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    The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

    This is a discussion on The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat within the Sky news and announcements forums, part of the SkyUser Announcements category; The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat | Money | The Guardian Frustrated by what ...

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      The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat | Money | The Guardian
      Frustrated by what they say they see daily while selling Sky subscriptions, a number of experienced employees have turned to the Guardian to lift the lid on rogue practices

      Sky whistleblowers allege mis-selling by doorstep sellers - video | Media | theguardian.com

      Believe in better is the Sky message. However, perhaps you should not believe everything one of its salesman tells you if he knocks on your door. A group of Sky's door-to-door agents have contacted the Guardian to allege mis-selling by rogue commission-led doorstep sellers who they say have pushed customers into costly contracts which leap in price; lied about broadband speeds and download limits; promised services that are not part of their packages; and faked customer agreements.

      The allegations have been made by salesmen at a Sky branch in the south of England who say they are so frustrated by the practices they have witnessed in their area that they approached the Guardian and agreed to appear in front of our camera (see video above) to outline their concerns.

      They allege intense pressure to sell packages, and said they faced being carpeted by their managers unless they met strict sales targets.

      They group, who have each worked for Sky for over two years, allege:


      • Doorstep sellers are given detailed "walk-sheets" each day, which frequently target the poorest areas where potential customers are likely to be migrants with a poor grasp of English and who lack knowledge of their consumer rights;
      • Salesmen will lie about broadband download limits, and speeds, or claim that Sky will give them faster downloads, when it is not possible;
      • Colleagues tell customers that Sky will terminate their contracts with rival supplier Virgin at no cost when in reality this is not possible, and customers are left paying for both providers;
      • Agents use the complexity of the Sky tariff to promise customers a single price per month for their chosen package, but then book a higher amount;
      • Customers are promised that their chosen bundle will include movies or children's channels, all for a quoted monthly price contract, but are not told that it's a two-or three-month special offer that will run out and leave them paying more. When they complain they find their "cooling off" period to exit the contract has expired;
      • The sales verification process which sees the agent calling head office to confirm the sale with the customer at his or her side can be faked, as the agent uses a friend to pose as the customer and agree the deal.


      Sky says it took its sales operation back in-house three years ago specifically to ensure high standards, and denies the whistleblowers' claims. It says it has rigorous training and management systems in place to prevent mis-selling and preventing it is its number one priority. Rather than target poor areas, it says it specifically excludes addresses identified as being from lower economic demographic profiles from its walk lists.

      "We use a weekly performance monitoring system to ensure people are adhering to our approved sales processes on a day-to-day basis. A dedicated team which is separate to the door-to-door field management teams monitors and follows up on all complaint allegations," said a spokeswoman.

      The whistleblowers say that behind the rogue practices (there is no suggestion that they have been ordered to mis-sell by Sky) lie commission incentives and branch managers who ignore internal complaints, as overall sales figures add to their bonuses. The agents say that when they complain to managers they are told it is "not their problem" or "let us deal with that", but nothing, they say, is then done.

      The agents say that every day they are subject to a stream of text messages from managers promising additional 15 bonuses if they sell a particular deal that day, which they allege encourages those happy to bend the rules.

      Agents say they have to agree to carry a security tag at all times that allows the managers constantly to monitor their position. Managers can log on from home and establish whether agents are on the allocated sales patch until 8pm or later, and call them if they are not. The agents say that some of Sky's 500 door-step sellers more than quadruple their 14,000 basic pay to as much as 60,000 a year through commission, while 40-50,000 a year is not uncommon.

      They also allege that rogue practices have worsened as price competition has intensified, leaving them with a tougher job to sell the Sky deal. Several of their sales colleagues, they say, joined from power company Scottish & Southern Energy, which closed its doorstep sales operation in 2011 and was fined 10.5m for "prolonged and extensive" mis-selling. Sky declined to comment on this point.

      The agents who approached the Guardian said that the extent of mis-selling means they are frequently verbally attacked on doorsteps by angry customers previously lied to by other Sky agents.

      "I don't like to wear my Sky uniform when working because you get abused on the street.

      "Customers who had bad experience get very angry because they think we are all the same.

      "You can't blame them. I've even had customers crying in front of their kids because they couldn't afford the monthly payments they're locked into. You feel bad, but we can't do nothing," says one.

      The allegations come amid figures which reveal that Sky is fighting to maintain the sales growth of earlier years.

      On Thursday, the company said 70,000 net new customers joined in the three months to March down from 152,000 a year earlier. Pre-tax profits were 793m for the nine months to March 2014, down from 966m a year earlier.

      What the customers say


      When a Sky agent knocked on the door of Joanne's west London home she remembers two things very clearly. The first was how persistent he was he spent and hour and half in her sitting room on a Saturday afternoon. The second was that he repeatedly promised her that she would be paying 90.25 a month for her chosen TV, home phone and broadband package.

      But within two months her bills rose significantly to the extent that the grandmother who lives on sickness benefits, has been paying 150-160 a month since depending on the number of calls she makes to mobiles.

      "All along he told me it would be 90 which, for the package, was fine. But soon after, the bills were much higher. I was really shocked and it wasn't what I'd been promised," she says.

      When she complained, it emerged that her Sky movies package was only free for the first two months, and that her fast broadband price ceased after three months taking her bill well above the promised amount and contradicting the sales form that she was given.

      "I was locked into the contract and there was nothing I could do. I just felt that I'd been taken for a ride," she says.

      One the tactics employed by Sky's rogue salesmen when they encounter a Virgin Media customer, according to our whistle blowers, is to tell them that they will cancel the Virgin service on the customer's behalf. But they can't do that, and in many cases it has left customers paying two bills one to their previous supplier and another to Sky.

      Jemma, a single mother of four who lives in Essex, described how the agent that had knocked on her door a year ago promised to cut her monthly bills if she switched from Virgin and, crucially, said he would take care of her Virgin contract.

      "It didn't happen and for a month I had to pay both. It was only a month but it could have been much longer he'd lied." She says she was also promised that the broadband would be faster than Virgin, which turned out to be untrue.

      Dean, who lives in north London, describes the Sky agent who knocked on his door as extremely persuasive but says he lied about a warranty on the box which he hadn't asked for, but which appeared on his bill.

      Retired couple Ronald and Barbara were signed up for Sky broadband in spite of the fact they don't own a computer, and don't use the internet. The Sky agent who knocked on their door stepped into their home the moment Ronald turned to ask Barbara something, and had to be asked to go back on to the doorstep.

      "I would say he was aggressive but he certainly knew how to cold call and was very good at it. He persuaded us to switch our home phone landline over to Sky. We had been with BT. But when the paperwork came through we found we had broadband as well. We'd told him all along we didn't want it, but there it was."

      The couple said Sky head office rectified the matter when they complained.

      Others at Sky's user forum have described similar experiences.
      Sky's Response
      In a statement Sky's director of retail sales, Simon Raggett, says: "As a business, Sky is committed to the highest standards of responsibility and we take the quality of our door-to-door sales operation extremely seriously.

      "We put significant investment into systems and training, as well as employing multiple checks and controls, to deliver a high quality experience that adheres to strict guidelines.

      "If we have evidence of our staff not complying with these guidelines we will always conduct a full investigation and take the appropriate action."

      He says it makes no economic sense for Sky to "target" customers who may not be able to afford its services and end up cancelling in the short-term.

      Asked about sales agents using friends to verify the sale, Sky said: "We consider an adviser impersonating a customer to be identity theft. We would take immediate disciplinary action if we found evidence of this going on." It added: "We only pay commission to staff once a product has gone live; any inference that our commission system encourages staff to put through 'fake sales' is categorically incorrect.

      "Every salesman receives two weeks of full-time training taking them through our Ways of Working, which are detailed policy guidelines on what is expected of them. These incorporate all the regulatory guidelines."


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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      Its not a practice that's wide spread throughout Sky sales but I bet its a handful of lowlife sellers cashing in on the Sky name, making extra in commission and its the business and the end user that suffers.

      Just because the rats are looking for a easy life at others expense.
      gymno likes this.
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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      And no real mention of commission, never mind greed being even a minor factor.

      I despise the entire concept of commission.
      Pay someone well to do a job well.
      End of.

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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      Paying commission to someone is sales may seem unfair, but managed properly it can be a perfectly good way to encourage good sales. This can be essential practise for many firms out there competing for our business. Those people whom you may see signing up people in your local shopping centre also work on commission.

      Yes there are many who have crossed the line with various companies and this is not something I would ever like anyone to do if I were running a company. There are several incidents where Electric companies have allowed rouge practises to happen and they have been heavily fined for it.

      If this is an issue with Sky's sales people then we wouldn't knowingly censor such reports on this forum. Has anyone from Sky done this? I'm not sure.

      The news story above quotes 2 sources. One of those sources is from this forum. No one who contributes to this forum is in a position to officially verify those details and as such The Guardian has made a serious journalistic error.

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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      Quote Originally Posted by Scubbie
      Paying commission to someone is sales may seem unfair, but managed properly it can be a perfectly good way to encourage good sales. This can be essential practise for many firms out there competing for our business. Those people whom you may see signing up people in your local shopping centre also work on commission.
      In my hardline book, that's no excuse LOL.
      It can encourage all sorts of behaviour.

      Quote Originally Posted by Scubbie
      There are several incidents where Electric companies have allowed rouge practises to happen and they have been heavily fined for it.
      This happened on my very doorstep once.
      Chap told me that my current company bill me for a standing charge & that his don't.
      I said "So with everything switched off while i went on holiday, i'd come home to find i'd spent X pounds?"
      He said "Yes".
      By the time i'd found my statement, he'd disappeared.

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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      Quote Originally Posted by gymno View Post
      In my hardline book, that's no excuse LOL.
      It can encourage all sorts of behaviour.
      Hence why I qualified my statement by saying 'managed properly'.

      If the management was not proper then yes it would encourage bad practises, but managed properly such practises would not be tolerated.

      I've worked for firms which pay commission to people to sell their products. Sure there were some dodgy deals with one firm, but not with them all.

      Quote Originally Posted by gymno View Post
      This happened on my very doorstep once.
      Chap told me that my current company bill me for a standing charge & that his don't.
      I said "So with everything switched off while i went on holiday, i'd come home to find i'd spent X pounds?"
      He said "Yes".
      By the time i'd found my statement, he'd disappeared.
      Unfortunately there have been many well publicised incidents where various electricity companies have flouted the law. They have also been heavily fined for allowing such behaviour to occur.

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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      No one who contributes to this forum is in a position to officially verify those details and as such The Guardian has made a serious journalistic error.
      To be fair Scubbie, they do link to a thread here complaining of Sky's selling practise. This is a an open forum so anyone can link to threads on it. It is a pity the original complainer who only posted once, did not come back and tell us how he got on.
      If only I knew then what I know now.......

      TomD


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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      Having experience of managing a sales incentive scheme (from a rules and calculation perspective), I can see why they exist but I don't think they should be allowed.

      At the end of the day, everyone at a company contributes to a Sale, so why does the actual Sales person get all the kudos and those that developed the product, marketing, systems, infrastructure etc just get a normal pay packet.

      Unfortunately if a company removed it their sales staff would walk elsewhere.

      In the financial services industry, the FCA is taking a hard line on incentive schemes and they are under significant scrutiny. I'm hoping that one day legislation will take them out completely so that everyone involved in a sales gets the right reward.

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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      Quote Originally Posted by Isitme View Post
      To be fair Scubbie, they do link to a thread here complaining of Sky's selling practise. This is a an open forum so anyone can link to threads on it. It is a pity the original complainer who only posted once, did not come back and tell us how he got on.
      If only I knew then what I know now.......
      The lack of any follow up makes me even more suspicious and makes The Guardian's journalistic skills in relation to this article look far worse.

      In light of the very fact that the person concerned has never returned to this forum since then, and that The Guardian chose their post to illustrate their story, makes me think that this was highly likely to be someone faking it.

      The only record we have of this person visiting the forum was on 8th March. 4 people responded to the post and no reply was ever received.

      Suspicious? I most certainly am of this thread in light of what has now happened.

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      Re: The Sky sales staff who say they are under pressure to cheat

      I think one of the complainers has pointed the paper to his post on this forum. I can think of no other reason why they should refer to a 2 month old post. If they had bothered to look through the forum, especially in the 'Unhappiness' section, they could have found even more complaints.

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