DirecTV Installer: You Can't Have DirecTV. Stop Trying.

Mark had an impossible request for DirecTV: a one-line DVR and a SWM (Single Wire Multiline) Dish. Sure, it might seem like a normal work order, but the subcontracted installer, Bluegrass Satellite, couldn’t secure permission to install the necessary components even after several three-way calls with DirectTV. One exasperated installer explained that Mark wasn’t eligible to receive the equipment and gently told him: “[You] cannot have DirecTV and should stop trying.”

I had dropped DirecTV just before the 2006 OSU – Michigan game because at that time DirecTV didn’t have local HD and I had trouble getting consistent HD signals over the air.

DirecTV added local HD in Cincinnati and for about a year I have wanted to switch, but knew I couldn’t get a 2nd line to the TV and I really needed a DVR. This is a requirement my wife laid out. No DVR, no DirecTV.

Along comes DirecTV with a new dish and box that only needs one cable. I called up and made my appointment for Aug 22. I told them I needed that new one line DVR. They made a note on the work order. They were to arrive between 12-4.

Around 9:30am on Aug 22, the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) doing the installation called and told my wife that I needed to call DirecTV and tell them to add a one line DVR to the work order or he couldn’t install. He said we would call back in an hour and check on us.

I called DirecTV and they said this was no problem.

Around 12:30 the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) called and said there is nothing on the work order and this would also require a SWIM dish and he wasn’t trained on the install of that new model. He said I needed to call DirecTV and get that added. He also said his work order said he would need a 40 ft ladder and he didn’t have that. My old dish is located about 10 feet off the ground. I told him an 8 ft ladder would work and he could even borrow mine.

I called DirecTV and they said they couldn’t add specific models on work orders. Hmmm… The last person said they already added it.

Around 3:30, the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) called to see if the installer had arrived yet. I said no, and explained the above. She said she would call the installer and the supervisor and call me back. She called me back and said I would need to call DirecTV and add the one line DVR and the SWIM dish to the work order. I said great, but they already told me I couldn’t do that. We got on a three way with DirecTV and DirecTV said sure no problem. Swim dish and one line DVR, you are good to go. I thanked the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) and asked if we were still getting installed today. She said she would call back.

Around 4:15 the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) called back and said it wasn’t on the work order still. I would need to call DirecTV, specify that I needed a Swim dish and one line DVR and get a new appointment. in a couple weeks. I warned her that DirecTV already told me that they couldn’t do that.

Around 4:30 I called DirecTV and they told me they couldn’t do that. They could cancel my order or give me a new appointment. I asked for a supervisor and explained everything again. I explained my catch 22 and she offered to do a three way with the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite). She put me on hold for awhile and then disconnected me.

I then called the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) direct. I got a new person. He told me I wasn’t eligible for the SWIM dish and one line DVR. It was for first time customers only. I cannot have DirecTV and should stop trying.

I then called DirecTV, new person of course, ran thru the details. They said that was crazy, offered to do a three way. This time they didn’t hang up, but the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) had ended their office hours. He said he would escalate this and that would force the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) to call me. That was around 5:30pm on Friday Aug 22. As of Sunday, I haven’t heard from them. Maybe they will call Monday?

On Saturday, Aug 23rd, I called DirecTV and tried to get on a 3way with bluegrass. I was put on hold for 17 min and the call was dropped.

I called back. new person, ran thru the story. was told I had a new appt for sept 8. really? who booked that? this work order included a SWIM dish. are you sure? i was told you couldn’t do that. he told me i could see it online.

i went online and it didn’t have a swim dish.

i called back and moved the appt to a Saturday sept 13. why take another day off? the lady was nice enough. said if i had directv, she could give me HBO free for a month!! Of course, I don’t have it yet. who knows if they will show this time. The work order still doesn’t specify a SWIM dish.

You shouldn’t have to suffer without television for three weeks because DirecTV can’t get their act together. Email DirecTV’s mustachioed executive and ask for the service you deserve. And that free month of HBO.

( Photo: meghannmarco)


Edit Your Comment

  1. madanthony says:

    I explained my catch 22 and she offered to do a three way with the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite).


  2. laserjobs says:

  3. backbroken says:

    Only thing worse than cable customer service is satellite customer service. I just can’t decide if it is gross incompetance or gross negligence.

  4. sketchy says:

    “suffer without television”?

    Oh the audacity! Whatever will I do with the regular cable I currently have? Behind going thirsty and going hungry this is definitely up there.

    As for the OP, yeah that’s a hassle, but this is what consumers demanding cheap products and services over everything else has brought us to. 99% of customers just give up and take what’s given, accepting that customer service is going to be crap, but $30 a month cable is worth dealing with incompetent subcontractors and call centers in India. It’s not even most people on Consumerist, it’s the majority of people who always pick the cheapest option or take the ‘what have you done for me lately’ promotion.

    Can you talk to the FCC? Is there a local Cable licensing agency with any authority? Is there another sub who can do the install?

  5. bradanomics says:

    We (my wife and I) have been without cable for about a year now and it has actually been quite nice. We just find other things to do. We get pretty much everything else from other sources. We can watch episodes of our favorite shows online and we watch movies that we rent from Netflix. We aren’t really people that watch sports that often, but for the big events (super bowl, Olympics) we just went down to my in-laws that live down the road.

  6. usmcmoran says:

    get a hot dish, one of my neighbors got one,he gets hundreds of channels plus hd and has a dvr box too, he paid 700 bucks and only has to download the updates once a month, so for about 700 bucks free tv forever…….imnal but you could get charged with theft of services……but it pays for itself in less than 6 months…..

  7. dragonfire81 says:

    You should get some kind of compensation from DirecTV, then search out another provider. Seriously.

  8. ShirtNinja says:

    @usmcmoran: Nothing like promoting theft, eh?

  9. sven.kirk says:

    Here is a few threads about installation and rollout of the SWM/SWIM dish. []

  10. Dobernala says:

    @ShirtNinja: Well, they’re just beaming the signal right on to your property. If they don’t like it, perhaps they should beam their signals elsewhere?

  11. crazydavythe1st says:

    You should stop trying. That level of incompetence doesn’t deserve or money. Why don’t you try Dish Network? They usually have slightly better rates then DirecTV and I’m sure you could get the CSR to give you a few months of free HBO with your DirecTV horror story.

  12. Baron Von Crogs says:

    I love that every thread about TV always has the elitist ‘I dont have tv’ people.

  13. @laserjobs: hahaha, that reminds me of the Tube Bar prank calls.

    As for DTV and the amount of stories I see, I wonder why I dont see Dish Network complaints as well.

  14. Mr_Mantastic says:


    People who don’t have TV are obviously better than people who do. My favorite part of not being able to afford TV is adjusting my rabbit ears every 3 minutes.

  15. @crazydavythe1st: I agree. If a company doesn’t want your money, then they don’t want your money and it’s best not to give it to them. You’re only asking for trouble.

    For example, one time Verizon was offering a great deal on DSL. I thought, “Hey, that sounds nice. I can drop my cable. But I have some questions.” I called them, got put on hold, transferred without warning, put on hold, disconnected, transferred again, and put on hold again. That’s where I said this isn’t worth my effort to give my money to a company who doesn’t want it. I can only imagine what problems I’ll run into when I’m in that one-year contract if this is the way they treat prospective customers.

    Have you looked at self-install?

  16. Tank says:

    i’m shocked that the OP actually thought the subcontractor would call on a weekend.

  17. ratsgnawingatmyface says:

    I think the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) is not very good at their jobs. Maybe they can get another subcontractor (not Bluegrass Satellite) to work with them. I mean if the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) thinks they need a 40′ ladder for a 10′ high dish installation maybe the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) does not know the job all that well. DirecTV also should get on the stick and make sure they are on the same page as the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) and dive him more than a little free HBO at this point. Maybe they can get together with the subcontractor (Bluegrass Satellite) and work out a deal for free stuff.

  18. AgentTuttle says:

    That story was confusing, all I know is you had more three-ways in a week than I have had in my whole life which is why I kept reading. You should request a blumpie for all your trouble.

  19. shepd says:

    Yes, they’re dumb. You just need a stacked LNB that’s made for DirecTV (I believe most of them are nowadays). You could probably install it yourself. Or run the extra cable. It seems DirecTV is using a (proprietary rather than industry standard DiSEqC, who’d have guessed?) stacking multiplexer,:


    I bet you could just buy those parts and do it yourself. Not that you want to, but hey, if you really want DSS and they won’t help…

    I used to sell/install satellite for a living about 2 years ago, I know things have changed, so I might be wrong on that. I doubt it, though.

    As for the ladder length, they sub may be worried he can’t get a good quality signal if he’s replacing the dish (seems the SWM dishes are smaller, *sigh*) due to obstructions. Personally, though, on a 10 ft high job, I’d just replace the damn thing and see, pointing those things takes about 20 seconds if you use a Birdog or other decent satellite meter. The 40 foot ladder would be used to re-install it somewhere on the house.

    Either that or the SWM dishes are bi-directional. I *HIGHLY* doubt that, as they’d cost $500+. If they were, though, legally 10 feet probably wouldn’t be high enough to prevent the locals from getting scared that their brains are being microwaved (if only).

  20. lrbreckenripple says:

    Why does it give me the option to post if they never post my comments?

  21. scoutermac says:

    Directv Subcontractors are worthless. The guy that came to my house a few years back could not tell the difference between an RCA and a DTS cable. When he installed our second dish for local channels. I found it only gave 70% signal strength. So when it stormed I lost signal on locals only. I simply adjusted the dish myself and put it up to 90%. It worked much better. Your better off buying the equipment yourself and installing it. Plus that way you don’t have to worry about the hassle of directv trying to get their equipment back if you decide to switch to another provider for a while.

  22. tc4b says:



  23. Meathamper says:

    Free month of HBO….maybe.

  24. Meathamper says:

    @michaelleung: Don’t want to double post, but “three-way”. Smirk.

  25. Ajh says:

    Wow.. tried Dish Network? Seriously. I’d try the competition after a story like that.

    Says the comcast customer who can’t have verizon dsl despite the promotions they keep sending me. It’s not actually OFFERED in my area.

  26. TACP says:

    I’ve had DirecTV for years and love it, but most of their installers are incompetent. 90% of the time when you hear a problem about DirecTV, it’s the installer. They either can’t or won’t do complex installations. The SWM is a fairly new product, and he probably didn’t want to fool with it. DirecTV is finally just buying all the installation companies outright, and taking them over.

  27. masdumas says:

    There installers are idiots. When I switched to HD, they came out 5 times and it wasn’t until i bumped it up to the president did I get it installed – tyhanks consumerist.

  28. scooby2 says:

    Buy your own SWM8. Problem solved. Since the single wire solution is so new to DirecTV, this is about the only solution until it is part of the standard install. I knew I could only run a single cable to each location in my new condo so I bought an SWM8 and everything worked out perfectly. Dual HD Dvrs (dual tuner) with one cable running to each one.

  29. QuiterieCassiopeia says:

    OK, as an installer for directv, the SWM (single wire multiswitch) LNB is
    for HD systems requiring 5 or more tuners at this point. HD/DVRs and DVR
    products have two tuners, Standard and HD receivers have ONE. In order to
    get one, on a new install for free, the first time around, with NO hassles:

    Order enough products to qualify in directvs system. If you are planing on
    getting only one dvr, fine order one, but at least make sure its high def.
    standard def dvr does not get you a SWM. The easiest way to get one for
    FREE is order an hd/dvr, and three standard receivers. If you don’t plan on
    using those receivers right away, have them suspended or deactivated for the
    time being, Most installers would rather install the extra rooms for you
    anyhow, (most of us are paid per receiver activated, not how long the job
    takes. That being said, be kind enough to have the back of your tv and or
    wall jack accessible and any other area we may need access. I know I
    appreciate it and tend to go the extra mile and help where I can if the
    customer is decent and pleasant. Oh and not to get off on a rant, but my pet
    peeve is you smoking in the home while I am working where I have no choice
    but to breath it in. YUCK, I know its your house and you can do what you
    want, but come on! Wait or step outside PLEASE!)

    Anyway, The hd/dvr is free right now if you sign up for the sunday ticket
    promotion as well as 4 months of the premier package. after 4 months you can
    change to any package you want, and they are throwing sunday ticket in free
    right now. Just ask!

    As an installer, I LOVE the SWM product, I have done many installs where i
    would have had to otherwise wrap the house with cable, instead was able to
    use the homes existing wiring and run ONE LINE to the dish.

    In the service region i work under, directv greatly underestimated the
    demand for this product and trained 7 out of 70 or so techs we have working
    this market. For the past month I have seen more SWM systems than you would
    believe. It is VERY easy to get, just keep in mind directv’s criteria to
    have it automatically built in to your order.

    I can’t speak for Bluegrass, but if I am spending my time driving to
    someones house, I would rather get you taken care of then and there, rather
    than roll back later and cause more phone calls and drama.

    Best of Luck!

  30. Dyscord says:

    I’ve had both DirecTV and Dish. Currently I have Dish and I can’t complain. I never had a problem with installation either, so maybe I’m just lucky.

  31. Red_Eye says:

    I have someone close to me who works for Directv and also happen to be quite active in certain satellite forums and this is explained simply.

    A CSR can put a request in a notes field for a certain piece of hardware, however, its up to the installer to decide if they want to provide it if they have it available. To Directv a compatible dish is a compatible dish. A dvr is a dvr, they currently have at least 3 models of standard definition(SD) DVR and regardless of what you request over the phone the only relevant part of your request is for a ‘dvr’. You will get a dvr, of their choosing. If you want a HD dvr you will get one of 3+ models of HD DVR again with no choice.

    There are exceptions, in certain markets for example they are rolling out MPEG4 local channels and those areas get a specific model of SD DVR because it will be needed.

    The SWM stuff is fairly new, not available everywhere and the only solution to guarantee you will get it is to buy it yourself from a 3rd party. It also requires specific models as not ever receiver and DVR Directv sells is SWM capable.

    If you get a CSR on the phone who says they can guarantee you are getting a specific model of receiver they are lying.

  32. chrisexv6 says:

    To echo some of the previous posters, I dont think there is any way to *guarantee* and SWM install unless you absolutely have to have it (i.e. there is no multiswitch capable of your necessary outputs, etc).

    Ive also heard that anything above and beyond a normal install (dish, connectors, coax, etc) comes out of the installing companies pockets and may or may not be reimbursed by D*. So the installer may not want to guarantee you a relatively expensive piece of equipment without being 100% sure they will get the $$$ back.

    But yeah, you can buy a SWM on your own, its around 300.00 or so with the power inverter. And the dish with SWM really is pretty new, so the installer might also not feel comfortable installing it (but I dont know whats so different, never seen one).

    I have D* and have been blessed with a good installing company. I also have the number of a very good independent satellite guy in the case I dont want the D* guys mucking around my house.

  33. @Dobernala:

    Well, they’re just beaming the signal right on to your property. If they don’t like it, perhaps they should beam their signals elsewhere?

    Well, your house was just sitting there with the door unlocked – if you don’t like your stuff getting snatched, you oughta lock the door!

    Well, the convenience store clerk was just sitting there with a register full of money – if they don’t like getting robbed, they shouldn’t have it there!

    I can go on, but I won’t. The audacity of people who justify theft of any kind blows my mind.

  34. @Red_Eye:

    The SWM stuff is fairly new, not available everywhere and the only solution to guarantee you will get it is to buy it yourself from a 3rd party. It also requires specific models as not ever receiver and DVR Directv sells is SWM capable.

    This is the reality. The SWM is expensive, hard to get, and not available everywhere yet. The CSRs should not have misled the person in this story, but the reality is that Bluegrass Sat. isn’t fully at fault here (when it comes to the SWM).

  35. thrashanddestroy says:

    Here’s the problem; you’re not even a current customer but you’re willing to let them jerk you around for eight hours and push your appointment back three weeks.

    After the first ring-around you should have had your fill with their god awful service and said “enough.” If that’s how they’re willing to treat potential customers, what hope do you have once you’re in their pocket?

  36. MeOhMy says:


    Well, they’re just beaming the signal right on to your property. If they don’t like it, perhaps they should beam their signals elsewhere?

    They don’t need to – the DMCA makes it illegal to decrypt something that’s not intended for you.

  37. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    If that’s how they’re willing to treat potential customers, what hope do you have once you’re in their pocket?

    @thrashanddestroy: I have to agree. Mark ought to just go back to whomever he was getting service from before, especially if they weren’t having any problems with them. I’d be worried I’d have to e-mail the company executive for every single problem.

  38. says:

    I hate DirecTV. I’d have cable if only the morons who built my small, new subdivision had thought to wire it for cable. I live practically in downtown Atlanta. If I lived across the street, I could have cable. But on my small new street, nope!

  39. Geekybiker says:

    Reminds me of the hassle I went through trying to get directv hooked up at my condo. My association requires proof of insurance prior to the arrival of the contractors. Trouble is directv couldn’t tell me ahead of time who would be installing my dish. So it went back and forth for awhile until I finally got the direct number for my region dispatch and called them. They were are to sort it all out, but what a hassle. I can’t imagine having to deal with association paper work is an unusual event for a satellite company.

  40. harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

    Why does he need only 1 line? Who cares how many lines it is?

  41. bradanomics says:

    @BaronVonCrogs: I wasn’t trying to be elitist in the slightest, just giving my input on the subject. If you feel as though I was being elitist, that is your problem. Not mine.

  42. AkakmanH says:

    You do not need two cables to hook up a DVR. With one line you can not record two programs at once and you can not watch one channel while you are recording another. In short – you have to watch what you record.