It was the summer of 1992 and the sun was shining in through the pale floral curtains lighting up the little bedroom in a family home sitting in Worle, Weston-Super-Mare. A little girl, with scraggly strawberry-blonde hair, all swept up in a mass of tangles and wispy fuzz, rolled out of her ‘My Little Pony’ bed sheets and jumped onto the thick carpet with a bang. She looked at the analog alarm clock sitting on the little wooden bedside table and the numbers: 06:01 flashed across the black screen in neon red.
The three-year-old grabbed her white tatty cotton blanket and stuffed a pink dummy in her mouth as she hurried down the hall and descended the creaky staircase to the living room. A black collie stretched and greeted her as she passed, her fluffy tail wagging slowly as the girl patted her head. ‘Ello Bonnie’ the girl said with a mouth full of spit as she sucked on the dummy. She gleefully skipped into the living room, knelt down by the brown Television box, pushed a video into the player and pressed a small black button on the corner of the TV set. A snowy scene came across the screen as white and black dots flashed accompanied by the sound of white noise. The girl pressed the triangle button the video player and an old recording of ‘My Little Pony’ started to play.
The little girl pulled her knees up to her chest and pulled her nighty down over her knees making herself into a little ball and she rubbed her fingers and thumb over the corner of her blankie as she watched her favourite TV show in the quiet house.
The little girl is me, twenty-seven years ago. And that is my earliest memory of watching TV. You may have similar memories, waking up before the rest of the household and sneaking downstairs to enjoy free-reign over the remote. (Although, we didn’t have a remote back then, you just used to press one of the buttons on the TV set.)
Fast forward a few years and I remember my dad coming home with a box and a flurry of excitement in the home.
‘We’ve got Sky!’ My mum exclaimed excitedly. A strange box was fitted and sat on the VCR and flashed a light when it was on. It was sleek and new. And the TV screen flashed blue.
I then spent many hours, especially over the summer holidays, watching Rugrats on a new channel called Nickelodeon.
Sky became a massive part of my life. We watched Star Gate SG1, Voyager, Star Trek the Next Generation, Walker Texas Ranger, Xena the Warrior Princess and countless other programs.
Family time was sitting around the TV set watching our favourite shows. Sundays were watching Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice and wondering if perhaps this week he would smile? Then there was Antique’s Roadshow where we would guess how much items would be worth, and the collective “Oh Wow!” when an old pocket watch was found and valued at £Millions.
We laughed at Only Fools and Horses, Birds of a Feather and The Good Life.
My dad watched MASH, Upstairs Downstairs and Some Mothers Do Have Em.
As I grew a little older. We’d laugh at Keeping Up Appearances, The Brittas Empire, Third Rock From the Sun. My sisters would watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I never figured out if Angel was a good guy or not. Dr Who and the Cyber Men gave me nightmares and we’d watch Charmed every week.
Party of 5, 90210, Dawson’s Creek, Saved by the Bell, Boy Meets World all filled my childhood with drama and teen angst.
Every now and then, a new Sky box would turn up. With a new menu, new features. More channels.
“We can record shows now!” My father would exclaim with excitement. Then we had the option to pause Live TV which ended the dramatic run to the bathroom and grab a drink during the Ad breaks.
Then we had an endless catalog of movies to watch. My father suffered from insomnia while I was a teenager, so it became normal to see him sitting on the couch, wearing a pair of headphones as he watched a movie late at night. Then Sky came out with a new feature – multi-room. Now we could have another box and watch Sky on more that one device!
When I moved out and into my marital home, we did not have Sky. It was a difficult transition, but we enjoyed Freeview. I watched Friends repeats on Comedy Central. And we watched whatever movies were playing instead of choosing from a selection of pre-recorded ones.
Then we moved house and got our own Sky subscription. An all-new blue Sky box arrived. This one was in HD. The picture was amazing. The menus were sleek. So many channels! I was in heaven once more.
Then we got Ultra-HD and Sky Go so our Kids could watch Sky on their iPads as well.
Then my dad passed away, and his headphones sit on my bookcase, as a reminder of the past. My mother lives with me now, and she uses Sky Go on her iPad to watch wherever she pleases and has a mini box in the lounge to watch her TV shows without the kids running around her feet and changing the channel.
But then Christmas came along, and Sky had removed all the good Christmas movies from Sky Cinema (Something we paid a fortune to have access to.) As soon as the new year arrived, those movies reappeared on the Sky Cinema catalog. Cheeky. I thought, but let it slide because you know, it’s Sky. I love Sky.
I binge-watched thirteen seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, I’m pretty sure that qualifies me to be able to perform emergency surgery on someone if it was needed. Then I got into Gossip Girl. The 100. The Walking Dead. SO. Many. Shows.
I spent many Sunday afternoons napping to the sounds of formula 1 racing cars as my husband caught up with the race.
We would choose from the large catalog of movies to gather round and watch as a family on Friday evenings. Lovingly called “movie night,” in our home.
Sky has been a huge part of my whole life. Maybe that’s really sad. Maybe.
But now, after a simple call to Sky to talk about their extortionate rates (which they have increased to the point where you could actually lease a car for the same amount of money.) Instead of offering their usual deals and a new contract…we get passed over to multiple call-handlers, who give different stories about what they can and cannot do for us.
“No deal!” I hear my husband say, as their offer is nowhere near as good as the ones quoted online to new customers. Or even from people who have called and got their monthlies reduced as an existing customer.
Then it became all-out war. It was a battle of wills. Who was going to crumble? The Sky reps sit around their conference tables, faces creased into evil smiles that would give the Grinch a run for his money, tapping their clawed hands together and speaking in scaley voices.
“Mwa ha ha ha, they won’t leave us, we have the monopoly on the market…no one is as great as us, we can treat them as badly as we want, they’ll come crawling back,” they screech to each other. Heads back, shrill laughter escapes their mouths.
A quick Google search and TrustPilot scores Sky a measly 1/10 with over 3,000 reviews. 77% of them 1 star.
The complaints are nearly identical. Increasing prices. Boiler-room techniques to keep the contract, accept higher-costs, drop complaints and put up with the poor customer service.
My biggest grief is that they quote different prices all the time. How is this ok? How is this not clamped down? How can an 80year old grandma be charged £100 a month for the same subscription as a 23-year-old male who pays half that because he spoke to them on the phone and got to the right department with the “authority” to offer the right deal?
Sky, I love you. We’ve been in a relationship for almost as long as I can remember. But this is it. We have to go our separate ways. I wrote this post because someone has to publicly call you out on the sneaky, scammy shenanigans going on within your business. The dodgy deals. The poor treatment of long-standing customers. And that’s not even mentioning the fact you charge customers to access Sky Cinema but then take off the best Christmas movies at Christmastime and make them only available in the Sky Store. Only for them to reappear in the Sky Cinema catalog in the new year.
It’s just not going to work between us anymore. I deserve better. I know that somewhere out there, I will find a TV subscription service for a fraction of the price, who treats me better.
I’m sorry Sky. It’s not me. It’s you.
And I’ve been on your side since 1995. Change your shady ways and bring back the joy you created in the 90s. Until then….Goodbye.
P.S. Readers, have you been with Sky? Are you with Sky now? What are your experiences? I’d love to know. xxx