Seems that it’s very difficult to get decent support these days, especially in the IT industry. Everyone seems to assume that you’re an idiot that knows nothing and tries to pull the wool over your eyes. It’s never their fault, always yours.

My very reliable, flexible and well supported broadband provider (BE) was bought out recently by Sky and I wasn’t relishing the switch over. For a start off, Sky have never provided fixed IP addresses and they don’t support businesses; both features of my excellent existing broadband provider. However, Sky has worked hard, apparently, so that it still doesn’t support business users, but does now provide fixed IP addresses with its Sky Broadband Unlimited Pro product (unique to O2 and BE users). It also, according to its forum, welcomes professional users that use their own routers.

So just how good is Sky Broadband; is bigger really better?

First contact – 60 minutes talking to a TV support operative

When I received my switch date I immediately contacted Sky support to see whether I could get the settings for my TP-Link router and was told that I couldn’t use it, but that a Sky Router had been shipped out to me and would be with me within five working days (just before my switch-over date). Having told them that I knew I could use my own router from what I had read on the forum (written by Sky employees in response to user concerns), I spent an hour trying to get the operative to understand what I wanted. It wasn’t until the hour had elapsed that the operative informed me that he didn’t know what I was talking about as he worked on TV support. I put the phone down totally dejected and not relishing the switch-over.

Switch-over nightmare – as expected

Come the day of the switch-over and the broadband was switched off. I had read that it would be off a short while and then the service would come back up again. However, after several hours nothing was happening and my router would not connect. I rang support again and spent some considerable time talking to a Broadband operative who obviously didn’t actually know anything about their own Sky Broadband Unlimited Pro service.

Rule number 1 – know the products your company sells

She told me that my own router could not be used as it wasn’t compatible with the Sky service. I explained that the router was only a few months old, was top of the range and did work with all major Broadband services; TP-Link had told me that. However, she was adamant that no matter what the manufacturer of the router said, it wasn’t compatible with the Sky service and that I needed a Sky router.

I told her that I knew the old BE box router worked with the new service and that I’d tried that and it wasn’t working either. According to her, that wouldn’t work either and that a new Sky router would have to be shipped. Guess what, it would take five working days to arrive, so I’d be without service for a week. This was unacceptable given that I had been told that one had been shipped the week before, but I was told it hadn’t.

Flexible BE turns into rigid Sky

I tried to play the wounded customer tack, but that didn’t work either. I suggested that if they knew my BE box wasn’t going to be compatible with their service that they should have shipped me a new Sky router before my switch-over date and that if Sky wanted to keep me as a customer they ought to be thinking of how they could best appease Mr Hughes for their cock-up and ship me a router for next day delivery. However, really flexible, bend-over-backwards BE has been replaced with really in-flexible Sky, and they couldn’t dream of doing that for me; it’s five days or nothing.

Totally cheesed off after forty minutes on the phone talking to somebody who obviously knew nothing about the services her own company offered, I demanded to talk to her manager and I ended up speaking to the Head of Broadband Support. He knew nothing about the Pro service either, so when I challenged him to put me through to somebody who did know something about the Pro product he faltered and put me hold for a while. He came back and said he was putting me through to the Pro help desk; great, why couldn’t the girl I spoke to earlier have done that when I asked if there was a Pro help desk about half an hour earlier. Sorry, I forgot, she knew nothing about the services her own company offered.

Learn from you new BE colleagues – they know a thing, or two, about customer support

As soon as I got through to the Pro Help Desk I asked two questions and was immediately satisfied that things would now go swimmingly; “Do you work for Sky?”, answer ‘yes’, and “Did you used to work for BE?”, answer ‘yes’. And that was it, we were away. An hour and half later we had decided that Sky had forgotten to tell me that I needed to upgrade the firmware of my BE box before the switch-over so that it was compatible with the Sky service and that my third-party TP-Link router was compatible though was a little difficult to get working as some of the settings were hidden behind menu options that were not immediately obvious. However, with his real knowledge and willing helpful manner, everything was sorted and is now working fine.

I now also know where to obtain the settings for third-party routers.

BE staff, you rock!

Thank you to the ex-BE support staff; Sky support staff, you leave a lot to be desired and can learn a lot from the way your new colleagues work and treat customers. And don’t forget, that’s what we are, customers that pay your wages; so treat us like it and change your ways, become helpful and caring and don’t try and pull the wool over our eyes – it’s you that don’t know what you’re talking about, not us.

Rip-off Sky

When I got my notification to switch I was told, in writing, that it would cost me about £12.50 per month. I was well happy with this as my BE service cost me £22.50 a month; what a saving. However, all is never as it seems with Sky, or so it appears from the very little I’ve had to do with them to-date. No, they’re penalising (sorry, levying) me an additional £5 per month for not having Sky TV. Oh, and then they’re ripping me off (sorry, must get used to using the term ‘levying’) another £5 per month for not having Sky Phone. So I’m paying £22.50 per month for copper Broadband.

That wasn’t such a bitter pill to swallow when I dealt with the brilliant BE, but now I’m paying the same for dealing with the less than mediocre Sky. Doesn’t seem right that, especially when I can get one of the country’s best unlimited Broadband services in fibre-optic flavour for £22.49 from PlusNet.The only question I have now is…

What’s my switch-over date?

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