Friday, 27 November 2020

Frugal Friday...

(Low light shot taken with iPhone 12 Mini)

Our Sky contract (for phone, broadband and TV combined) recently came to an end, and the amount leaving our bank account for it each month came close to doubling. Long term readers will be aware that we don’t like it when this happens, although this time round it slipped through the net for a little longer than usual as we knew that the building we live in was about to be surrounded in scaffolding, and last time this happened they took the dish down and we were without a signal for an appreciable amount of time, so we wanted to hold off committing to a new contract until we knew what would happen there, rather than potentially end up paying for something we couldn’t use. 

18 months ago I beat Sky down to the grand sum of £35 a month for all three services. At the time this was an offer being marketed at new customers, so I made the entirely reasonable point that if new customers would get that price, you’d think that really long term customers like us would be able to get it too. It’s fair to say that Sky didn’t entirely agree, but they did eventually get bored with me repeating “but that’s not what your advert says” every time they insisted that I “had” to add this package or that extra to the deal, bumping the price up to what they felt was reasonable, and I felt wasn’t...

We’ve always tended towards quite simple tastes. Our phone service is simply the line rental - when we make phone calls we use our mobiles as we both have calls included in our contracts on those. The TV is a fairly basic package - we’re not interested in movies or sports packages, and have no need of kids TV channels. For the past few years we have added the Box Sets pack as we’ve found plenty of stuff to watch in there, and the £5 a month it cost was well worth the cost. Broadband too - a standard service, no fibre here as we do very little downloading or streaming, and the ordinary slow internet has always been fine...of course now not only we, but rather a lot of other people too, are at home and using it more, it does feel rather more restrictive. Add to that the small matter that literally on the day our Sky contract ended, the speed dropped off appallingly - at one stage literally making it impossible to use for anything else while a TV show downloaded onto the Sky box...! Combine the sneaking suspicion that Sky were throttling our broadband speed, with a lingering feeling that, quite honestly, I was a bit fed up with having to spend anywhere up to an hour plus on the phone every 18 months or so just to get a fair price for a not that great product, and we decided that a bit more research should be done. 

First step was the assess our broadband speed. Sky themselves offer various tools for checking the service,  and their speed gizmo told me that we were getting in the region of 6.1mbps. Ok - not great, but for standard internet, not that surprising. Then I ran a couple more speed checks via independent speed-check services...and got a figure of around half what Sky were claiming...hmmm! At that stage we decided that had made our minds up, and that we would move provider. As usual, was our reference of choice for finding the best deals out there at the moment. We narrowed it down to 2 options, discussed the pros and cons of each, and then signed up for a new “fast fibre” supply with phone line included, for £10 a month less than Sky were charging us at that stage, with a further discount in the form of a chunk of bill credit to come back in a few months. By the time you read this post our new supply will have been in place for several days, all being well, and hopefully we’ll be enjoying rather faster speeds than we were previously!

All that was left then was to sort out the TV once we had set our minds at rest about the scaffolding, and that proved surprisingly easy. A quick look at the “SkyVIP” app showed me that they had once again restructured the packages they offer - combining great basic TV pack and box sets together into one deal, for £25 a month, a price we decided we were happy with. More to the point, there were no other packages for a better price from suppliers we would go with, and we get an option to add a cut-price Netflix package to that if we want to also. In summary, we are paying more than we were before, but should also be getting a better service than previously, and with the amount we are relying on the broadband at the moment, plus the prospect of a winter where we will be indoors a lot more than usual, it feels worthwhile and a good use of our money. Haggling can be great, but sometimes you just need to vote with your feet! 


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