DOMINIC LAWSON: BT took me for a sucker, while Sky treated me as a valued customer. It seems I’m not alone
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.
Vera is a football fan and, though her real love is Shakhtar Donetsk, she has adopted Manchester City as her English club (file image)
So I did what perhaps I should not have done and said: ‘I’m a newspaper columnist, and I think I will write about how BT treats its customers.’ To which he said: ‘You are threatening me’ (file image)
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.
Read more: DAN WOOTTON: Woke critics may still sneer, but Jerry Springer changed TV forever by allowing ordinary folk to become its biggest stars. As ringmaster, he never thought he was better than anyone taking part in his daily circus
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.
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 should not have done and said: ‘I’m a newspaper columnist, and I think I will write about how BT treats its customers.’ To which he said: ‘You are threatening me.’
My response was: ‘No, this is not personal to you at all. It is about BT and how a mighty corporation treats someone who has been a dutifully paying customer for longer than he cares to remember.’
Of course, it’s not just about my petty argument over £29.99. The issue of how such big firms in the telecoms business treat their customers is of great public interest. This is why these relationships are monitored by the regulator Ofcom.
It turns out that my hugely different experience with Sky and BT is borne out on a wide scale.
The latest tables from Ofcom show the provider of pay-TV with the fewest complaints is Sky, with just one in 100,000 complaining. The industry average is three per 100,000.
And BT? Very nearly the worst, with seven times the number of complaints per 100,000 than Sky. I should have looked that up before I even started.
Guardian needs to do some soul-searching
Richard Sharp is a friend of mine. But I wouldn’t require that connection, or the fact that we are both Jewish, to have been stunned by the cartoon The Guardian published about his resignation as chairman of the BBC.
The image of Sharp by the paper’s long-standing caricaturist, Martin Rowson, was a sort of smorgasbord of anti-Semitic tropes.
Sharp is given what to me appear protruding canines, like a cinematic vampire. The idea of the Jew as a blood-sucker goes back to medieval times
Richard Sharp is a friend of mine. But I wouldn’t require that connection, or the fact that we are both Jewish, to have been stunned by the cartoon The Guardian published about his resignation as chairman of the BBC (file image)
I don’t just mean the outsized grotesque features, or the words Goldman Sachs (his one-time employer) abbreviated to what looked like ‘Gold Sack’. No, there was something very specific.
Sharp is given what to me appear protruding canines, like a cinematic vampire.
The idea of the Jew as a blood-sucker goes back to medieval times, but it was also something that ancient anti-Semitism had in common with the specifically racial form advanced by Adolf Hitler. In Mein Kampf, the man who later attempted to annihilate what he called the ‘Jewish race’ referred to ‘the Jew’ as ‘the vampire’.
None of this appears to have occurred to Martin Rowson, or indeed anyone at The Guardian who passed his cartoon fit for publication. It was only after some uproar that the editors pulled it from the online edition.
Rowson later put on his website a lengthy piece of contrition. But he also messaged via Twitter, to someone defending his cartoon: ‘Thanks for fighting my corner. Any offence, I fear, is in the eye of the beholder, rather than in the intention or agency of the cartoonist.’
So: sorry, not sorry.
In a further intervention designed to address this inconsistency, Rowson said: ‘What I’m feeling is enormous regret, idiocy and deep shame at the needless upset I’ve caused . . . through my thoughtlessness.’
But Rowson has form here. Among his earlier works was one which painted Jeremy Corbyn as an innocent in the row over Labour anti-Semitism, and included an image of a goat wearing a Jewish skull cap.
But still, it is extraordinary that someone well-educated (Rowson was a contemporary of Sharp at the same private school, from where they both went on to Oxford) should be so ignorant about the iconography of anti-Semitism — especially as his entire career has been in the field of political art.
I had the same feeling about Diane Abbott’s letter in The Guardian’s sister paper, The Observer, in which she said that Jews (and Irish, and Roma people) had never experienced racism, only prejudice of the sort directed ‘at redheads’.
Leave aside the offensiveness, the ignorance is astonishing.
In both individuals’ cases, this ignorance can only be wilful. What the reason is, I am reluctant to guess, but I suspect it lies in the prejudice on sections of the Left that Jews are powerful moneybags, and therefore only oppressors themselves. But that is at the heart of anti-Semitism, and has been down the centuries.
It’s time for some soul-searching at The Guardian, and not just by its cartoonist.
Source: Read Full Article