Sky oh why?

There are times when a Sky TV subscription almost pays for itself in the sheer amount of entertainment you get from watching other people do stuff for ludicrous amounts of money. Whether you’re a fan of NCIS, House, Lie To Me, Lost or, god bless ‘im, Jack Bauer and his crazy days the Sky package is there for you (and not just when the rain starts to fall).

Sometime last year our Sky went a bit doolally and lost all Sky+ functionality. For anyone this has never happened to it’s hard to describe but it’s a bit like losing a limb. But it doesn’t have as much of an impact on the cut of your trousers. What it does mean, however, is that you have to reset your Sky box. Which effectively wipes your planner and everything you’ve taped and couldn’t be arsed to watch just yet. For us, we lost countless episodes of Fringe, Dollhouse, NCIS LA and some other stuff that will occasionally bob to the surface of our memory. I didn’t know how to reset the Sky box when this occured, so I had to call the technical support team. On this occasion the woman I spoke with was very helpful. Yup, that’s right, I had a positive call centre experience. She solved my problem with the minimum of fuss, even running through a fix which (had it been successful) would have saved our precious recordings. To be fair, I think she did this because I was wailing “my shows! I don’t want to lose my beautiful shows!” for a good five minutes and she took pity on me. I suspect she even knew it wouldn’t work, and was smiling slightly when I wiped all trace of the last few months of TV non-viewing from existence. So, yes, all in all it was a pleasant experience.

They haven’t all been this good. The first time I had to phone Sky was because the remote control didn’t work. You pressed the button and nothing happened. Not a thing. Replace the batteries. Press the button. Nothing. Press the Sky button incase you’ve been trying to control the TV for the past however long. Nothing. The remote control was broken. I phoned Sky. I told them our remote control was broken. The guy at the end of the phone took my explanation and fired back the best opening question I have ever heard from a call centre.

“When you look at the remote control, are the buttons on the top?”  Yup, he was asking me if I was holding the remote control the right way up. He hadn’t finished though. “The word Sky on the remote control, is that the right way round?” Seriously. Do people phone Sky to complain their remote control doesn’t work and the cause of their problem, the source of their woe, is the fact that they have the bloody thing pointing at themselves rather than the Sky box? Do people really do that? I was a few minutes into my Sky conversation and the guy at the end of the phone was establishing if I actually knew how to hold a remote control.

“Press the buttons, does the light go on?” No. The light doesn’t go on. The remote control is broken.

“Have you tried new batteries?” I’ve tried new batteries, old batteries, battery hens. I’ve tried rubbing them, licking them, reversing the polarity, crossing the streams. Nothing works.

“If you press the buttons on the front of the Sky box, does that work” Yes, the buttons on the Sky box (they’re on the front and the word Sky is the right way round, by the way) do work. The channels change and everything. The Sky box itself is fine.

“Yeah, sounds like your remote control is broken.”

There was once an incident with BT Internet. It broke. It wouldn’t connect. We phoned up and spoke to a string of people I can only assume were making Primark jumpers in between phone calls. Shortly before we cancelled the interweb we were told that the reason we couldn’t connect to the internet was because we’d tried to connect to the internet too many times in the last forty minutes. So, not all call centres are as in-depth as Sky – they didn’t even ask us if we have stuff the right way up. Amateurs.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Sky TV being worth it’s money. Tonight I have experienced a new joy. Something which has captured my imagination, but which I have forgotten to series link (gutted). I know many people rave about America’s Next Top Model (or ANTM if you’re in the know. I’m not in the know, I had to Google ANTM to find out what it was) but I have found something better. Oh yes. Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to watch Nigeria’s Next Super Model. I’d urge you stronger if I knew what channel I’d seen it on, but I can’t find the channel again. I found it through general flicking. There’s a chance, a slim chance, that it’s not even a regular channel. It’s like those shops in fairy stories that are there one day and when the hero returns the shop has gone, as though it was never there in the first place. So, yes, this channel which may or may not have appeared from nowhere just to show me this awesome show – henceforth known as NNSM – is a mystery to me, but my time watching NNSM will stay with me forever. I shall paint you a picture using words, so you all know what you missed.

Imagine a community centre. Fill it with chairs. Now fill each chair with an uninterested looking person. Now imagine an aisle, if you will, running between these chairs filled with the uninterested. Through double doors at the head of this aisle a string of stern faced girls emerge, wearing swimming costumes. They walk to the end of the aisle, turn and walk back. Some turn again, in the doorway, blocking the passage of the next model, the craft so-and-sos. Throughout it all people clap with so little enthusiasm it hurts. Stern-faced woman after stern-faced woman traverse the aisle. A commentary you can’t hear or understand presumably gives the girl’s stories and details.

What they never explain, however, is why each model appears to be carrying a supermarket bag for life. It’s a mystery. Swimwear and a bag for life. The two things, for me, immediately go together – like water and chip-pan fires. When each lady got to the end of the aisle they’d hold up their bag for life, as though proud that their shopping habits wouldn’t damage the environment – despite them being dressed for global warming.

It was a mixed message and, as I can’t find the channel again, one I’ll never understand…