DirecTV Makes You Pay Termination Fee Even If You Can't Use Their Service

DirecTV is a lying pack of liars. They told Ian that if he moved to a place where he couldn’t use his dish, then they would let him out of contract without early termination fee (ETF). Well guess what? He moved to a place without a balcony or roof access. Double guess what: Now DirecTV says he has to pay an ETF and they say there’s no record of all those reps telling him that, and that that’s not part of their policy. Triple guess what: Ian called up DirecTV sales and recorded their sales rep telling him that they DO let you out of contract if you move to a new place where you can’t use DirecTV. Are DirecTV retention reps just not versed on company policy, or are they a pack of scumbags? I dunno, but you know what they say, never trust a company run by a man in a mustache. Ian’s audio recording and letter to the CEO of DirecTV is inside…

Dear Consumerist,

I signed up for DirecTV in September of last year and have, until today, loved the service. Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I are moving to an apartment without a balcony or access to the roof and are prohibited from bringing our dish with us. Consequently, I’m forced to leave DirecTV’s best-of-breed HDTV for Comcast’s worst-of-breed YouTube-quality mush.

When I first spoke with a representative (ID #410930) about the service and its two year commitment, I was told that if I eventually moved to a place where I was unable to use the service the early termination fee (ETF) would be waived. About two months ago I again called DirecTV and, while making a minor change to my account, verbally confirmed with a service representative (ID #413117) that the ETF would be waived if that happened to be the case.

Yesterday, after double checking with my landlord that there was no chance I could install the dish, I reluctantly called DirecTV to cancel… only to find out that they won’t waive the ETF. “Robby” (ID #402875) claimed to be the account supervisor despite being a first line representative and insisted that his own supervisor (ID #U2985) “doesn’t get on the phones.” He claimed that he could find no record in either of the previous call logs that I been offered a waived ETF. Another call this morning to DirecTV customer service found them in agreement: my ETF would not be waived. And, sure enough, the DirecTV Service Agreement makes no mention of moving to an apartment or area incapable of properly positioning the dish.

However, since I had already been lied to twice by DirecTV representatives I figured that I should call their sales department. So, this morning I called their sales number pretending to order new service and inquired as to whether or not there would be an ETF if I eventually moved to an area without service. Essentially, I replicated my initial sales call with DirecTV from seven months ago, but this time with a recording device.

Sure enough, the sales representative I spoke with repeatedly assured me that the fee would be waived if I were to move to a home that I could not get service at. So, at least DirecTV sales is consistent about giving false information. It should be noted that this representative was the rule, not the exception: all four times I have asked DirecTV sales people about the ETF waiver and all four times I have received the same incorrect response.

When I called retentions back and pointed out that I’d been told this repeatedly and had a recording, I was told that there was nothing that could be done except that a note would be made in my account and a higher up emailed.

If DirecTV’s customer service representatives had simply been honest with me I wouldn’t really have anything to complain about– I’d just pay my ETF without complaint. But the fact that sales and retention tell customers starkly different things about the service commitment is troubling, to say the least. I would have switched back to DirecTV the moment that I moved to an accommodating home, but why would I choose to do further business with a company whose representatives are apparently coached to lie?

Hopefully your readers won’t make the same mistake I made: make sure anything that any DirecTV representative tells you is backed up in writing. Because even if you record them promising something they won’t honor it. And if you do post anything about this, please remove my personal information.

Sincerely,

Ian
DirecTV Account #[redacted]

P.S. Neither representative could tell me exactly how much my final bill would be, even after I gave them a firm cancellation date. I was told “around $200”, but at this point I have no reason to believe that this is the actual amount I’ll be charged.

P.P.S. The ID numbers were given to me over the phone by “Robby”.

Also, my service appears to have just been turned off– five days early (termination date was April 29). I confirmed that it was set for the 29th with two representatives. I can’t even access my recorded shows on my DVR since they are dependent upon an active service. I’m calling DirecTV again now.