DirecTV Left Me At The Altar

Jeff wanted to upgrade his DirecTV service and sign a new two-year contract, but the company changed his appointment to a time he wasn’t available, then canceled it, all without his approval.

He writes:

I asked for a supervisor as the pleasant employee, [redacted, could not resolve the issue. Apparently neither could his manager, as she could not explain how the appointment got cancelled but said it was likely the local contractor ran out of receivers. I expressed my frustration and agreed to the new appointment time which would be 10 additional days out; August 21st was the soonest they could do it. I asked for a credit and the supervisor agreed to $50 applied to my next bill. I asked for a case number and we ended the call.

When arrive home from work today, what do I see next door? A DirecTV van with the local DirecTV installer finishing an appointment with our close friends. Fate I thought. I even happened to catch him walking out the door. So I asked him, "any chance you are out of HD DVRs?" "Not at all" he responded, "we have boxes of HR24s (the model they would likely be upgrading us to)". So much for that excuse.

I then called DirecTV's 800 number to get the real reason why my appointment was canceled and hopefully get it back on track for Friday. I would gladly give the $50 credit back. I explained the whole situation to another very friendly gentleman in Alabama, named [redacted]. He was very client sympathetic and even called me back when we got disconnected. The little act of calling me back had temporarily restored my faith in their support center. However, he could not resolve the issue and sent me to his supervisor. I for whatever reason, got my hopes up. It was all for not though, as the she said their system does not track the details of a cancellation, namely who and why it occurred. Really? Are they tracking appointments on dry erase boards? How can’t there be an audit trail?

Very quickly I realized I was not speaking to the right person (plus, I was getting fairly heated) and asked that one of two things happen. 1. My appointment take place as originally scheduled or 2. They research the reason why it got canceled and follow up with me via phone with an explanation. Number 2 is really for their benefit; if they have ninjas or gremlins in their system, randomly canceling appointments, then they should know what those are and actively work to address them. The supervisor informed me that 1 was not going to happen and 2 would likely not happen, as they had no tracking of appointment cancellations.

I’ve never had such a hard time being a customer and giving a company my continued business. With today’s economy, you would think companies that provide luxuries would be falling over themselves to prevent customer frustrations and thus churn. This apparently is not the case for DirecTV. They are content with their customers being victims of their rogue, appointment assassinating system.

If you were Jeff, would you give DirecTV another shot or move on?

Comments

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  1. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Comcast and DirecTV pull the same shenanigans: I transferred my service with Comcast to a new address, only to have several months of billing mistakes, miscommunications, and a negative hit on my credit. Unfortunately, it’s cable or broadcast for me.

    If OP has an option besides DirecTV or Comcast, I would go with it, and let DirecTV know why.

  2. blogger X says:

    It seems DirecTV is really trying hard to win the WCIA ’11 poo trophy…

  3. Harrkev says:

    There is always Dish Network. I understand that they have better customer service (no personal experience with any satellite company, though)

  4. Beeker26 says:

    I haven’t dealt with DirecTV in a number of years, but back when I was a subscriber all of their installations were handled by independent contractors. DirecTV is the middleman here. Perhaps it would be better to get in touch with the company that’s doing the installs.

    • CookiePuss says:

      Agreed. He’d have better luck contacting the local contractor. When I had DirecTV installed we had to reschedule due to trees. I remember the contractor calling HQ to tell them this. The only thing was the one installer told the other one to say the reschedule was per customer request and not to say due to line of site issues. I don’t know why he wanted it reported like that(maybe they still get paid that way?) but yeah, the local contractor should have a reason.

      On a side note, run away from DirecTV. I’m telling you this because I love you Jeff–run away!

  5. trey says:

    walk away man… walk away.

  6. Skellbasher says:

    DirecTV installs and changes are all done by local contractors. DirecTV didn’t cancel the appointment; you local contractor did.

    Of course, that should be transparent to the end consumer, but it’s somewhat legitimate that DTV doesn’t know why the appointment was canceled.

    • coren says:

      And of course, then DTV should say who canceled and put the OP in contact with them instead rather than pretending it’s a big mystery that you’ll need some Scooby Snacks for

  7. junip says:

    As for companies being more consumer-friendly in this economy: The worker bees he was talking to likely feel the crush of being stuck in a job they don’t really love with a freeze on raises and the constant worry of layoffs, just like the rest of the working population these days. Most people in call centers just want to navigate the company policies and get to the next customer and through the rest of their day. They might not have any lee-way to do anything about the situation.

    As for Jeff’s situation with DirecTV: Did he try to talk to retention or tell the service rep that unless they restored his appointment he would cancel the account? Even though it’s a contracting company that does the installations, it may be the right push to get DirecTV to do something about it instead of shrugging its shoulders. Retention dept might also have some power to do something.

    Otherwise, I’d say walk and see what else is avail in your area. If you have a smaller cable company around, awesome. If it’s Comcast, they have that new policy of a $20 credit or a free service add-on if they screw up your appointment. Of course, if they screw up twice in the same month you’ll have to fight to get both freebies as promised.

  8. MercuryPDX says:

    Depending on who the other providers in town are… or aren’t I’d move on.

  9. axiomatic says:

    The “help me give you money” failures in customer service are my favorites. Here you have a customer wanting to start a business arrangement with a company and they do nothing but stumble over their own bureaucracy trying to excuse themselves for why they can’t take your money yet.

    If there was anything that should tell you that maybe you really don’t want to do business with this company…. yeah this was it.

    I will say though that Dish/DirectTV are little school children compared to the 4 star professional incompetent bureaucrats over at Comcast and Time Warner where they take their dis-service very seriously, to an “art form” in fact.

    • Tenacity says:

      Add Verizon to the list.

      • Conformist138 says:

        At least Verizon is great for the cell phone service. They have never given me one bit of trouble. The guy who sold me my latest phone didn’t even blink when I brought it back as defective. I didn’t get 20 questions or have to fill out paperwork. He just let me describe the problem real quick, tossed it in a box, got out a new phone and activated it. Took roughly 5 minutes and the replacement (being brand new and not a refurb) has been flawless..

  10. frak says:

    Dish Network FTW

  11. BillyDeeCT says:

    Once I wanted DirecTV at a place I lived at. Their “rent-a-tech” installer came out and in 5 minutes told me I couldn’t get it and left (paid $25 from Direct whether or not he does the job or not). I hired a “real” satellite installation contractor and they found two places on the property to install it – had it done without any hitch. I moved twice since then and my pro installer has been able to do so without fail. I would never use one of their subcontracted installers, let alone let them snoop around my home.

    Now if DirecTV wasn’t out to rape existing customers an extra $10/month for HD while letting new subscribers get it for free. I will give them one chance and if they blow it I will will drop DirecTV like a hot potato – I can live without pay TV to save $900+ a year.

  12. Dyrenia says:

    I had a similar problem. The first cancellation, i waited all day for the installer to show up, but he didnt. i called and asked why and was informed that the driver had told them he tried but we werent home (which wasnt true, as i sat by the door all day playing on the pc waiting for him). I was given a $100 credit to my bill

    The second time, the driver was “running late” and wasnt able to get to me that day. I received another $100 credit for that one and given a free upgrade in channels for it.

    So, i had to wait 2 weeks for my tv to be installed, but i did get $200 in credits and a bunch of extra tv channels to make up for it.

    • eddieck says:

      You might be able to call DTV and get the free HD deal. I was able to, but I’m not under contract anymore. I believe some have reported success while under contract – check SD and FW.

      • Dyrenia says:

        We actually dont use them anymore. We switched to AT&T uverse a few months ago and found it’s MUCH better and cheaper

  13. JMILLER says:

    As others have said, this is the local contractor (which is what Comcast, Dish and any other communications company uses for their installs.) The competency of some of the contractors is less than others. My first go round with the company that does them in my area was horrible. The guy draped a coaxial cable across the front of my home and looked like shit. I asked him why he did not bring it up through the basement and to the second floor and his response was it was easier to do it this way. I told him to take it down, and call his boss to tell him that specific guy would not be doing my installation. IO then called DirectV and they gave me a credit. I told them I expected a supervisor out to do my installation the next day. I then called the installation company and the person answering the phone also was the appointment setter. I explained the situation. She asked me to hold, and a man who claimed to be the president of the company profusely apologized and said he would have his best installer out the next morning first thing.
    As promised the installer was there o time, did the installation to my satisfaction, and 10 minutes after he left, I received a phone call from the president making sure everything was good, and if I needed anything else to please call him. DirectV gave me all my premium channels for free for the month.
    I have been with DirectV since 1998 and every time there has been an issue (a receiver goes in the fritz) or I tell them I need to cancel something, they always go above and beyond. Even when I moved they were at my home installing the day before I moved in at no charge to me. Getting internet service from Comcast was not such an easy experience

  14. Bonedaddy says:

    I’d give them another shot if I were comfortable with losing the signal every time it rains.

    Or gets cloudy.

    And willing to wait a week or two for a repairman. I live in Greensboro, NC and was told the nearest tech was in Atlanta.

    My service fails monthly, but I’m in an apartment complex that has a contract w/ DirecTV.

    Last year I lost the signal during the American Idol final, game 4 of the World Series and the Saints-Vikings semifinal that went down to the wire. A customer retention guy agreed that I shouldn’t be paying full price for service that failed so often and gave me a $10 monthly discount.

    And the first month it was effective, DirecTV raised my rate by…wait for it…$10.

    Piss on DirecTV.

  15. Clyde Barrow says:

    LOL,,,I have a story too.

    I finally relented to my common sense and all the very good comments here in Consumerist about NOT getting DirectTV or DishTV. Well, this past Monday (Aug 09) I drove over to my local subscriber to get the latest and greatest DishTV special which expires this Sept. I already knew what package I wanted which is the 120 channels for $24.99 per month for one year. I also included the French Bouquet for $19.99 extra per month because I like and know the French language and it is a good way to keep up my skills. So my appointment is scheduled for Wednesday (Aug 11). The three hour window of delivery and set-up is 5pm to 8pm. Good timing and I won’t have to take too much time off of my job. It’s finally 5pm. I get a call at 6:19pm Wednesday night. It was the “cable guys’ management” telling me that they are driving from Jackson, MI and will be there. I know the area and the drive is a two-hour drive from my house to Jackson, MI because I sometimes visit there which is near my family. Taking I-94 is basically a straight-line drive with no turns; just hit the pedal and you’ll end up at my place in two hours.

    Come 10pm and it’s time to hit the bed; no cable, no calls, no nothing.

    Today it is Friday and I still haven’t gotten any phone calls,,,,from anyone. And no, before you folks start asking me I’ll tell you right now that I will not call them. Why? Well why should I. I already signed the agreement, made the appointment, gave them my credit card, and took off an hour from my job on Wednesday to make sure that I was home for them. If they want my business, they need to work their side of the bargin but as far as I am concerned, I really don’t care. IMO cable TV is discretionary not mandatory so I can live without it.

    Should I call? Part of me says no. Part of me says yes. Another part of me says “it ain’t my job to babysit these folks”.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Well the original guy that set up my K called me today, twice, and apologized multiple times. I told him that next Saturday would be the best day if not this weekend. On his second call, he told me I would be the first “install” for tomorrow morning, Saturday. So far so good. To be honest I am excited about getting cable again after two years. I hope this works out well.

  16. Levk says:

    hmmm.. Cancel your contract. Move on besides every year they raise there prices and change there plans so you might as well just cancel em now.

  17. elliemae says:

    I’ve had both direct & dish. dish is better. direct doesn’t care about customer service and charged me a cancellation fee, even tho I was past the two year period. It took emailing the ceo to get it back. chase.carey@directv.com