Dish Network’s Head Served on HD Platter

It seems the swing towards High-Definition TV formats is happening only slightly less gracefully than a Mack truck doing pirouettes. Channel providers expect customers to invest in building up their network by purchasing HD converters. Apparently they’ve never heard the old saying that we just made up, “Give a man a free door but make him pay you to unlock it.”

Steve recently converted to HDTV and canceled his Dish Network subscription, helped by their incompetent telesales staff. His letter to us, after the jump, contains a good nougat for consumers looking to switch to HDTV. If your service provider asks you to spend a lot of money to switch to HDTV, do some comparison shopping. You likely will find another company willing to lease you the equipment with no upfront costs, installation fees, or Chinese water torture…

    “I was a customer of Dish for over 8 years, and recently upgraded to a HDTV. I have owned their highest priced channel package, as well as a few movie packages, and have had a DVR of theirs (multiple ones) since they started offering them. The 480i feed for the regular service looked horrible on my new DLP unit, so I called looking to upgrade to the HD DVR. I was very excited to start watching crystal clear content, and was expecting some sort of fee to start leasing the new equipment. They told me that because I was a already a customer, they would not lease me the unit (?!!) but that I could buy it for $800 (which does not include the over-the-air antenna to receive local HD content or any installation fees) if I could find it at one of their retailers (they said they don’t sell units themselves).

    At that point, I called my local cable company, who told me that they would lease me an HD DVR unit for no down payment and no installation fee, which included local HD content with no extra equipment. So I called Dish back to cancel my service, was put on hold for a while, and then was told that since I was a (I forget the exact term they used, but it was something like… ) “power user” because I had been with them for over 8 years, that they would be willing to let me buy the $800 HD DRV that they had just told me five minutes before that they wouldn’t lease or sell to me, for a mere $250 but that I had to act right then because the offer was only good for that phone call (the
    first rep I talked to also said that they were going to discontinue that particular model in a few months, and that I could check back when the new model came out to see if they would be willing to lease me the new unit at that time). I wasn’t really interested in buying a soon-to-be outdated model for that price, and I have had 4 Dish DVRs
    die on me in the past that I’ve had to replace, and the ones that I “own” always cost more to replace – the one perk of leasing is that they are obligated to replace the unit when it breaks – so I told them I wasn’t interested and cancelled anyway.

    I was a loyal customer, but telling your customers that “since you already use us, we will not give you the same treatment as we do new customers” is just stupid and serves to drive off your loyal customers.

    Every time some rep says something like that to me, all I hear is “we don’t want your money anymore, please see our numerous competitors who do. thank you, and don’t come again.”

    Steve R.”

Sounds like Steve got stuck with a very green Dish sales rep. Dish’s loss for poor training.


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  1. airship says:

    I remember when basic cable first came in, and they charged you a fortune for a cable converter box. Then TVs became cable-ready so you could dump the box, and cable went digital, so once again I had to lease a converter box from them. Now they’re going to HD, and again they’ll require renting a converter. Forget about advertising, premium channels, and subscriptions, I’m convinced the TV industry’s primary source of income comes from converter box rental fees.

  2. Amys Robot says:

    Cell phone companies do the same thing with existing customers, as did Verizon with their budget DSL last year: new customers get the discounts, existing customers get the shaft (in most cases).

    ps. I’m still looking for the “good nougat.” Is it a free Three Musketeers bar with every purchase?

  3. LTS! says:

    The lack of an “included” HD DVR is a primary reason that a lot of people I know do not go back to satellite. The cable companies apparently understand that if you ask someone to shell out a substantial sum of money to get the service you’ll lose a lot of customers.

    The MPEG4 switchover on satellite has caused even more grief.

    Until satellite begins to evolve and stop hanging their marketing on “increasing cable costs” they are just not a valid option in this area.

  4. This seems to be a common thread in any kind of lost-leader B2C services these days. That kind of business practice can’t continue, can it? Eventually we’ll all run out of cable, satellite, cell, land line, ISPs, etc., and have to just rotate among them all over again. What’s the point in that — for either the providers or the consumers?

  5. angsto says:

    Follow up in California. Sue Dish through their agent of process, Corporation Service Company dba CSC-Lawyers Incorporating Service, P.O. Box 526036, Sacramento, California 95852. Check your State’s Secretary of State website for a search on corporations doing business. After months of bs from Dish/Echostar, I finally sued in small claims and what happens? They call me late Friday, the last business day before the court date next Monday. Typical attorney ploy. They send me an unsigned on their part boilerplate “agreement” in an email that basically signs away my rights while protecting their own. After going back and forth with a paralegal, NOT EVEN A REAL ATTORNEY, they have made it clear they don’t intend to do diddly about their having sent me to the CBE Group, Inc. collection agency. The paralegal, read as low paid clerk, sends me screen captures showing me nothing and claiming she got confirmation from a “supervisor” that everything was taken care of. Sure, just like the months of grief they subjected me to. For this they want a gag order and a complete release from liability in exchange for my dismissing the case for which I get nothing. See you in court Monday Echostar. I was told they would send a “local general manager” who was prepared to defend their interest I suppose. Sure, another low paid shlep who is in fear for his job trying to explain something he had no hand in all these months. I have stacks of records and will perhaps move this to a higher court seeking damages. So if you’re disgusted with this company, SUE THEM. Find their agent of service and SUE THEM. I know that they had settlement on their minds since the “agreement” they sent me was dated OVER A MONTH AGO. They stalled until the last minute thinking their customers are stupid and will sign anything.
    Victory in court against Dish Network and Echostar Communications. After Echostar refused to send me confirmation of the removal of my account from collections and my refusal in turn to sign a gag order and liability release for them and not for me I proceeded to small claims court here in Los Angeles. Echostar hides from their customers in Colorado with diversionary phone numbers that connect you with people in India with no clue as to what’s going on here. I found Echostar’s Agent of Service through the Secretary of State’s website. Search them in your home state since this is the only way to get Echostar to respond. I sued them for continued billing long after I cancelled service and they sent me to collections for refunds they claim to have sent me which they wanted back! Their totals went anywhere from $100 to nearly $1000 depending on who I was speaking to on the phone. When the judge heard that he clearly decided in my favor stating incredulously that this corporation wanted their refunds back? It was a priceless moment. The Dish Network local manager they sent had no clue what was going on yet referred to me in insulting terms which didn’t help their case. He then produced a letter from the collection agency The CBE Group, Inc. which Echostar’s paralegal refused to send me unless I signed a gag order. Then he produced a screenshot saved from their computers which still showed me as having been a deadbeat to them, noting a “charge off” of my account for the 155 day “delinquency” which never existed. Billing a customer for services never rendered to hide an extortion attempt at stealing back refunds which I never received apparently didn’t please the court. I asked for treble damages for the approximately $350 they reported to collection and the judge ruled in my favor and awarded me $500 for my months of grief at the hands of this horrible corporation and its employees. I still am apparently reported as a charge off which reflects that I somehow am the bad guy and I didn’t get a copy of their collection agency letter but I have this judgement and will collect soon enough. NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER ALLOW THESE SOULESS CORPORATIONS TO BULLY YOU. I will write a comprehensive account of all this when I have time, the details of which are unbelievable.
    You just sue in small claims. Find their agent of service on your Secretary of State’s website. Name them correctly as Echostar Communications Corporation dba Dish Network [your State] Service Corporation, or whatever the agent of service page has them listed as dba. Pay for the proof of service by the court. Dish won’t respond until the last business day before the court date and will try to get you to sign a release and a gag order. DON’T SIGN ANYTHING. Never agree to anything as you will get nothing. Just go to court prepared with all your records and a step by step outline to follow when you present your case. Dish will either not show up and you get whatever you sue for, so sue for the maximum for emotional distress and actual damages. If they send a “local manager” that person won’t know anything about the case and will be angry they had to show in court. Let them say whatever they want and be polite. They will hang themselves and you will win a judgement. The court will handle the collections for you.