DirecTV CEO Answers Customer E-mail On A Saturday Evening, Promises Help

Daniel’s problem was very simple. He is a DirecTV customer, and subscribed to the satellite provider’s NFL Sunday Ticket package of football awesomeness. He decided not to renew this year, then discovered that DirecTV had already helpfully renewed the package for him. He wasn’t happy, and sent out an executive e-mail carpet bomb to a nice selection of executives. Who answered him, within an hour and a half on a Saturday? President and CEO Mike White.

Here’s Daniel’s original letter:

Dear Mr. White.

I’ve been a very satisfied customer of yours for three years now, and have referred several friends and neighbors to your service. I wish to remain a customer of yours, but after my recent interaction with your customer service department, I am finding it difficult to do so.

For the last two years, I’ve had your NFL Sunday Ticket package. I decided to not renew this year, because my wife and I travel a great deal for business and end up not watching most of the games. Because I use my bank’s bill pay option, I don’t pay a lot of attention to my account. Imagine my surprise last week when my wife called to tell me that our account had been suspended due to a late balance! After some investigation, I realized that I had been auto-renewed for the Sunday Ticket, even though I had not requested it. When I called customer service, I was told that I had been notified of both the renewal and my past due balance.

I’ve gone through all my spam, trash and inbox in my email account (I’m paperless), and there’s nary a word from you of the sort. After three years of over $100/month service from your company, I’m being told that it was my responsibility to receive your emails and I am now on the hook for the entire cost of the Sunday Ticket.

I will certainly pay what I owe, but if this is how your customers are treated, I will have to choose to go elsewhere. This is a competitive market, and there are other options- some at lower costs- than DirecTV.

My question to you is simple: Is it worth losing a $100+ monthly account over a billing mistake? I wish to remain your customer, but I cannot justify doing so if this is how your customers are treated.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response.


That was sent at 6:09 PM. At 7:34, Mr. White answered:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: White, Michael D
Date: Sat, Oct 23, 2010 at 7:34 PM
Subject: Re: My recent interaction with DirecTV customer service

Dear Daniel, thank you for your note. I have asked our Customer Care Group to look into your issue. I can assure you that we do ensure we formally notify Sunday Ticket users of the auto renew and give them a chance to cancel the service if they wish to. I will have our team see why you might not have seen the notice in your bill this summer. Someone from our Customer Care group will be in touch. Mike White

We haven’t heard back from Daniel yet about whether DirecTV was able to fix his problem, but he was delighted to hear back from the CEO himself (or someone e-mailing as him.) Maybe White’s recent experience installing satellite dishes and manning a call center on the CBS program “Undercover Boss” helped him to see things from us little guys’ point of view.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Shadowfire says:

    The lack of formatting (separate lines for “Dear Daniel,” and “Mike White”) leads me to believe it is indeed the CEO, and not an assistant of some kind.

  2. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Heh. I always get good service from DirecTV. That’s why I downgraded rather than just dumped them when cutting back on expenditures. They were happy to work with me and even though I lost some channels, I can get them back any time with just a phone call when things get better. Not at the same price probably, but the package I had was kind of old.

    And no, I don’t do auto-pay; it’s manual on their website. They are pretty good about sending notices via email, so I’m not sure what happened with the OP. There might have been a glitch there somehow.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Auto-renewal convenience fee: $4.99

  4. osiris73 says:

    He was on that Undercover Boss show a couple of weeks ago, too. He seemed like a pretty decent guy and genuinely concerned about their customers. Then again, the whole undercover boss show is a GREAT publicity/PR tool for whoever is brave enough to do it.

    • Aennan says:

      This is what I think as I watch that show every week, “Another CEO who doesn’t understand the work that fundamentally drives his/her company.”

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Looks like someone takes their work home with them. It’s one of the side effects of having constant access to email, especially via smartphone. I spent my morning commute today answering work-related emails, but that’s my limit. I never answer emails on the weekend unless it’s really important.

    • meltingcube says:

      Unfortunately when someone is a manager of a 24×7 business, its almost a requirement to take work home with you. From the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep I’m always checking up on staff and service status for our company. If I didn’t then things would go to the shitter fairly quickly.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      I hope this was on the Metro, not the Beltway! ;)

  6. holden190 says:

    So what’s white’s email address?

  7. Griking says:

    I’m just curious but if it really is a competitive market as he said and he has options that are cheaper than Direct TV then why isn’t he already using them?

  8. Macgyver says:

    “Because I use my bank’s bill pay option, I don’t pay a lot of attention to my account.”
    Being that he doesn’t pay attention, he probably get a letter and just ignored it.
    Even though he was on paperless, the paperless was probably only for the statements.

  9. Bativac says:

    “I can assure you that we do ensure we formally notify Sunday Ticket users of the auto renew and give them a chance to cancel the service if they wish to. I will have our team see why you might not have seen the notice in your bill this summer.”

    AKA: We sent you a notice in your bill that we’d be auto-renewing your subscription. You should have called us to cancel.

    I mean, I guess it’s cool to hear from the CEO who probably answers a token email or two…

  10. homehome says:

    I don’t mind paying more money for DirecTV because the service I get from them is worth it. And yea, I’m blaming the consumer on this one, you knew you didn’t want it to renew, but you didn’t call them to tell them that. They are few services like these that cancel themselves automatically or don’t do automatic renewal.

    And using your bank’s bill pay option as an excuse not to check is weak. I will never entrust a person, company or system to look after my money exactly because of things like this. To me, he just got sloppy and just is looking for something else to blame. Although, regardless, it’s gonna get blamed on the company.

  11. jesirose says:

    Would have been awesome if I had been able to watch that episode, but for some reason half the time CBS is playing some stupid people racing around show, in the Undercover Boss timeslot.

    Hope we get an update. A response from the CEO doesn’t mean much if the problem isn’t fixed.

    • MSUHitman says:

      That’s because CBS coverage of football often runs late, which causes the Sunday night shows to run later.

      A few years ago when I had pay TV and a DVR, it made me furious trying to record Shark when they moved it to Sunday nights as I had to put the recording to do 30 extra minutes because of that. Even then sometimes I didn’t get the full show.

      • Gramin says:

        I add an extra 2 hours to the Amazing Race for that reason. 30 minutes is often too little. And I’m always sure to watch Amazing Race on Sunday because HD recordings kill DVR space.

    • Jezz1226 says:

      Also, if you want, you can sign up for CBS’ e-mail update for those nights. They will send you an e-mail Sunday afternoon when the sports programing ends that will tell you the exact time (ie it was 8:16 for Amazing Race last week if I remember correctly) that evening’s shows start.
      I’ve had this e-mail sign-up for about a year now and haven’t noticed any spam or unsolicited e-mails from CBS, only two e-mails on a week when a sports program is likely to delay start times (one earlier in the week informing that there is a game that afternoon and one telling the exact start times)

      • jesirose says:

        If I watched anything else on CBS I would do that… but that is actually the only show I watch on that station. And I kinda gave up since it’s only on half the time.

        I guess if I know I can get the whole show, it’s worth it.

        Anyway. Thanks :)

  12. vizsladog says:

    I have been a customer of DirecTV for nearly a decade. I love their service, and when you call CS, other than a wait that can be longer than you like, I find that they are courteous and knowledgable.

    Having said that, I had exactly the same experience with DTV. I cancelled the auto renewal for the NFL and NHL three or four years ago but they kept renewing. I would catch it and they would reverse it, but you really have to be on your toes when you read your bill. Another thing about the auto renewal: they will always default (it seems) to the most expensive way. Typically one can save about 10% if the renewall is done in one payment rather than three installments, but the auto renewal is always in installments.

  13. katewrath says:

    I feel this poster’s pain, but he’s a little bit screwed. He was billed in July and August for NFL Sunday Ticket, and he could have canceled and gotten a full refund anytime until the first regular season game.

    After that, there’s nothing that can be done, and it’s not DirectTV’s call. To the best of my knowledge, NFL Sunday Ticket is, by the NFL’s own rules, all or nothing. And now that the first game has been played, he’s in it for the rest of the season.

    And I say this as someone who has DirecTV, has seen the auto-renew go into effect in years past, and even got screwed by it last year when we got financially hammered and tried to cancel NFL ST to lower our bill.

  14. LastError says:

    I wish I could get them to address MY problem so easily. Of course my problem is the opposite of the OP: thanks to a glitch on their website (no I will not explain how so everybody else can abuse this), I am getting a premium adult channel I’m not subscribed to and don’t want, and because I’m not subscribed according to their system, they can’t turn it off. They’ve tried of course. But the channel will not die.

    Normally this would be an interesting paradox and perhaps a good chance to look at website design flaws.

    But I just want them to fix this. I want them to fix their website so nobody else can stumble in to this situation, or worse, exploit it. And I don’t want them to decide I should pay for something I didn’t order.

    This whole thing may solve itself. My aging DirecTivo may have finally died tonight. It’s gone down and will not come back to life. This thing has been limping along for years while I hope against hope that the new DirecTivos finally come out. But it’s probably dead now and I am sick of waiting for the new ones to come out. I’m not under contract. They tell me they can’t fix my problem. And I just got the bill for next month.

    I have no idea why I stay. Free porn I don’t want and didn’t order is not enough of a reason.

    What say you, Mr. White?

  15. michelelyl says:

    I’ve been with DirecTV for 4 years and I’ve had ‘auto renewal’ for Center Ice each year, broken into 4 monthly payments. I’ve always gotten an email and a phone call about ‘auto renewal’ well in advance…this year I decided to not renew, and I called to cancel both auto renew and Center Ice. No problems. And…for everything I get from DirecTV, I cannot get a cheaper option…what is Daniel talking about short of internet only?