BT took me for a sucker, while Sky treated me as a valued customer. It seems ... trends now
All I wanted to do was to lift the spirits of the Ukrainian mother we are hosting, along with her son. It turned out to be a little more expensive than it should have been.
Vera is a football fan and, though her real love is Shakhtar Donetsk, she has adopted Manchester City as her English club. But the big game last Wednesday evening between City and Arsenal was only watchable live on BT Sport, which we don't have.
So I went online last Wednesday morning via my BT Broadband account to get a one-month subscription — price £29.99.
An hour later, I checked that it was now available on my Sky box. It wasn't. So I called BT and spoke to a pleasant woman, who told me that while it would be available on my smartphone, it would only be viewable on TV if I had a smart Samsung one (which I don't).
Then there's no point in me having this, I said, as I would want to watch it on a big screen with my house guests. I asked her to cancel my subscription.
DOMINIC LAWSON: I went online last Wednesday morning via my BT Broadband account to get a one-month subscription — price £29.99
DOMINIC LAWSON: BT has seven times the number of complaints per 100,000 than Sky
She said that would be done, and, when I asked how I could watch the BT Sport broadcast on TV, she helpfully suggested I contact Sky. I did so.
A woman with a warm Scottish accent explained it would cost £28 per month, but that Sky wouldn't get this: it would just be transferred to BT. She added that as I was 'a longstanding loyal customer', she would look through my account to see if there were ways I could save money.
Were there any channels which I subscribed to but no longer needed? Turned out I was still paying for a 'Kids' package, which we definitely no longer needed, and an unused Cinema package, too.
So I got the extra BT Sport, but saved money elsewhere — and that evening, I sat with Vera and her son as they delightedly watched 'their' team annihilate Arsenal.
All good? Not entirely. Next day, I got an email from BT saying: 'Thanks for letting us know you'd like to cancel BT Sport. We'll stop your service and payments on 26-05-23.' Wait: I thought I'd cancelled it before it began?
So I went through to a BT call centre (again), and this time spoke to a man in Belfast. When I told him I wanted the £29.99 restored to my bank account, he said: 'We can't do that.'
But there is always a cooling-off period with any new BT service, or indeed any such purchase, I protested.
'What makes you think that?' he replied. It says so on countless BT offers, I said. Not with this service, he responded.
He was right. And there is a reason for that. Otherwise, people would sign up, watch the one event they really wanted (in this case Man City v Arsenal) and then cancel, getting the event free.
DOMINIC LAWSON: Vera is a football fan and, though her real love is Shakhtar Donetsk, she has adopted Manchester City as her English club. But the big game last Wednesday evening between City and Arsenal was only watchable live on BT Sport, which we don't have
But, I pointed out, I had asked to cancel within an hour and long before the actual screening. That didn't impress him. Then I said: but you are getting £28 from me via Sky, so you're making me pay twice. That didn't work either.
So I pointed out I had been told by his colleague the day before that I would be able to watch the match on TV through the BT Sport subscription I had purchased only if I had a Samsung one — and that she had herself suggested I go through Sky instead.
His response, so quick I surmised he had had similar complaints in the past, was: 'She did not give you the full picture.'
Well, I said, in that case BT misinformed me and is at fault. Even this didn't work.
So I did what perhaps I