Sky forces HD customers to opt back into channels they already have

22 July 2010

Not a nanosecond goes by without Sky repeatedly fisting you in the face with the fact that the programme you're watching is dogshit, but would cause your brain to orgasm if you were watching it in HD. For those who have already made the switch and are paying Sky a small fortune every month for their HD service, disappointing news has begun arriving in their inboxes:

Bitterwallet - Sky charges extra for HD channels

Currently, the HD subscription allows you to watch HD channels you don't necessarily subscribe to (Sky offers channels in subscription "bundles" which you can mix and match, or receive all), so if you pay your £10 per month HD subscription, you have access to all channels broadcast in HD. From October, you'll only have access to those channels that are part of your bundles.

According to avid Bitterwallet reader Alan, the changes precede Sky scrapping the monthly subscription, although that isn't mentioned in the email. That isn't what's causing upset for Alan and other customers in forums, however; it's that the wording states all Sky HD customers will lose these channels, regardless of the contract they signed - unless they contact Sky to keep them for the remainder of their contract. In other words, Sky are making customers opt back into channels they've already agreed a contract to receive.

We're not sure there's a case for contract cancellation, since Sky are clearly communicating to customers how to continue receiving the channels and providing plenty of notice regarding the change; Sky might therefore argue that removal of the channels is optional. We can't find the previous terms and conditions for Sky HD online; according to the generic T&Cs: "the Sky+HD box has separate terms and conditions which are supplied with the box". Helpful.

Regardless, surely the right way to do this, is automatically allow contracted customers to keep these channels, and provide the option to upgrade? If you're a Sky HD customer, have you contacted Sky about the channels you'll be losing in October?

TOPICS:   Technology

33 comments

  • Noodles
    I have Sky HD and the letter I received says that nothing will change. I have the complete package - I take from that extract to mean; "Because you have signed up to a minimum term and you are getting the HD channels without paying for the channel mix we will honour this until the end of your minimum term (IF YOU CALL US)" I don't think you have anything to change if you currently have the channel mixes!
  • Nobby
    I got a letter from my gas / electric supplier telling me that they would be aligning their prices. Since when has aligning meant increasing? As this is what they actually mean.
  • maxtweenie
    I got a letter from my wife's solicitor saying he would be 'aligning' his trouser pockets with all my money from the divorce.
  • Martin
    I eventually found a contact form on their website and sent them a message saying I wanted to keep the channels but not heard anything back (originally tried replying to the mail, but that got bounced back saying that the mailbox wasn't monitored).
  • Jase
    Meh...3 sky+ boxes (1 HD), full packages...don't pay for any of them.
  • AyePet
    Get a freesat hd box, simples. Paying Sky is nuts
  • GMail U.
    @ Jase... give me some of that mate... tell me more
  • Jase
    working for SkySports = free stuff.
  • Ian
    Is there a bitterwallet reader in the land that isn't "avid"?
  • Michael
    Not sure what you're on about. I am a Sky HD subscriber and I already only have access to the HD channels in the mixes I subscribe to. I suspect the number of people receving, for example, the HD movie channels without a movie channel mix must be low, and limited to those who signed up their contract NEARLY 12 months ago.
  • Martin
    @Michael It doesn't include the movies of the sport, just the ordinary channels. For example, if you don't subscribe to the documentary mix, you should still be able to see National Geographic HD if you have HD.
  • Karl
    @Michael This isn't refering to the "premium" HD channels such as movies and sports, this is refering to the regular HD channels. All HD subscribers have (up to now) had access to all of the standard HD channels such as Discovery HD. Sky are now saying that if (for example) you don't have the documentaries bundle, you will no longer receive Discovery HD. They will however continue to take your tenner every month (I haven't heard otherwise from them despite the assertion in the article) for this reduced service. You pay the same, they provide less.
  • Richard
    Ian - do you mean livid? Anyway, do many people have a HD subscription without a standard mix including Discovery, Sky1 etc?
  • Paul N.
    We used to have some rabid readers but we had to put them down.
  • Amy W.
    @ Ian - yes, I'm rabid.
  • issac h.
    And once again Sky roll out the giant 0870/0844 cash generator, charging a king's ransom to be kept hanging on all day. :>(
  • Sam P.
    Issac - visit saynoto0870.com and use one of the landline numbers on there
  • Tim
    How many people don't subscribe to all the bundles (not counting premium movies & sports), but are prepared to fork out £10 a month for HD and have probably paid good money for an HD box? Should think it's rather low. For the channels I want I have to take them all. I don't go for premium though so I don't get those in HD. It does seem like this will be a precursor to dropping the £10 a month, but only after the package prices go up I expect (I didn't read the last mailing small print but I expect it's in there somewhere). Then again, we've speculated on the dropping of the HD fee for ages and Sky still refuse to do so.
  • Dave
    @ Tim, I do, I subscribe to SKY HD with Sky Sports but do not have the 'knowledge' pack or the 'music' pack but with having HD I currently enjoy the option to watch MTV-HD and Discovery-HD / National Geog HD. When Sky remove my access to MTV, Discovery, National Geog and (more) I'll be dropping the £10 a month HD subs as it is not worth it just for the sport channels and I am not paying more by adding quids on for every little 'pack'.
  • armeen
    I got this email yesterday, phoned up sky and the man I got through to knew nothing about it and said that nothing would change - I fully expect to loose the channels on or around the 16th october! I choose to get the variety pack, the moves and music and also hd - the stupid thing is that I didn't realise that I had the extra channels like discovery hd, I thought you needed those packs so didn't even bother trying to watch them - what an idiot!
  • Chris
    @armeen - likewise I rang and asked them what this meant and likewise they didn't seem to know much but at least the chap I spoke to was actually helpful: I take Variety, Childrens, News and Knowledge, it appears the only HD channels I will miss come October are Sky Arts and MTV Networks.....no idea how I'm going to cope :)
  • planetpmc
    I too received the email and was a bit concerned at the sentence: "Whilst you are within your minimum contract term, you can keep the additional HD channels which you currently have access to if you contact us. I've just phoned Sky and seem to have sorted it out. When I took HD, I specifically wanted it for live football ie Sky Sports. To my surprise, I found that I could see most of the other HD channels, with the exception of movies, at no extra cost.
  • planetpmc
    The change that they're proposing means that from a certain date I will no longer be able to see these extra channels unless I add the pack that includes them. As far as I'm concerned, getting these channels was just an added bonus; in fact, I thought there had been a mistake in my favour - so fair enough, I just won't be adding the additional pack(s) as I never watched them anyway.
  • planetpmc
    If you subscribed before 22nd June 2010 you will still be able to see these extra channels free of charge for one year from the date of your subscription. If you subscribed after 22nd June, the cut-off date is 5th October this year. I can't remember why this is, he did tell me but by this time I was bored and, frankly, needed a drink (chablis o'clock, you see). He did admit however that the letter was most unclear but this is what happens by the time it's gone through seventeen sets of lawyers.
  • planetpmc
    It's worth phoning them and having a rant though (freephone number 0800 0512597); I managed to get my bill down by £10 a month thereby covering the cost of the original HD subscription - sorted! Bon weekend.
  • Stuart
    I just called them and asked that they don’t remove any of the HD channels I currently get. Their response was “pay an extra £1 per month to get them back from Oct”. I told them I would be leaving ... after my 12 months ... GRRR
  • Karl
    Note that their Digital Ssubscription Contract, Section 11.a.iv states that you may end your subscription within your minimum term if "you reasonably consider that you have been materially disadvantaged by any reduction in the number of Channels within, or the level of service of, your chosen Option." I would say this is a pretty clear case of being materially disadvantaged since those of us who don't subscribe to all packages will have to pay extra to receive the same channels we have been getting now. Don't let them get away with charging you for the rest of the 12 months!
  • Rick
    I too called SKY and have emailed about 4 times just to get a sensible answer. So yes they still want my £10.00 per month plus another quid to get back any HD channels I loose. This is just unacceptable to me. I told the chap at SKY that this may mean I move to Virgin and all he could say is yes I can see why that woul dmake sense!! TiVo on virgin is also going to wipe the floor with SKY+. I had TiVo for years and SKY + has never really come close other than being abl eto record two channels and have HD. The new UK TiVo will have all this and more. Bye Bye SKY.
  • Poinsy
    Got this email myself. So, they have basically been giving us extra channels for nothing. So, I guess that they are quite within their rights to stop these. I wasn't aware that I would receive these extra channels when I took the basic HD package (with a free HD box), so I cannot complain. and they are still giving us the option of keeping these channels for the remainder of your minimum term by making a phone call. Simples :)
  • Mike
    @planetmpc "If you subscribed before 22nd June 2010 you will still be able to see these extra channels free of charge for one year from the date of your subscription. If you subscribed after 22nd June, the cut-off date is 5th October this year" Not true, I subscribed in July and I have an e-mail confirming that my HD channels will remain AS-IS until July next year.
  • The S.
    You may not have sympathy with my situation but here goes. I am an INDEPENDENT Sky salesman based in a shopping centre (so no hiding place from angry customers). Last year Sky were pushing us like mad to sell HD and the big hook was 'Customers get ALL the HD channels in the basic pack REGARDLESS of subscription'. When I received the letter as a Sky customer around June/July I was filled with a sense of dread for the HUNDREDS of customers who I persuaded to take HD on the basis that they would get AT LEAST 16 HD channels whatever pack they choose. And sure enough, they are back to my door and (quite rightly) complaining. Two points, firstly I (sort of) understand where Sky are coming from, they're introducing all these new HD channels (sports news for example) and customers are 'rewarding' them by downgrading and removing that package. However Sky should honour the deal for customers within the first 12 months of their contract
  • Colin
    I noticed that I lost Sky Art 1 HD, when I recoded a number of programs and could not watch them. When I rang Sky the first guy told me, that I should not have had the channels and so was lucky to have them until now. After read this info I rang back, they then told me that the original T&Cs stated that you should only get the HD channels according to your package but they gave the extra HD channels for free as there were not many HD channels at the start. Now, because of the number of HD channels, they are now aligning them to the packages.He also commented that it was very unlikely that Sky would would scrap the £10 HD charge as it would cost them so much, which knowing Sky makes sense. So I cancelled my subscription, interestingly I was told that if I wanted to restart the subscription after the cancellation period, I could and still be on 31 days notice, as I have had the box for more that a year.
  • Brian
    I just spoke with sky and after 20 mins explaining that I wanted to keep all my channels that I signed a 12 month contract for and not to pay any more they finally agreed to restore all the channels at no cost until the end of my 12 months. Result. :)

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