cancelled my direct debit. But a few weeks later, Sky debited my account for the following month. I emailed the service excellence consultant, who apologised and said the amount would be credited back to me.
A few weeks after that, I received a formal demand for payment of arrears from the amusingly entitled Director of Change, Quality and Billing.
I emailed service excellence again and reminded her that as I did not have Sky, I could not owe Sky £34.60 plus a late payment charge of £7.50.
She apologised again and assured me that she would place a credit on my account to clear the outstanding balance.
I thanked her but pointed out that while it was kind of her to pay my bill, it was still unsatisfactory to have a bill, you know, for services I hadn’t had. What I wanted was for Sky to acknowledge that I was no longer a customer. I was an ex-customer. My account had ceased to be.
She replied: ‘I understand that you are no longer a Sky customer. Our systems are set up to see all ex-customers and active customers as Sky customers. I apologise if this has caused you any inconvenience and stress.’
No. No inconvenience or stress. I’m just on a journey. When I get there I expect the nurses will sort the TV out for me.