Gavin Hackwood, a 36-year-old from Newport in South Wales, spent 96 minutes on Sky's online customer service chat facility, trying to cancel his contract. He was so shocked by how difficult it was to leave that he produced a copy of the transcript - which is an astonishing 3,800 words long.
Hackwood logged on to the Sky online chat facility to cancel his contract. He told the operator - Rachael - that he found a deal from Virgin that was £23 a month cheaper, and he had no interest in continuing with Sky unless they could match the deal. However, she insisted that he had to go through 'the process'.
The transcripts, published by the Daily Mail, show him becoming increasingly frustrated and angry as the 'chat' went on... and on. An hour into the session he writes: "I have made you aware I wish to cancel which is all I am obliged to do under the terms and conditions of the contract with Sky. I am starting to lose my patience and request that you place the cancellation request."
Meanwhile Rachael becomes more defensive. At one point she says: "I am sorry you feel that way Gavin, I am not doing this to annoy you, I made it very clear that I would need to go through this for you before I could make any changes to your account and these are not stupid questions."
At the end of the marathon 'chat' session, the Telegraph reported that she broke the news that he could not cancel because he was part of the way through the cancellation period for Sky Movies. He would either have to stop the movies cancellation and start a new 31 day cancellation period for the whole package, or wait for movies to be cancelled and call back to cancel the rest.
He said he terminated the call at that pint and made a complaint. Sky then cancelled the service 'as a goodwill gesture'. Sky issued a statement, apologising and adding: "We've taken steps to simplify how customers can cancel their accounts with Sky and on this occasion the adviser got it wrong."
Why do this?
The Telegraph reported that this is far from the only letter it has received from customers who have had difficulty when trying to cancel Sky contracts. Last year it handed the complaints to Ofcom, which discussed the issues with Sky, and the company agreed to change its processes to make it easier. Ofcom told the newspapers that it was continuing to monitor the market.
However, Sky is far from the only company to use the cancellation process to try to persuade customers that they want to stay after-all. The Daily Telegraph, for example, recently told the Freakonomics podcast that it had trained call centre employees to use behavioural tricks to persuade people to continue paying for their newspaper subscription. This included asking questions about their life and their interests, and then highlighting services available to subscribers that might particularly appeal to them. It doesn't sound very difficult to the techniques Rachael was trying to employ. In this instance, however, she seems to have gone a bit too far.
But what do you think? Is this just a sensible business tactic, or terrible customer service? Let us know in the comments.
Ful transcript of the chat, from The Daily Mail.
info: You are now connected with Rachael
info: ** Please do not share your credit card information, security code or CVV during this chat **
Rachael: Hello, you're chatting with Rachael, a Sky expert, may I take you name please?
You: Account number: ************
You: Hi Rachael, I would like to give you 31 days notice to cancel my services please.
Rachael: I am sorry to hear that, what has brought you to this decision today?
You: It's the cost. I have been offered a deal by Virgin Media.
You: It will save me £23 per month.
Rachael: I am sorry you feel that you can get a better deal with another provider, have you discussed this with anyone at Sky to see if there is anything we can do to help?
You: I don't think Sky will be able to match this deal. It's a big saving.
You: £276 per year cheaper.
Rachael: It is a big saving but that is usually because you are losing certain packages that you get with Sky, because at the end of the day Virgin by their channels from us, so they can not continue to make it cheaper than us without it being more limited. Although you maybe surprised at what Sky can do to make sure that you get all the channels you enjoy at a cost that you find manageable.
Rachael: As you can see my name is Rachael and I will certainly be able to help you. Can I call you now to discuss this further?
You: I'm currently in work, so I would rather just place the cancellation request please.
Rachael: Is there any reason you wouldn't discuss it with us before making any changes?
You: It's a good deal with Virgin. I currently pay £49 to Sky and £31 to Virgin for broadband. They are offering 2 boxes and the broadband with all channels (not premium channels) for £57 per month.
Rachael: Ok, but their package that gives you all the channels is still not the same as all of the channels that you get with Sky, so it is cheaper, but as I said, it is cheaper because it is a lot more limited than the package that you get with Sky, so you would lose out on a lot of the channels that you are used to. As for their extra box, most of the boxes they do within their package just give you the basic free to air channels, if you want to have the Sky channels on it you need to pay a much higher rate. Where as by having the discussion you might find that we can do an all inclusive package for a similar cost without your having to lose out on what you enjoy, and at the end if you still want to remove your service then we can do that, the end date would still be the same, but atleast you would have known what your options would be.
You: The deal included 1 Tivo box and a standard box for the bedroom. I am not prepared to move my broadband from them as I get 152MB included with this.
Rachael: That is understandable, and you do not have to have the broadband in with the package, although very few people in the UK actually need 152mb, unless you have over a dozen computers in your house all downloading illegally, streaming and online gaming on multiple devices all at the same time.
You: The broadband speed is required.
Rachael: As I said, that is fine you don't need to have the Broadband with us to be able to get the TV, you are already aware of that because it is the set up you have at the moment. All I am saying is there is nothing wrong with discussing your TV package before you make any changes, at least that way you would know what your entitled to and make an informed decision, it isn't going to change your notice period to discuss it first, it would all still change on the same date anyway.
You: The last time I spoke to Sky with the intent to cancel it took forever going over and over the same things. I'm not interested in listening to a sales pitch for 30 minutes. If you have an offer in mind now I'm happy for you to discuss it here, if not I would like to go ahead with the cancellation please.
Rachael: So it is not about a sales pitch, but I can not just give you an offer without discussing your account. I need to go through some questions about your subscription to make sure that I am giving you the best package possible, before I can look at the overall price, because you are clearly happy to lose some channels to be able to take it over to Virgin, so we need to have a look at the channels that you have tried to keep with Virgin so that we can give you the closest package to that and then look and see what I can do with the cost.
Rachael: I wouldn't be able to make any changes to your account without going through this process first.
You: Ok, I am happy for you to just place the cancellation request then.
Rachael: As I stated, I wont be able to make any changes to your account, until I go through the process with you.
Rachael: I haven't heard from you for a while. Are you still there?
You: There is nothing to go through, I am just requesting a cancellation.
You: If you'd like to cancel your Sky subscription, you'll need to contact us. You can do this in one of the following ways:
You: Start a Live Chat online. Our advisors are available 8.30am to 8pm, 7 days a week for our UK customers.
Rachael: I am unable to process a cancellation on your account, until I have gone through your package with you to make sure that there is nothing that I can do to help, before making any changes to your account.
You: Why does it say on the Sky website I can do this by using the chat service then?
Rachael: You can, I am not saying that I need to call you, I am simply saying that I need to discuss your package with you to see if there is anything I can do to help before I can make any changes to your account, but we can do all of that on here.
You: Ok, can we do this now then?
You: The TV package they have offered is their XL, with one Tivo box and one standard HD box. They have made me aware I will lose the F1 channel, Sky Atlantic and ITV Encore as the main ones.
Rachael: This is what I am trying to do, but you keep insisting that you want to remove your service without allowing me to discuss it.
Rachael: Ok and your said your package was going to be £57.00 a month is that right?
You: Yes that's right, that includes 152MB broadband.
Rachael: You have already stated that you do not want to change the broadband, so that is not important
Rachael: So can I please take your name?
You: Gavin Hackwood
Rachael: Thank-you Gavin, so I just need to go through some security with you so that I can get into your account. I will then be able to go through your package with you so that you know what your options are and if need be I can the make any changes to your account.
Rachael: So Gavin, are you the account holder?
You: I am yes.
Rachael: Thank you.
Rachael: Please also confirm the second and fourth characters from the password on the Sky account. This may not be the same as your My Sky password and please do not supply your password in full.
You: * and *
Rachael: I am afraid those characters do not match, but you can try again.
You: * and *
You: Sorry * and *
Rachael: Thank you for confirming those details, please bear with me a moment while I access your account and get the information I need.
Rachael: While I am waiting on your account loading there is a few things I need to make you aware of...
Rachael: If for any reason, this chat ends before we finish our conversation today, any changes we discuss that have not been confirmed will not be updated on your account. Please contact us back if this happens, and we can make sure everything is updated for you. If for any reason, this chat ends before we finish our conversation today, any changes we discuss that have not been confirmed will not be updated on your account. Please contact us back if this happens, and we can make sure everything is updated for you.
Rachael: Just to let you know, there is a short survey to express your views and thoughts on the service you've received today. This can be completed by clicking the 'End Chat'� button after you come to the end of this chat with me.
Rachael: So I can see that you currently have our Variety Bundle with HD and Multiscreen. With this package you also have access to our online Sky Go and On Demand services at no additional cost to you. I can also see that you have been with Sky on and off for 3 1/2 years so I would like to say thank-you for your continued service.
Rachael: You also currently have the Movies just now, although these are due to be removed on 07/04
Rachael: So Gavin, you said that you were told by Virgin that you would lose the F1 channel, is this something that you get the use out of just now?
You: i do, but it's not worth £280 extra per year.
You: This is the only channel that I would really miss.
You: But to save "23 per month would be worth it.
Rachael: Ok Gavin, you have made the saving clear as the reason to why you are moving over. However I am not discussing the cost just now, all I am trying to establish is what you do enjoy watching so that I can build a package that allows you to keep all the things you enjoy and then I will look at the overall cost. So please leave the cost to one side and simply answer based on what you enjoy if cost wasn't an issue.
Rachael: So apart from yourself Gavin, who else stays in the house?
You: My wife and 2 children
Rachael: Brilliant! So what are the main things that you enjoy watching on the TV?
You: For me it's mainly the F1 and the documentary channels.
Rachael: Great! Is there anything else, even if it is only occasionally?
You: My wife watches Comedy Central and the kids don't watch that much TV.
Rachael: Brilliant! So the main things that are watched is the comedy channels, documentaries and the F1, is there anything else that gets watch that I need to make sure is included?
You: Nothing no.
Rachael: So when you watch the TV, do you prefer watching it in HD?
You: Yes definitely
Rachael: Ok, the main reason that I ask is because the XL package with Virgin only gives you the 11 free to air HD channels, so you would not get any of the Sky HD channels that you have at the moment, including your discovery, history, comedy central etc. Where you aware of that/
You: They have mentioned that yes.
Rachael: So at the moment, do you get any use out of the OnDemand Boxsets or CatchUp service on either of your boxes?
You: Not that often. Just looking at the e-mail I have from Virgin and the XL has more HD channels, the L has 11.
Rachael: I am only going off the information that is on their website, and you were the one who said that had mentioned it, when I asked.
Rachael: So I can see that you have SkyGo registered on a device, how often is the SkyGo service used?
You: When the F1 is on sometimes.
Rachael: So is this just so that you wife and kids can continue to watch their own TV shows and you can enjoy the F1 in peace?
You: It's when I'm in work on the occasional weekend.
Rachael: That's understandable.
Rachael: So the extra box your looking at with Virgin, is that going to be in the same room that you currently have our Multiscreen box?
You: I have now been on this chat session for an hour and we are no further forward. I have made you aware I wish to cancel which is all I am obliged to do under the terms and conditions of the contract with Sky. I am starting to lose my patience and request that you place the cancellation request. If you refuse to do this once more I will be contacting the CEO Office and will cancel the Direct Debit and issue a County Court Claim against Sky. Please cancel the account and stop wasting my time with stupid long drawn out questions. I have had enough.
Rachael: I am sorry you feel that way Gavin, I am not doing this to annoy you, I made it very clear that I would need to go through this for you before I could make any changes to your account and these are not stupid questions. I have asked these to establish the use you are getting out of the service and thanks to those questions I was able to learn that you get use out of the Variety Bundle and your F1 channel on occasion, you do sometimes use to OnDemand content and I would assume if you are taking an extra box with Virgin it is because you use it, although it would mean you would lose the ability to record on your second box as you can with us at the moment.
Rachael: I understand that you feel £23 is a big difference between the 2 providers, and I would be able to do a lot to shorten the amount that is due, although I am sure you can understand that the cost will be slightly higher because you are going to get more from our package than you would with Virgin.
You: i am requesting for the last time you make the cancellation request. I do not have to go through this ridiculous process. If you are refusing to cancel my services without doing all this then I will issue the Court Claim.
Rachael: Although I can make that difference in cost less, if you are willing to lose certain parts of your package that you would be losing with Virgin anyway, and this would still allow you to get more out of your package for a lower cost that you pay at the moment.
You: You are not listening to me are youjQuery19109676839937660398_1429610887179 I said CANCEL the services. End of. There is nothing further to discuss.
Rachael: At the end of the day I am only trying to help you keep what you enjoy, you may not like the way that I have done it and I can only appologise for that, however you said that the reason you were going to Virgin was because of the money you would save, and all I have tried to do is to help you save money so that you dont have to go through the hassle of changing providers and being able to keep what you enjoy.
Rachael: I am listening to you, but I already told you that I have a process that I needed to go through before I could make any changes, and all I have tried to do at every turn is help you get more out of your package, and get a better service from Sky, after being with us for almost 4 years, so I sppologise that I have offended you by trying to help.
You: Will you STOP trying to explain everything and just place the cancellation that I requested over an hour ago.
Rachael: I have to explain myself because you are accusing me of not doing my job and causing offence, when that is not my intention when all I have tried to do through out this whole conversation is help you get a better service from Sky, it is only through your reluctance to allow me to discuss this with you that has caused it to go on for so long.
Rachael: A cancellation is 31 days.
Rachael: If I apply that for you today, it will take you until the 19/04/2015
Rachael: Anything that you have recorded on either of your boxes needs to be viewed before this date and your not going to be able to watch it afterwards.
You: You are causing further offence by not listening and not acting on my request to cancel. This is the worst service I have ever experienced.
Rachael: I am actioning your request, my last 3 messages have confirmed that I am actioning your request, I can only apologise that you feel this is the worst service you have ever experienced, but at the end of the day all I have tried to do is help you look at the cost of your package, and try and give you a better package for a suitable cost, so if that is poor service then I am sorry
Rachael: The boxes are your's to keep and you will be able to receive all the free to air channels, although you will not be able to pause and record on them, or use the OnDemand service at any time.
You: I told you at the start I was not interested in this, BUT you continued to ignore the customer and bang on and on with countless useless messages. LISTEN to what the customer is requesting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rachael: You will receive written confirmation in the next few days that will confirm the cancellation on your account, and once the cancellation has finished processing I will be able to explain your final bill
Rachael: Look Gavin, we are going round and round in circles here, I have taken on board what you have said, and I have apologised on countless occasions for making you feel that way, it was not my intention to upset, annoy or offend you today, I was simply trying to do my Job, and I made it very clear to you that I would need to have this conversation with you before I would be able to make any changes and i probably would have been able to help. But now I am trying to action your request and you are the one who keeps going round in circles. So if you can bare with me so that I can process this changes on your account, rather than continuing to discuss this issue further.
Rachael: Thank you.
You: I think your tome and manner is extremely abrupt and rude however.
You: I will be taking this further.
Rachael: Can you please confirm your email address for me so that I can make sure you receive the confrimation.
Rachael: Gavin, I have already told you that I am sorry I have made you feel this way, this was never my intention and I explained that. I have tried to be polite as I can throughout this, because at the end of the day I have a job to do, and I need to be able to do it, I did not intent to be rude, or abrupt and I am sorry if it has felt that way, but at every turn I have simply tried to explain why I have done what I have done.
Rachael: ******@********** is not what we have on file, so you will need to change this either on Sky.com, or over the phone, if you want to receive an email confirmation.
Rachael: Is it still ok to contact you at this address?
Rachael: Because I am confirming your email address I need to ask 'we would like to use your information to contact you about products and services we think you would like, is that ok?'
Rachael: So because there is a cancellation on your Movies just now and this is not due to complete until the 07/04/2015, I need to remove this cancellation before I can apply it to your account, so this means that you will need to give 31 days notice from todays date on all your services, so you will have the Movies until the 19/04/2015 along with the rest of your package. Is that Ok?
You: No it's not ok, I have already given you notice on that.
Rachael: Yes, but the notice on that does not complete until the 07/04/2015, so I can not apply a cancellation to the rest of your package while a cancellation is in place, so you can either remove the cancellation from the Movies and apply 31 days to the whole account, or you can wait until the Movies have been removed and then apply 31 days notice to the rest of your package, you are unable to overlap the 2 cancellation periods.
You: Are you joking? I am giving you 31 days notice NOW. The Direct Debit will be cancelled. Do what you like. You have been given the notice.
You: You are clearly not capable of doing your job!
You: I suggest you seek some assistance NOW!
Rachael: I can assure you Gavin, I am very capable of doing my job, I have worked with this company for a long time. There is no assistance needed, you can not have 2 cancellation periods going on at the same time, so you can either remove the cancellation from the Movies and apply 31 days to the full account, or you can wait until the Movies have been removed and apply 31 days notice at that point.
You: I am ending this here and I am taking this further.
You: You are acting ilegally.
Rachael: I am not acting illegally Gavin, you are unable to apply a cancellation when something is being removed, I am sorry that you are not happy with it, and I will certainly log a complaint on the account to advise that you are not happy with the information I have given you, but I am affraid it doesn't change the outcome.
You: Please end this chat.
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