Sky T&C Change: Customer Retention Measure?

Sky recently changed their terms and conditions so that you can only end your contract via phone or web-chat.

Whilst Sky may need you to confirm some details in order to cancel your account, e.g. your account number and home address, there is no reason why these details could not be provided in a letter or an email.  They seem perfectly happy to sign you up online, so why not provide a simple online means (e.g. secure web-form that requests the appropriate information) in order for you to cancel the service?

The Telegraph reports stories of Sky customers who have experienced terrible difficulty in cancelling their account, such as being passed from one person to another, having to answer endless security questions and not receiving confirmation emails.

With the change in their Terms and Conditions, notice given via email or letter will not be valid until they have spoken with you and “verified your account”.  Effectively, this means that they are withdrawing those means of cancelling your account.  Why would they do this?  Has there really been a spate of criminals posing as Sky customers and cancelling their accounts? That seems an unlikely explanation.  [We are not talking about “moving home” requests here, where obviously verifying they are dealing with the real customer would be important.]

Given how many customers report difficulty in cancelling, is it perhaps more likely that this may be a customer retention measure?  Forcing customers to deal with a member of staff, either via phone or web-chat, gives those staff members an opportunity to persuade the customer to stay.  Could this be Sky’s real motivation for its change in terms and conditions?

If you do wish to cancel your Sky subscription, then an article on the Customer Service Guru site contains some useful hints and tips.

Here’s a final thought: One other thing that is typically true of phone calls or web-chat sessions – in contrast to email or postal communications – is that the customer does not retain details of what was discussed and agreed.  Is it time we started recording our phone calls to companies or find a means of capturing the content of web-chat sessions?