Own-initiative investigation into Sky’s compliance with rules about cancellation and termination arrangements

20 September 2016

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative investigation.
Investigation against: Sky UK Limited (trading as “Sky”)
Case opened: 6 August 2015
Case closed: 7 August 2017 
Issue: Whether Sky has complied with its obligations under General  Condition 9.3
Relevant Instrument: General Condition 9.3.

Ofcom has now concluded this investigation.

The investigation examined Sky’s conditions and procedures for cancellation and termination of its services.

In September 2016, we provisionally determined that there were reasonable grounds for believing that Sky contravened GC 9.3 of the General Conditions between 1 May 2015 and 31 July 2015 in respect of landline and broadband services. We therefore issued a notification to Sky under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003 (‘the Notification’).

Sky provided written and oral representations on the issues we set out in the Notification. Following careful consideration of those representations Ofcom has decided not to take any further enforcement action in this case.

Since the start of our investigation, Sky has made ongoing changes to its processes and procedures to facilitate an improved customer experience when customers wish to cancel their service, and which Sky has informed us are part of a programme of continuous improvement. The actions it has taken, and which we have taken into account in making our decision, include:

  • changes to its incentive scheme for advisors so that they are encouraged to recognise if a customer intends to cancel and allow those who wish to leave to do so without having a conversation about staying with Sky;
  • clarification and updating of guidance for advisors to improve the customer experience for those customers that are seeking to cancel;
  • creating a separate, dedicated and specially trained team to handle cancellation requests made by customers via email or letter;
  • providing refunds to customers who made a cancellation request by letter or email during the Relevant Period that may not have had the correct notice period applied to their request - we would encourage any former Sky customer to contact Sky on 0800 759 1703 if you made a written cancellation request and your notice period was not backdated to the date on which Sky received your letter or email; and
  • improvements to the clarity of information available to customers on its website about the different cancellation routes available and the applicable notice periods.

We have continued to monitor complaints throughout the period of our investigation and note that complaints to Ofcom’s Consumer Contact Team about Sky’s cancellation procedures have reduced materially and have remained at a low level for a considerable period of time.

We plan to update our consumer guidance to help consumers understand the different cancellation routes available from different providers, and assist those wishing to cancel to do so easily.

Update note: 20 September 2016

General Condition  9.3 (terminating a contract outside of the cooling-off period)

Following an investigation, Ofcom has  provisionally determined that there are reasonable grounds for believing that  Sky contravened GC9.3 of the General Conditions between 1 May 2015 and 31 July  2015 in respect of landline and broadband services. Ofcom has therefore issued  a Notification to Sky under section 96A of the Communications Act 2003 (the  “Act”). Sky now has an opportunity to make representations to Ofcom on the  matters contained in the Notification before Ofcom makes a final decision in  accordance with section 96C of the Act.

General Condition  22 (terminating a contract within the cooling-off period)

Following a thorough assessment of the evidence gathered from Sky, Ofcom  has decided not to take any enforcement action in connection with Sky’s  compliance with General Condition 22.

Ofcom will continue to monitor complaints against Sky in regard to terminating  within the cooling off period.

End of Update note

Ofcom has opened this investigation into Sky’s compliance with GC9.3 and  22 following complaints received from consumers.

GC9.3 is designed to ensure that conditions or procedures for contract  termination do not act as a disincentive for end-users changing their  Communication Providers.

GC22, which covers migrations of fixed line telecommunications and  broadband services within the Openreach and KCOM Access Networks, provides for  customers’ termination rights (within GC22.5).

Ofcom's investigation will examine whether there are reasonable grounds  for believing that Sky has failed to comply with these obligations.

Case Leader: Camille Seldon (Camille.Seldon@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01163/08/15