Ofcom Pressure - UK ISP Sky Broadband Extends Sky Talk Deadline - ISPreview UK
Last year’s move by Sky Broadband to swap their existing Sky Talk (voice calls) customers, including those who received free calls at no extra cost, on to a new paid package (presumed consent) did not go down well with everybody (here). But a little pressure from Ofcom appears to have helped.

The change was first revealed in October 2015 (here), although existing customers still had to do a bit of digging in order to uncover the full details (Sky’s official announcement page made no mention of the extra £4 charge). In fairness the writing had been on the wall since July 2015’s closure of the old Sky Talk packages (here), which at the time only affected new subscribers.

The changes were due to be implemented for all existing customers by the end of December 2015, although as feared some of Sky’s customers were caught out by this and they promptly complained to the national telecoms regulator, Ofcom. It’s worth noting that customers did have the option to downgrade Sky Talk and avoid the charge, but not everybody was aware.

At that point Ofcom took a closer look as part of its monitoring programme for General Condition 9 (GC9), which relates to the fairness of consumer contracts. As a result of that Ofcom got in contact with Sky and managed to agree a softening of the operator’s position, albeit not by much.

Ofcom’s Statement

Some customers complained to Ofcom about the changes. Ofcom contacted Sky and it has now agreed to give any customer who is unhappy with the changes until 31 January 2016 to:

  • cancel their Sky Talk and Broadband service without any termination fee;
  • cancel their Sky Talk service without any termination fee, but, where possible, keep any other Sky services without losing any applicable discounts on the prices of those other services until the end of any offer period; or
  • downgrade their Sky Talk package and receive a refund (or account credit) of any relevant charges.

Customers who have concerns relating to the changes to Sky Talk should contact Sky.
In fairness most of the major ISPs have also removed free call periods from their entry-level unlimited standard broadband packages, although most didn’t automatically attempt to nudge subscribers on to a more expensive package. Related extras are often also still included as part of premium packages.

Often what really frustrates a lot of consumers is the fact that these features get removed and yet the underlying price of broadband and or line rental continues to rise, which leaves customers paying more and getting less.