Worst Company In America Round One: DirecTV Vs. Dish Network

Day 3 of competition in the arena suspended high above above the Worst Company In America Sarlacc Pit brings us a pair of pugilists that already spend most of the year trying to dish out some hurt on each other.

In the blue and white trunks and hailing from El Segundo is DirecTV, which may be both the country’s largest satellite TV provider — and it’s most complained-about.

Despite its ads touting how much un-cable-company-like DirecTV is, the complaints we hear from readers are awfully similar to the ones that irk customers of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, and other terrestrial service providers.

Like the woman who found out her ID had been stolen to open a DirecTV account. The satellite company not only didn’t care about her issue, they told her she needed to contract the local subcontractor responsible for the satellite service at a building she doesn’t even live in.

Then there was the reader who found he’d been charged for two $15 porn movies that had been ordered while he was out of town. Even when he offered to prove that he’d been away and that no one had been in the house during the time in question, DirecTV only offered to refund the $30 in six monthly installments of $5 each.

What about the man who called to have his recently deceased father’s DirecTV cancelled, only to have the CSR use this as the perfect opportunity to make a sales pitch to the grieving man?

In the bigger picture, readers also nominated DirecTV for taking part in a string of childish, very public slap fights with broadcasters. And then there were the “NFL Sunday Ticket is free on DirecTV” ads that were so misleading that Comcast — yes, Comcast — felt compelled to file a lawsuit over them.

Like DirecTV, Dish Network is no stranger to disputes with broadcasters. Just ask any sports fan in New York City who also happens to be a Dish customer. They can’t get Knicks or Rangers games on MSG, Mets games on SNY or watch the Yankees on YES.

Dish also has the same problems as its cable competitors of keeping service appointments — and then actually doing the work competently when the tech finally does show.

A number of Dish subscribers wrote to us saying the feel like the company is focusing even less on providing quality service and more on upselling new products related to its acquisition of Blockbuster Video. At the same time, Dish has used floor space inside the still-standing Blockbusters to try to sell video-rental customers on its satellite service.

All of this factors into how Dish recently ended up on the ACSI’s “Most Hated Companies” list.

There is one former Dish customer who probably won’t vote for the company — that’s because he sued Dish in small claims court and won after no one from the satellite provider bother to make an appearance in court.

Now it’s time to vote with your heart (Not literally; that would be gross).

(Voting for this poll will close at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 16)

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.


Edit Your Comment

  1. consumed says:

    I’ve never had to deal with either of these companies so I’m just gonna take a stab at DirecTV since they are a bigger corporation and I usually want the underdog to win.

    • Cat says:

      I’ve had both. Tough choice.

      They both operate in the same underhanded manner. DirecTV offers more programming, but Dish charges less to screw you over.

      So I’m going with DirecTV as the more evil company also.

    • elangomatt says:

      I have never dealt with either of these companies also so I chose to actually not vote. I figure neither of these will probably make it past the second round anyway so who cares?

      • George4478 says:

        Same here. Never had DirectTV and had nothing but good service from Dish when I had them. So, no vote.


        • RxDude says:

          Similar situation here. I’ve never used Dish, and DirecTV has been pretty decent for me for 10+ years. No vote from me in this match-up.

    • Ducatisti says:

      I can imagine you in the voting booth at national elections “That guy has the same name as me, I’m voting for him!”

  2. SomeWhiteGuy says:

    We had directtv when I lived with my grandmother and they had the worst service and reception I’ve ever had to deal with. Talking with Reps wasn’t fun either. Had to talk them out of charging her for a new box and dish when THEY initiated the call because they were upgrading hardware. Pissed me off.

  3. Lisse24 says:

    I don’t get satellite TV at all – especially the dishes. In this day and age when our cellphones can pick up satellite signals, you’d think the satellite TV companies would be a little more innovative.

    For that reason, I’ve never had it, so I think i’m sitting this round out.

    • Cat says:

      What? Cellphones can pick up satellite signals?

      That defies the very definition of “cellular phone”. Satellite phones DO exist, but they’re a completely different beast: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_phone

      “Don’t make me put your head in my blender!”

      • dpeters11 says:

        A lot of smartphones do. GPS for example.

        • dpeters11 says:

          Should have added, but there can be no comparison between the two.

        • Eyeheartpie says:

          Even then, those signals are from satellites in lower orbits. TV Satellites are in geostationary orbit. That’s why you don’t have to have articulating satellite dishes on your house, and your dishes can be pointed in the same direction all the time.

    • ClemsonEE says:

      Wow, ignorance is bliss!

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      Cell phones don’t pick up direct satellite signals. They pick up signals from local cell antennas. DirecTV and Dish Network satellite dishes pick up signals from satellites in geostationary orbit, which is more than 35000 km over the surface of the Earth. The comparison is “cell phone receives signal from few miles away”, while “TV dishes pick up signals from 35000+ km away”.

  4. Cicadymn says:

    Well whatever, my bracket is already shot to hell.

  5. Marlin says:

    DirecTV.. by a mile

  6. TonyK says:

    DirecTV wanted us to sign a service waiver because they would not put the dish where we wanted it and where they would put it, the dish could be blocked by trees most of the year.

    Told them to take a hike.

  7. Mobius says:

    We have Dish and my mother has Direct TV. DirectTV is far worse. I’ve never had any problems with our Dish service or dealing them Dish.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      I have DirecTV and my MIL has dish. I get much better service. It has a lot to do with the local contractors aiming the dish. Some just adjust until it works at 85%, others will spend another 5-10 minutes to get a 98% signal and it makes all the difference in the world.

      I have installed my own in the past but when I moved I let them do it.

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      I have DTV, and have had absolutely 0 problems with them, for either billing or service. Only time I have service dropouts is when it’s extremely windy and the dish is flexing and shaking. Even 20-30 mph winds don’t knock out my service. Never even lost service in the heaviest of rains.

      I think it has to do with how diligent your tech was. Mine spent almost 45 minutes aligning the dish alone, to get the best possible signal. That’s in addition to all the hardware installation and wiring required. If you had a tech who did the bare minimum, I’m not surprised your TV service is crappy.

  8. homehome says:

    I’ve used both and never had an issue with either. only reason I left dtv is because I couldn’t get any more discounts. only thing i hate about satellite is when it rains.

  9. Ducatisti says:

    No contest, Dish Network is the only company I have ever dealt with who’s customer service was so bad it turned me from a calm and well-mannered person into a screaming maniac.

    Long story short. We’d been loyal Dish customers for 6 years, even paying them $5 a month to keep our service on hold while we were building our new house. When it came time for the installer to show up at the new place to do his job, he missed three separate appointments (each requiring time off work for me), and each with a call to their “customer service” to re-schedule (they never even had the respect to call ME about the no-shows).

    After the third instance, I told the CSR that I would need some compensation if they wanted to keep me as a customer, a month’s free service, something. She laughed at me. I requested that she transfer me to her manager, she just laughed and said “I’m all you get”. I asked for her name and she said, Mrs. Brown (and laughed). I asked for her employee number and she said they don’t have them. I then asked if they could at least guarantee their tech would show up this time, and she laughed again. That’s when I finally lost it and was yelling at her to get a supervisor on the phone. She hung up, laughing.

    My next call was to DirecTV, who had a service rep out here the next day. They’ve been wonderfully professional, and have fixed two problems with our system within 24 hours (even on a Sunday!). In 7 years we’ve never had a billing issue, and every time we’ve needed to contact them about something, they’ve been amazing.

    Oh, and to the guy who’s never dealt with either, but voted anyway, really? Brilliant. Your parents must be so proud to have raised such a smart fellow.

  10. KyBash says:

    My issue is that both companies discriminate against people with disabilities, but Dish is so blatant about it that I couldn’t even schedule an appointment for an installation unless i could get a non-disabled person to represent me in the transaction.

    DirecTV is one of those companies who are great as long as there isn’t a problem — my reception is as near to perfect as you could hope for, and heavy rain knocks out the local cable company more often than it causes my dish to lose the signal, but heaven help anyone who has to contact “customer service” or has an unusual technical question!

    It’s sad to see that DirecTV will walk away with this simply because they’re bigger.

    • dpeters11 says:

      On one of the DirecTV forums I’m on, one of the biggest posters is disabled. He’s never indicated in any way that he’s felt discriminated against.

      We did recently need to help disable a newer software feature that was causing problems for a paraplegic.

    • Snoofin says:

      How do both companies discriminate against people with disabilities? IF they do I would think the ADA would apply. I cant even think of any situation where the opportunity would be there to discriminate unless they dont allow you to have service.

      • KyBash says:

        Because of my disability, I can’t use a telephone.

        When I tried to subscribe to DishTV, they refused to make an appointment for installation unless I called them. I sent e-mails and letters to everyone in the company I could, but they wouldn’t budge — no phone call, no install.

        I finally had to file a complaint with the state before they’d refund the amount they charged to my credit card when I applied for service.

        With DirecTV, the installation wasn’t done properly. I sent more than a dozen e-mails and nearly that many letters, but the only response I ever received was that I’d have to call their customer service number. No phone call, no support.

        For more than six months, they were charging me full price although my service was spotty and usually unwatchable. They even lied to the state about the situation (and, yes, I still have the documents to prove their statements were false).

        I had to file a complaint against the installer in order to get the dish located to where there was a clear line of sight.

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      You can’t make a blanket statement like that without providing more information. How do they discriminate? What kind of disability was it that they were able to determine that based on phone calls? Is it one that might make it seem the caller is not able to make financial decisions or enter into contracts?

      • KyBash says:

        “What kind of disability was it that they were able to determine that based on phone calls?”

        That’s the rub — because of my disability, I can’t use a telephone.

        DishTV’s website accepted my application and charged my credit card, but they absolutely refused to make an appointment for installation unless I called them. No e-mails or letters would persuade them to set a day and time, or to refund my money.

  11. Torchwood says:

    Gee, why don’t we just say that all pay television providers suck? Unfortunately, for too many people, pay television is a “right” and is as essential to life as food, clothing, and shelter. It’s bad enough that lack of competition force us to use a pay provider for high speed Internet because our paychecks depend on the Internet access.

  12. airren says:

    I used to love DirecTV, but when they refused to put HBOGo on Roku, I packed my bags… and then was put through several hours of hell “fighting” with them to cancel my service. Almost $300 later (they tricked us into renewing our contract by offering us a free DVR) we are free!

    So yeah, i voted for DirecTV.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      yeah, i cut the cord from directv earlier this year but i voted for them because my sister can’t get HBOgo on her roku since she is still under contract to directv, and because of the hassle i get trying to walk past the directv reps at sams club.
      plus, they keep sending me junk mail to try to woo me back and that just annoys me

  13. tbax929 says:

    I’m a DirecTV subscriber. I haven’t had any problems with them, although I don’t like that I can add programming from their website but have to call in if I want to remove any programming. Since Dish doesn’t offer some of my favorite channels and doesn’t have the football package, I voted for Dish.

  14. scoosdad says:

    Well the poll results (so far) make me feel a little better that I decided to go with Dish instead of DirecTV.

    I’m ditching Charter’s cable TV service soon and the numbers I’ve run for the package I want (extrapolating out over the next two to three years) shows a significant savings even after all the promotions have expired (with a huge increase in HD channels to boot). I just hope the people handing Dish installations in my area are good.

  15. AmateurD says:

    So Dish Network has issues with broadcasting Yankees games? I don’t understand what the problem is.

    (Boston fan.)

  16. Starfury says:

    I have Dish at home and when I compare what they offer to what DirecTV offers Dish is better. The few times I have had to call them (including when I had the roof replaced) they had someone out to fix the issue quickly, on time, and on the one service call.

  17. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I have had DirecTV for about nine years. So far I’ve had very little trouble. I have no experience with Dish, so I can’t really say anything about them one way or the other.

  18. skakh says:

    Direct TV – I have a choice between Direct TV and Comcast. I chose Comcast, enough said.

  19. NotEd says:

    I voted DirecTV, as they restarted the beginning of out contract after my wife decided to add a DVR to our account, even though no promotions were offered and we paid full price for the box when it was installed.
    We learned about it when we wanted to cancel and switch providers, thinking we’d owe about 6 months on the ETF. They accepted the cancellation then sent us a last bill showing we owed for 18+ months.
    We called customer’ service and they said this was because she had agreed to a new contract “when she spoke to the rep to order the new equipment.” As she ordered it online she never spoke to anyone and hade saved PDFs of the order and confirmation screens.
    Then they tried to claim that the installer who put the DVR in to replace an older box had us sign a new contract. Pulled out our copy the work order and confirmed that was BS too.
    Finally the rep (probably our third over several calls) told us to call their legal department, but when we asked to be transferred we were told they weren’t open right then. Then they hung up on us.
    A BBB complaint finally got us some traction and they adjusted the ETF amount. We paid and ran to AT&T Uverse.

    So, TL;DR version, neither Dish nor Comcast ever tried to screw us the way DirecTV did. AT&T still has a chance to soon.

    • dpeters11 says:

      Did you really pay full price for the DVR? If so, something definitely went wrong. If you paid $200, that’s not full price.

      • NotEd says:

        I have no idea what we paid for the DVR, as I was lobbying for continue testing their lacklaster beta whole home DVR option with the DVR we already had, rather than pay for another one.
        We also own 2 ReplayTV DVRs that I bought several years ago that stopped working with the DirecTV boxes correctly (couldn’t control changing channels), so she elected to get another of their DVRs (we already had one on another floor of the house) rather than get on their case about breaking the USB control for 3rd party DVRs.
        I another room we actually had the STB replaced to use with the second ReplayTV, which resolved the issue for several months before they broke it again with another update.

  20. intense_jack says:

    Voted Dish. I used to work in their corporate office. It’s a horrible environment run by egomaniacs that lay off 10% of their work force yearly for whatever reason. Management, especially in IT, is more concerned with lackies and cronies than anything else. It’s a horrible place and many former employees wind up experiencing some weird for of PTSD due to the way they were treated or let go… such a wretched environment where management has no integrity or leadership ability.

  21. jp7570-1 says:

    Maybe I am in the minority, but I’ve never really had a problem with DirecTV. I’ve called them each year they do the “$100 per friend” offer and they discount my monthly bill a bit (usually around 10% to 15% – not a lot, but it’s something).

    Now, ask me about the subcontractors DirecTV uses to do many of their installations and that’s a completely different story! Most of these guys look like they are on work-release and haven’t even been trained – one asked to borrow my tools because he forgot his.

  22. chijosh says:

    I had Dish Network forced on me by the landlord, who kicked Comcast out of the building and replaced them with a Dish reseller(!). The DVR interface is bad, the service goes out or the box stops working, their on demand options are confusing and slow and the picture quality is significantly worse than it was on Comcast. So Dish got my vote.

  23. gman863 says:

    I’ve had DirecTV for years. They’re far from perfect, but way better than Dish Network which my dad had until he got fed up and switched to DirecTV.

  24. jheyneman says:

    Someone watched Psych last night…

  25. FLConsumer says:

    Only had to work with DirecTV on corporate/commercial accounts, so my experiences are probably vastly different than most people, but I’ve generally had good prompt service from them. Also nice at this level is you usually pick your installer and they’re usually familiar with commercial installs. NOT a fan of the NFL policies and pricing, particularly for restaurants/bars, but it’s either them or nada.

  26. MurpalyUrpaly86 says:

    Did you know that DirecTV can take your money even if you can’t install? THEY CAN. Wanted to get rid of Comcast, so called DirecTV and got the whole sales pitch. Regretfully I signed up for the service and provided my payment information. When the call was almost over, I got the typical fast talking sales call wrap up, which mentioned that landlord approval is required for installation. Makes sense… the problem is, if you can’t get approval from the landlord, you will still be charged $80 for the shipping and handling of the eqiupment. I called back within 3 days of signing up (is it possible to get the approval from the landlord any quicker??), and it was too late to refuse the shipment and of course the payment was non-refundable. It’s abhorrent to me that they can take payments for anything without first receiving installation approval. When I complained to them, they laughed me off and pretty much made fun of me. Clearly a scam. A**holes.

  27. xanadustc says:

    No I don’t want your service….again, I don’t want your service….STOP SENDING ME CRAP!!!

    Yep, I had a two year battle with DirectTV for sending me service offers once a week.

  28. Xizer says:

    DirecTV wins by a mile. Their high definition channel lineup is utterly pathetic.

    At least Dish Network has added some new basic HD networks in the past few years. It’s been years since DirecTV has added any. They added AMC HD last year and TruTV HD this year and that’s it.

    You look at their HD lineup compared to Dish, all the cable providers, and the telecoms and they’re behind just about everyone:

  29. puplover says:

    I found this wonderful website by googling which was better Dish or Direct TV.
    It don’t sound like either one is worthy of our business.
    In case anyone wanted to know why I did such a search-it’s because my local cable co (Insight/Time Warner) recently removed our local Fox Station due to a pee pee contest they’re having. Well, I am beyond “peed!!” They’re charging folks a minimum of $90 a month then they have the gall to remove a local channel.
    I’m simply mad, that’s all. Heck, I guess I can always buy an antenna and do without two shows I have come to love: The Closer and In Plain Sight-which in reality, they’re both going off the air anyway!! I guess that 90 bucks can be used to buy some good dog food, hugh?