Sky TV joins Debenhams in Customer Service Hall of Shame

PUBLISHED: 08:17 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:34 07 January 2020

Shoppers shopping in the high street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Shoppers shopping in the high street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


After her Debenhams experience, and now a not terribly relaxing experience trying to change her Sky TV package, Liz Nice wonders if customers are losing the battle to be treated with any thought at all...

This image released by NBC shows host Ricky Gervais speaking at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)This image released by NBC shows host Ricky Gervais speaking at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

Well, I seemed to upset a few people last week with my column about a bad experience trying to exchange two items of clothing I bought as Christmas presents at Debenhams which were the wrong size.

I felt a bit like Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes - who says what people are thinking, but then gets lambasted for doing so!

Not that there weren't a lot of people agreeing with me that it needed saying - a shop like Debenhams, which is closing stores, can't afford to upset its loyal customers and we all feel the frustration of having to deal with impersonal companies who seem to have forgotten that they started out in this world with the aim of providing a service that people actually want.

Only last night, I made the mistake of trying to contact Sky TV to see if I could get one of their offers. Currently paying the outrageous amount of £137 a month for all their channels and broadband, I saw that the same service was available on offer on their website for just £71.

The phone call took one hour, 24 minutes, and by the end of it I still had little idea if I had got what I asked for,

I was still stuck with multi room, even though I said I no longer needed it, the email I was sent confirming what I had agreed during the one hour and 24 minutes did not include all the things I had asked for and the amount they said I would be paying wasn't the same as what the man on the phone had repeatedly confirmed.

As I don't have another one hour and 24 minutes to spare, I am not sure I can face calling them again.

But the reality is that I rang up to try and save money, get rid of multi room and add box sets to my service, a request you might think would be simple, and instead I ended up with £30 worth of admin charges for my new offer, getting Sky Q installed (for £20) which I started out saying I didn't want, and no idea whether I will get box sets or not as it wasn't mentioned on the confirmation email.

I am supposed to be on a new rate now of £95 a month (which includes my phoneline) but your guess is as good as mine. When my new system is installed on January 20 - of course I can't have box sets right now! - I will let you know.

The irony is that as I have been a customer for 16 years, I was informed that they were now putting me on their VIP service.

If this is how they treat their VIPs, God help the rest of you!

When it comes to dealing with these sorts of troubles, if might surprise you to learn that I generally prefer to put my head in the sand and think, "stuff it" what's the point of arguing, it will only stress me out and they won't care.

But the reaction to the Debenhams drama made me wonder if perhaps we do need to keep fighting for the simple right of getting what we have asked for and paid for because it seems that many people feel aggrieved by their experiences fighting corporations for what were once basic requests.

Fortunately, a kindly shop worker did sort my Debenhams issue in the end so we must keep celebrating those who try to put the customer first.

Meanwhile, I took on board the criticisms of a couple of readers last week who were angry with me (both were shop workers). One said I was obviously a difficult customer and horrible person (have we met?), while another said, more reasonably, that shops refuse to exchange goods without a receipt because of shoplifters.

I also had a very helpful retail worker called Valerie explaining consumer law to me - I know I was in the wrong losing the receipt (although I did buy the goods on my Debenhams card which they said they couldn't check in store) so I will make sure I get email receipts in future. But the way Valerie explained things to me, helpfully but compassionately, made me think that I would certainly like to go to her shop in the future! (Sadly, she didn't say where she works). There are ways of letting customers down gently, without making them feel like a thief!

Personally, I think it is a shame that shops seem to automatically assume we're all pilferers now, rather than taking it as read that most of us aren't.

But that's the world we live in. Everyone is awful until proven otherwise.

I prefer to see the world the other way. I disagree with the woman who argued that as shop workers are on minimum wage, we can't expect them to treat us nicely.

But surely what you earn shouldn't dictate how kind you are to people, should it?

I wonder what Ricky Gervais would have to say about all this.

Whatever it is, I imagine most people would agree with him, even if they didn't dare admit it!

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