Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
Regular readers will recall that a couple of weeks ago I published
a piece on the
Sky TV fiasco and resulting problems
with its set-top box.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Well, here's an update on the situation.
First up I have to say that Sky are doing an atrocious job at handling
this matter. They have repeatedly lied to customers and downplayed the
negative effects of the problems the upgrade has produced.
This lack of honesty has shot their credibility to hell and back.
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During November and early December, people who contacted Sky TV to complain about
the slowness of the new software were told that this was because the downloads
were still in progress -- and that the problems would disappear when the
downloads were complete.
Clearly that was a lie. Even after the downloads were done the problems remained.
This excuse was actually an insult to the intelligence of anyone with the slightest
technical knowledge anyway. After all -- how could the fact that some of
the satellite bandwidth was being consumed by software downloads to other
set-top boxes affect the ability to change channels at a half-reasonable speed?
People who complained after the downloads were completed were told that the
problems were being fixed and that a new, faster version would be downloaded
Another lie... it's now the 28th of December and there has been
absolutely no improvement in the speed of operation.
Sky TV are now admitting that the planned pre-Christmas update didn't
take place but I've been told that the promised performance improvements
would now be delivered some time in the next two weeks.
Do we believe them??? Of course not!
So why am I writing this piece today when I should be putting my feet up
and enjoying the festive season?
Well it's because (gasp, shock, surprise) -- I received an email from Sky TV
today inviting me to ring Robert Vowles to discuss my concerns regarding
Just why did Robert invite me to contact him?
Well it's probably got something to do with the email I sent to the nice folks
over at the Sundance
Channel to advise them that I'm cancelling my subscription to their offering.
Let me make it quite clear that I've got no gripe with the Sundance Channel -- it
screens some pretty good stuff. The problem is that most if it is so eclectic
that I've never actually keyed in the SC's channel number directly. Until Sky
updated the software, all my SC viewing resulted from "stumbling across" some
interesting film while scanning up through the movie channels using the channel Up/Down
buttons on the remote.
Using this channel-surfing technique I found myself running into enough SC
material to justify the expense of its additional fee.
Now that Sky TV users can no longer use the Up/Down channel buttons on their
remotes without bursting a blood vessel out of frustration at the slow (or
non-existent) response -- I find that I can't justify that extra monthly
Sundance forwarded my email to Sky TV and it appears that although Sky TV doesn't
give a hoot about its customers, it is a little more inclined to take note when
its content partners are unhappy.
But wait -- how do I know that Sky TV doesn't give a hoot about its customers?
Well I'd like to hear from *anyone* who was asked whether they wanted the UK
TV channel replaced with BBC World news. Apparently someone was asked -- but
it sure as hell wasn't me or anyone else I've heard from.
Quite a number of people I've spoken to are pretty annoyed that Sky are replacing
a channel that was exclusive to the Digital service with one that already
screens free to air on TV1 for almost 20 hours a week.
So I restate my claims that while bathing luxuriously in the privileges offered by its
monopoly, Sky is totally ignoring the wishes and needs of its customers.
Now I'm certainly not advocating that anyone cancel their Sundance subscriptions
as a way of making Sky wake up and take heed of their complaints -- however,
if you have, or are planning to cancel because of the firmware changes then
please do the courteous thing and let them know
the reason why.
I don't wish to make Sundance the meat in the sandwich -- but clearly it's
just about the only way to rattle Sky's cage enough to provoke some sensible
A Note to Sky:
If you want to regain customer confidence and some level of satisfaction, you
really need to do the following:
Okay, am I going off half-cocked on this? After several weeks using the new
system have you now learned to live with the problems? Are you now a happy
Sky Digital user?
- Acknowledge the severity of the problems with the new firmware -- don't
make disingenuous statements such as "In order to enhance our services you will
notice a slight trade off in performance." This insults the intelligence of
the average customer -- we know that the problem is more than "a slight trade
off in performance"!
- Don't lie! You might be able to get away with blatant misrepresentations
as to the cause or remedy to a problem once -- but you've already done massive
damage to your credibility in this area with the lame excuses and promises
already offered to an annoyed and frustrated public.
- If you can't restore the functionality of the Up/Down channel function to
at least its former level then give people the option of returning to the old
firmware. We know there are no technical reasons why this can't be done and
you owe it to your customers to give them the choice. If, as you claim, the
performance trade-offs are slight compared to the improvement in features,
then few people will opt to go back. What are you afraid of? Could it be
that your assertions in this area lack credibility?
- You have a website and internet presence -- damned well use it to stay
in touch with your customers and actively solicit them as to what they want
and need from your service. Don't make important changes to the system without
consultation -- that is at best a very lazy attitude and at worst it shows
a level of arrogance that can only be found in marketplaces where there is a
powerful monopoly of supply.
- Smarten up your Public Relations. Denials, promises and excuses will (after
the events of the past two months) no longer cut it. You need to organise and
implement a PR campaign that will dispel the illusion that you're just a
monopoly supplier who treats its customers like idiots. Thanks to your monopoly
you may have a temporary strangle-hold on their wallets -- but if you're to
withstand competition when it arrives (and it will) then you also need to win
their hearts. You're currently scoring a big fat zero in this department.
Or are you still really annoyed that they appear to be doing nothing but paying
lip-service to the matter of customer support?
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if you want to see your comments on this page).
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