Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sky Minus/Stagecoach

On Friday the Good Lady Wife and I noticed that that afternoon's Pointless - our new favourite quiz show - hadn't recorded. Not only had it not recorded but it had been marked as FAILED. Mastermind was set to record too but FAILED too. We didn't notice until later on because we were saving it for later (When none of the specialist subjects are of interest we proceed straight to General Knowledge questions and start the weekly routine of 'shouting at the telly'). Then Big Bang Theory FAILED on Saturday and we sussed that something wasn't quite right.

Using the interweb I found that it was a common problem but decided to let Sky sort it out (isn't that what we pay them a small fortune for?) before I took advice from 'the people'. I emailed them: "For the last two days I've been getting FAILED messages against programmes I've tried to record through the Sky+ Planner. When we press for Information it gives us a Technical Fault 11. What is a Technical Fault 11, why are we getting it and how can it be fixed?"

Meanwhile, we switched everything off - we drew the line at unplugging everything - and waited to see what Sunday morning would bring. Voila, it was fine again but it still rankled me that it had happened in the first place.

A reply awaited me when I switched the computer on:

"I am sorry to hear of the problems you have been experiencing with your services. To rectify these problems, please follow the procedure below:

Please note this process will stop all the recordings currently in progress and reboot your box, therefore you may want to do this after a recording has been completed.

  1. Using the Sky Remote Control press the services button.
  2. Using the up / down arrow buttons highlight System Setup and press select.
  3. Press 0, 1 and select to access the Installer Menu.
  4. Highlight Sky+ Planner Rebuild and press select.

When the warning on screen message, 'this will take a few minutes to completed' the rebuild will stop all recordings and reboot your Sky+. Press select to confirm or backup to cancel appears press select to continue.

The on screen message, 'Housekeeping please wait' will appear and take up to 2 minutes to clear. Once complete the set top box will switch itself off and then back on automatically and wait in standby mode. Wait for 60 seconds after the red light has appeared before attempting to switch back on your box.

If after following this procedure you are still experiencing problems, you may need to contact our technical team on 08442 41 14 11,direct for further assistance. If you require a service call and your box warranty has expired, the service call will carry a charge of 65.00 (GBP).

I hope this information has helped with your enquiry. If you require any further assistance, you can respond to my email. You can also contact our Customer Services team on 08442 41 41 41, where one of our advisors will be happy to help."

You would've thought I'd have been pleased to hear from them but I wasn't. Why? Well, firstly they want me to use "0" from a system setup screen that only offers a choice form 1 to 8! Secondly, they want ME to phone THEM on an 0844 number (you know our details, call us) and, thirdly, if the equipment isn't working I have to pay THEM £65 for an engineer (or whatever pretentious job title Sky give them) to tell me what I already know! It's all money, money, money*. I'm turning into Jim Royle, only without the bowel/toilet problems and bad clothes.

I replied to the email from "Cynthia" with a simple one-liner: "You say "highlight System setup and press select" Then "press 0" but there is no 0 on our System setup menu! It only goes from 1 to 8".

Cynthia turned into Bruce and responded thus:

You're quite right there is no 0 on the system setup menu, but that is because you are accessing a hidden menu at that point. If you are on system setup menu, ignore the screen and just press 0,1 and select the installer menu will appear.

It can be easier for us to take you through the procedures on the phone but I do not have any details to be able to access your account. If you email back to us with your viewing card number and password if you have one, we will be happy to contact you back.

Kind regards


Of course. Stupid me, a "hidden menu". Why didn't I think of that? I am such an idiot. I have brought shame upon myself and my family and I must throw myself off the roof immediately.

I find "It can be easier for us" to be rather patronising and somewhat insulting. If I can't work the instructions given to me in writing, some sad sod with no career prospects, halitosis and white socks in the modern electronic equivalent of the sweatshop isn't going to be any more useful.

Thankfully for the Good Lady Wife, but not me, her "Dancing on Ice" has recorded.

* On Saturday morning I had to take the car for a service in Dalgety Bay, a 10-minute drive from home. I dropped the car off and waited for a bus back.

"Tesco, Dunfermline, please" "£2.75"

"What?" "£2.75"

I handed it over but was so positive that that was wrong I tucked my ticket safely away. I'd never been on this bus before or in the area, except in a car, but it seemed rather steep. I checked the time and wondered if this particular bus took a different route home, maybe via Oslo. After all this was the 80C. Not the original 80, the all-new 80A or the new AND improved 80B with Boswelox, this was the all-singing, all-dancing, let's-do-the-show-right-here 80C.

I alighted at Tesco (who the hell says "alighted" anymore?), a mere eight minutes after I got on. Surviving the pedestrian jungle that is the Tesco car park - does nobody stop at pedestrian crossings anymore? - I walked, still in disbelief. After a couple of hours serious "pottering" the garage called and I headed back out for the bus.

"Dalgety Bay, please" "£1.40"

"£1.40? I was charged £2.75 not two hours ago for the same trip in reverse"

After a discussion with the driver,who was as much use as a cat flap on a submarine, I took a seat. I used the nine minutes constructively (the 80B goes a different route and I had to walk some of the way hence the extra minute) and fired off an e-mail to the Operations Manager, who is also a near neighbour.

Just to rub salt into the wound I had to stump up £270 at the garage (service and something to do with the brakes) and they couldn't fix the radio display without a code, which was on a card, which we didn't have.

It never rains but it pours.

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