DirecTV Expects Consumers to Pay to Ride in Black Hole

J.C.’s TV started flashing black every so often, like a very slow and annoying strobe. His phone calls to his cable service provider, DirecTV, earned him several unfulfilled promises but no results.

He finally discovered the service interruptions were caused by a new DirecTV software patch designed to enable interactive features that J.C. has no intention of using. Furthemore, DirecTV wants him to pay to fix the problem they created.

Insult to injury, after the jump.

“I use Direct TV and two and a half weeks ago the television in my bedroom started flashing black, flashing black, flashing black, at random. I tested to make sure it wasn’t on my end by resetting the receiver and trying the living room receiver on my bedroom television. I called them and went through the automotive trouble shooting before getting sent to a real person. I explained my situation and the man said this has started happening to a lot of people and he would have my receiver marked to be patched.

After a week of black flashes which seem to time themselves for dramatic moments like when Uncle Junior shot Tony I woke up to find the info bar now flashing constantly. I called to report this new development and ask what was going on. The woman took the information and said she would try to get it fixed. I asked if I could get compensated for my week of problems and they gave me $5 off my bill for the next six of months. This was nice of them.

A week passed with no changes so today I called and asked them to just send me a new receiver. The man said he would but it would cost me $15 in shipping, I asked if they would pay it and after he talked to a supervisor he said he would. He said he couldn’t send out a new receiver himself but would put a note that the shipping was free and transfer me to the right department.

The lady I spoke to next took down my information, placed me on hold, and played the love song from Karate Kid Part II for me to enjoy. When she got back she asked some questions and told me that because I owned my receiver and it was out of the 90 day warranty I would have to pay for $150 for new one or sign a one year lease. I said I would prefer not to do either option and asked if they can ensure that they patched my system like the first guy said they would. She then informed me that the reason this all started in the first place was because Direct TV patched everyones receivers to prepare for more interactive stuff I would never use anyways. I asked her “So, you guys come into my house through a phone line, broke something I own with a bad patch, and expect me to have to purchase a new one?” and she said yes. So, I told her I would call back later “after I see what type of prices the Dish Network has and send an email to my favorite consumer blog so they can give you some bad press.

J. C.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    I feel your pain my friend. This is why a service provider like DirecTV shouldn’t allow consumers to buy their own equipment. It seems cool that people can get their own gear, but they don’t spend the money to test upgrades with different equipment. With yeOlde cable company it’s their equipment. I can’t say that I think they are right, but the reality of the situation is you’re going to end up taking it in the shorts.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    Elaine writes:

    I’ve been using DirecTV for about eleven years, and for the last seven my receivers have almost never been plugged into a phone line. DirecTV *says* you have to have a phone line, you need a phone line, the receiver won’t work without a phone line … but in my experience it simply isn’t true. Years ago I didn’t have a phone jack near where I wanted the TV, so I left it out, expecting havoc. No havoc ensued. Now I don’t even have a landline anymore, and my DirecTV service has never suffered for it. Software updates for my receiver have always come over the air, just like my TV signal and my program guide. Unless my situation is utterly unique, I bet other DirecTV users can unplug the phone from their satellite boxes with no ill effects–and it may even avoid problems like this one.

  3. ExVee says:

    I have mine plugged into a phone. The same phone that my computer is plugged into while it’s online 24/7. I’ve had it this way for something like four years, and I’m still watching TV. Obviously this doesn’t help our unfortunate friend at this stage. None of the presented options seem favorable, including the DISH threat, but that’s probably what I’d get behind if I was in the situation. I’d be pretty loathe to keep paying DirecTV after they screwed up my equipment…

  4. stevemis says:

    There’s not much you can do about this ….people

  5. stevemis says:

    @stevemis: … claim the updates come from the phone line. They do not. Updates are sent in the datastream via the satellite, the same stream that contains the program guide and the program material itself.

    The only purpose of the phone line is so the receiver can call home and report PPV activity, and god knows what else (viewing patterns, etc?).

    It might be possible to select a menu option somewhere to disable auto-firmware updates, but it’s not very likely.

  6. clyde55 says:

    “The lady I spoke to next took down my information, placed me on hold, and played the love song from Karate Kid Part II for me to enjoy.”

    They should give you free service for a year, just for forcing you to listen to that.

  7. 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
    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.