My very first Tata Sky set-top-box
Tata Sky is one of the largest and most
popular DTH operators in India. I have been a Tata Sky customer
for almost a decade now,
having used their product and services since 2007. I did switch
to Airtel DTH for about a year some time in 2009, but switched
back to Tata Sky for their HD services.
I currently have two Tata Sky boxes at home — the primary one
is a HD DVR (Recorder) while the secondary one is a normal HD
box. Both these connections have an active subscription
valid till 30th March, 2017.
Generally speaking, I’ve had a delightful experience as a
customer. Well, at
least up until December 2016. Here’s a story of what happened,
and why I don’t recommend Tata Sky to anyone any more.
TL;DR: Tata Sky forcefully pushed a
software update that prohibited me from using services I had
already paid for, insisted that the only way to fix the issue
was to replace certain hardware and then charged me Rs. 800
It was the last week of December 2016 and everyone in the
family had been enjoying their favorite Marathi shows on the
TV, as they had been for the last several years.
One fine morning, the primary Tata Sky
(set-top-box) in the living room was displaying a message on
the screen that new software was being downloaded.
There is no way
to dismiss this message, no way to minimize it, or hide it
temporarily. The message covers 90% of the screen, so
TV while this is happening. Tata Sky occasionally
pushes out software updates, but there’s no way to schedule
these or manually request them.
Tata Sky forces these software updates onto the user as and
when they deem fit.
Now, the problem was that the message on screen had a progress
bar that was stuck. It hadn’t
moved for over
four hours. I called up the Tata Sky helpline and the
executive at the other end advised me to power off the STB and
turn it back on, and that it would be fine after that. I
followed her steps and the STB was back up, all the channels
were working fine and I could watch TV again. On the other
hand, in the bedroom, the secondary STB had been working just
fine with no issues.
Unfortunately, 20–30 minutes later, the message on the screen
returned. New software was being downloaded again, said the
message. Except it wasn’t. The message was stuck, there was no
movement on the progress bar. I called up the helpline,
explained to the executive that I had just called them a while
back and he readily took down a complaint for me, notifying me
that an engineer visit had been arranged in the evening.
The engineer didn’t show up until 7PM that day, way past dark.
The Tata Sky dish is installed on the building’s terrace, so it
was going to be difficult for him to troubleshoot the issue if
it came to that. The engineer pressed a few buttons on the
remote and concluded that the issue might be near the dish, and
headed up to the terrace. I accompanied him up there.
The engineer spent about 30–45 minutes there troubleshooting
the issue, and when he came back down, concluded that there was
an issue with the “LNB”, which he has replaced with a “Super
LNB” and that I’ll be charged INR 900 for it.
I was a little taken aback by this, because not only did the
engineer not inform me of any charges before the hardware was
replaced, it was preposterous that it was
charging me for it.
Tata Sky was charging me for an issue that did not exist till
they pushed the software update that I had no
I explained to the engineer that before the software update
download attempt, both the boxes were working fine and still
were, if you restarted the box. However, the engineer insisted
that it was the LNB’s fault and that with the new one in place,
I wouldn’t have any issues.
Which is understandable, but I did not see why I would be the
one paying for it.
Essentially, Tata Sky tried to deliver a new software update,
but couldn’t, so they replaced a hardware component in order
to deliver that software update, and then wanted to charge me
Rs. 900 for it.
I mentioned to the Tata Sky engineer that I did not want the new
software or the new hardware. All I wanted was to watch my TV,
that I had already paid
for, and should be able to watch till March 30th, 2017. So
he should do whatever it was and restore my connection in a
The engineer said OK and headed back to the terrace to replace
the newly fitted “Super LNB” with the old “LNB” I had and
returned 10 minutes later claiming that the old LNB was no
longer working as intended. One out of two of the signal
outputs on the LNB was no longer working, so it was not
possible to receive signals in both my STBs. A temporary
workaround, he said, was to use a “splitter” at the signal
output that worked, but this would mean signal deterioration
and could affect signal/channel quality. Obviously, this wasn’t
acceptable to me.
It was around 10PM by now and the engineer claimed that he
lived all the way in Govandi, so I should make a decision quick
so that he can head home. He also claimed that the
fix to the issue was to install the Super LNB.
Here’s where I made a mistake that I now kinda regret: With no
alternative, since this was the only way to fix the connection,
I told him to go ahead with the installation of the Super LNB
so he could go head and that I’d deal with Tata Sky’s helpline
The next day, I raised another complaint explaining what had
happened and why I was being wrongly charged for it. Tata Sky
promised a call back. I received a call back, not from Tata
Sky, but instead from the third-party agency from Worli that
had sent the engineer. They claimed that the charge was valid
because I had signed on the work order before the engineer
left. To this, I explained that I wasn’t disputing whether I
had signed the form or not. All I wanted was a clarification
why I, the customer, was to pay for hardware that I
need, so Tata Sky could deliver software I
for. Yet, all the executive was concerned about was
that I had signed the form, so the charge was valid.
I raised a complaint via Twitter yet again, explaining to Tata
Sky what had happened so far. A few hours later, on January 1st
sometime in the afternoon, I received a call from the same guy,
with the engineer on a conference call. The three of us
discussed what happened, including a discussion about how the
engineer failed to inform me of the charge before the hardware
was replaced. However, in the end, the service agency guy
concluded that the charge was still valid as I had signed the
form before he left.
I had to raise a complaint yet again, and this time, someone
from the escalations department got in touch with me. This was
the most frustrating call of this entire episode so far. The
caller insisted that:
He had spoken to the engineer who had claimed that I was
informed of the charges before the hardware
was replaced. (Not true)
The hardware is customer’s responsibility, so any replacements
done to the hardware are to be born by the customer.
For the first point, I asked him to get the engineer on the
phone, but he insisted that it was not possible. Moreover, the
called refused to believe me, insisting that only what the
engineer said was true.
Tata Sky’s escalations department executive refused to
believe me, instead claiming the Tata Sky engineer was
telling the truth and he’d believe only that.
I was extremely frustrated at this point, and no matter how
much I was trying to explain my concern, all Tata Sky was
concerned about was that hardware was replaced, so
customer should be charged. That’s their policy and
they’re sticking to that.
Here’s a gist of the story:
Both my Tata Sky STBs and related services were working fine.
Tata Sky forcefully tried to deliver a software update I
did not ask
Tata Sky forcefully replaced hardware that I did not want.
Tata Sky engineer claimed that the only way to fix the
non-existant issue was to replace the hardware.
Tata Sky engineer refused to re-install the old hardware
claiming it was no longer working. How did it stop working
within minutes? Your guess is as good as mine.
Tata Sky automatically deducted Rs. 800 from my account for
I know, I know, it’s the other way around.
I was a perfectly happy customer, but this experience has left
a permanent scar — all for Rs. 800.
At this point, my account has negative balance of about Rs. 7xx
and I won’t be renewing my subscription beyond March 30th,