DirecTV Installer Needs Electrical Tape, Prefers Coke To Water, Is Concerned About Your Parenting

Christy is having the best time getting DirecTV installed in her home. Highlights of her hilariously tragic email include:

• An unused bracket bolted to the side of her home, then abandoned.

• Holes drilled without permission.

• Outlets left hanging, unattached to the wall.

• A DirecTV installer who prefers Coke to water and wonders aloud several times why Christy is not making lunch for her son, then

• Asks Christy to fill out his paperwork.

• Leaves his signal box at her home. Leaves. Calls. Comes back. Leaves. Calls again. Asks if she’s seen his shovel.

Read Christy’s tale of woe inside.

Christy writes:

So my husband just switched jobs from Cox Media to a local tv station and we lost all of our free cable benefits. We started shopping around and decided to try DirectTV. They were offering many rebates and specials which were cheaper than cable. They advertise a lot about “professional” installation and quality signal, so we decided to give it a shot. Mistake? Oh hell yes…

We placed our order online and secured an installation date quickly. The soonest they could come out was in five days, but we were ok with that. The DirectTV tech shows up during the appropriate time period. I show him the rooms we want the receivers in (two) and he begins what will end up lasting SIX HOURS.

Within 15 minutes of being at my home, the tech looks exhausted so I offer him water. That began a snowball effect. I will refer back to that later. He asks about an old dish that is on my roof and I told him it was from a previous owner and was not working. I asked him if he’d be installing the new one on the roof. He said no. They do not install on any rooftops. So he then told me that it would be placed on the side of my house. The side of my house is blocked my many trees and a large overhang. I figured he knew what he was doing though. Boy was I wrong…

Apparently the little signal box he had was not used prior to drilling a bracket into the side of my home. He drilled into my house, placed a bracket there, THEN decided that there was no signal there! (By the way, the bracket is STILL there… just an eyesore on the side of my home, dishless…). After about an hour, he tells me that he will need to place the dish on a pole in my yard. He wants to place it out in the middle of part of my yard. I’m not thrilled about this and I ask him if that’s my only option. He says yes. I told him to put it as close to my house as possible.

Next issue is installation into our bedroom. I didn’t think it would be a problem since the old cable line was run from the outside. That could just be replaced right? Pfft! He started talking about running a “flatline” through my window. I asked if the window would be able to close completely and he told me yes. He said he needed to do this since I had a DVR in that room and it needed two lines. I said fine and he proceeded to start in that room. Later I come back into the room to find a huge hole in the wood under my window that he decided to drill without my permission! This hole becomes home to my new outlet which as shown in the picture, just hangs beautifully from my wall. And yes, he just left it like that.

Now for our living room. My husband already had a line fished through our wall in order to run computer cable so the tech had it easy. Or so you would think. We are now about 4 hours into installation and he asks for something to drink. I offered him more bottled water, but he asked for a “soda or something else”. Fine. Gave him a Coke. He goes back out and into the attic for room number 2. But not before asking me for duct or electrical tape and a flashlight. (Don’t these guys have their own crap?).

He then runs the line along the back of our house and in through an attic vent. My husband is home for lunch at this point as is asking why he is doing it that way. He said is standard procedure because they want to try not to cause any damage (HAHA) to the home if at all possible. So now we have a hole in our bedroom wall and a line that is run as sloppy as possible along the back of our home. At this point he has tools all over my home, a sweaty towel on my kitchen counter top, and he proceeds to ask me to fill out the paperwork HE is supposed to fill out.

He gives me the papers and tells me to fill out my information at the top. I hand it back to him and he then gives me the bar codes from my boxes and tells me to fill out all of that information on the middle of the sheet. He’s now been here for almost 6 hours. He starts to make comments about the lunch I am not making for my son. MULTIPLE TIMES. I am at the point where I am BEYOND wanting him gone. I start to help him gather all of this stuff that is inside my home while he’s getting everything outside. I didn’t even make him clean up where he drilled the hole. I swept it up myself. He needed to go before I lost it. He hands me the DirectTV folder as I escort him out the door. Is it over? Oh but of course not!

He calls me back about an hour later asking me to look for his signal box. I finally find it in the backyard. He asks me to leave it at my front door. I ask him about my tape he borrowed and he informs me that he left it in my attic. Thanks. Then my husband gets home and loses it when he sees the damage done. On top of that, our dish has been installed pointing towards a wall and our signal is crappy. Then if a cloud crosses the little signal we do have, it’s gone. Oh and I forgot, he told me we had 197% signal strength. Now that’s some serious signal huh??

So now we call DirectTV. We are told to begin a lengthy damage claims process. We have to take pictures, write a detailed letter describing what was done, and send all of that in. I take the pictures and do as I am instructed. Now what about our crappy signal and getting the installation fixed. Oh well they will come out in another week to handle that. That’s supposed to happen tomorrow. In the meantime I am speaking to DirectTV about four times a day.

Waiting to hear from Supervisors… Telling my story over and over again (apparently they don’t note accounts very well)… Trying to make sure the same idiot doesn’t come back to my home. And then I get a call two days later. It’s the original tech! He lost his shovel and thinks it’s at my house. I mean seriously… So now I wait. Supposedly a Senior Installation Tech (sounds cool huh?) AND a Supervisor will be coming to my home tomorrow between 8-12. Keep your fingers crossed.

– Christy

Fingers crossed, Christy. Fingers crossed. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: Christy)

Comments

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  1. acambras says:

    OMG — that’s pretty bad.

    The tech probably wanted to know when you were going to make lunch for your son because *he* was hoping for a free lunch (and another Coke to wash it down with.)

    “What is your son having for lunch? Tuna sandwich? Oh, I don’t like tuna — could you just make me a PB & J instead? Jif Extra-Crunchy, please.”

  2. Doc Benway says:

    Are you sure the tech wasn’t executing a really dorky version of flirting?

  3. eli_b says:

    Someone should send this lady a copy of ‘cable guy’ just to make her feel better.

  4. timmus says:

    Damn, that’s a very unprofessional installation. I am guessing that DirecTV takes a lot of the blame for not having its installers abide by a code of conduct.

    On another note, I have met some good installers, but it pisses me off how the majority of telco, cable, and satellite installers will drill right into exterior walls without permission. This is why I do all hookups myself (except when I got DirecTV out at our rural property — they forced me to have an installer do the job if I wanted to get new service).

  5. InductGnosis says:

    I’m exhausted by just reading that. That makes me angry to no end. I am sorry you have to deal with this.

  6. jaredharley says:

    @ Consumerist: What, no DirecTv exec numbers? I think she needs to rapidly elevate this claim – the damage he did is ridiculous.

  7. DrTweeker says:

    Wow… i think my comcast installer guy that trashed my house is now working for DirecTV.. hmmm.. i had wondered where he went to.

    –Jason In Nashville

  8. superlayne says:

    You left Cox for Direct TV? Seriously?

    I would click my tongue, but I don’t feel like exporting and uploading audio just to express my distaste.

    Good luck with the Senior Installation Tech!

  9. Thrust says:

    And people wonder why I do things myself. The “Professionals” you pay to fix your computer, install a phone line, hook up a satellite, or install an alarm system are usually unemployable morons who are given crash courses in corporate methods of f’ing the dog, then tossed a company jumpsuit and now they are a pro.

  10. andros says:

    I’ve heard quite a number of these ‘professional installation’ horror stories in the last couple of years, so I am quite wary of the provider-provided (ha!) installation services. But, here’s a piece of my story you might like…

    About 8 months ago, I moved into a new (rented) house. Property had no cable drops, so I checked out providers, settled for Comcast (not that there was much choice) and gave them a call. Unsurprisingly, I was told next open ‘technician time slot’ was roughly two weeks ago. Displeased with this (I often work from home, and dial-up just doesn’t cut it), I explained my need for cable was urgent and (knowing they hire contractors anyway) asked if I could get a contractor to do it and they could pay him.

    This resulted in 4-hop escallation (most of it lateral, not upward) until one CS manager finally agreed, but warned me they could pay no more than $50 for ‘non-affiliated’ installation service. Whatever.

    So, I contacted some friends (benefit of working in IT field myself) and got a friendly, recommended cable jock to come out that same day. He had a look at the house, location of nearest Comcast’s snake pit, talked to me about what rooms I’d like drops in etc, and said he can get it done in ~2-3 hours, 1 hour if I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.

    About 90 min later, we had everything done – cable pull to Comcast snake pit (though Comcast guy still needed to swing by and connect that), in-house wiring for TV / Cable router drops in 3 locations, and (since it was convenient) CAT6 (ethernet) cables pulled along same runs. He even tested signal quality between all the points, and replaced one of the ethernet cables with a shielded one because it ran too close to power conduit, and was getting bad signal.

    Total cost? $100, including all the cabling etc. Admittedly, it included a small ‘friend of a friend’ discount, but still. I paid the man and submitted his bill for a refund to Comcast. got $50 back from them, and landlord happily split remaining $50 with me down the middle.

    End result? 3-day wait for Comcast cable (just because Comcast tech had to still come by and plug it in), no mess, perfect signal quality, and awesome service. Try it sometime :)

  11. andros says:

    Unsurprisingly, I was told next open ‘technician time slot’ was roughly two weeks ago.

    That two weeks ago is french for two weeks away of course.

  12. eli_b says:

    Cox has always asked permission to drill holes, I’m pretty sure there is something legal involved there…

  13. dbeahn says:

    I have to give kudos to Comcast, at least in my area. They’re switching to using only Comcast employed techs. No contractors, no Retards With Ladders (RWL) – just their own techs. So if they hose it up, they have someone back out there that day or the next day.

  14. phelander says:

    Oh hell to the no!!!! Just another sterling example of why NOT to get Direct TV or Dish Network.

  15. VA_White says:

    Cable guys aren’t any better. The Cox guy hung around my house for three hours, farted continuously, and spent half the time screaming into his call phone in Spanish. Joy.

  16. hmart316 says:

    Holy Cow! This person must have worked for Dish network in Northern Indiana. Almost the same exact thing happened to me. One difference was the tech helped himself to the Hooters wings I had ordered for MY lunch.

    LONG story short I called Dish network the next day and cancelled. The same day I ordered cable and never looked back.

  17. mopar_man says:

    6 hours? Sounds like he’s a pretty decent hack. My dad and I, who had no previous installation experience, installed a dish on my parents house in probably 3-4 hours. This involved installing the dish on the side of the house, routing the cable in through the attic, down an inside wall into the basement and back up through the floor where the TV was. We also no signal meter.

  18. acambras says:

    @VA_White:

    Did he say, “Necesito que me traigas Gas-X, y ya no debo comer los pinches frijoles!” ?

    Because that means, “I need you to bring me some Gas-X, and I shouldn’t eat fucking beans anymore!”

  19. formated4tv says:

    @VA_White: For whatever reason this gives me the most hilarious mental image ever.

  20. bbbici says:

    yeah, my cable installer left the plate hanging just like in that picture. fortunately i was just renting and a curtain covered it anyway, but totally a crappy ridiculous quality job.

  21. GameVoid says:

    Unfortunately I had a problem with a DirectTV installer last month. My signal had been getting worse and worse and it turns out that some trees had grown in the path of the satellite signal, so the dish had to be moved.

    Installer calls my house and immediately begins dropping f-bombs while talking to me, and actually admits he wasn’t paying attention while I have him directions cause “some chicks on bikes just went by.”

    He spends over 3 hours trying to find my house, I eventually had to go and fetch him from the parking lot of a Dairy Queen. When he gets back to my house, he is still cursing up a storm, but he is working at least. He gets the dish moved, leaves the original pole still mounted in the yard, along with dozens of tie wraps and stripped wires. So now I have two poles in my yard about 3 feet away from each other, one with a dish on it, the other just a bare gray pole.

    So while he was filling out his paperwork, I learned why their installations are crap : they only get $15 additional per call! I couldn’t believe it, but he said that every service call a DirectTV person makes only nets them $15. I presume this is over and above what their normal base pay is.

    I really wanted to upgrade my service to have some extra receivers and whatnot run, but like the lady in the article, I am loathe to have another DirectTV contractor out at my house.

  22. drew.catt says:

    Not that I haven’t heard any horror stories when it comes to satellite and/or cable installations, but I’ve never had a problem with DirecTV (or even Time Warner [now Comcast]… yet).

    I’m more than willing to apportion the majority of the blame to irresponsible and lazy workers that simple couldn’t care less if someone reported them for violationing company policy (even if the underlying policies are not nearly sufficient enough themselves).

    Not that DirecTV, or any other ‘employer’ isn’t ultimately responsible for the training, performance, and overall satisfaction of part of their product, but blaming someone like DirecTV everytime one of their employees or contractors acts the fool seems a little callous.

  23. CapitalC says:

    Wow, that really sucks but I did have a good laugh. Thanks for sharing!

  24. humphrmi says:

    This is why I don’t switch from cable to satellite. Sure, I might save $20 a month with the teaser rates (more like $0-5 after the teasers expire) but I don’t need some flunky cutting more holes that will soon be infested with bees into my house.

    Oh and the guy wouldn’t have gotten more than a glass of water out of me.

  25. Recury says:

    Posts like these are why I read Consumerist. There should be some long German loanword for taking pleasure in other people’s service horror stories.

    For me, the funniest part of the whole thing was imagining her offering him some water and him being like “Mmm…nah, how about a Coke instead?” Way to own, guy.

  26. juri squared says:

    The best story I have about technicians comes from the incompetent Comcast contractors. My husband and I have a lot of IT experience and can fix most issues ourselves, but our internet was having some sort of issue that was beyond our expertise.When the third guy came to try and fix it, he noticed that my husband’s coax cable stripper was sitting out near the cable modem. He asked us if the previous guy had left it, and upon learning it was ours he offered us $20 cash for it. He told us they were “hard to come by” at the office. Wait, the cable guys can’t get basic tools for installing cable lines? Color me shocked!

    We sent him off with a Jameco catalouge and then got ice cream with our $20 windfall.

    Oh, and our internet problem? Took two weeks and five home visits to fix.

  27. On the other hand, my directTV experience…. Chap comes over at the annointed time. Starts speaking to me in Hindi (I look Indian and turns out he’s Fijian). An hour later, he’s told me how much he likes Arsenal and how he’s looking forward to the upcoming World Cup in Germany. I’m wondering what, if anything, does this have to do with my getting satellite TV? He doesn’t finish the job, having told me his biography over the course of the afternoon and says he’ll be back the next day. To make a long story short, this was a year ago, I haven’t seen him since and I completed the installation myself.

  28. LAGirl says:

    i just had a new dish + HD DVR box installed. had a great experience with the tech, who was a DIRECTV employee.

    the bad news was when he saw the work the original idiots did. like drill holes straight down into our roof, which is against DIRECTV policy. i have to go through the claims b.s…take photos, get a roof contracter to write up an estimate for repairs, etc.

  29. girlfriend 6.0 says:

    This water/ soda part of this story reminded me of the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”.

    If you give a DirectTV contractor water….
    …he’ll want soda instead.

  30. Xerloq says:

    The Comcast guy who did my “install” came out 5 hours late, walked in, and turned on the TV. “Oh, you have Comcast Cable TV!” He then handed me a self-install kit and left.

    Comcraptastic!

  31. mac-phisto says:

    hey christy…not to make u feel any worse, but that dish that’s already on your roof? yeah, he probably coulda just hooked a new LNB into that & realigned it (even if it was from DISH Network).

  32. andrewsmash says:

    @dbeahn: Contractors are fine to hire when you want the skills of an individual, but it should be the customer who chooses the contractor (like choosing a roofer, doctor, etc.) When companies use contractors to replace regular employees (like installers), it’s just a cheap attempt to avoid paying decent wages, offering benefits, and just general corporate scum-baggery.

  33. MiltyKiss says:

    @Thrust: I agree completely. If anything, I ask someone that I know personally or someone that one of my friends/family has used.

    The minute the guy drilled the hole was the second you should have kicked his butt out and report it to DirecTV.

  34. Peeved Guy says:

    @msb2: That’s funny. That conjured up images of Christy pushing the installer on a swing and taking him to the zoo…

    I just had DirectTV installed a few months ago and everything went smooth as silk. The guy even helped me save a few bucks and new hole in my living room wall by using a pre-existing cable.

    The ADT installer from a few years ago (before Consumerist, I think) was less than pleasant, however.

  35. MercuryPDX says:

    @Recury: You mean like schadenfreude? That’s one of my favorites.

  36. ctate says:

    @acambras: Oh yes. Then I made my son a pizza and he commented on that. Every time he’d walk in the house he’d tell me how good it smelled. Then he’d pass it and say how good it looked. Finally before he left he asked my son how he liked his pizza and said that now he knew what he was going to get for dinner… Creepy.

  37. JustIcedCoffee says:

    Am I the only one besides the installer wondering why Christy doesn’t feed her son lunch?

  38. ctate says:

    @mac-phisto: The dish is WAY old and beat up. We had the line still that was run from it, but it’s non-functional. Plus we FIGURED that DirecTV would be easier and the new dish would be free. The old one is blocked by heavy trees too.
    But on the self-install front, I consider myself handy for being a female and I could have done a better job than this guy. It definitely would not have taken me 6 hours for that crappy job.

    @MiltyKiss: I tried my best to get him out of the house once that hole was drilled. It was just hard to deal with him with a bored 8 year old and a 1 year old running around. I was very busy closing doors behind him so my one year old wouldn’t escape and keeping his tools out of her little hands. I felt like I was babysitting a third child the entire time.

  39. ctate says:

    @JustIcedCoffee: It was just noon! I think he was hungry and hoping for scraps. I feed my children. CPS… there’s nothing to see here. Move along…

  40. ToadKillerDog says:

    I just got my first Directv bill. It was higher than they quoted me on the phone because I will get my discounts in the future. I am already ticked off by them. The rep on the phone assured me that there was no higher level to go to.

    So who do I escalate to?

  41. loueloui says:

    This may be somewhat of a horror story, but it may be closer to the norm for Directv. I left them after moving because of their incompetent technicians, and their affiliation with MasTec, which is owned by no other than the noted scumbag and Cuban separatist Jorge Mas Canosa.

    When I originally had my cable modem installed the cable guys who came out where top notch. Apparently one of them was training the other guy. They completed the work, got everything ship shape and clean in no time flat.

    Later when I got my VOIP phone installed, I noticed they had switched to a contractor. This guy had a Brighthouse T-shirt instead of a uniform, and a beat up pickup with a sticker on it instead of a company vehicle. I guess it’s plain to see that they are outsourcing their service now.

  42. axiomatic says:

    Similar to my experience with a Time Warner contractor who attempted to STAPLE the cable to the outside of my house with a STAPLE GUN. No not a real cable line stapler but an actual POSTER BOARD STAPLE GUN!

    I threw him out of course.

  43. kerry says:

    @Recury: schadenfreude?

  44. royal72 says:

    why on earth would you now use their service?! giving the installer the benefit of having a bad day, after the second or third issue, i would have told him to pack up his shit and leave. followed by calls to whomever canceling the service, before it even starts.

    this is exactly the problem and the reason why we get such shit service from these companies. it doesn’t matter if they killed your dog during the installation, because all it takes is a generic apology, listening to you vent for a lil bit, and six months free hbo. now your happy to put money in their pocket and sign a contract releasing your right to tell them to fuck off at anytime without penalty.

  45. romulus says:

    The cable guy works for the cable company.

    The dish installer is an independent contractor.

    There’s your problem. Outsourcing is a bitch for the consumer.

  46. Employees Must Wash Hands says:

    Funny enough, I had DirecTV installed five days ago, and while he was there, I offered him a Coke, which he declined in favor of water. He told me that if he took soda every time customers offered him one, he’d be dehydrated to the point where he’d be falling off ladders.

    From the picture, I’m wondering if the installer miscalculated how long of a cable he needed to go into the house, and the only male-male connectors he had on his truck were the kind that were fixed to a wall plate.

    For what it’s worth, the work described here is really shoddy, but I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect fishing through walls or outlet boxes from a “free” installation. While the guys at Best Buy and Circuit City will lie to you to your face to get a sale and confidently tell you they’ll use only unicorn-grade wiring, it’s pretty clearly stated on the DirecTV website what the free install entails. Specifically, drilling a hole in the wall (DirecTV reference). Sure would be nice if they asked permission before doing so, though.

  47. whereismyrobot says:

    I just had Verizon FIOS installed a week ago. It took seven hours. They drilled a hole in the wall without my permission and it split the wood outside (I rent, so I am not sure what I am going to do when my landlord sees it.). The guy did not sweep it up and unplugged my stuff to install his HUGE power pack thing so I can’t put anything on that wall. There is an ugly black wire skirting the front porch.

    I will say the guy was nice and professional, however ten minutes after he left he needed me to give his van a jump. The next morning, he called and told me that he left his ID at my place.

  48. ne0shell says:

    Back in college I worked as a custom installer for a Home Theater company. Granted, my skill set was quite a bit above the average DTV tech, (I hold multiple certifications including projection service tech, ISF, on and on plus I was the lead installer for the company)We used to install DTV (and this was when it first came out) and I could do the average install in 10 minutes flat with a perfect signal and no complaints. Other installers who came and went fell through ceilings, asked housewives for oral sex, drilled holes in roofs and one in particular ended up costing the company untold thousands of dollars when every single client of his sued for damages.
    Don’t give an installer ANY benefit of doubt, period. The FIRST time they cause you to question their skills ask them to stop working and call someone. You don’t even want to know how much damage a village idiot with a Dewalt drill can do in 5 minutes. I made 11 bucks an hour back then which was actually pretty high pay compared to my co-workers and at that rate I was trusted to cut holes in the penthouse ceilings of Fortune 5 CEO’s homes and hang 400 pound projectors over their heads. There are decent installers out there.
    1. Discuss your install – ask the tech to review the work to be performed once they survey the site and get your approval before proceeding. If you disagree with anything it’s better to discuss it before holes are drilled.
    2. Ask the installer to show you exactly where cable drops will be located. Keep in mind that retro-fitting a cable into the location where you want it may not be possible without attic access large enough to work a drill into above the wall or an exterior wall. You may have to deal with cable being run on the outside of the house, under carpet etc – this is why pre-wiring a home for cable, internet and phone is worth the $$$.
    3. Call DTV customer service, relate what’s happened and tell them if they don’t expedite correcting things, including paying to fix damages you will not only sue them but you’ll be calling Dish network. They make nothing on the install and need you to stay with them for 3-6 months to break even on the equipment and labor.
    4. I will NEVER leave my wife alone with a service tech of any kind. These guys are not always drug tested or given background checks and they do assault women and children more often than you want to know. Both of you being present will avoid any issues and also help you stand up for your rights. If you’re a single woman try to get a male friend to be there to play “house”. I’m not sexist, I just know all too well how some installers think and you can always play good cop / bad cop if you have issues with the tech.
    5. Unfortunately a large number of people won’t complain and bad techs can get away with doing crappy work for a long time. I saw it happen when I would go out and fix work another tech had screwed up months or even a year before. The most common excuse given was that they didn’t want to get the tech fired, he was a “nice guy” etc.
    6. If you ever plan on selling your home the crappy work that tech just did is going to cost you $$$ for a long time. I’d check the entire house, especially the attic and any ingress points he may have made for cables. You might have a bigger problem in the form of a leak sneaking up on you.
    Good luck and I hope the rest of you learned a lesson….

  49. ne0shell says:

    The angle of attack on a dish is not what you might think based on looking at the parabolic. It’s actually around 52 degrees and good for quite a ways above that. I used to install dishes on side walls between houses which were may be 10 feet apart and get 100+ signals. You could actually take a very small window out of a tree if it’s really impacting signal….

  50. ldavis says:

    DirecTV completely botched my install, feel free to peruse the details on my website:

    [upt.org]

  51. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @romulus:
    No, Comcast contracts out most of their installations.
    Just last week a Comcast contractor rang my bell to install cable at my house.
    One little problem!
    I never ordered cable, he had the correct address on the order ticket, but with a name I’ve never heard of. He spent the next 15 minutes wandering around the block looking for the right person’s home. I don’t think he ever found her!

  52. ldavis says:

    I had a DirecTV installation a few months ago. They outsource from a company called Ironwood Communications here (don’t know about other cities). The installer made a mess, drilled a hole in my wall without a faceplate, and a bunch of other annoying things. There’s pics on my website in case anyone wants to read the whole deal: upt.org/directv

  53. humphrmi says:

    @romulus: Umm, actually the outsourcing issue isn’t specific to DTV or even satellite. I’ve had many service calls for both Comcast and RCN (my city has both) handled by contractors. In fact, once RCN sent out a contractor, on a Saturday, with no ID or work order to install a filter on my cable box. Sure, a phone call to RCN eventually cleared things up, but the point is, a cable tech does NOT necessarily work for the cable company.

  54. Hmm… Sounds like DTV is taking a page out of Comcast’s book.

  55. Jiminy Christmas says:

    My f’ed up Comcast anecdote: “Calvin” shows up after calling to ask directions to my house. I’m getting two wall jacks installed: one for internet, one for TV. Calvin drilled through one of my wood baseboards after his flex bit went astray, and this was after repeatedly seeking my help on where to pull the wire in through the basement.

    Then, before Calvin is done his supervisor calls and tells him he’s needed on another job. So, supervisor knows Calvin isn’t done, tells him to leave anyway, and Calvin does so. Nice management skills. I left work early for this crap. So, I get to set up a second appointment for another guy to come out a different day and finish the work.

    After Calvin had left I was trying for the life of me to figure out what his deal was. Then it dawned on me: the slow speech, the lethargy, the poor coordination: he was stoned out of his mind.

    Overall, my .02: Map out exactly where everything is going with the installer: box here, jack there, cable from here to there. No ad libbing. The moment they cause damage or do something without permission get them off of your property.

  56. MauriceReeves says:

    We had DirecTV installed last year, on one of the hottest days of the year. The guys were late in arriving, and only one spoke English (the other was apparently a trainee, whatever), but the work was awesomely done, and fast too.

    The installer was clearly having a bad day and was not in a good mood, but he did his job well so no complaints.

    A few weeks ago we had a new receiver installed in the basement so a technician came out. Different guy, and the work order was entirely screwed up. Everything DirecTV had told him we’d need was wrong, but we had the receiver and the cable lying around. He was in and gone in 15 minutes.

    I guess I’ve been lucky.

  57. Omniboy says:

    This contractor problem is the reason why Shaw Cable dumped it’s sub-contractors and brought everything in house, they just couldn’t meet a standard of quality that was acceptable. However, when I had my satellite installed in March, the girl was making a big deal about having to pull new coax through the vents (old stuff was there, just needed to be replaced, very simple) and was trying to convince me it would be easier and therefore better to let her drill holes in the side of the building and run cable from the outside.

    I said no and she argued with me, saying that my neighbours had done. I was like, well, that’s their choice. She had a bit of a hissy fit but eventually did it. Last week I had another tech in for a repair on the system and he said she didn’t even bother to crimp the ends, they came off in his hands, nor did she tape the connections outside, which is why we were loosing our satellite signal.


    NEVER EVER let them drill where you don’t want them too. Whenever I have any maintence or technicians around I follow them and watch what they’re doing, partly because I’m curious, and partly because they’re less likely to take short cuts if I’m asking them questions and calling them on it.

    While I simpathize with this ladies problem, I thin I would have tossed him out the first time he drilled without permission.

  58. Thrust says:

    I just hit on a new business idea… Ninja’s seem to be the only ones in the workforce who still know how to do their job (as evidenced by the fact nobody has seen one)… Lets train Ninjas to be cable repair guys. You won’t know when they will come, you’ll never see them working, but at some point in the day a Katana blade will jab out from the wall, cut a hole, and a pair of gloved hands will string a new cable jack, then disappear in a puff of smoke.

    NINJACAST!

  59. jerseyjokeboy says:

    We have Comcast and thus far it’s been good, although we have internet issues that nobody knows how to fix. This happened constantly at first, not so much these days. I have 4 computers running on one wireless router and we would constantly lose signal in the apartment. Nobody knew why and how. All modems/routers were new, the Comcast tech even came by again to see if he could fix it. According to his tests everything worked fine. He did something, although the problem did not go away completely. So besides the fact that this problem still occurs, Comcast service was always good, techs seemed like they knew what they were doing.

  60. ShadowFalls says:

    @andros:


    I think this follows with the same sentiment of: “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”

    I never had an incompetent cable installer come by, nor do they ever charge a single dime at any point in time. Guess it depends on who you have to deal with.

    When it come to the way this person was treated by their installer, it is sickening, but you can only defend her so much since she did not speak up to the installer. First, I would never offer anything to them. I am a good host, but only to those who I know. Even though they should be prepared, I would not refuse water if asked, but I would refuse anything else, if you say are thirsty and water is not good enough for you, then I can conclude that you are not thirsty.

    I would also refuse to have a dish installed anywhere but on the roof, you can’t get signal through trees, it is simply stupid to think otherwise. The fact of how unprepared and disorganized this guy was is simply sad. She should have demanded he leave and tell DirecTv to send out a new tech who is not incompetent.

  61. andros says:

    @kerry:

    Schadenfreude

    Pronunciation : sha dEn froy dE
    Definition : Pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. (German)

  62. wiz561 says:

    I had a similar problem happen to me as well. When I first moved into my house, I purchased a DirecTV system from Circuit City. I thought that by purchasing one from a retail center and not a neon-lit corner store, I would get professional installation. We’ve all seen the ‘directv installation trucks driving around our neighborhoods. No, I didn’t get the professionals. These two guys come trotting out of their 1980′s van with a ladder bungeed to the top of the roof rack. OK, that’s fine…you shouldn’t make your decision on looks.

    Luckily, I ran all the cable myself inside of my house so I didn’t have to worry about them turning my walls into swiss cheese. I wanted the dish on my garage, so they put it there and click tied all the coax to my telephone line. Mind you, this is about 4 coax cables or so and the weight really adds up. Ma bell wouldn’t be too happy if it caused the line to fall down.

    So once they got done doing that, they just ran the cables into the house. They never grounded them, grounded the dish, or anything like that.

    After that fiasco, it took them another two hours to aim the dish properly and take off. I don’t know, it just didn’t seem like a very “professional” installation in my opinion.

  63. phripley says:

    Wouldn’t it have been better to just feed the guy?

    I learned a tip a long time ago for getting service from Verizon etc. When you place the service call tell the phone rep to add the following note to the comments field “customer will provide cookies”. It really works.

  64. ryborg says:

    Although this site is mostly concerned with consumerism in the U.S., I feel an international perspective is, at the very least, interesting and informative.

    While I have done years of self-installation of dishes in Ontario, I did not have this option while living in India this past year. New Delhi has made the transition to various DTV standards, and Tata SKY offered some incredible deals, and offered installation. When I had problems with the phone line and internet in the past, companies like MTNL (a govt. subsidiary) sent farmers (yes, they were farmers…i asked them)armed with nothing more than a sharp blade for wire stripping and a scrap of paper on which were scribbled DNS server and IP address. Escalating there means that the District Superintendent Manager comes to your house and apologizes while the farmers bang the computer Zoolander style.

    The Tata dish installation was flawless. Within a few hours of calling for service, two young men arrived with two dishes and three receivers and their equipment, piled on a scooter, and without a ladder climbed on the roof, installed the dish, and using some sharp tool ran cables through a chink between the window frames and the concrete structure. As one finished aligning the dish, the other swiftly installed the receiver in the room where i was seated and tuned to BBC, handed me the remote and instruction manual and they were gone in another 5 minutes.
    That is incredible service for India. The certainly give these American companies a run for their money.

  65. Todd_Humphrey says:

    First, I would like to apologize to Christy for how she was treated. This incident gives all satellite technicians a bad name.
    I have been installing satellite TV for over 25 years. This is not a problem with Satellite TV, it is a problem with how both DIRECTV and Dish Network have tried to drive consumers away from local shops to their own in-house installation work force. I am not going to say that all local stores are perfect, but I no local shop stays around very long if they do not offer great customer service.
    I strongly suggest anyone considering satellite TV to contact a local store, with a local installer. These stores can offer the same deals you find online. You may not get a free $20 DVD player, but you will most likely get far better service.
    http://www.dbsinstall.com

  66. Todd_Humphrey says:

    Another thing I would like say about getting poor service. Unless you cancel you deal BECAUSE you had poor service. Nothing will change. You can complain all you want, but in the end if you keep the service, they consider the installation successful. The ONLY thing that matters is getting you to sign the contract. Unless you refuse to sign the contract and kick the installer out, the company has no incentive to hire better quality people to provide their installation service.

  67. ckilgore says:

    Send this email to: chase.carey@directv.com (president of DirecTV). Trust me, it works.

  68. SilverGriffin says:

    I agree with Neoshell 100%… I worked in the NY/NJ/PA area for a good while for a company that installed DTV and home theatre systems. Like many other companies, this was a contracted company that subcontracted the work out to others to keep their profit margin high. I would like to point out before I go further that both Circuit City and Best Buy will often review these techs after the job has been completed. The tech knows what his scores are and wont be afraid to tell you if they’re good (1-10 scale). Though I personally always recieved exemplary marks (and still have the feedback to prove it), I worked with some techs who were little more than common thugs. I have seen techs steal paintball guns, video games, tools, DVDs, I even got half way down the road from a job where we were tipped $100 each, and one of the other techs pulled out a case of omaha steaks he had put into his toolbox. NEVER let these guys out of your sight. Ask what they’re doing, they’ll explain it, and it lets them know you’re watching. As for working conditions, there were times I admittedly refused to go on the roof for a mount. Many times this was either because of snow, the pitch of the roof (installers rarely have the gear to walk a steep roof safely, or the training for that matter), or because the other techs were high as kites after having passed a joint around on the trip to the job. If you think you smell that familiar old scent, you probably do. I later found out most of the employees were buying from the boss man. If you want a roof mount, make sure the tech has roofing tar (usually in a caulking gun), if not, you’ll have to do it yourself later. I know a lot of people have heard techs say they have to run new lines instead of using the old ones. Well, 90% of the time, this is completely true. For those who don’t know, satalite signal cannot be split like cable. This is because satalite signals come down the line with two polarizations. So, if you use a regular splitter before the box, you’d only get half the transponders you needed. The solution here is a multi-switch. Most techs will have them if it doesnt come with your dish kit. They will also try to sell it to you at a bit higher of a cost. My reccomendation is to plan for the future, if you’re hooking up two, or three boxes, then go get a multi-switch that can carry more boxes. And don’t forget, a diplexer is a different beast. A diplexer allows you to combine satalite and rf or cable into a single line on one end, and seperate it with another diplexer on the other end. It’s been a while since I brought up this sort of thing, but most people don’t seem to understand that when you let these people into your house, you can’t just trust them because you scheduled them to be there. The company I worked for was shadey to the extreme. It was run out of the owner’s house, all equipment was stored in his basement, the techs not only got paid about 15-25 bucks a job (depending on the job), but also had to pay for all the wiring we needed, all the tools, every faceplate, connecter, wiretie, multi-switch, and diplexer. When we said we were giving the customer a piece of equipment and we didn’t write it on the bill, it really was coming out of our pockets. I will give the owner one piece of credit though, he did start having *all* jobs require the tech to take digital photos of all work done, if you wrote 5 drops, you had to have 5 pictures of drops. And he did pay for the cameras. A quick note about drops… never ask a tech to run a cable horizontally unless you dont mind a hole in your wall every six inches or so… they can’t magically drill around the studs and beams, and they rarely carry drywall patches ;P Anyway, that’s my bit… just remember, use common sense about it, and never let a stranger near your valubles unsupervised (that includes your children and fridge… lets not forget those steaks, shall we?).

  69. atljm says:

    @ NeoShell. You’re absolutely right about never leading your significant other home alone with the installer. I had an office cubemate who literally spent 7 hours one week on the phone with DirecTV to troubleshoot a botched installation. How do I know it was 7 hours? I was keeping a log. My coworkers always ask my why I don’t have pay TV; in addition to the time suck that 600 channels brings, I don’t have to deal with the cable/dish company. My coworker left his girlfriend at home, and the DirecTV installer told her she had to pay him a $30 installation fee. My coworker returned home and confronted the installer, who admitted to my coworker’s face that he’d LIED about the fee. This is all documented in his DirecTV customer service call record.

    I hate to be the minimalist in the room, but I think I’ve figured out how to have the best experience with cable/dish tv.

    1. Don’t get cable or satellite TV.
    2. You can rent all movies, cable or network shows on DVD, commercial free, you just have to wait a bit longer.
    3. With all the money you say on Pay TV, you can afford to subscribe to several magazines, plus have tons of cash left over for copious amounts of beer.
    4. If there is a show you need to watch, go to a friend’s house. Again, not having cable means you should have enough cash to bring something (a six pack or a pizza)so you don’t wear out your welcome.

  70. Trumps says:

    at least Dish network Inhouse techs have a month long training schedule along with 2 months of on the job training with another tech

  71. 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.