DirecTV Loses Customer Over Hi-Def, Doesn’t Care

Chuck from Brooklyn, “one of the lemmings who bought a HD TV recently” writes that he’s “puzzled by the nonchalance with which [DirectTV] let me switch over to their mortal enemy [TimeWarner].”

Seems he didn’t feel like paying $600, $500 for a “new receiver with DVR, off-air antenna and other assorted stuff to wallow in high-definition” and $99 for installation…

After the jump, DirecTV breakup surprisingly facile, almost disenchantingly so…

When he called TimeWarner, they said they had free installation and no new equipment to buy.

Chuck tried to play both sides against the middle but the only thing DirecTV would knock off was the installation cost. So, a long and loyal DirecTV customer signed on with TimeWarner and had his HD installed, “painlessly.” When he called DirecTV to cancel, they made no attempts to retain him.

Writes Chuck, “the whole conversation lasted about 90 seconds.”


A disconcerting array of HD TVs representing the vertiginous state of Chuck’s heart.

    “Why in the world would DirecTV not try harder to keep its customers? I had multiple premium channels, I ordered PPV periodically and I even subscribed to the NFL Sunday Ticket a few years. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, but if I’m not a valuable customer to them, who is? …I guess I’m not an unhappy former DirecTV customer, just a puzzled and disappointed one.”

Don’t worry, Chuck, every relationship has its course to run. DirecTV was just using you. You can do better than her. As you’ve already done. Just hope you got your black T-shirt back first! [photo]


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  1. Johnny says:

    This post is pretty confusing and short on details, but the gist of it seems to be that Chuck compared the HD offerings of two different providers and decided that Time-Warner’s was significantly better. DirecTV was willing to waive their installation fee but wouldn’t match the value of the TW offer. Chuck wisely (if reluctantly) chose to go with TW, so DTV cancelled his service with minimal hassle.

    What’s the problem here, really? I share Chuck’s surprise that DTV didn’t try to offer him further discounts, a few months of free premiums, or other deal-sweeteners. But they’re not really obligated to do so if they don’t believe the business is worth it to them. They were up-front about what they were willing to offer, and they respected his decision to move elsewhere. On the whole, it seems like the way a company ought to act.

    I find it far more annoying when the CSR pesters and pesters you when you make the cancellation call. It’s fair for them to ask, “Is there anything we can do to keep your business?” but the rigmarole some companies will go through to prevent you from cancelling is obnoxious.

    I actually was expecting much worse when I saw “DirecTV” in the headline because their phone trees and CSRs are notorious (for good reason). But I’ve been a pretty satisfied DTV customer since they added the capability to change your programming plan on the web.

  2. That Guy says:

    I had a similar experience. I bought my hdtv last September and got all of my locals with an OTA antenna, but it was spotty at times, and I’d have to reorient the antenna when switching to certain channels, specifically going from CBS/Fox/ABC(football) and the public tv station which has fantastic, amazing, eye-popping hd stuff.

    So I looked at the Driectv package and found that to get the channels I wanted in hdtv, I would have to pay a lot more than I would with Comcast, the local CATV provider, very similar to the story in the main post here.

    When I called DTV, however, they did try to retain me, but sort of half-heartedly. My main concern was not getting my locals uninterrupted. They weren’t bringing my locals on until later in the year, and I’d have to use the OTA until then. Plus, I would have to pay a few hundred to get the equipment and the monthly charges were higher than cable. Their offer? We’ll just suspend your account until we get your locals on the dish so you won’t have to pay a reconnection fee. That’s it. And I thought, well, I can just not be a custmer for 90 days and then I qualify for all of your “free stuff for signing up” offers anyway… so wtf?

    I think what’s sad about it is there are a lot of us that were early adopters of the DTV, I had been with them since 97 or so, and it felt like “hey, we’ve been really loyal here, why not match the offers and keep us?”

  3. Treved says:

    It’s not just DirectTV. I signed up with Dish in August. In September I got an HDTV as a present. I called them up to upgrade to the HD receiver, and they told me it would be $800 to buy, and there was no leasing option! Even though you could lease it if you were a “new” customer!

    I told them I just became a customer, but they didn’t care. I threatened to just pay the $200 cancellation fee and then sign up again, but they told me they would blacklist me for 6 months. I decided to stay with them because they are far cheaper than cable and I don’t really care that much about HD.

    The weird thing is, why wouldn’t they want me to upgrade? The HD receiver is more expensive to lease, plus you have to purchase the HD channels. They’d be getting that much more out of me.

    I called recently and the price is down to “only” $600. Pfffff…I’ll stick with my regular old TV. Not paying $600 for something that will be obsolete in a few months.

  4. 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