Sky agrees to make it clear for consumers on how to cancel

Agenciesvictory: After buyers had their written cancellations ignored, pressure from The Agenciesforces Sky to amend its terms

  Photograph: Andrew Fox

Sky will tell its 11 million subscribers that they can cancel their contracts only by mobile phone in an try to end the rigmarole imposed on people who consider to depart.

The disclosure was manufactured to The Agenciesin a meeting with Sky’s senior management at the company’s headquarters in west London this week.

The television, net and landline provider said it had amended the wording on its web site in response to a series of posts published in this newspaper that in depth routinely poor therapy of customers who wished to terminate services.

Sky programs to change the wording on its paper contracts this summer season, producing it clear that consumers will in potential be unable to cancel merely by writing or sending an email.

Chris Stylianou, director of client companies, mentioned: “When the Agenciesfirst highlighted the problem, we listened and recognised the require to be clearer about the procedure and make it a big priority.”

4 months in the past we reported that Sky had conceded its cancellation processes needed reviewing and divulged that it had been placed under regulatory scrutiny soon after we submitted a huge file of customer complaints to Ofcom, the regulator.

Our report on Sky in January

But dozens of letters and emails from disaffected customers have continued to pour into our mailbag. Our readers stated they were hounded by debt collectors getting experimented with unsuccessfully to end subscriptions in writing – which Sky had listed as an acceptable cancellation strategy. Some complaints had dragged on for more than six months, while other folks had arisen because January. In most situations, it took our intervention to resolve the problems. Sky, to its credit, acted promptly by clearing balances, calling off bailiffs and apologising.

Our considerations more than the apparent failure to increase the cancellation process prompted the meeting with company directors in Osterley, near Heathrow.

Mr Stylianou stated some buyers were “let down” because the firm had “not been clear adequate about our cancellation policy”. He said it had constantly been crucial to speak to clients on the phone before cancellation in purchase to satisfy information protection law and address excellent payments. Ample evidence of identification could rarely be garnered by any other implies, he extra.

Nevertheless, Mr Stylianou admitted that this vital piece of information had been poorly communicated.

In reality, it was in no way explicitly stated in Sky contracts, which now seem to have been misleading. This was evidenced by stage 13 (c) of the contract, which stated: “Any recognize you give to end this contract . . . should be offered by telephone or by writing to us.” On its internet site underneath the “Cancel Sky TV” area, the business listed a cancel-by-email selection with out indication that a telephone conversation would be required. As a consequence, some customers who wished to cancel wrote to Sky advising of their intentions, offering the necessary recognize just before stopping the direct debit.

But this kind of written notifications had been not regarded enough by Sky, which kept charging month-to-month fees even if customers had disconnected their set-prime boxes. When customers failed to pay, Sky named in bailiffs, who sent letters threatening to consider customers to court more than trivial “debts” that typically amounted to £50 or much less.

Stephen Huckle, 69, (pictured over) and his wife, Cherry, 67, faced this situation when they tried to cancel Sky following many many years of substandard tv connection.

Mr Huckle, from Stanton by Dale in Derbyshire, wrote to Sky in September 2013 to cancel prior to the couple went on a post-retirement holiday to Florida. The business had stated it was unable to enhance the connection simply because health and security laws prevented engineers accessing the house’s flat roof.

In spite of explaining the predicament to Sky, Mr Huckle was chased for £53 soon after he wrote and cancelled his direct debit. Debt collectors threatened legal action.

Mr Huckle said: “I felt we had been misled and maligned. It was extremely disturbing to get to the level exactly where I would be taken to court, so I paid, wishing to steer clear of a blacklisting.”

Following The Telegraph’s intervention, Sky refunded the £53 and supplied half-price tag subscription, which the couple have accepted.

At last week’s meeting, this newspaper urged Sky to make clear that written notification of cancellation, followed by shutting down a direct debit manually, was not accepted.

Mr Sylianou instantly updated the company’s site, which now states: “It’s genuinely important you do not cancel your direct debit or any other ongoing payment arrangement with us till your cancellation has been confirmed by us. This is because any outstanding stability will want to be paid and cancelling the direct debit may lead to your account falling into debt.”

The website also indicates that a phone conversation is compulsory for anyone wishing to cancel. It states: “Please note, we will not be in a position to cancel Sky companies unless of course we’re capable to confirm your request in excess of the cellphone.”

Nonetheless, customers final week reported a normal 20-30 minute wait to speak to contact centre personnel.

Peter Alvey, 62, from Beverley in East Yorkshire, was also threatened with court action when he tried to cancel Sky HD and was unable to reach workers over the cellphone. “Even when you ultimately get via, it can get one more half hour to file your request,” he mentioned. “I’ve by no means been chased for debts in my lifestyle, but I was advised I owed £50 for providers I had not employed because October. Had the Agenciesnot intervened I really don’t know how long the standoff would have lasted.”

Sky is introducing an enhanced contact centre services, so alternatively of an automated possibilities menu, calls are answered practically quickly by staff who transfer the consumer to the appropriate department. Mr Sylianou stated this would vastly increase the support – but said the technique would not be in place for some time for clients wishing to cancel.

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