DirecTV's Computer System Goes Down, My Deal Goes Down In Flames

Steven wanted to sign his family up for DirecTV using an amazing deal available to them through AAA. When he was in he middle of signing up for this deal, just before giving his debit card number, the company’s systems went down. Apparently, the company needs your payment info to lock in promotional rates, but Steven couldn’t get back through until after his promo rate had expired. Now he is sad, and still stuck with cable.

Last night after speaking with my parents I called up DirecTV in an effort to get away from our rising cable prices. We’ve had cable since before I was born, since 1982. We’re tired of the prices and the bad picture quality in our area so we decided to try DirecTV. AAA was offering a discount and DirecTV themselves were offering a good deal as well (extra $5 off a month, Free HD, etc). The offer was expiring that day, and I knew it was a bit rushed, it was 10:45PM and I gave my parents a quick call to go over what the most they would pay depending on the packages and we settled on what we wanted. I call DirecTV up at 11:05 PM or so, cutting it close because their offer expires on midnight, but the phone representative told me not to worry and that my offer was available. I was on hold for 10 minutes when I was greeted by a sales agent.

I went over all the packages and confirmed what I wanted to purchase. A pretty large order, five boxes and some premium channels. With the promotional offer it was still cheaper than our cable bill. So I asked him to hold on for a second while I called home on my girlfriend’s phone to confirm he price with my parents. I wanted to make sure it was what they wanted so I wasn’t to blame afterward. They said okay and I returned to the phone with DirecTV. I have already given them my social security #, my name, address and email. I was assured not to worry and that the promotional rate they offered would be what I was getting and that it was “locked in”. I was told to take my time. So right in the middle of me reading the last half of my debit card the phone goes dead. Not a dropped call, my iPhone didn’t say “call failed” which sometimes happens, but they hung up! I was calm but eager to get back on the line to finalize my order, I dialed the same number and waited. I waited and waited and waited… this turned into being on hold for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes until I was on hold for over an hour! At this point I was beyond frustrated and having work the next morning I wanted this to end now. I used my girlfriend’s phone again to call the main DirecTV line, I was still on hold with the AAA DirecTV line on my other phone.

I was put on hold for another 10 minutes until I mashed buttons on the phone keypad in distress until someone picked up. They explained that their systems have crashed and that no orders can be placed at the time. Their whole system was down! Even their website wouldn’t load. They said all the managers were busy and after persisting they still failed to let me speak to a manager. I was assured everything would be okay and that my offer would be safe. She would later back track on this saying “Um.. I’m not sure. Please call back tomorrow”. I’ve never had a place turn me away so quickly before. So now it’s almost 1AM and I finally go to bed unsure of what may happen with them tomorrow. Well all I can say is… I saw this coming.

This morning I get to work and while having my bagel I call DirecTV with my notepad of all the information I wrote down the night before. I speak to Pedro who tells me the offers last night had expired and that he couldn’t give me the price. I explained to him what I was told, that my offer was locked in and that I was in the middle of giving them my debit card info when their systems crashed, I asked him to look up my email, my name, and my phone #. He claimed he couldn’t and that none of that information helped. I asked to speak to a manager and the manager wasn’t of any help either. She was all too happy to tell me of the “great offers” they had, but didn’t explain why two separate people on the sales team lied to me and told me everything was going to be okay and was “locked in”. They said the offer was not in their system anymore and there was nothing they could do. She didn’t seem to care at all and was interrupting me speaking every chance she got, telling me how the offer was “only a few dollars more”. She’s not the one paying my bill, it doesn’t matter to her what the price is. If their systems didn’t fail or they actually kept my information in their system I wouldn’t be in this mess. The manager said the only way my order could be ‘locked in’ is with my Debit card number. I explained if I was on the phone for a few seconds longer they would have had my payment info, heck they had the majority of the numbers on the card, it’s not my fault their systems failed and their phone lines cut out! I told her I was no longer interested in the service and hung up frustrated.

I would have loved to sign up at the rate I was promised. I don’t see how their systems crashing makes this my fault, I was promised a rate twice by two different people and now I’m being told something different. This is a great way to start a relationship with a potential new customer. The only way I’m calling back is to fight with them further for my original offer. Their current prices are still better than our current provider, but it’s the principal of the thing, I feel like I’m getting pushed around and being told two different things. All I can say is – Liar liar pants on fire!

This is probably not so much actual deception, but employees not knowing the limits of the system and not having the power to do what someone in another department entirely promised.

Other readers have found succcess going right to the top: e-mailing CEO Mike White about their troubles. Do not, however, send a message as long as Steven’s e-mail to Consumerist – condense it. CEOs are busy, and may tune out or ignore rambling missives.

Their companywide e-mail format is firstname.lastname@directv.com.