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Sky Apologises: “Free” Does Not Mean “Free”

by David Mercer | 9月 21, 2010

Embarrassing Apology of the Week Award goes to Sky for the following email just received by its UK customers: “In our recent newsletter - 'This week on Sky Player' - we did not make it clear that in order to watch live Sky Sports for free on Sky Player until 31/12/2010, you need to subscribe to Sky Sports 1 & 2 on Sky TV. We apologise and hope that this did not cause too much confusion.” The company presumably has received complaints from confused customers who do not currently pay for Sky Sports on TV and assumed, naturally enough, that when Sky told them they could watch Sky Sports for free on Sky Player, they could watch Sky Sports for free on Sky Player. In fact, the email should clearly only have been sent to customers who already pay for Sky Sports on TV, or worded very differently for all customers. No doubt the company’s apology is also intended to ward off any possibility of a regulatory wrist-slap. It’s a little unfair, if rather easy on this occasion, to pick on Sky for its misleading communications over bundled service offers. But this episode does highlight the age-old question of when “free” really means “free”. My own father, who was fond of repeating the well-worn cliché “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, would probably say “never”. And perhaps consumers in the 21st Century have been bombarded by so many unlikely offers that they are simply inured to misleading advice. The details, after all, are usually in the fine print, if anyone can be bothered to check. What’s the difference, after all, between Sky offering “free” Sky Sports to its paying customers, and mobile phone customers offering “free” texts to its paying customers? Or “free” mobile phones to customers who have to pay money to use them every month? To quote Orange’s current Monkey offer: “Get free music, texts and a free daily internet pass, just for topping up £5 on Monkey”. So, spend money to get something free. These “offers” are such an established feature of bundled service marketing (and commercial life in general) if anything it's surprising that Sky felt the need to respond. A liberal deployment of asterisked fine print should help Sky avoid similar problems in future. Client Reading: Apple TV: Still Just a Hobby? Or Another Nail in Pay Television's Coffin? Add to Technorati Favorites
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