Sky TV says its problems are solved. But are they?
We talk to three Sky TV customers about their struggles to get their issues with the pay-to-view TV service sorted out.
Caroline hasn't been able to watch TV for 6 weeks and says her complaints to Sky TV have gone unanswered. She is, she says, “frustrated … bordering on despair”.
Steve has had his old Sky Box reconnected because he says the new one just won't work. “The new box proved tricky to operate, too complicated and difficult to read on screen,” he says.
Now, he says he’s struggling to get a refund for the money he paid for the new box.
Judith is trying to secure a $150 refund but is struggling to get hold of the company to lay a complaint.
"I would be so grateful to know what to do next because I am at a total loss," she says.
Over the past few months, Consumer NZ has received multiple complaints from Sky TV customers about a range of issues.
Some have concerns about navigating the company's new devices and remote controls.
Some are struggling to contact Sky's customer service helpline and get the assistance they need.
Others still are confused about who owns the new device they’ve had installed, now that they’ve paid for it.
What's going on?
'Transitioning from the traditional Sky Box may take some getting used to'
Sky TV released two new set-top devices earlier this year: the Sky Box and the Sky Pod.
Originally slated for a mid-2022 release, the launch dates for both devices were delayed, then delayed again.
Once they launched in early 2023, users reported technical issues including malfunctioning, glitches and pin code errors, meaning some couldn’t set up or use their new devices. Users then struggled to get the help they needed to fix those issues.
Sky TV has admitted the launch has gone poorly.
"We apologise to those customers who felt let down by their initial new Sky Box experience. Their feedback has been invaluable, and we have been working diligently to address and resolve the issues raised," a spokesperson told Consumer NZ.
"We acknowledge there were early teething problems with the rollout for some customers, but we want to assure you that we have taken swift action to rectify these issues through software updates and refinements.”
What issues are customers having now?
Caroline says she spent 6 weeks trying and failing to set up her new Sky Pod, and calling Sky’s helplines did not resolve her issues. In the end, she found a local tech expert to help her install it.
"Even that was not the end of it as every 15 minutes while watching TV I got a message asking me to 'activate the code'. I did so, but 15 minutes later the same message was back," she says.
She struggled to contact Sky through its help desk numbers. When she did get through, she says they were often no use in resolving her issues.
Steve purchased his new Sky Box in June, taking advantage of a $50 special, and spent a month trying to get to grips with it. Despite having a technician visit, he wasn’t happy with the new box and opted to have his old Sky decoder re-installed.
“Some of the promoted functions weren't working as well as I thought they should,” he says.
“I'm now told they won't refund the new one because I'd had it longer the one month.”
Judith also opted to return the new Sky Box and use her old decoder after spending several weeks unable to watch television. Now, she’s battling to get her $150 refund.
What does Sky TV say?
A Sky TV spokesperson says the company believes most of its technical issues have eased.
"As of now, almost all initial issues have been resolved, resulting in a notable increase in customer satisfaction,” the spokesperson says.
“We’re aware that some concerns reported were related to the adjustment period required for the new and different on-screen experience and the redesigned remote.
“We understand that transitioning from the traditional Sky Box may take some getting used to, especially for long-time users.”
The spokesperson wouldn’t say how many customers had opted to return their new devices in favour of reinstalling the old one.
"I don't have a number to share,” they said.
“If a customer wants to use their familiar Sky Box, that’s fine with us.”
Is this true?
Consumer NZ went back to Caroline, Steve and Judith to check if their issues had been resolved.
Caroline says she’s now able to use her Sky Pod but has been unable to get a credit for the 6 weeks when she couldn’t use it.
She says her issues eventually were resolved on their own, but her experiences dealing with the company have stayed with her. So, she’s written an open letter to Sky TV CEO Sophie Moloney outlining her issues and telling the company what it needs to do to keep her as a customer.
"If you want to retain older customers ... you need to revamp your training so that the automatic response is not a bunch of meaningless platitudes, and encourage staff to escalate queries when they are clearly going nowhere."
Steve says he finally received his $50 refund on his most recent Sky bill. He’s warning his friends to stick to using their old Sky decoders.
Judith’s still pursuing her $150 refund. “I do not understand why [they] will not refund me the $150 which I paid in good faith,” she says. “I am at a loss to know what to do now.”
What to do if you're still having problems
If you're having trouble with your new Sky Box, Sky's website has a troubleshooting guide featuring 24 potential issues.
There’s also a section covering issues with the Sky Pod.
And a section dedicated to navigating the new remote control.
If that doesn’t help, a spokesperson recommends calling the company on 09 525 5555 to talk to an agent or chatting online by logging into your account.
Or there’s always the option of reinstalling your old Sky Box, assuming you had one.
How to contact the Commerce Commission
The Sky Box and Sky Pod come with a purchase price of $200 and $100 respectively, as well as an ongoing monthly subscription free depending on the type of package you have.
Customers should also be aware that they don’t own the new devices; they need to be returned to Sky if a customer’s subscription service is cancelled.
If you feel you’ve been misled over the ownership rights of the Sky Box, or believe you’re owed a refund, you can report this to the Commerce Commission.