DirecTV Is A Bird Turd

Susan L. wrote us about her extremely unpleasant experience with DirecTV… an experience so unpleasant she’s willing to give them money just to never have to speak to them again. Reminds me of the last time my father talked to me.

It’s the usual story: Susan scheduled DirecTV to install her dish. They didn’t, then blamed her. She rescheduled and had the dish reinstalled, only to discover it didn’t work. She scheduled a repair appointment, which took two weeks, then had to fight tooth and nail to get reimbursed for the money she was spending for non-working cable.

Of course, it didn’t end there: DirecTV then decided to spam her with phone calls from their sales team. Did Susan get off of their call list? What do you think? Susan’s email, after the jump.

So here’s my saga about my very unpleasant interactions with Directv to date. Sorry for the length …

I had been a long-time customer of Comcast when I decided it was time for a change — mostly because the cost of their services had gone up an estimated 68% in the 7 years or so since I had been a customer.

So I did some due diligence. I work for a high tech company and talked to several of my friends to see what service they used. The general concensus was that the people who had satellite television recommended Directv over The Dish. I did a search on the web — and it seemed that Directv got better reviews than The Dish.

So I called them up and arranged to start my service. Because of my busy work schedule, I couldn’t schedule an installation appointment with the salesman on the phone. Two or three days went by and someone from Directv called and left a number to call to schedule. Five days from the date when I first ordered their service, I called to schedule an installation appointment and was told that they had cancelled the appointment because they had called three times and had been unable to reach me. They only left the single message. They told me that even though I was calling to schedule an appointment, since the order had been cancelled (by them), I would need to re-call the sales office and set it all up again. I fired off an angry e-mail.

A week or so went by and then I was contacted by someone at Directv — whose job it was to placate me. I decided to go ahead with the order at that point — and I’ve regretted it ever since.

The service men arrived to do the installation. They installed the stuff and left. After they were gone, I discovered that I only got a few local channels. All other channels began to flash and go to black intermittently after a couple of seconds. I called – and after being on hold over 30 minutes, was connected to someone whose trouble shooting skills involved turning the satellite receiver off and on. When that didn’t work, she was fresh out of ideas and put me on hold for a “specialist”. The specialist had me unplug the receiver, plug it back in and then go outside and look for “loose wires”. Again, after these steps failed to work, she forwarded me to someone else, putting me back on hold for another period of time. The person who finally picked up the phone was someone who sold the extended warranty package. When she discovered that I was most definitely not in the market for an extended warranty — she put me back on hold. To her credit — she did ultimately connect me with someone who set up a repair appointment.

Two weeks later, the repair person showed up and after some effort figured out what the problem was and fixed it. I called Directv to make sure that I would be credited for the two weeks when it wasn’t working. The first person with whom I spoke told me that she was sorry for my difficulties and offered me three months free Showtime and $5. I told her that I wanted credit for two weeks of service — I was not interested in Showtime. (Two weeks comes roughly to $25.) She then suggested that Directv would credit me $5 per month for three months. I suggested that perhaps I should talk to a supervisor and she put me on hold. Thirty minutes later, someone picked up the phone and hung up on me. I called back again. This time, (after being on hold 20 minutes or so), I started out the conversation indicating what my expectations were. She put me on hold while she did the calculations, and when she came back to the phone, she agreed that, indeed, my calculations were correct. She graciously offered to credit me $5 per month for the next 5 months, but I indicated that I preferred the entire amount in one lump sum.

Now, I am getting daily — sometimes three or four — calls from the Directv promotional department. I called the customer service number and asked that the calls stop and was assured that my name would be removed from the calling list. The person with whom I spoke indicated that perhaps the calls were about my bill — but then he quickly reversed this statement when he saw that the account was up to date. When the phone rang again tonight and I answered it and it was Directv, offering me a “new member” package, I got angry and told the person that I did not want to receive another single call from Directv. She told me that it could take 30 – 60 days before my name would be removed from the list and that it wasn’t her fault that I was being called since it was a computer doing the calling.

It will cost me $150 to get out of the contract, but at this point, it seems like it would be a small price to pay to sever my ties with this horrific company. Rupert Murdoch was right on. Directv is a bird turd.

Comments

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  1. matt1978 says:

    My Directv went out a few weeks ago, and I was not signed up for the Extended Warranty option. As I was bounced around from “try turning it on & off” tech to the “pull the card out” tech, I finally landed at one who informed my that I should really sign up for the EW, because:

    “Directv parts are like toasters. They just up and break for no good reason”
    -the tech’s exact words.

  2. homerjay says:

    Wow. I’ve had DirecTV for 5 years and several of my neighbors have it too. None of us have had anything even close to this kind of service from them. They’re usually fantastic and rated extremely high in customer satisfaction surveys. I’ve had them out here on several occassions for service and they’ve always been on time and thorough. This sounds like just a series of unfortunate events.

    The constant calls from the promo dept is unforgivable though. That deserves a kick in the seat.

  3. Mike_ says:

    You lost me at “busy work schedule” and “angry e-mail”. I have a lot more sympathy for genuinely nice people who actually get screwed by evil companies. If DirecTV tried to call you three times and left a message you didn’t return, and you’re already going apeshit, the problem is yours. Not theirs.

  4. Lesley says:

    This surprises me. I had DirecTV when I lived in Memphis because I refused to give in to the evil Time Warner cable cartel there and I had a great experience.

    When I first had the dish installed, it was around early March. Then the trees on my property started to leaf out and block my reception. I called them and the next day, a guy was out to my house to move the dish (gratis). Later, when I switched from Showtime to HBO, they didnt’ charge me any BS fees and it was done be the time I got home from work that afternoon. I’d have DirecTV now (in Nashville) if not for the fact that there’s nowhere reasonable to put the dish. And instead of paying Comcast for cable, I just go with out and wait for people to post the good stuff on YouTube!

  5. Smashville says:

    “Because of my busy work schedule, I couldn’t schedule an installation appointment with the salesman on the phone. Two or three days went by and someone from Directv called and left a number to call to schedule. Five days from the date when I first ordered their service, I called to schedule an installation appointment and was told that they had cancelled the appointment because they had called three times and had been unable to reach me. They only left the single message.”

    Why didn’t you return the message?

  6. I agree that not returning the phonecalls is Susan’s problem, but everything else is clearly DirectTV’s fault.

    Not to mention that their installation time offerings must have been horrendously inconvenient if Susan couldn’t even schedule an appointment on the day of the initial call…

    Furthermore, not testing the equipment after setting it up is inexcusable. Susan may not be the perfect consumer, but DirectTV f’ed up on this one…and they definately need to stop harrassing her with phonecalls.

  7. Pelagius says:

    Jebus X. Christowicz! That graphic makes my brain want to crawl out of my ear and hide under the bed.

  8. I’ve never been a DirecTV customer, but apparently one of thier customers gave my cell phone number as his contact, and when he didn’t pay his bill for a few months, guess who got literally daily calls asking for payment??

    I asked for Supervisors every time, and asked that they change my number. This is why they never did: they need the official customer to make any changes to the phone number or billing address. Since I was not the customer in question, I was not authorized to make the change. You see what they did there? A great moment in Catch-22’s.

    Eventually dude got passed onto a collection agency, who thankfully stopped after the first time they called me.

  9. Mike_ says:

    crayonshinobi, you’re right. The installation tech should have verified the system worked before he left. And it shouldn’t be so difficult to get them to stop calling with promotional offers. And they probably should have credited her $25 instead of insisting on $5 per month for 5 months. And sitting on hold sucks.

    On the other hand, everyone else seems to have a positive opinion about DirecTV, and Susan seems like an unreasonable person by the end of paragraph 4, so I’m inclined to take the rest of what she has to say with a grain of salt.

  10. AcilletaM says:

    Dr. Paul, it’s possible they didn’t believe you and were trying to get you to confess to being the person they were looking for. My last phone number was evidently passed to me from a deadbeat and many of the calls just flat out thought I was lying about not being him.

  11. Mike_ says:

    AcilletaM (and Dr. Paul), I’ve got the same problem — collection agencies looking for the guy who had my phone number before me. The calls didn’t start until I had my number long enough to make it rather inconvenient to change, so I decided to wait it out. I still get an occasional call for this guy or his two adult children.

    The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you the right to tell your creditors to cease all communications with you. Perhaps one could use this law to get someone else’s creditor to stop calling. Even if it doesn’t apply, invoking the FDCPA might be enough to get them to reconsider updating their records. The rules are strict, and the penalties are significant.

    I usually just say something like, “There is no such person at this telephone number, nor has there been since it was assigned to me by Verizon 9 months ago. Please do not call again.” I haven’t been asking the callers to identify themselves, and I haven’t been taking notes, so there’s no way for me to know if the same collector is putting me back in the queue for another call at a later date. They do seem to be tapering off, though.

  12. jacques says:

    I get daily collections calls for almost 2 years from the last guy who had my number. He’s got a South Asian last name (which the telemarketers can’t pronounce), and realise I’m not him very quickly.

    With DirecTV, I’ve had nothing but poor service with them. Their salesman flat out lied when I bought the service as to what sports packages I would need to watch out-of-market baseball, and when I complained they gave me a credit. They sold me an HD-DVR for $700 that they didn’t mention would become obsolete within a year (and that the price dropped by $400 after a month), and to upgrade the DVR to one that I can use to watch my locals in HD (I’m too far to get OTA) they charge another $100. When my contract’s over, I’m switching to Dish.

  13. Echodork says:

    I feel your pain. We moved into a townhouse with an existing DirecTV dish, and called to have the dish pointed and some of the wires re-run. They told us they couldn’t get an installer to our house for two weeks. So on the date of the installation, halfway through our scheduled time block, the installer called me and told me they would have to reschedule. No reason and no compensation offered, and they told me the next available date was ANOTHER TWO WEEKS away.

    So I called DirecTV and they had no interest in resolving the problem. They referred me to the local office (whom I had spoken to originally) in all cases. Eventually, I called their cancellation department and requested two copies of my service contract… one for me, one for my lawyer. The cancellation agent put me on hold, came back and told me they would reimburse me if I got an independent installer to do the work. Three days later, I was watching TV.

    I worked at Dish Network for two years, and the lesson is the same for both companies: Nobody in the entire company can help you except the cancellation department. Both companies take their best agents and put them in “Winback,” which is the last line of defense against cancelling customers. These Winback agents are authorized to do all kinds of amazing things that the typical floor agent doesn’t even know about. If you have a problem with your service and can’t seem to get it resolved, go right to cancellations and see what they can do for you.

  14. Kangarara says:

    Pelagius says:
    Jebus X. Christowicz! That graphic makes my brain want to crawl out of my ear and hide under the bed.

    Ditto! I seriously almost threw up when my brain finally figured out what it was looking at. Had to supress the gag reflex.. ew!

  15. pamela_reeder says:

    I, too, had a nightmare of a time with DirecTV. I am finally rid of them, but it took months to finally settle the problems and years off my life.
    My problems started when I scheduled an appointment to move my service. My move was scheduled for March 6 so I called in mid-February. I was told that I had called much too early. They told me to call back at the end of February. I called back around Feb. 25. I was told that the next available appointment to move my service was mid-April. I actually thought they were joking. They were not. When I asked to speak to a supervisor I was put on hold and then disconnected. I called back and was told that nothing could be done. So I told them it was unacceptable and that I wished to cancel my service. I told them that I understood that my contract had not yet expired, but since they couldn’t provide me service in a reasonable amount of time I wanted out of the contract. I was told by the customer service agent that I would not be charged an early cancellation charge.
    I thought that was that. Well it wasn’t. I then received a bill for the $135 cancellation charge. Each time I called I was told different information. I was told to write a leter — which I did. I was told to call this department or that department. Each time I was told the problem was being taken care of. Each time a new bill would arrive in the mail. Finally DirecTV and I came to an agreement. I would return their equipment and they would not charge me the early cancellation fee. They told me that I would have to return the equipment in a special box that they would send me. Two weeks later the box still hadn’t arrived. So I called again. This time I was told that because I hadn’t sent the equpiment back (remember: the special box had never arrived) they had sent me to collections.
    After that I was done with the fight. I didn’t want my credit rating ruined so I gave them a credit card over the phone and told them I never wanted to hear from them again. And I was keeping their damn equipment since I had paid for it now.
    Then I decided to do one last thing. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. It took a lot of going back and forth between the Bureau and DirecTV, but after about 4 months of ordeals, DirecTV finally returned the money they made me pay them for cancelling early.
    The whole thing was such a pain, my husband and I now have no television service at all. We get our shows on Netflix.

  16. DrHires says:

    I have had excellent service with Directv until my purchase (rental) of their DVR HD which replaced the Tivo. What a terrible product. I’m on my second replace ment, but the thing skips, loses recordings, freezes, on and on. The reps are nice about fielding my comlaints, but the fact remains . . . as it is their DVR HD 20 is crap!

  17. jenngeorge says:

    Susan, I commend you for contacting Consumerist about DirecTV — I have had the same experiences as you have. TERRIBLE customer service, they refuse the give you a credit even if it’s their fault (I also got the $5 a month for 3 months line). And listen to this…Last year I got NFL Sunday Ticket to watch the football games. This year I received two bills adding over $80 to my usual bill — THEY AUTOMATICALLY CHARGED ME FOR NFL SUNDAY TICKET! and then then refused to credit my account (because I may have watched it, they have no way of knowing). The cable in my area is not much better — I would rather give up TV than give my money to DirecTV!

  18. Achicovic says:

    Disc Net Wetwork is the most Rip Off. First thet said two free months. Rip Off no.1 Payments of $419.99 Rip off No. 2, First two Payments $48.00 for two months, $380 for three months. Aks for their VCR to be removed. they said it was to be remremoved Within the frst 14 days. Looked at the papers And there was no mention at about that. Next my telephne was out for three days,because of a steady rain. Aday after a por up sign said that the phone line was not connected and that I would be charge for that.I called them and explained to them. They told why Didn’t I call them. that was the boiling point. Stating to them I wanted the equipment out of my Place. And if it wsn’t out that Iwould Chage them. Some of the Euipment was Picked up by UPS. Now I am waiting for them to pick it up.

  19. jj447 says:

    Thanks Pamela, you give me hope. Right before I moved from my apartment in NYC, my new roomate wanted a hookup in his room. So I ordered the Directv box for him, as the account has always been in my name. When I bought my house, they would not let me transfer the account to my old roomies, despite them advising me to leave the dish on the apartment roof anyway. No big deal, I take my directv with me to dutchess county NY (not exactly the middle of nowhere). Except they could not find a line of sight. No service because there were trees behind my house. So I canceled, assured that it would be no problem, by the technician.
    Then I get the bill for $237 for early cancellation fee. I send in my letter disputing it as I was instructed. I wait to hear back. Get two calls, both times messages left on my voicemail. Call back a few minutes later, no one knows anything about the status of my claim. Obviously they had called me for some reason, but still I accept that what they said, “we’re still reviewing it.” I even sit through one of those customer service review surveys (happy to give my poor review).
    So I wait and wait, and honestly forget, until a month later I get a call from a collection agency. I dispute the “debt” and call directv. Am told that their claim was valid, and that they had been trying to contact me. Well they had, those two times, but its not my fault they were clueless and disorganized. So I ask for the number of the department that “failed” to get in touch with me. The Rep would not give it to me. Told me to write another letter.
    I file a complaint with the FCC and broil for an hour. Then call back, ask to speak to a supervisor. I explain my dilemma, that it is they who breached our “Customer Agreement Contract” by not fulfilling their end of the deal–TO PROVIDE ME TV SERVICE. I told them I never signed any such contract and asked for a copy of it. The supervisor explained that the quick disclaimer over the phone when I ordered my roomate’s box constituted me agreening to the contract. I did not want to cancel, but I have the right to move, and at no point was I ever told that if for some reason beyond my control they cannot provide me with service, then I still have to pay up.
    I’ll try the better business bureau, and some other state advocates. I don’t want to pay for basically nothing out of principal. I sent them back the reciever that got me into this mess in the first place long ago, and what should I do, pay $40 a month for the next year and a half for not getting any service. You’d think they’d budge just a little. Maybe I’ll get my local news consumer advocate on it.

  20. Mcmattyo says:

    To get out of your DTV contract just suspend your account. You can do this for up to 9 months at a time. You don’t pay anything while its suspended and it counts toward your contract.

  21. rhanzelka says:

    They have sent 3 technicians out here to repair and it still doesn’t work.I
    have currently notified FCC, BBB, and Attorney General for the state of
    Texas. I will continue to complain to everybody that has ears until the
    issues with your service are resolved one way or the other. Also the last
    technician that came to my house treated our property like a trash dump.
    There are connectors in the yard under the switch box on side of house that
    he cut off (great shrapnel for lawn mower to kill or harm children and
    unsuspecting passers by) and trash on floor from stripping wire etc behind
    living room TV. We have been promised a visit from a supervisor for over a
    week now to settle the issues that have gone on since the poor installation
    in November of ’07.

  22. rhanzelka says:

    We (wife and myself) entered a two year contract (that we understood at
    the time to be a one year contract)with Direct TV in late 2007. Big mistake!
    I have had problems with the service from the beginning. It started with
    shoddy installation that prohibited me from locking my home and protecting
    my family and valuables from break in. We are plagued with downtime due to
    faulty equipment that won’t even last through the contract period. When we
    request service on their defective equipment, they tell us they are going to
    charge us to fix their equipment. I had cablevision for 30 years prior to
    getting screwed by Direct TV. This is the worst service coupled with the
    worst product I have ever been stuck with in my entire life. The worst thing
    that ever happened with cablevision was being down for 2-3 hours once every
    year or two because of a down line. When I call Direct TV for service, they
    tell me it will be a week to ten days before they can get to me. So I am
    without television for that long but am still charged for it. I am also
    expected to take four to eight hours out of my work day every time Direct TV
    comes to my home. The last time I was told service would be performed
    between eight o’clock in the morning and noon. The technician did not even
    arrive onsite until 12:10 p.m. Service was not performed until after the
    agreed upon time that it would be completed. That was just two week ago. Now
    the service is broken again and we are told it will be another week before
    they can come to fix it. How long will the FCC go on allowing Direct TV to
    cheat and take advantage of customers? I would love to have the opportunity
    to do a commercial for cable television. After being subjected to customer
    service as poor as Direct TV, I know what the worst is. And to top it all
    off, when my wife negotiated this contract with Direct TV she was told that
    it was a one year agreement. Two weeks ago when we had trouble the last
    time, we were informed that it was a two year and not a one year contract
    that we originally agreed to. I suppose we can throw a little deceptive
    trade
    in for good measure… huh? This is the worst experience I have ever had
    with any vendor in my 50 years and I will make sure I tell everybody that
    has ears to hear.

  23. rhanzelka says:

    We (wife and myself) entered a two year contract (that we understood at
    the time to be a one year contract)with Direct TV in late 2007. Big mistake!
    I have had problems with the service from the beginning. It started with
    shoddy installation that prohibited me from locking my home and protecting
    my family and valuables from break in. We are plagued with downtime due to
    faulty equipment that won’t even last through the contract period. When we
    request service on their defective equipment, they tell us they are going to
    charge us to fix their equipment. I had cablevision for 30 years prior to
    getting screwed by Direct TV. This is the worst service coupled with the
    worst product I have ever been stuck with in my entire life. The worst thing
    that ever happened with cablevision was being down for 2-3 hours once every
    year or two because of a down line. When I call Direct TV for service, they
    tell me it will be a week to ten days before they can get to me. So I am
    without television for that long but am still charged for it. I am also
    expected to take four to eight hours out of my work day every time Direct TV
    comes to my home. The last time I was told service would be performed
    between eight o’clock in the morning and noon. The technician did not even
    arrive onsite until 12:10 p.m. Service was not performed until after the
    agreed upon time that it would be completed. That was just two week ago. Now
    the service is broken again and we are told it will be another week before
    they can come to fix it. How long will the FCC go on allowing Direct TV to
    cheat and take advantage of customers? I would love to have the opportunity
    to do a commercial for cable television. After being subjected to customer
    service as poor as Direct TV, I know what the worst is. And to top it all
    off, when my wife negotiated this contract with Direct TV she was told that
    it was a one year agreement. Two weeks ago when we had trouble the last
    time, we were informed that it was a two year and not a one year contract
    that we originally agreed to. I suppose we can throw a little deceptive
    trade
    in for good measure… huh? This is the worst experience I have ever had
    with any vendor in my 50 years and I will make sure I tell everybody that
    has ears to hear. @pamela_reeder: @pamela_reeder: