DirecTV Contractor Demands Tip Before Starting Work, Storms Out When Faced With A Table

William writes to tell us about an asinine DirecTV contractor who demanded a tip before starting work. The contractor was dispatched by Halstead Communications, DirecTV’s unfortunate installer of choice in New York. After being denied an entrance tip, the contractor noticed an easily movable table blocking his way and declared to his partner, “I can’t work like this, let’s get the fuck out of here.”

William writes:

I write in the hopes you will expose the abusive practices of Halstead Communications, the contractor DirecTV uses to install service in New York. As an initial matter, running a search on Google for “directv halstead communications ltd” pulls up many complaints regarding this subcontractor. I am not the only one who have been abused by this company.

I use the word “abusive” because the technician who showed up this morning did not have equipment and had parked his van a few blocks away even though we have a driveway. He clearly was not ready to work, and he asked my mother for a tip upon coming in–she had tipped him when he came in on a service call a while ago. (He cut a DirecTV line and was not able to install a dish on that service call.) My mother said that he would be tipped after he finished. The technician got angry and said that he couldn’t work because there was a table in the way. My mother had the table moved immediately, but the technician said to his co-worker, “I can’t work like this, let’s get the fuck out of here” and walked out.

I contacted DirecTV and all they could offer was the phone number of the contractor, Halstead Communications. I called Halstead and they said they would have the local office call me back. Of course, the local office has not called back. Halstead refused to tell me their address, or the phone number or address of the “local office.” It’s understandable why they do not want to disclose this information–they’d otherwise be buried in complaints. The consumer is powerless to do anything, and the technicians know this because they would not act like that if we had any power.

It is unbelievable that a large corporation such as DirecTV chooses to do business through such a contractor. I really hope you choose to do a story on Halstead, if only to let DirecTV know that they have to be responsible.

Thank you very much for your time.

Truly Yours,
William

The consumer isn’t powerless. Take your complain straight to DirecTV’s mustachioed CEO, Chase Carey. He can be reached at: chase.carey@directv.com.

(Photo: SpooSpa)

Comments

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  1. mechanismatic says:

    Here’s a tip: Do the job you’re already being paid to do…

  2. kenblakely says:

    Why would you tip a cable guy? Even better, why would you tip the guy BEFORE he did something? What a moron…

  3. snoop-blog says:

    i find if odd to tip a direcTV contractor. i find it more odd to ask for a tip up front, especially when it’s someone who’s tipped you in the past. i wonder how much of a tip was it? obviously enough to turn this guy into an asshat.

  4. DojiStar says:

    To line their pockets with extra cash is why they ask for tips up front.

    It’s either give them a tip up front or you don’t get the service installed or repaired. Kind of like extortion.

  5. ogman says:

    I’ve pretty much had it with the tip abuse. I tip waitresses and waiters. Everybody else needs to do the damned job or become unemployed.

  6. astraelraen says:

    thats kinda funny. I’ve actually had direcTV installers come to my house smelling like alcohol.

  7. sleepydumbdude says:

    I’m supposed to tip the direcTV guys? I don’t know about New York but the direcTV installers here make pretty decent as it is.

  8. snoop-blog says:

    so how exactly do you go about asking for a tip up front?

    “so uh, before i get to it, uh, can i have a tip?”

    i think i would laugh my ass off for five minutes or so before i realized he was being serious. then i’d invite him to a nice glass of mountain dew (with pee in it) and look at it like i was doing my part of karma and balancing this guy out.

  9. tedyc03 says:

    Contact the local utility board. See what they have to say…

  10. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @tedyc03: Don’t Bother. The local utility board will NOT DO A THING! It’s satellite TV, hence it is really not regulated at the state level.

    Even cable lines for internet or voice over high speed internet….the public utilities board/commission will just twiddle their thumbs….

  11. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: Here’s the exact quote I got when I complained to the Public Utilities board about Comcast cutting its service FOR NO REASON:

    “On a state level, there is no regulation of Internet service over cable television lines and very little regulation on the federal level as well. In March 2002, the Federal Communication Commission’s (“FCC”) issued a Declaratory Ruling providing that cable modem service was an “interstate informational service” exempt from state regulation. On June 27, 2005, the US Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s decision that broadband cable modem service is an informational service but not a telecommunications service, and therefore not subject to Title II common carrier regulation under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.”

    Comcast said “Sorry” and the Public Utilities Board thought that was enough.

    So unless its an ‘old’ and ‘established’ utlity…like gas, electricity, or phone lines via copper….they (utilities board) will not be able to help you.

  12. uberbucket says:

    “I can’t work like this, let’s get the fuck out of here.”

    I hate sobriety as much as the next guy but c’mon; he’s not even trying.
    :)

  13. Bill Brasky says:

    Um…WTFO?!?!

  14. heavylee-again says:

    William, do you know the installer’s name?

  15. edrebber says:

    Call direct TV and cancel your service. There are plenty of other options for TV.

  16. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Feel free to use this handy missive:

    Dear DirecTV(/Dish Network as the case may be),
    As much as I would like to have your service, your choice of installer in my area is completely unacceptable due to past performance of said installer and their company as a whole.

    Given the dearth of options, I have decided to forego paying for television and have had some device called an “antenna” installed on my domicile, which, to my surprise, feeds me a much higher quality high definition signal than anything else.

    Please feel free to contact me if, and only if, ALL of the following occur:
    1. DirecTV severs its relationship with [insert crappy contractor name here].
    2. I can pay a fair price for only those channels I actually watch, rather than the bundled channels which only survive because of said bundling.
    3. Non-broadcast channels begin to broadcast quality thought-provoking shows as the rule, not the exception.

    In other words, I look forward to NEVER hearing from you again.

    Thanks.

  17. jeffjohnvol says:

    I’d say, “I tell you what. Lets say I don’t tip you, and I don’t follow you home and beat your dog.”

  18. Hawk07 says:

    As bad as people like to make the cable companies out to be, they have at least control over their employees.

  19. jpx72x says:

    Asinine = “devoid of intelligence.” Asinine != “acting like an asshole.”

    Lrn 2 plai, n00b.

  20. vastrightwing says:

    That installer did you a favor: he saved you from high satellite bills and paying for junk you’ll never watch. He saved you from paying a monthly lease on equipment you never own. He stopped you from paying extra for high def content that’s compressed to look like SD. In short, they don’t deserve your business. Get an antenna, programming is free. Also there is the Internet. More and more live shows are being broadcast free on the NET. This is a good time to dump satellite and cable. Thank God!

  21. forgottenpassword says:

    No wonder he didnt park his van nearby…. didnt want his license plate read when he got rebuffed for having the audacity to ASK for a tip!

    Miserable SOB!

  22. Landru says:

    I know others have some problems with them, but I’m actually pretty happy with Dish Network.

  23. Ahh the spoiled brat service industry is coming to roost. I blame the people who tip for no good reason for this type of behavior, rewarding those who do nothing OR very little for their actions.

  24. mechanismatic says:

    @jpx72x: Asking for a tip in advance and acting like an asshole when you don’t get it seems pretty devoid of intelligence to me…

  25. u1itn0w2day says:

    Did the truck at least say ‘Authorized Direct TV Contractor ‘-Love they way these major corporations especially in communications use contractors and yet try to promote them as their own.I’ve seen Comcast and the baby Bells do the samething.

    One of the problems is many of these contractors are sub contractors which means THEY ARE on the low end of the pay scale.That being said:Direct TV IS still responsible since they hired or ‘authorized’ them.I’d go to one of the regulatory agencies like the FCC or FTC and tell them Direct TV is not fully disclosing the costs or even over charging(if some contractors don’t ask for a tip and yet they ask you?-how come you HAD to tip and others didn’t)-that’s discriminatory pricing.

    Even if they are only ‘authorized’ contractors they are still defaming the corporate reputation and I’d let Direct TV know that at a different level.

  26. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’d also check to find out if the technician let alone the contracting company was required to have a low voltage license which is required in many areas to install/repair things like communications,data and or alarms.If required there might be an ethics clause or a local authority you could report them to.

  27. chiieddy says:

    Halstead Communications
    [www.halsteadpr.com]

    329 E 82nd St
    New York, NY 10028
    (212) 734-2190

  28. telarium says:

    @ogman:

    I’m a Bellman, and I’d suggest that you tip me, lest you become the unfortunate victim of “luggage abuse.”

  29. theczardictates says:

    @telarium: people like you are exactly why I *don’t* tip the bellman. A tip should be for exceptional service, not extortion to ensure that you actually do the job you were hired and paid to do.

    People like you are also the reason I don’t let the bellman touch my bags. Ever.

  30. Anonymous says:

    A tip? A what? The only tip I would give him would be, “Don’t breathe underwater”. On second thought….

  31. humphrmi says:

    @telarium: Got it. So it’s not about providing excellent service to the customer… tipping you is a simple matter of extortion. Hey, as long as we know where we stand.

  32. KogeLiz says:

    @astraelraen: yeah, ive walked by two cable vans in apartment complexes… they were sitting inside smoking weed.

  33. newspapersaredead says:

    @vastrightwing: You are dead on. There is practically nothing worth watching anymore. These companies are going to have to offer a’la carte to survive. More and more people are going to be cutting the cable because of availability of content online, the quick release to DVD, the increasing cost of packages and the consistently poor service. Just to watch my favorite sports teams I would have to pay over $100 per month and probably would only watch a few hours of programming altogether per week. Where is the cable company who wants to cater to my viewing habits? There are none, and that is why they aren’t getting any of my money.

  34. SOhp101 says:

    Sure, here’s a tip for you: don’t eat yellow snow.

    If any worker asks you for tip up front, that means you’re going to get crappy service.

  35. snoop-blog says:

    @humphrmi: too funny!

  36. Osi says:

    This is funny :) Tips are a scam. Never tip any worker, there’s no reason to.

  37. DCGaymer says:

    @Jinx You’re the kind of person I won’t dine out with…I prefer to have my food without wait staff additives.

  38. LJKelley says:

    Actually Halstead installed DirecTV at my house and I had no issues. So I think the main thing is to complain (as there is now way DirecTV or Halstead can see what their contractors/employees do at your house).

    And I kinda find it odd that your Mother tipped him on a previous call where you suggest he didn’t finish his work as he should. Isn’t your mom then tipping bad behaviour and thus encouraging it.

  39. I was just in Russia and Kazakhstan for 6 weeks, pre tipping for everything is just what you do.

  40. telarium says:

    @humphrmi:

    Excellent customer service comes at a price – need I say a premium, in fact. It’s not my system – but here in the United States, hourly wages don’t reflect the expenditure of my hard work. Unfortunately the burden of filling the gap falls on the customer. Again, it’s not my system – but I’m sure the newest incarnation of politico will hear your cries about raising the minimum wage to reflect and cover, at the very least, inflation.

    You call it extortion, I call it earning “a living wage”. But if I have to extort it (as you would consider it) from you, I will in a heartbeat. Welcome to America – where you’re entirely free to not tip me, and I’m entirely free to offer you the corresponding service. That’s business – and unlike those television monopolies, you have a wide variety of hotels to choose from. So please, for the sake of…whatever, don’t come to my hotel ya cheap bastard!

    I meant that last line to be a little more humorous than cynical – but it tastes right, I’d say.

  41. evslin says:

    What a dick. If you want a tip, go be a pizza delivery driver.

  42. Soldier_CLE says that Hideo Kojima has to make MGS till the day he dies! says:

    There’s bad service… And then there’s worse service…

    And then there is DirectTV’s contractors!

  43. scoosdad says:

    @chiieddy: No, sorry, that’s a public relations firm that just happens to share the same name as this hapless DirecTV contractor. Did you even look at the site in your link? Try again.

  44. ChuckECheese says:

    Welcome to the next stage of the degeneration of the economy and society, aka the kleptocracy. An increase in bribery is a sign of a political economy circling the drain. People demand bribes (a) because the rule of law has declined to the point that extortion is possible; and (b) people want or need their incomes enhanced by bribe-taking.

    You don’t really have a choice in the matter, as the story describes: The family who was extorted can’t find recourse, and the service system has declined, through sub-sub-contracting, to the point that workers feel they deserve more money than they are paid (whether that’s true or not); and they feel they can get away with it.

  45. snoop-blog says:

    @telarium: well, there’s always a price to pay. but if i feel like you intentionally screwed with/lost my luggage, your hotel has insurance, and i’ll get all brand new stuff. or you can pay me through your nose, and we’d call it even.

    the nerve of people who think if you don’t tip them, that gives them a license to screw you over somehow. if your really good at your job, you’d understand it’s part of your job to take the bad with the good. i served tables, not everyone tips, even with great service, it was part of the job. i worked for the oppertunity to earn a tip. tips were not a god given right, niether was the job. if my managers heard me say that i intentionally screw people who don’t tip me, i would have been fired. i’m willing to bet your mangers aren’t any different.

  46. snoop-blog says:

    *opportunity- b4 i get flamed, and yea i meant managers, not mangers.

  47. dantronism says:

    I had a directv installer come to my house a few months ago to install a new dish. He arrived in the early afternoon, climbed into my attic to start the install, and said “it’s too hot, I’ll be back tomorrow”. He never showed back up, but left all of his tools and wiring. I got cable instead and use the tools on a daily basis (I’m an electronic technician).

  48. Major-General says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: Or flat out lie.

  49. FightOnTrojans says:

    @jeffjohnvol: What the hell, dude? It’s not the dog’s fault his owner is a douche! Better yet, just teach the dog to crap in his shoes. Win win!

  50. ninjatales says:

    How bout a tip with a baseball bat on the head? If a cableguy asked me for a tip, I’d laugh in their faces and tell them to show some ID, do the work, and get the f out.

    How bout revoking their licenses and opening up their jobs to people who really want to work? There’s all this talk about unemployment, and it’s cuz of companies keeping assholes like the clowns who showed up at William’s place.

  51. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    @jpx72x: Asinine: “I’d give her face a 2 and her ass a 9.”

  52. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Is tipping the cable installer standard everywhere? Ours did a great job, but all I gave him was a glass of tea and my thanks. We did call DirecTV after the fact to let them know what an incredible job he did.

    He showed up precisely on time; ran the cables in exact, straight lines under the eves; ran them everywhere we needed them; placed the dish quickly and did the alignment in a flash. He even cleaned up the sawdust stuff from where he did the drilling/cable pulling.

    DirecTV has a huge facility about an hour from here, so maybe that is why the service is better?

  53. ChuckECheese says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: In the U.S., tipping service employees and contractors is not standard anywhere, with a few exceptions in certain locations and positions (say, tipping your doorman in NYC or other major cities at Christmastime). This is a local cultural issue, and depends on the prevailing wage, the local political economy, and the aggregated decisions of individuals. You live in a locale where people still take pride in doing a good job and do not require additional compensation from the customer.

    There are many parts of the country where people feel like their work is undervalued, either because they’re underpaid, or they are mistreated on the job. There are also cultural shifts making it easier and more acceptable to engage in various types of financial fraud. It is these negative changes in the way work is perceived, valued and compensated that leads to negative behavior.

  54. theanalogdivide says:

    @chiieddy: I don’t think that’s the Halstead Communications in question. The link takes you to a PR firm for educators.

    Try this one, OP:
    Halstead Communications LTD
    504 N. Barry St.
    Olean, NY 14760-2612
    Phone: (716) 372-4235
    Toll-Free: (866) 259-2041

    Direct complaints to owner Kirk Halstead. So far, Google-fu hasn’t turned up an email.

    The above address and contact info can be found using ReferenceUSA, a database available at many public libraries.

  55. Mr_D says:

    Anybody who asks for a tip doesn’t deserve one. They don’t receive one from me, either.

    Not that I would give an installer/contractor a cash tip, that’s a little weird. For the traditional stuff, I’m a big proponent of tipping. I’ll tip handsomely if service is passable (or I’m drunk and the waitress is cute).

  56. clickable says:

    I wouldn’t tip a cable service installation guy because I consider him like any other utilities service provider, whether he’s a subcontractor or not. I tip furniture deliverers, and sometimes workers when I hire a company to do some work and it’s not the boss doing the actual work – gardening, painting, whatever.

    Anyone who spends any time working in or around my home is offered something to drink, and on hot days, I offer them a cold drink several times. Even the Verizon employees who aren’t even on a service call to our house, but enter our property occasionally when they need to work on the telephone pole that’s most easily accessible from the back of our yard.

  57. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @theanalogdivide: I checked the BBB….this is what I found: [search.buffalo.bbb.org]

    There is an e-mail address there, among other contact information.

  58. Cyfun says:

    Here’s a tip for him: DO YOUR DAMN JOB!

  59. midwestkel says:

    From looking at the other email it looks like first initial last name so Kirk’s email would be khalsted@halstedweb.com

    Good luck. They got a shitty website.

  60. nequam says:

    @midwestkel: Funny how the Customer Service and Fulfillment links are inactive.

  61. Hyperman says:

    I am a subcontractor for Dish Network and I would never ask for a tip but would also never refuse one. You got to remember that as a subcontractor we have to pay our own contractors insurance and workers comp. along with gas and insurance for our vehicles. While yes we do make good money and a tip is not always necessary there are times when customers ask for a ton of stuff not required in our jobs and if I have time I will run lines to a extra TV or help tune the antenna but remember that the work order says we have to do certain things and anything else can be charged extra. While I don’t normally charge remember your attitude has a lot to do with how much extra I will do. A lot of people that have commented here I would not put a extra fitting on for you. Halstead Communications has Big office in Johnson City, NY

  62. jpx72x says:

    @PatrickIs2Smart: You win the thread.

  63. midwestkel says:

    @nequam: Yeah, I noticed that too.

  64. mhedgesjr says:

    Wow, seeing this story brought a smile to my face with the hope that I would be able to tell one of my favorite stories one more time. I will TRY to keep it as short as possible, but there is so much great detail in it that I may fail in my attempt at brevity.

    OK, so after years of being abused by Comcast, they finally broke me and I decided that I was going to go with satellite. It seemed cheap, had some cool sports packages, so I called them up ready to sign up. I later learned that they told me multiple lies on my initial sales call, namely that I would receive local CT stations which was critical in the winter because the CT stations give the school cancellations and delays (not to mention it can be raining in Manhattan while I get a foot of snow an hour north in CT). The second lie was related to the need for a phone line attached to the satellite box, which wasn’t a huge deal but it was annoying that they blatantly lied (the main beef was that in order to purchase a pay per view movie/program I had to either call in or go through the website, not catastrophic but annoying).

    OK, so they sell me, and the install day comes and two seemingly nice installers show up. The day of the install I happened to be working from home, and was on a call with our London office and a client, so I knew I was going to be busy most of the time they were installing the service. Because of this, since I felt it was kind of rude for me to be on the phone the whole time, I set the guys up with coffee, soda, chips, pretzels, etc. from the get go. I told them that I didn’t mean to be rude, but I had to be on this call but if they needed anything they could help themselves to food, drink, or anything they needed). Now, I don’t think that’s a big deal, but I do think its fairly nice considering most people are rude bastards to service installers.

    BTW, DirectTV guaranteed me the install would be free of charge. They said upfront that the only way it would cost anything was if the install went outside the boundaries of what is included in the “standard install”, which they said NEVER happens. OK, this is where the problems started.

    The installers must have decided that I was some kind of sucker, which I blame on the fact that I was nice, generous, and treated them like human beings, etc. So, instead of being decent human beings in return, and doing what I paid them to come out to my house and do, they decided that instead they would just try to rape me for every cent possible. Early on they must have decided that they would tell me that EVERY single piece of this install was custom, and thus chargeable, causing my “free install” to instead become a $200 analization.

    The key to this problem is something that I later learned after this debacle unfolded: the Halstead guys get a standard rate for each install, say $50, but they get to keep the margin they make on any “custom install” work for themselves. This makes it in their best interest to whenever possible get the customer for custom work, a business policy that I fully blame on DirecTV since they are the ones that allowed it to take place. While on my conference call, the installers would grab me for a second and tell me that I needed extra cable, extra junction boxes, etc., and then they dropped the big bomb on me. I told the folks on the conference call I had to step away for a second, and followed the installers out to my 10x10ft condo deck.

    The installers then proceeded to tell me that because of the location of my townhouse, the “typical” placement of the dish prevented me from the required line of sight to the satellite. They had this little handheld tool that they point up in the sky, and it measures the signal strength to the satellite. Now, these guys didn’t know this (clearly), but I am not an idiot, and I would hazard to guess that my IQ was 3 or 4x their combined IQ. I immediately suspected foul play, especially when I noted that installer #1 pointed his device at a hillside when showing me the poor signal. I have to admit I was PISSED, as I thought “these mother f’ers, I go out of my way to try to be nice and they are just going to try to f me”. So, I play along with it, “wow, yeah, that is a terrible signal, so what do you guys recommend, you are the experts not me”. What followed was the best part of the whole show.

    They told me that they recommended putting the dish on a 10 ft metal pole, right in the corner of my 10x10ft deck, and showed me with their device how this would give me an AMAZING signal. It was so comical that I almost burst out laughing, but at this point I had already decided what my overall strategy was going to be with these guys. I was going to let them think they had truly found a HUGE sucker, let them go through all the trials and tribulations of the raping I am sure they have done to many other less savvy customers (or customers who were just afraid to say anything), and then take them down in the end once it was all over. Part of me wanted to call them out on it, the same part of me that wanted to beat the f out of them. But while I think I could have held my own with them, there were two of them, they seemed like guys who may have been in a street fight or two, and also guys who I couldn’t guarantee wouldn’t just kill me.

    So I let them install the Festivus pole on my deck, which brings to mind one of my only regrets in the whole experience in that I didn’t get a photo of the setup. But I did steal a peak at them every once in awhile, and watch them laughing to each other, quietly of course, but certainly accompanied with comments to one another like “can you believe we got this a-hole today, man this is going to pay for our entire weekend!” Just as they finished assembling the Festivus pole, and wrapped up all the custom wiring and junction box installs, I happened to finish my work call and was ready to wrap things up. They tell me that the whole install was $225, but that they would cut me a deal and do it for I think $200. But they told me that if I was able to pay cash, they could cut me an even better deal, and do the whole thing for $175. I thanked them, said things like “wow, really, that’s awesome guys, $175 for all this, you guys are the best, thanks a million”.

    At this point, they think they have it all wrapped up, they are about to collect $175 for what I am guessing is a $10 aluminum pole (it has a very high strength to weight ratio, for all you true Seinfeld fans), and lets say another $10 in cable and boxes that I am sure actually cost them nothing. As I am counting off the cash, you know, so that I get the “cash discount”, I in one felt swoop deal them the death blow when I say “ok, all I need now from you guys is a receipt for the $175, and I think that will do it.” At this point I think they were torn: part of them felt that I was just a sucker who wanted a receipt, and that they had pulled it off. The other part of them thought “hmm, maybe this guy isn’t the a-hole we had him pegged for, and he just f’d us”. If it was the latter, kudos to them, but I don’t think they were that smart so I have to believe they thought they got away with it. One of them says “ahh, a receipt, yeah sure hang on I will get you a receipt.” He goes to the van, and comes back with a receipt pad that looked like he had stolen it from his diner waitress girlfriend. He then scrawls a few lines on the receipt, gives it to me, I thank them again profusely, tell them have a great weekend, thanks again, blah blah. They leave, I pickup the phone, and I call DirecTV.

    The string of profanity that came out of my house was probably akin to the father in “A Christmas Story”, but I have to admit I was surprised when the piece of sh#t admin at the DirecTV office got sh#tty with me. After making short order of her, I got her manager on the phone, and I think he quickly understood the magnitude of the situation. I explained to him exactly what happened, and the tone of his voice confirmed my suspicion that every single aspect of the install had been bogus, that they 100% tried to rob me, and two things were certain to come out of this debacle. #1 was that I was going to get an amazing deal on my DirecTV service after the attempted a## raping by Halstead, and #2, the two a-holes from Halstead were getting fired.

    The manager showed up, along with whoever his boss was, and they just shook their heads in disbelief. To their credit, they didn’t even try to explain away one single aspect of their piece of sh#t installers actions, they simply told me that the guys were pieces of sh#t and that they would make it right. They dismantled the Festivus pole, showed me that the signal from the dish’s standard location was just about 100% (when not pointed at the hillside), removed all the extraneous cable that had been added to make it look like it required 100ft of custom cabling, and got me setup properly.

    The one favor I did ask them was to please call the two mother f’ers while they were standing with me, so that I knew that they knew I had just f’d them HARD. The manager was happy to oblige, called them up, told them to be at the DirecTV office in 45 minutes, and that they would never be working with DirecTV again. Now, could DirecTV have done that in front of me and then later told the guys “don’t worry about it”: yeah, I guess they could have, but I don’t think its just naïve optimism on my part in thinking that they didn’t do that. The two managers from DirecTV were SO pissed that I would say in the end they were far more agitated than I had been.

    Oh, and I stuck it to DirecTV for everything but the kitchen sink, for 18 months. I think I paid something like $45 a month for 18 months, got my $175 and another $150 in some kind of monetary refund (I forget what they called it but I know I came out with $150 more than I started with), and got every single movie/premium/sports channel that you could ever think of. I tried to get all kinds of extra sports packages like the European Cup, random college football games, etc., and I didn’t quite get that far. But I did get a few of the NFL Pass type deals, which I really didn’t even give a sh#t about but I took anyway. And I was cool to the guys who came out, and told them that while unfortunately they were the face of the company and the people who I had to hammer to get what I felt I deserved, I know that they didn’t send the guys out to my house expecting them to rape me. We actually chatted for awhile about partners, finding service providers/installers, the types of people who they get (obviously) applying for jobs like that, why companies choose to use H1 visa guys instead of pieces of sh#t who apply for $12/hr jobs, etc.

    In the end I kept satellite for the 18 months, and at that point I justified sh#tcanning them because they had lied from the get go about the local channels, which they admitted to also but offered no explanation for other than “sorry”. Satellite sucks btw, and while I hate Comcast, I was able to parlay the fact that I had left for satellite to stick it to Comcast for 16 or 18 months of a deal that was about 40% off that triple play package standard pricing. Comcast are just as big of pieces of sh#t as DirecTV, but their time is coming soon just like the phone companies time came. Let me explain: the phone companies had a monopoly for decades, and since they were the only phone game in town they summarily raped customers for phone service year in and year out. Then VOIP came along, and stuck it right in the phone companies a-holes. But at the same time, the cable company started getting almost monopolistic power with TV, because satellite sucks (see above) and once they got phone service cables triple play deal made for a pretty compelling package for the consumer. But, like all monopolists, instead of trying to take care of their customers and offer value at a reasonable price, they instead have raped customers for years without so much as a reach around. Now the phone companies have come back with FIOS and fiber TV/internet, and have set the stage for cables monopoly to come to an end.

    All of these services are great examples of the dangers that monopolies pose, and what happens to consumers in the end when there aren’t viable competitors for services that have become as standard as indoor plumbing. I expect that as soon as ATT gets their fiber TV/internet service up in my area, I will be making my call to Comcast telling them either they cut my price in half or I will switch. Now, Comcast didn’t bite last time I tried that, but I think it was because the fiber TV/internet wasn’t out yet and they knew they had the only real game in town.

    OK, so it wasn’t short, but I am certain if this story makes it that at least one other person is going to say “wow, that SAME thing happened to me.” The reason I know that is because while my friend won’t admit, I know that this same thing did happen to him he just doesn’t have the balls to admit it (and I know it because when I started to tell him my story, and got as far as describing the two installers but hadn’t yet told him my tale, he said “oh yeah, those same guys set up my satellite also”). The reason for that is because he didn’t do anything about it, and he probably feels like the big p#ssy that he is for letting it happen.

  65. Umisaurus says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: I never tip the cable installer. I’ve always made sure that everything is easily accessible, though, because wouldn’t you want them out of your house sooner than later?

    I’ve actually had great experience with Comcast’s installers and service techs around here, surprisingly. Not tip-worthy, but still.

    I do, however, tip my stylist, servers, barista, and cabbies. I usually make the decision based on overall service. I would never leave a tip before they’ve started, though. That DirecTV contractor was a complete tool.

  66. huadpe says:

    @mhedgesjr: That was one of the longer comments I’ve read through to the end, but your use of punctuation and sentences made it possible. The one flaw in that whole plan seems to have been if DirectTv didn’t care, you just gave those jerks $175 for an idiotic festivus pole.

  67. Bill Brasky says:

    @jeffjohnvol: Not the puppy!

    Besides, he probably already beats his dog. The only tip I’d give him is, “Install it quickly and correctly, and maybe I’ll forget to call your supervisor.”

  68. elf6c says:

    Lets see how the numerous DTV astroturfers here react to this.

    This should be almost as good as a Comcast thread for exposing them. . . .

  69. Scuba Steve says:

    Sounds like the contractors should be fired, honestly.

  70. richcreamerybutter says:

    @mhedgesjr: Great story!

    I’m curious, with the financial quiz post above this one – do any high schools offer a thorough “Consumerist-style” class?

    Also, only somewhat related, I am sad about losing my free Time Warner cable again. I was ALMOST tempted to pay for it again, but then remembered the bloated fees for shit I’ll never watch. Please tell me again why I need to pay for channels that already contain advertising?

  71. thejynxed says:

    The only two New York listings I found for Halstead Communications, LTD, that I located, were their main branch in Yonkers, NYC, and one at 33 Comac Loop, Ronkonkama, NY, 11779-6858 (631)737-6250.

    Apparently these turkeys have taken money from customers, and the proceeded to stiff them, by refusing to install the service period, and refusing to refund the money paid. Complaints can be found on RipoffReport and many, many other websites.

    I’d take them to small claims court and sue.

  72. bigmac12 says:

    RE: mhedgesjr

    Wow, best friend a “pussy”??? Glad I’m not your “enemy.”

  73. Clsmooth says:

    That guy is ridiculous and should be written up and probably lose his job.

    On the other hand if he came in was on time, pleasant and did a good job there is nothing wrong with giving him a tip, but it should never be asked for. Just like with any other job that involves manual labor and someone doing a service in your home if you feel they have done an excellent job throw them 5 or 20 bucks.

    People who say they would never tip a cable guy are douche bags who will probably choke on that 5 bucks that they didn’t give the poor guy who spent 2 hours in your attic running lines for you. Its not his fault his company charges alot of money or doesn’t live up to your expectations

  74. peggynature says:

    @mhedgesjr: I enjoyed your use of sexually violent terms and imagery throughout the telling how of a satellite company charged you unnecessarily for a custom installation. I cannot begin to fathom the kind of systematic oppression you cope with on a daily basis, and I salute you for your courage in standing up against such an egregious violation of your human rights.

  75. ogman says:

    @telarium: I grew in Las Vegas and I know all about bellmen. I pack light and avoid them altogether.

  76. Doctor Cathattan says:

    I would also try and complain to your state attorney general’s office. Most state AGs have a consumer affairs department to handle this type of thing. I would also try and see if your local TV station is willing to embarrass…er, I mean investigate this company.

  77. clayfree says:

    DirecTv has a very bad relationship with it’s installers. I got caught in the middle of it last year with an installation in Frisco, Texas. I needed a larger multi switch to serve me receivers. I called DirecTv before install day and the CSR made a note of it. The day of install he did not have the proper switch. I called DirecTv and ask that it be corrected. The installer got mad and started telling me that DTV would not pay him for the job. It took probably 10 calls to DTV and 6 calls to the local installer. DTV made me do all the communicating between them and the local installer. Twice more someone showed up without the proper switch. Each time they bitched about DTV. I finally got so frustrated I tried to cancel. Because I bought one of the new receivers I am automatically under contract. I have been with DTV for 14 years but something has really changed with the company in the past two years. When my contract is up I plan to run from them as fast and far as I can.

  78. axiomatic says:

    Here’s a tip Mr. DirectTV contractor: “Get to work or I let “the Gimp” loose in your truck.”

  79. backbroken says:

    @mhedgesjr: I had pretty much the same experience with Dish Network.

    Except without the anal sex fetish. Oh, and my story isn’t mostly made up.

  80. SecureLocation says:

    I’ve got your tip…dangling

  81. Hyperman says:

    You can contact the CEO of Halsted Keith Thomas at 607-349-1519

  82. ForDisplayOnly says:

    Halsted is a Duchy of Dickheads. They installed my dish in Brooklyn. It was admittedly a difficult stunt, involving going up to the roof by going out a neighbor’s window and climbing the fire escape to the roof. I helped the fellow get access going through the old lady neighbor’s apartment and was helping hold some cable when the installer dude knocked over a plant on the fire escape landing above and I was hit in the face with whatever you call the clay thing that goes under a flower pot. Ouchy.
    The installer dude checked that I wasn’t dead and continued his tasks while the old neighbor’s son put some stuff on my gushing gape. To get to the point, I waited for a 1/2 hour or so for the Halsted dude to finish his work (can only spare one day off work for fancy TV, you know?) before I could get along to the ER and get some stitches in. I don’t recall if I tipped the installer or not, but I have a charming scar across my nozzle to remember the day by.
    The best part? When I contacted Halsted to encourage them to pony up for the amount of the bill not covered by my insurance (about $250), they refused, saying the installer denied the entire incident and the older woman was fuzzy about it. After several unsatisfying back and forths, it took a letter from a lawyer pal on his co.’s famous-for-asbestos-litigation letterhead, but they eventually ponied up. I don’t approve of suing the sun every time it rains, either. The happy outcome? DirecTV is swell.

  83. HeartBurnKid says:

    @vastrightwing: Ummm… when I had DirecTV:

    * The bill was cheaper than cable
    * I was not charged an equipment rental fee, or charged up front for the equipment. I was flat-out given the equipment in exchange for a 1 year contract. Said contract has no early termination fee as long as you return the equipment; if the contract is already expired, the equipment is yours to keep.

    My mom got DirecTV some time later, and had to cancel after three months; they stuck to the term of the contract, and even sent her pre-paid FedEx boxes to ship the converters back.

    Now, I can’t speak for your third point, as I’m still using SDTV, but frankly, I’d still have the DirecTV service if my current apartment building didn’t require a deposit on a satellite dish.

    Sounds like this installer sucked complete ass, though. I’d definitely give DirecTV and Halstead a few emails to their executive offices.

  84. President Beeblebrox says:

    @johnarlington: It’s the ex-Soviet version of baksheesh, which is rampant in Turkey and the Middle East. [www.merriam-webster.com]

    It’s also something which is supposed to be unknown here in the U.S. and A.

  85. hdporter says:

    I’d have wished that I had enjoyed a measure of the success this last winter that mhedges managed.

    My story re a HD upgrade after 11 years as a customer:

    – 1st installer never shows. Does call a couple of time to say he’s tied up on a job. At 4pm (am appt sched with “guarantee”), we agree to call it quits. He says he’ll set someone else up for the next am.

    – Staying home again, I call at 11am to get the story of when to expect someone. No record someone is to be sent out; furthermore, prior installer signed off on the order (indications are that it was his only “install” that day). A new appt is set up. I alert DirecTV to the problem.

    – Third am appt. I call at 10am and they say installers are in a meeting. Someone should be out by 11am. Call at 11:30. Told they haven’t been able to assign an installer. They’ll try to get someone out soon.

    Call DirecTV Exec office (Carey’s office). Complacent, but they agree to call. Called back and told that they’ll dispatch someone post haste. They offer up a $100 billing credit for the missed appts.

    Sure enough, someone shows up at 2p. I’m initially very pleased when the truck rolls up. Then I answsr the door and the guys says, “What’s the problem”. He has no work orker, no equipment, and no clue. I simply laugh in his face, kindly thank him for coming out, and tell him the office apparently screwed up.

    I go ballistic with all involved. I demand of Carey’s office that they take the situation in hand and make sure that the job is now taken care of with complete assurance.

    They respond that’s not possible. They can only refer the problem back to the installer — it’s their responsibility to follow through. They now offer a credit to my bill for the $300 equipment upgrade fee.

    – I stay home for a 4th time. Installer shows around 10:30a. They’ve send out a senior tech. He takes a 2 minute look at the set up and says because of the 30 degree roof slope a roof top mount isn’t possible. A pole mount to the masonry on the chimney isn’t sufficient – won’t support the weight of the heavy dish. Offers to do a mount to the front of the house. I assure him based upon first install 11 years ago that there isn’t sufficient line of sight (signal cut out with every light shower). He says I’m SOL and packs it in.

    – Exasperated, and frustrated in retrospect that he never did a physical rooftop inspection (just made the call from the street), I ask a supervisor to come out for a second opinion.

    - Stay home for yet a fifth time. No complaints about the visit. Supvr offers up that I can hire a private contractor to install a rooftop platform.

    Throughout, the only consideration DirecTV can show is to throw a little cash at me. Absolutely, entirely complacent about my plight. It’s apparent that this is a routine situation that’s become a “so what” in their eyes. No commitment to customer satisfaction whatsoever — couldn’t give a s**t that I’ve been with them for 11 years.

    ——

    I haven’t followed through with a contractor. Made an initial call — will cost $400+ (possibly much more). DirecTV suggests they might absort a “reasonable” portion.

    Contacting Carey’s office (Consumerist’s advice) may have been effective at one time. Look for lip service now.

    I figure 20-25 hours of lost productivity (please accept we’re talking $1000+), not to mention the aggravation of hours of time spent on the phone (mostly on hold). I’ve been holding off until I’m prepared for the worst in round 2.

    Why don’t I switch? I find the DirecTV offerings far superior to Comcast (based upon what I see at friends) and have no reason whatsoever to expect better customer service. Verizon FIOS not likely available in my area for another 2 years.

    Frankly, I’m hoping that someday there might be prospects for intense government oversight (I’m a dreamer)

  86. 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

  87. 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.

  88. HD-Man says:

    For those of you that have a problem with your DirecTV installation done by Halsted Communications, you can contact the corporate office:

    Halsted Communications
    13 Commerce Dr
    Ballston Spa, NY
    (518)885-8590

    .. or you can contact Kirk Halsted himself:
    KHalsted@halstedweb.com

    Vice President/Operations Manager Keith Thomas aka: Whitey
    KThomas@halstedweb.com

    You can never get a hold of these 2 on the phone, but I am sure they would love to get an email from all of you.

    Make sure to tell them that their techs sent you and to get rid of their sub-contractors that are making a bad name for the techs. Coinsidently, the sub-contractors work for Mobil-Pro. A company owned by Vice President Keith Thomas. Keith Thomas owns 49% of Halsted Communications

    FYI
    2 of the Halsted offices have already voted for union representation by the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), and the others are following in the footsteps. This is due to unfair labor practices with their technicians.

  89. HD-Man says:

    Halsted Communications
    Corporate Office
    13 Commerce Dr
    Ballston Spa, NY
    (518)885-8590

    owned by Kirk Halsted
    khalsted@halstedweb.com

    Vice President Keith Thomas aka: Whitey
    kthomas@halstedweb.com

    Good luck trying to get these two on the phone, but Im sure they would love to hear an email from all of you

  90. gomakemeasandwich says:

    Another tip would be to try and contact DirecTV’s headquarters in Colorado. If you call them there, you are likely to get much better service than if you try to go through the general number and some CSR that works at a DirecTV contracted call center. Also, as far as I know, the people who work for the call centers (in other words, the general CSRs) aren’t allowed to give out the corporate number.

  91. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the thing not all Directv installers are bad I myself am a Halsted Employee and I have no complaints. I do my job and do it well, I sometimes get tips, after the job, I get phone calls on my personal cell phone if anyone has problems and I have become friends with many of the customers.