Friday 25 November 2011

Skype - Unfit for business use

I've been a paying Skype subscriber for several years. I've always been concerned that Skype is not really suitable for business users, but I've continue to use it occasionally. However a recent problem with a subscription renewal has convinced me that the Skype product is just not suitable for business use

My unlimited UK subscription was due to expire in a couple of days so I logged on to renew the subscription. I have an on-line number associated with the subscription. The Skype web page system would not let me extend the UK calls Subscription, so I chose the more expensive unlimited European Subscription and paid for 12 months.

I then contacted Skype support on-line chat and asked them to extend the UK Subscription, retaining my online number (it's on some recently printed expensive business cards), and at the same time refund difference in cost of the European Subscription which I don't really want. 

The summary of the chat was the support people said I'd cancelled the UK subscription (no I had not, at least not intentionally) and that the online number would expire and could not be reclaimed. This was confirmed during the chat by a supervisor. I made it perfectly clear, politely, that the situation was unacceptable and needed resolution. I asked the support shift supervisor to escalate this to his/her bosses to find a solution. At this point the chat session ended abruptly and the window closed, not from any action on my part. In effect the Supervisor had slammed the phone down on me. (I'd taken the precaution of preserving the complete content of the chat as a pdf file. Read it here.) 

Here's my contention:
  • It is unacceptable that I could not renew;
  • It is unacceptable that I'll lose the online number;
  • It is unacceptable that Skype support do not have the tools to fix it;
  • It is unacceptable that the supervisor terminated the conversation without agreement on next actions.
Clearly Skype systems and procedures are inadequate and not suitable to support normal commercial business practices.Here's some further references:

Update 26th Nov: After a further support request Skype say they've cancelled my "European" package (I only asked them to refund the difference for extending the UK package). They've offered advice on how to extend the UK package. That advice doesn't work, I'm still faced with losing the phone number.
Update 29th Nov: I've found a solution without Skype's help. Apparently the cancellation was caused a few months ago when I disbarred PayPal from automatically paying Skype on demand. Note I've had 60 Euros credit in my account for months but Skype won't use that for the 33 Euro subscription renewal even when I've declared it as the preferred method of payment. Eventually after Skypews rejection of two valid and credit worthy Credit Cards being rejected by Skype's "security" system I managed to pay with a third card. I've managed to retain the phone number, but also have an additional one that I don't want as a side effect of the subscription renewal.

The point is why should the Skype Renewal system be so byzantine and obscure? Why didn't the experienced Skype Support Desk spot the problem? I had to waste time working it out by trial and error. It is definitely not a system that I'd recommend to business people.

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