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Breaking up can be hard to do, particularly if you have been in a long term contractual relationship with a business! In times of austerity and competition, businesses are desperately keen to keep your business. It is reported that Sky TV is unwilling to let its customers go, even when they are leaving the UK. Ofcom has apparently launched a formal investigation into the firm over concerns that it does not allow customers to cancel at the end of their contracts.

Sky’s contracts stated that customers could cancel by letter, email, fax or phone, but Sky routinely refused to accept any cancellation requests that were not “verified” by the customer over the telephone. But even when they phoned, customers were kept on the line for up to two hours at a time, and some still couldn’t leave.

Apparently one customer, moving to the U.S. gave Sky three months written notice of his intention to cancel his Sky TV package but it ignored his request and even sent debt collectors after him.

What can be done? Consumers need to try to follow the instructions in the terms and conditions before cancelling a contract. However, if the terms are onerous and unfair, requiring burdensome steps to be taken, consider taking this up with OfCom or any other industry sector regulator, or Trading Standards. When sending any cancellation letters, make sure to keep copies and send them recorded delivery so that you have evidence of what you have done.  Try complaining to customer services and if that fails, from October, consider mediation or alternative dispute resolution through the business’ certified ADR provider.

Disclaimer: The information and any commentary on the law contained in this article is for information purposes only. No responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the information and commentary or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. The article was written on the date shown and may not represent the law as it stands subsequently. For the avoidance of doubt, the views in this article are personal to the author and not attributable to any other individual or organisation.