Sky vs customer: The best moments from one man's 96-minute attempt to cancel his Sky package

Emma Haslett
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Hackwood spent 96 minutes trying to cancel his Sky TV package (Source: Getty)

Many have tried it, but few have succeeded: and alas, Sky TV customer Gavin Hackwood found himself in the latter camp last month following a 96-minute, 3,800-word attempt to cancel his Sky package so he could move to Virgin.

In an episode not dissimilar from the plight of Ryan Block, the US Comcast customer who was engaged in an 18-minute war of words when he tried to cancel his contract with the provider - the audio recording of which then went viral - Hackwood found himself locked in a battle of wits with a Sky representative, Rachael, when he took to the company's Live Chat service.

After an hour and a half of battling, Rachael finally told him he couldn't cancel his account because of a pending cancellation on his Sky Movies account.

"I was an absolute nightmare", Hackwood told The Daily Mail - although Sky did add that it had now cancelled Hackwood's package, apologise, and say it had "taken steps to simplify how customers can cancel their accounts".

Nevertheless, here are some of the best strategies adopted by Rachael. You can download the full transcript here.

1. The "suspicious mind"

Accusing the customer of criminal activity probably isn't the greatest business strategy, but Rachael has a go anyway, suggesting Hackwood is "downloading illegally".

Hackwood: The deal [with Virgin] included 1 Tivo box and a standard box for the bedroom. I am not prepared to move my broadband from them as I get 152MB included with this.

Rachael: That is understandable, and you do not have to have the broadband in with the package, although very few people in the UK actually need 152mb, unless you have over a dozen computers in your house all downloading illegally, streaming and online gaming on multiple devices all at the same time.

2. The "Nurse Ratched"

At the one hour-mark, Hackwood finally loses his patience - and Rachael opts for a tone which might generously be described as "reminding a naughty toddler what they've done wrong".
Hackwood: I have now been on this chat session for an hour and we are no further forward. I have made you aware I wish to cancel which is all I am obliged to do under the terms and conditions of the contract with Sky. I am starting to lose my patience and request that you place the cancellation request. If you refuse to do this once more I will be contacting the CEO Office and will cancel the Direct Debit and issue a County Court Claim against Sky. Please cancel the account and stop wasting my time with stupid long drawn out questions. I have had enough.

Rachael: I am sorry you feel that way Gavin, I am not doing this to annoy you, I made it very clear that I would need to go through this for you before I could make any changes to your account and these are not stupid questions.

3. The "I'm just doing my job"

Shortly afterwards, she goes for the classic defence.
Hackwood: Will you STOP trying to explain everything and just place the cancellation that I requested over an hour ago.

Rachael: I have to explain myself because you are accusing me of not doing my job and causing offence, when that is not my intention when all I have tried to do through out this whole conversation is help you get a better service from Sky, it is only through your reluctance to allow me to discuss this with you that has caused it to go on for so long.
... and later...
Rachael: Look Gavin, we are going round and round in circles here, I have taken on board what you have said, and I have apologised on countless occasions for making you feel that way, it was not my intention to upset, annoy or offend you today, I was simply trying to do my Job, and I made it very clear to you that I would need to have this conversation with you before I would be able to make any changes and i probably would have been able to help. But now I am trying to action your request and you are the one who keeps going round in circles. So if you can bare with me so that I can process this changes on your account, rather than continuing to discuss this issue further.
Extra "annoying" points for using "action" as a verb...

4. The last straw

After 90 minutes of discussion, Rachael delivers one final blow.
Rachael: So because there is a cancellation on your Movies just now and this is not due to complete until the 07/04/2015, I need to remove this cancellation before I can apply it to your account, so this means that you will need to give 31 days notice from todays date on all your services, so you will have the Movies until the 19/04/2015 along with the rest of your package. Is that Ok?

Hackwood: No it's not ok, I have already given you notice on that.

Rachael: Yes, but the notice on that does not complete until the 07/04/2015, so I can not apply a cancellation to the rest of your package while a cancellation is in place, so you can either remove the cancellation from the Movies and apply 31 days to the whole account, or you can wait until the Movies have been removed and then apply 31 days notice to the rest of your package, you are unable to overlap the 2 cancellation periods.

Hackwood: Are you joking? I am giving you 31 days notice NOW. The Direct Debit will be cancelled. Do what you like. You have been given the notice.

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