Thousands of Sky’s 6.2 million customers took to Twitter at the start of September 2021 to vent their frustrations. As Sky weathered a barrage of bemused customers, various news outlets showed maps not too dissimilar to those issued by the Met Office. Only the yellow and red circles denoted sluggish internet performances and complete disruption to peoples’ broadband, rather than the trimmings of an American hurricane.
With Sky being a competitor to Broadband Freedom, you would think that the disastrous issues for them would be a victory for us.
Now, you may be thinking we are showing solidarity with a fellow broadband company over a technical hiccup that has caused intense – if only – temporary irritation to thousands of their customers. We’re not making any excuses for poor service or making light of the problems this outage has caused for many people.
In fact, in our post COVID world more people than ever – around 30% of people in the UK – need reliable broadband to work from home. A stable internet connection is a must-have along with a cup of joe. How else are you going to deal with the boss on a Zoom call at 9…or binge-watch NOW?
And while we all share an inherent distrust of bankers, there’s nothing worse when the little portal into their world declares “server error”. As a result of Sky’s widespread service crash, customers of The Co-operative, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Santander could not access their online banking accounts.
Apparently, it was 450 Santander customers who first reported their issues on a complaint’s tracker. 97% of all complaints that followed later in the day came from people who have Sky Broadband!
Unable to use your broadband service for everyday tasks causes disruption to peoples’ lives and is a nuisance. It’s downright insulting when said service is costing an arm and a leg every month.
Communication breakdown also added fuel to the fire. The first reports of a problem were made on Wednesday 4th August 2021. An approximate 2,300 people PER MINUTE were reporting problems with their internet.
Unfortunately for some, the problems persisted and for many, the same problem returned around 2 am on Friday 20th August. Sky announced that they had worked out what initially caused the issues and had fixed the glitch by 10:39 am that same day. Yet again, however, the problems returned just two days later…
Customers mainly in Worcester, Chippenham and Swindon complained in their droves at around 1 pm. Down Detector reported 1200 people per minute complained about problems such as being unable to make calls, use streaming platforms or visit business and council websites.[DM5]
One customer said: “it’s really useful of you to say on the website there are no known issues in my area, yet half the county is reporting problems with Sky broadband and phone. We are SN15 and no connections.”
Another added: “Even more reason to cancel our ridiculously expensive @SkyUK yet again connection issues. Don’t even watch the tv! What other #Broadband deals are around …”
Many businesses tried to keep their cool as their websites struggled to load. Yet the technical issues went away when businesses used broadband by other providers to search for their websites. SaaS giant Squarespace also added to the cacophony of discontent. Many of their users relying on Sky Broadband claimed many features were faulty or not working at all. The website hosting service provider put out a Tweet, advising UK customers who were experiencing issues to get in contact with Sky’s technical support.
Squarespace even went so far as to advise customers to use 4G Wi-Fi in lieu of home broadband. Customers began to suggest some fixes, with one having looked online for solutions, and found that many others reported DNS issues. DNS or Domain Name System is a decentralised naming system for computers to connect to the internet. Essentially, it is like one big phonebook that contains various information with domain names.
When you type a website into your browser’s address bar, your device translates the words and letters you typed into “computer-literate information” i.e., an IP address. For this translation to occur, the computer uses a DNS – this tells your computer’s browser the IP address so it can load the website you need.
For whatever reason, Sky has refused to admit whether issues related to DNS were responsible for the outages. After a full month of degraded service and complete outages for thousands of their customers, poor communication, and a media storm, to not give an explanation to customers gives off the feeling that they a) are uncertain or b) don’t care.
So no, we at Broadband Freedom don’t celebrate the problems of our competitors. We certainly sympathise with their customers. While we understand all broadband companies have their hiccups (sometimes technology just lets us down) we think customers would be more forgiving if you at least give an explanation. Even if you’re not 100% sure what caused the outage, at least keep customers informed as to whether it is – say a DNS issue or not – don’t just leave them hanging like it’s some top classified secret.
We’ll try to help you if you’re a Sky customer who has recently experienced these issues. Here are some things you can do:
1) As Squarespace suggested, you can use your 4G instead of home broadband to do absolutely essential tasks i.e. online banking. Make sure to check for any charges this may incur!
2) You can check the status of your internet by going to Sky’s “service status” page. Just type in Google “Sky service status” page and log in. If your home broadband is completely offline and you can’t afford 4G for a long amount of time, look at step 3 below.
3) Make a complaint to Sky’s customer service team on 0333 7591 018. If you have gone for more than 2 days with an unrepaired broadband service, you may be eligible for compensation, a refund, or credit to your account, and even the possibility to leave the contract early without penalty
We at Broadband Freedom hope all the customers who experienced these issues are now receiving the service that they paid for. If you want to look at alternative broadband providers, why not check out our comparison page?