Big Issue

Here in the Big Issue column we take a regular look at the current issues that surround Sky+ and give our comment and analysis.

Sky+ Series Links Sky+ £10 Charge Sky+ Customer care
Sky+ Dual Recording PVR Now & In The Future  

This Month - Sky+ Stand & Deliver    by James Payne
Posted on Thursday 29th May 2003 

Ordering & Install Experiences...                    
  Hello I've come to install your Sky+  
With the latest release of Sky's figures, it is of no surprise to see that more and more homes are deciding to subscribe to Sky Digital. The benefits of digital satellite seem to be immense, with superior sound and picture quality coupled with the ever increasing new channels and interactive content.

Casting my mind back to when I first ordered "plain old" Sky Digital, my main concern was the fact that you could still only watch one satellite channel at a time, and as this was no different to analogue, was it really worth the money. Still temptation got the better of me, and I took the plunge. As most people, I didn't regret the decision, and it wasn't long before I was wanting more.

The same old problem kept occurring; there was always more than one programme on at the same time. The amount of times I went without watching decent programmes, just because there was something else on another channel. It all became very annoying and painful.

And one day, Oh praise the lord, or should that be Mr. Murdoch - a new machine called Sky+ was announced! "You're surely pulling my leg?" I thought, "I can now record one Sky channel whilst watching another, and I don't even have to use video tapes! It really must be my birthday!! I must have one of these machines. All I have to do now is convince the wife." (Oh come on we've all been there)

The convincing didn't really take very long. After informing her that it was compulsory for all thirty somethings to have this box, along with "Well the new series of Friends, ER and Big Brother will only be available to subscribers with Sky+", she then came round to my way of thinking (not all based on truth I admit).

well yes the adverts do fly past more quickly on ER with Sky+...
(Above: ER, the place where James Payne would be if his wife finds out that Sky+ really isn't the only way to see new episodes of the big budget American drama series.)

Oh and the fact that I promised to do all the housework for the following two months. As you can imagine I was straight on the phone to Sky ordering the little beauty. Unfortunately my waiting period for installation was about two months, but considering the product had only just launched and interest was high, I accepted this and spent the next sixty days like an excited hormonal teenager anxiously waiting for his 1st date !

The installation was straight forward and within 20 minutes I was merrily playing with my new toy, and scratching my head, marvelling at the way that if you pressed this button whilst watching live TV, the picture actually paused, but then enabled you to press it again and carry on watching without missing anything.
Anything from 2 days to 2 months for a Sky+ install date

Now with the much anticipated Sky+ marketing campaign creeping up on us & lots of potential new users on the horizon, I asked a trio of users of their own experience of the ordering, installation and use of Sky+:

Now when our three new users, "Kevin" "Starkicker" & "Ian" felt that the time was right to order, the call went off to Sky. Would they be lucky? You bet!

Installation dates for all were given for within 7-10 days. In an ideal world it would be nice if everyone could get at least 5 lottery numbers, beer would sell at a £1 a pint and Spurs would occasionally finish higher than mid table every damn year. It would also be great if you could order a product and it could be delivered in about a couple of days, but in reality this is never going to happen. 7-10 days is very good.

The ordering process is very easy and straight forward. It may sound daft, but tell them what you want, get them to repeat it back to you and you shouldn't have any problems. With the installing options given these days, it is not always a case of fixing a dish at standard height and one box in the living room.

Over to Kevin to continue the story:

Hi, I'm Kevin Fox, and my installation involved the dish being fixed at roof height. This should never really be a problem, however if it gets to a certain height then Sky have to ensure that it is carried out by a special heights team. This wasn't the case here, and after it had been confirmed by Sky customer services that it wouldn't be a problem, the installation date was set.

Assistance was given to the installer by myself, as earlier I had loosened the mast fixings, and ran the cables through the loft ready for the install. Unfortunately as it turned out, the digital out on the Sky+ box was faulty, however after the box was changed by the same installer this problem was then corrected.

This box however had a fan that ran continuously for one and a half hours, but after a power cycle it has been quiet ever since. It's reassuring that the installer recognised the fault and went out of his way to correct it and therefore keep me, the customer, happy.

So Kevin was content with his install, let's see what another user experienced:

Hi I'm Starkicker - I don't know about anyone else, but if you received a phone call at 07:50 in the morning, would you be rather alarmed?

Hold on a minute though thankfully, it was just the Sky+ installation engineer wanting to come round in 15 minutes. So far so good. Now I'm sure most installers like the job to be as quick and easy as possible, and in this case I think he was happy.
Those Sky+ installers are a keen bunch...

It wasn't just one new Sky+ box to install but also the relocation of the existing digibox for the mirror sub. This was not to delay the installer though, with the telephone points in the correct places he was all complete in about an hour. So I was one happy customer, and when I thought things couldn't get any better, I then realised I'd been given the new Sky+ Version 2 box which is what I wanted.
It's the Sky+ box - the nice new one...
Last but not least to have his Sky+ installed was Ian Sime, let's hear what Ian thought:

ORDERING I called to order Sky+ in the evening, and the whole process went very smoothly. I was aware that the current standard offer was £199 for the box and £50 for the installation, but I also knew of a few people who had been told that they could have the installation for half-price recently.

The Sky salesman was very polite and helpful, and enquired as to whether I was interested in a mirror subscription. When I told him that I wasn't, he did not try the hard sell, he just accepted this and moved on. I was given an installation date of 6 days from the phone call, which was better than I had expected.

INSTALLATION The engineer arrived earlier than I expected (8:40 am !) so that was a good start. He seemed a little offended that I had told Sky that I wanted the PVR2 model of Sky+, but he soon got over it. He left my existing cable in place, and simply ran another cable alongside it for the second feed. The job was done within an hour or so, and he left the place neat and tidy.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Sky+ is what I have waited a long, long time for. It is so easy to use, Sky+ and makes a BIG difference to my viewing habits. The ability to record whilst watching another channel is great, as is being able to record whilst watching something you recorded earlier - which in fact is probably more useful in my case.

Timeshifted viewing is another major bonus for my viewing habits, as I had always previously had to wait for a programme to finish recording before watching it. No piles of videos with 'god knows what' on them is great as well.

Within the first week I had only 1 Series Link problem, and this appeared to be down to the broadcaster (Eastenders on BBC1). I am a little disappointed at how easy it is to delete a programme from the Sky+ Planner. Instead of having a confirmation when you try and delete a Keep programme, this should instead be the norm, and you should not be able to delete a Keep programme at all - you should have to remove the Keep flag first. No drinks at the Queen Vic when the Series Link forgets... 

All in all though, I am very happy indeed with Sky+, and I can never see a time when I do not have this functionality again.

With all new users machines nicely installed, what is the group consenus on their first impressions?

Well not surprisingly they are very happy indeed.
The general opinion is that it it's certainly living up to expectations and all the hype.
Viewing habits have certainly been changed.
Being able to watch and record is fabulous.
To start watching a programme whilst it is still recording is great
Zooming through the adverts to catch up with live TV is quite remarkable.
"How on earth did we manage before?" they cry
Minor irritations like broken series links occasionally arise, and obviously the sooner this is sorted out the better.

So what can we say about this "small straw poll" of users experience?
On the whole it appears that Sky is actually realising that there is a demand for this product, and acknowledges the importance of keeping the customer happy.
Don't get me wrong, some of their customer support staff still leave a lot to be desired, however it does seem that steps are being taken to listen to the customer and improve the service.

Unfortunately there's nothing worse than waiting on the phone for 20 minutes only to then be told that there's currently a two month waiting time for installation. With the different ways of being able to order Sky+ these days, the thing to remember is that the customer needs to remain fairly accommodating. Install dates will be given that don't suit, turn these away a couple of times and you could easily be looking at weeks/months down the line.

But overall the future of Sky+ is looking good. With the imminent arrival of the new marketing campaign, and hopefully dual record just around the corner, who could possibly resist the temptation of changing their viewing habits for ever?
"Not us!"

My sincere thanks go to Kevin Fox, Starkicker and Ian Sime who took the time and effort to pass on their experience, and therefore helping me put together this article.

Many thanks guys, much appreciated.

Sky+ Series Links Sky+ £10 Charge Sky+ Customer care
Sky+ Dual Recording PVR Now & In The Future  

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