Payback time – A man has received a £1,500 pay-out from Sky bosses after BILLING them for the hours he spent trying to get out of a contract
A man has received a £1,500 pay-out from Sky bosses after BILLING them for the time he spent dealing with a two-year cancellation nightmare.
Pete Swift, 30, faced several frustrated months with debt collectors after the company failed to cancel his TV and broadband account when he moved house.
After nearly 18 months of being threatened by debt collection services, Pete decided to take legal action, first contacting the Citizens Advice Bureau and then the Ombudsman.
Once Sky finally admitted their failure to cancel his account, he counted up the hours he had spent speaking to those involved via phone and email, as well as meetings with lawyers.
Producing an itemised list of his hours at a rate of £25 per hour, Pete billed Sky for £1,395, plus court costs of around #72.
The company eventually offered Pete payment of £1,500 — two years and a half after the dispute began.
Pete, who works as a research consultant, said: “It was exceptionally frustrating being contacted again and again by debt collectors.
“I grew increasingly infuriated with Sky‘s inability to correct their error or act upon the information I’d provided.
“The customer service I experienced was abysmal, there was just a complete disregard for the situation they had put me in and a continued failure to take ownership and fix the problem.”
Pete moved house to Leith, Edinburgh in October 2012 and as a result tried to cancel his broadband and TV package with Sky.
But a few months later he was contacted by a debt collection service.
He showed them proof he had paid his final bill to Sky and told them to pass the information over.
Two months later, Pete was contacted by another debt collector and he went through the same process again.
He also made a complaint to Sky.
But in April 2014 he was contacted by a third debt collection agency who told him he had outstanding debts with Sky.
Since the saga began, Pete had been failing credit checks and he was worried his credit had been damaged.
For two months he was passed from one person to another at Sky customer services with no solution in sight, until he decided to contact the Ombudsman.
Pete said: “I had started failing credit checks, despite previously having a good credit history and started stressing out about my ability to obtain credit.
“I felt very powerless as a consumer to fix the situation – and I couldn’t even ascertain what damage had been done to my credit file.”
After mediation through the Ombudsman, Pete rejected the offer given to him by Sky.
He said: “The main reason was that I was concerned about damage to my credit file.
“They said they would ask Sky to correct any negative impact they had made.
“But when I asked about rectifying any damage caused by the third party debt collectors Sky had employed, they said they could not enforce corrections from them as they were not under their jurisdiction.
“The money was also an issue though, they would only request for Sky to pay me £60 as a gesture of goodwill.
“I told them that this sum was not proportionate to the hassle and frustrations I had experienced as a result of their error and was therefore not appropriate compensation.”
Pete then took Sky to court and last month they finally came to an agreement, two days before his court date.
He said: “I did send the full itemised bill with timings to Sky along with a formal invoice – charged at £25 per hour.
“When Sky finally agreed to cover the full settlement I had mixed emotions.
“On one hand I was really pleased to have the £1,500 and some form of resolution, but I was still very resentful of the lengths I’d had to go to and the way Sky had dealt with the situation.
“Sky had contacted me the week before to try and talk me down to a lower sum of £500.
“The whole time I was dealing with them it just felt like I was being fobbed off with the bare minimum they could get away with.
“There was never really an acknowledgement that something was wrong procedurally that needed to be addressed, it just felt like a case of lets pay off the complaining customer so he shuts up.
“As a single customer you often feel like there’s nothing you can do, especially when you are engaged in a dispute with a large transnational company.
“That’s why I would encourage people that had suffered a similar problem to follow it through until they receive a proportionate resolution.
“Everyone I have spoken with was really supportive and seemed delighted with the outcome, I guess a lot of people have been subject to really poor service at some point or other.
“So I was glad I pursued the matter.”
Pete’s bill included 31 hours and 25 minutes speaking to Sky either on phone or by email, with a further six hours dealing with Mackenzie Hall debt collectors.
Sky said the issue was due to a technical fault with their systems, meaning his cancellation was not recorded on his file.
A spokeswoman said: “Our staff work hard to deliver great service. However, in Mr Swift’s case we got it wrong, and didn’t resolve things quickly enough.
“We are really sorry and have apologised, offering a gesture of goodwill in recognition of the frustration he has experienced.”
Pete’s bill and the time he spent dealing with it:
Wescot (debt collection agency) — 3 hours
Mackenzie Hall (debt collection agency) — 6 hours
Sky – 31 hours 25 mins
Equifax (credit reporting agency) — 5 hours 20 mins
Experian (credit reporting agency) — 1 hour 30 mins
Noddle (credit reporting agency) — 30 mins
Citizens Advice Bureau — 4 hours 50 mins
Ombudsman Services — 3 hours 15 mins
Total time spent — 55 hours 50 mins
Consultancy services priced at £25 p/h