DirecTV Install Imbroglio Makes Longtime Customer Want To Destroy Furniture

While we’re waiting on our video boys to harvest the clip of Whoopie’s rant against DirecTV on The View this morning, here’s a little reader-submitted DirecTV install nightmare to tide you over. Andy used to think DirecTV was pretty good, but his experience trying to get them to hook up an HD/DVR to his TV has felt him feeling like he is “going to explode, or destroy pieces of furniture.”

Andy writes:

I’ve been a DirecTV customer for a good 8-9 years. Other than the last few weeks, and my very first installation (had to pay $700 for a professional install throughout the house, and we made sure to future-proof it by having two available jacks per area where we wanted to access a tv), I’ve had, for the most part, been very happy with my DirecTV services, and dealing with DirecTV representatives on the phone. I give them a lot of credit, as my past experience with them until lately has been very satisfactory, and they were very accommodating and patient. With that said, let me tell you of my last 4 week experience with them that has gone from worse to a complete disaster.

Here is a little background information for you. About 4 weeks ago, we decided to purchase another HDTV (we, at the time, had two), and decided we would go the HD/DVR route with this one. We had purchased our previous two HD-Receivers from Best Buy, and after the TV-arrived, and we were satisfied with the Picture Quality, so we decided to do the next logical step and get some toys for it. On August 14th, we bought a HD-DVR receiver from Best Buy. It came to about $169.99 before taxes. I call up DirecTV to activate my receiver, but we had a lot of problems getting it to work; the tech decided that the problem was my satellite, and that I needed to order professional installation. He indicated the HD-DVR would only work with a 5-LNB satellite. I went ahead and ordered the installation, and was charged $99 for it. I had also found out that very same that, that none of the equipment we purchased from Best Buy or Circuit City, or any store that sell these receivers at “reduced” price, we were just leasing! You got that right, after doing a little research after the fact, this is a common misconception! But this isn’t the point of this e-mail. When we found that out, a light bulb went on in my head, and I had called DirecTV a little bit later that day to ask for a free upgrade on those HD-Receivers I paid Best Buy for, but what I’ve been leasing this entire time, and were I to cancel my service, I’d have to return it to DirecTV or pay something like $240 bucks! I was granted the free HD-DVR upgrade, and I had asked for a second one. The DirecTV representative was very nice, I had explained to her that I had purchased them from Best Buy, and was very angry that nobody from DirecTV or Best Buy would straight out tell their customer that these equipments were not there’s to keep. She said the only way to give me another HD-DVR was to cancel out my first order for the install, and charge my Credit Card for $99+S&H. She would then reimburse me the equipment fee, minus the S&H. So she went ahead and did that, cancelled out my first order, and put in another one. I had also decided to activate the HD-DVR that I purchased just to save myself the trouble.

A week later, on August 23rd, the DirecTV installer comes with a HD-DVR in hand, and the first thing out of his mouth was: did you order a HD-DVR, because I only brought the 3-LNB satellite, you know, the one that doesn’t work with your HD-DVR, and is probably only the roof! Yes, even though I know you ordered the HD-DVR which only works with the 5-LNB satellite, I came out here to tell you this anyways, just to waste your time! I was completely dumb-founded and baffled at what I was witnessing. Luckily, the one on the roof was the correct satellite. Luckily, if you want to call it that, the installer decided to look up, on the roof, and figured out it was the correct satellite after all! But here comes the fun part. His work order only shows that he would install the HD-DVR for one he brought out, and not the one I had purchased from Best Buy! He said if I wanted the other rooms installed, it would be $53 per room, and this is most-likely off the books, probably tax-fee, and against DirecTV’s contract with these subcontractors. I said I would not install anything, but we went with the install on HD-DVR he brought. He had no face plates. He has no splitters. Nothing. He said DirecTV does not supply us with any of that, it made me wonder, how the hell would they do a typical install? The HD-DVR has 2-tuners, and it needed two coaxial cables for it to work. But like I said, we future-proof our house with 2 coaxial jacks, granted, our face plate only had one of the jacks showing. He removed the face plates, ran both cables to the DVR, and put the face plate back on. I have a cable running on the right side of the face plate, sticking out, looking ridiculous and half-assed, which is probably very unsafe, but hey, at least the DVR works right? When the work was done, I was represented with the work order and a pen. I declined to sign it, and they were pretty outraged, demanded the HD-DVR back that I had purchased through DirecTV, but I said it was mines and paid for it, and shortly stormed out! What did they expect? I got a half-ass install, no install on the DVR I purchased, and no the guy completely came out with the wrong satellite, and I was supposed to be satisfied?

I called to DirecTV. I tried to stay calm, and for the most part was, explained them the situation where 1 room was not finished being installed, and two other rooms needed installs. The phone representative was very sympathetic and understanding and said he would take care of everything. He would waive the install fee, and schedule another install, with all the problems resolved. This was a good hour into the call, and very detailed, so I got off the phone, thinking everything would be okay. Unfortunately the earliest install date I could get from there was September 12th, a whole 3 weeks later, but there was nothing I could of done about it at this point, so I shrugged my shoulder, with a heavy sigh, just said okay. Now, I am usually not the type who thinks he is entitled to anything, or that I should be treated this much better, or compensated for this, but I figured, I’ve had to go through all the hassle thus far, why not ask for nothing. I called back later, and was given 3 months free HBO and Showtime. I had also inquired about the credit to my credit card for the equipment I paid, and was told I should see that shortly on my credit card, and to call back if there were any problems.

Two weeks had gone by, and I had been checking my credit card statement to if I was ever reimbursed for the equipment, but alas, it was not there, nor on my DirecTV bill. I called in again, and after an hour or two, after trying to tell the phone representative that I was not credited the equipment. He tried to tell me that the HD-DVR was free, and the $124.90 charge on my account was for the installation fee, which got waived *$99* of it, anyways. Well, no, sir, the $124.99 was for the HD-DVR I ordered, plus Shipping & Handling. He tried to tell me my tax was $25! Seriously, I was like, is this guy kidding? My Credit Card statement even says DirecTV hardware, not install, he finally conceded, said I was right, and that he would credit me the equipment fee minus the S&H. I had asked again about the other HD-DVR I was supposed to receive, and he said it should be in the mail by September 2nd. I would see this credit on my DirecTV bill.

September 2nd had come and passed, and still no receiver. A few days later, I had called DirecTV to get a tracking number for my package, they said there wasn’t one, and that the installer that would be coming out. I had confirmed with the phone person that I was suppose to get a FREE HD-DVR upgrade, and that I indeed ordered another one.

A few days later, we decided that we would install the HD-DVR that we purchased from Best Buy ourselves in another room that was already pre-wired properly to receive both signals. It had decided to move it from the basement to the library. I had to call DirecTV again to activate the card and receiver, and there were problems. They were telling me the card did not match the receiver. Are you kidding me? Well, their system was completely messed up because I have the original paperwork in the box that list both the card and the receiver’s # *together*. Well, an hour later, the problem was resolved, apparently some sort of error in their system.

Today, the 12th of September, was the install date. The installer was supposed to arrive between noon and 4PM. I had left work a little bit early so I could meet the installer. Around 5PM, the installer came, and the first thing he asked me was if I have a HD-DVR that I owned. I had answered yes. Let me tell you, the installer came to the door, holding a box for an HD-DVR, but soon as I answered, he said, “well, this is for my next customer, and not you. My work order is only to install a customer’s owned HD-DVR!” I was dumbfounded. I had to endure this crap the first time; do I really have to do it a 2nd time? I figure I would handle the receiver issue with DirecTV after he finish the install, but he did not have a work order to install the other room (or bring a receiver), nor did he have one to finish the first install (put a face plate on). There you have it, 4 weeks since I decided to get a HD-DVR and to get 2-equipment upgrades, my experience has been a complete and utter failure. The installer drew a big X on the work order, and left.

Here is where the real fun happens. A 3-hour phone call with DirecTV! The explained my situation to the first phone representative, very calmly, and she had indicated that there was no free HD-DVR upgrade in the system and that it would cost me another $99+S&H, with no reimbursement, if I wanted one. Sadly, we got disconnected before anything else happened. That was a good waste of 25 minutes. I called in again, got another person, who was very polite, understanding, but unfortunately there was not a whole lot she could do for me because the way the DirecTV system works, and how it flagged things down, or prevents “abuse” I suppose. After some investigation, and having to explain myself again, she tracked indeed that her system shows a free HD-DVR and paid order for a HD-DVR! She confirmed it with her co-worker/supervisor, but unfortunately, it wasn’t like that on the system that goes to the installer. After an hour and a half of trying to figure all this out for me, she said she could order another HD-DVR and reimburse me for it, but then we find out it wouldn’t do that, and I had asked to be escalated to a specialist. The specialist was a real jerk, and very stubborn. He said basically you could only get a free upgrade every 6 months. I can agree with that. I can agree or understand DirecTV’s rules and policies concerning equipment. He apologized, and said the best he could do for me is to 1) call the local office to try to schedule an install for tomorrow, and 2) reimburse me the equipment charge. I was like, what? I’ve already been reimbursed the equipment charge, except for S&H! Well, it turns out, I’ve been lied to from the very beginning, and the middle, and finally got the truth. The first person never initiated a credit for the equipment. I called in again, and the second person said he would credit me the equipment, JUST TO GET ME OFF THE PHONE IT SEEMS, but never did. So all this time, I’ve been thinking I got a free HD-DVR and another one except I had to pay the upfront cost, and be reimbursed everything but S&H. Turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. This is where I raised my voice. This was where I was angry. You’ve got to be kidding me! Do DirecTV just tell people that they will do something, but never do, just to get you off the phone? I’ve seriously been lied to, on numerous occasions by DirecTV’s customer support representatives, and misinformed about a lot of things. I was still expecting my other HD-DVR, and well, an actual install, it being 4 weeks later already, because that’s all he could do for me, I asked to be escalated further more. I did, and basically was told the same thing. The only arrangement that could be worked out that I would have to buy another HD-DVR receiver from the retail store, because somehow, they are incompletely unable to order one for me through their system, and I would be reimbursed $124.90. That still means I have to pay another $45 dollars, and still pay them a monthly leasing fee for each active receiver, and when you aren’t using it anymore (their equipment tend to get upgraded yearly) then send it to them otherwise I’d owe $240. What a crock of–!!! I guess that’s better than nothing, considering I cannot get cable television or television from the phone company. At least I got 3 months of Cinema, and 6 months of Starz? Definitely has not been worth the 4 weeks of headaches and pain. 3 hours. I seriously was on the phone with DirecTV for 3 hours. And now I have to wait for another install come October 4th for the HD-DVR I have to buy from Best Buy or Circuit, only to LEASE IT. 2 MONTH INSTALL???? GREAT!!

Why would I pay for a free UPGRADE if it’s a free UPGRADE? When I asked for a free upgrade? When it’s free? Common sense anyone?

Thank you DirecTV. You earned that #1 Customer Satisfaction Rating… just not today!

I’ve not wrote a letter to DirecTV, but I think I would be wasting my time. I just wanted to share my experience because I feel like I am going to explode, or destroy pieces of furniture. I’ve never had it this bad. Never.

Robert B.