Living Between the Lines

The Sky’s the limit (100th Post!)

Another marathon phone call, with those very nice people at Sky, led to more than one misunderstanding as I struggled to explain what I wanted and they grappled with the complications this entailed.

All was plain sailing at first.

I am transferring my nephew’s telephone, TV and Broadband services, to a new address for him. Since we became responsible for his welfare, we have had his account in our names for billing purposes. To complicate matters, we have two other Sky accounts. One of these is at our home, another at our holiday home in Cornwall. Treleigh.

Taking the bit between my teeth, I logged into my late sister’s old account, now in our name, and clicked the link to “moving home”. This was full of good advice and hints on how to make the process as smooth as possible. I answered all the questions, booked a date and received an email confirmation some minutes later. Easy! I smiled smugly.

Skip to the following day: Sky leave a message on my answerphone. Apparently, they need to speak to me and run through the arrangements for the move. Will I ring them? Fair enough, I can do that. I dial the number, listen to the options, click “1” for moving home and wait.

After some time, a pleasant chap called Darren answers. He asks for details of my account.

“I have no record of a move being booked,” he says regretfully. Hmm, I suspect he is looking at the wrong account. After all, we do have three.

“You may be looking at the wrong account,” I suggest.

“Ah, can I take some security details please?” he asks, “First line of your billing address, post code, date of birth…security question,” I give all four and wait.


I think hard, the first one I give is no use. How odd, I am sure that is the password I set up online yesterday. I give another, an old one. Success!

“So, you are moving from Liberty View, yes?”

“No! I am not moving, my nephew is moving, he has Asperger’s and cannot handle this himself so I am acting on his behalf,”

“Oh, I see, well I think I am looking at the wrong account,” he agrees.

We try again.

Alas, this account is in my husband’s name and due to data protection (isn’t it great how it protects us yet stops us doing the most mundane things at the same time?) Darren cannot talk to me about it unless I know all the answers to his questions and the passwords. I try to recall the passwords but fail on two attempts and am not allowed a third.

“You were very close,” Darren tells me.

“How close?”

“I can’t tell you I’m afraid, I’m not allowed to give any clues,”

“I am sure we set the account up so that I could have access to it,” I say hopefully,

“Ah, but you still need to tell me the passwords,”

“Well, you asked me to call you,” I point out.

“This is cringe-worthy I know, but if I can call Dave, the owner of the account, I can have a 3-way conversation set up and he can give me permission to speak to you,” he suggests.


I give Darren Dave’s mobile number and hope he will answer it. There is no guarantee he will be able to. He is at work.

“Now, you said your nephew has Asperger’s? I’ve heard of it but I am not quite sure what it is. Can you tell me please?”

I am taken aback (what has this to do with anything? Is it another ‘security’ measure?) but of course, I answer.

‘Asperger’s is a form of high functioning Autism,” I say. I can almost hear the wheels in Darren’s brain turning as he digests this information. His tone changes slightly,

“I have a friend whose son is autistic and I know I have to be careful how I speak to him. Saying things the wrong way can make him fly into a rage,” he offers.

I am a little puzzled by him telling this.

“Can you give me any pointers on how I should speak to your nephew?” he asks,

He wants to speak to James?”

“Oh, you don’t need to speak to him, as I said, we are acting on his behalf and …,”

I pause – I realize there has been a mix-up along the way,

“Oh no, it isn’t Dave who has Asperger’s,” I assure him, trying to stifle the laughter that bubbles up inside at the thought of the mistaken identity,

”Dave isn’t my nephew, he is my husband,”

His relief is palpable. The conversation will be easier than he thought (Well, that isn’t guaranteed of course).

Luck is on my side and Dave answers.

“I have your wife on the line,” Darren says having introduced himself.

“Right,” says Dave. (he probably thinks this  is a ‘phone-a-friend’ moment)

“Can you answer some questions for me so I can establish who you are and you can give me permission to carry on speaking to your wife?”

“Ok,” Dave says without much conviction.

I am apprehensive now. Dave is just not the person to rely on for passwords and such. Dave had all his written down on an iphone that was subsequently stolen a few years ago and barely ever remembers a password without checking his files.

I wait.

He manages date of birth but first line of his address is tricky,

He gives the name of our house.

Darren says,

“Not what I have here,”

Now, a few minutes before, I had answered this correctly. It is a bit of a trick question.

Dave doesn’t get it at all. I am not sure if I am allowed to speak but I know the answer. I am itching to tell him. I suppose I cannot give clues either? Not sure why not, we are on the same side after all.

I throw caution to the wind,

“You used to work there,” I try.

“I did? Oh, The Barn?” Dave guesses.

Darren sighs,

“Close, very close…” he says.

(Oh come on Darren – surely that’s worth a point?)

“The barn…I don’t know…” Dave says, clearly his mind on other matters.

“You used to use it in your address,” I tell him. There is no response.

“What sort of barn is it?” Darren prompts at length (his own cautionary approach fading. We both want Dave to get this!)

“Er, Flint Barn?” Dave guesses.

For goodness sake, yes, he’s got it! ‘The Flint Barn’. Hang out the flags…oh but, they are already out, together with the bunting and all the other Diamond Jubilee decorations out this week.

Darren almost jumps up and down with joy, I can tell.

“So, password?” he demands.

“I don’t know that,” Dave admits.

“It’s ok, we can re-set it, I think I have enough information,” Darren decides.

I am relieved. The password is re-set. I write it down. I bet Dave didn’t.

He hangs up.

Now, at last I can find out what information was so vital that I feel I have been on Mastermind.

“I will have to transfer you to our home move team but stay on the line and I’ll put you straight through,” Darren says, obviously pleased to be washing his hands of us.

A  lady comes on the line and asks me my name, my date of birth and password.

“No, that isn’t what I have here,” she says.

“I think you may be looking at the wrong account,” I suggest (deja-vu).

“Oh, sorry about that, so, you want to move from Liberty View to where?”

I feel a strange sort of desperation creeping up on me. I take a deep breath…

“No, I am not moving, my nephew is…” I relate the entire tale again.

To her credit, she remains calm and we fly through the remaining security questions.

Finally, we get to the point of my call.

“Are there any restrictions to parking?”


“Will the television and sky box be in place in readiness for the engineer?

“Yes – anything else?”

(Surely there must be something else)

No, that’s it – just two questions to answer.

I feel quite cheated after all my efforts. No T-shirt or MP3 player for me – just the promise of a smooth and problem free move…remember I said that!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Martha Mawson

    There is nothing more infuriating, exasperating or fraught with danger than trying to get through the security questions when dealing with this sort of company. I always feel so proud when I can answer the questions without hesitating. Too bad there isn’t a jackpot at the end!

  • screenscribbler

    Deborah, as I was reading your ordeal, my mind’s eye played the whole episode on stage. It was like a ‘Secret Policeman’s Ball’ sketch, British comedy at its best. I’m sure most people have had a rough ride trying to get customer service from a call centre operative, but in the words of the late great Frank Carson “its the way I tell ’em.” 🙂 Thanks Deborah your post was delightful.

  • patricia60

    I have been there and done that! so many times…and medical clinics here are even worse when you are the legal advocate for someone – It is awful. My child and Mother were both nearly full time work. But the cable folks experience have been very similar to yours, only it was my neighbors cable company who cut our lines and then we had to pay another company to come and fix the problem. Our company could not do a business line inside a home only an office building so I had to chose a new company. It has been 4 years of one problem after another…

    Now one of the giant redwoods in the neighbor’s yard it pulling up the sidewalk and heading slowly, (until the right storm) towards are bedroom – the neighbors are selling their house. I am thinking positive thoughts nearly non-stop, nearly non-stop…

    I hope your move install does go smoothly 🙂 best wishes

  • Andrea

    These youngsters on Internet security watch were born just in time to make our lives miserable. I know they’re only doing their jobs, but the whole thing is just so tiresome. I have a friend who spent hours on the phone with various “help” staff who could not get her new wireless printer to work. She finally gave up and went back to the old printer. Understandable.

  • Hilary

    Hi Deborah .. crumbs!!! It’s bad enough with one’s own accounts – let alone others … then they tell us not to write them down .. but how on earth are we meant to remember – because the next great idea is .. don’t have the same password for accounts … and so it goes on. I’m just grateful for my memory – which is not perfect and I forget sometimes …

    I do hope this goes through smoothly and your own lines aren’t cut off! Good luck .. trying to match the jigsaw puzzle up .. with operators thinking they’re going to be speaking to the nephew, when they’ve actually been talking about calling your husband .. is another story!

    All the very best!! Thinking of you .. cheers Hilary

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