The Problem With This DirecTV Installation: Trees Grow

Reader Synimatik became a DirecTV customer about a year ago, and the installer bolted the dish to his deck because it would supposedly work better. The problem was that the dish faced some trees, receiving its signal over the tops of those trees. The installer assured him that these trees wouldn’t pose any problem. And trees have this unfortunate tendency to grow. Not if you ask DirecTV, though–they insist that “there [was] no way for the to know the trees would grow.” So Synimatik has to pay to have the dish relocated.

Slightly over a year ago, I had directv installed. I asked the installer if he could put the dish on my roof, to which he responded “I guess so, but it will work better on the deck. I asked him about the trees across the yard being a problem and he said they weren’t. Cut to 13 months later, all my HD channels are non functional because the dish point directly at the top of some trees. Several calls to directv yield the answers “it worked fine for a year”, “just trim the trees” (which are my neighbors trees), and “you signed off and said it was ok”.

My issue here is that while I did sign off, I took the work of what was supposed to be a “professional” installer. Who talked me out of putting it on my roof (I believe it is because he didn’t feel like climbing up there since it was winter), and instead took the easy way out. If it were on my roof as I had originally asked, the would be zero issue. But, because it is placed low and off the side of my deck, it is now pointing at trees. I am being told I have to pay for them to relocate it, because “there is no way for the to know the trees would grow.” Mind you, I voiced this concern when he installed the dish and was told not to worry.

I don’t feel as though I should have to pay for an issue that is a result of bad information, and laziness on the part of a directv installer. But, it seems that for $50, they are willing to lose what up until this point, was a happy customer.

Any useful thoughts? Aside from the usual “that’s what you get for using directv” and “I blame the OP for not installing his own dish.


Edit Your Comment

  1. belsonc says:

    I install my own dish at home…

    • DAS37 says:

      I always installed mine personally until I moved into a condo complex that already has a ton of dishes on the roof. Even had the wiring from a previous tenant, although it went to a DISH. The installer just took the cables out of that one and plugged them into one of the DirecTV dishes.

  2. Marlin says:

    Cut the cord, Over the Air Digital FTW?

  3. Coffee says:

    Any useful thoughts? Aside from the usual “that’s what you get for using directv” and “I blame the OP for not installing his own dish.

    Hey, now…I take offense! Also, you’re missing a quote at the end of your sentence. Also, your use of the word “aside” implies that the statements following are somehow useful. They are not.

    You’re welcome. Glad I could be of service.

  4. Bionic Data Drop says:

    This is why I refuse to try satellite TV. Both companies will charge you if their equipment fails. That is a complete dealbreaker. Well, that and the insanely lopsided contracts they have.

    • nopirates says:

      the equipment didn’t fail, the installer failed and the OP lacked the backbone to make the installer do what he wanted

      • finbar says:

        He followed the installers advise. How is this evidence of a “lack of backbone.”

        Nice try at blaming the OP though, dude.

    • ToniaSheridan says:

      In some areas satellite TV is the only game in town. It’s really a crap shoot whether you’ll get a pro or a minimum effort slacker when it’s installation time, and sales/support from the big two run the gamut from horrible to fabulous too.

  5. Costner says:

    Well if it has only been 13 months, I’m guessing DirecTV has you locked in to a contact for another 11 months… so I don’t see this ending well for you.

    In the installer’s defense… they are not trained horticulturalists. They aren’t supposed to know how fast trees grow, because if the tree was mature chances are it wouldn’t be growing much anymore, but if it was a young tree it could grow anywhere from a few inches to a few feet depending upon the type of tree it was. Should an installer make assumptions? Who is to say… I guess it depends on many factors including how much space there was, the rate of growth, the chances of the trees reaching the sightline within a year etc, etc.

    The problem is, no matter what an installer says – it doesn’t matter if the customer signs off on the location. In this case, you should have refused to agree to that location based upon your concerns about the trees.

    The only thing that doesn’t make sense is the timeline. It is now mid June, so 13 months ago was mid-May… that isn’t exactly winter. So unless the weather in your area is strange or if you were holding on to this for a while…. why would “winter” weather have anything to do with this? Had it been December I could see an issue because the trees would not have any leaves and the installer might make the wrong assumption, but in May and June that shouldn’t be an issue.

    I’d love to give you some advice here, but considering you signed off on the install and the location… you are sort of stuck. If you didn’t agree with the dish placement, the time to complain was during installation… not 13 months later.

    • 180CS says:

      Who cares? Now that hes got this article, they are probably asking him if he’d like a free shoeshine with that.

      When I got my story about charter up here last year, I suddenly had the director of north american operations calling me on his blackberry making sure I was 100% satisfied.

  6. homehome says:

    I remember my aunt had this problem, we just ended up cutting the trees since they were on her property. You could escalate it, but you’re in a tough spot. I’m sure if you push it up high enough you could get something done.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    I make my own deep-dish pizza at home. . .
    ohh wait, we’re talking about DirecTV? Never mind then.

    • Coffee says:

      Wait! Do you make the crust from scratch, and if so, do you use the rhythm method or the shoot and pray method?

  8. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    I’m not going to blame the OP for the original issue, but I’m going to say unless he’s somehow physically unable to do so he should just move the dish himself. It doesn’t require any special tools or knowledge – maybe just a length of extension cable and a friend who can watch the meter on the screen and relay the info to get it aimed properly.

    • oloranya says:

      It’s a huge pain in the ass to pick up the signal. My boyfriend does satellite installs for a living, direct TVA satellits are very low in the sky in most of the US and if you don’t point it in just the right direction, you’re not getting a signal, especially with HD. The OP might be able to do it, but it would be way more trouble than he should have to go to because his installer was a lazy fuck who didn’t feel like climbing a ladder.

    • makoto says:

      If he moves the dish himself and encounters a problem, DirectTV will refuse to help him fix it. From personal experience (and just this last week), I moved my TV across the room and installed a new wire that was longer because the idiot that installed my DirectTV while I was at work last year thought a 1 foot cable wire would be acceptable. When I had trouble getting a signal (after not having trouble on two other TVs I moved in this manner in my house) I contacted the technician service. I was scolded for moving MY OWN TV and USING MY OWN WIRE. He then insisted that I pay $49 to have them come out and drill new holes in my walls to re-run the wires. My boyfriend walked in literally 1 second before I completely lost my mind on the phone and jostled the satellite converter box on the floor and there you go. A picture. Just fine. I hung up the phone on the technician at that point. Anyway, what I’m saying is… DirectTV will be useless and blame you for everything from the very moment you touch any of the stuff that is in your own damn home.

  9. sparc says:

    cancel and move to a different provider like Dish network. Even threatening to cancel might get DirecTV off their butts and install the dish properly.

  10. who? says:

    When I had directv, the installer put it so that it was aimed over my banana trees, and under the neighbor’s palm tree. He told me when he did the install that I’d have to keep the bananas trimmed. Twice a year, I’d have trouble getting a signal, and I’d have to go out with a machete and hack down the banana trees.

  11. daemonaquila says:

    Cancel, cancel, cancel. They screwed up, and now they don’t want to make good on it. But these companies won’t clean up their act until people make a point of voting with their pocketbooks.

  12. skloon says:

    Brawndo’s got what plants crave

  13. prag2 says:

    It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to provide a place for the dish and to move it if it becomes obstructed. This is just the nature of the beast but not that big a deal. Just pay to have the dish moved.

  14. scoutermac says:

    Does anyone need a dish network referral code? I switched from Directv to Dish Network. So far I am more impressed with Dish Network. I have had them for one year so far.

  15. KyBash says:

    3 out of 4 DirecTV installers don’t get it right. That’s not a number I pulled out of thin air — the first guy pointed my dish right at a tree, the second said nothing could be done because I didn’t have a clear line of sight, the third said nothing was wrong. It was the 4th who moved it about three feet to the side, and I had a perfect signal for years.

    It’s my understanding, though, that the new HD dishes shouldn’t be installed on the roof. They need braces which aren’t appropriate for a slanting surface.

    Rather than pay the $50, my suggestion is for the OP to find a private installer with a great track record (ask friends, family, local forums, etc.). They might cost more, but if you amortize it out over 5+ years, it’s well worth it to not have storm dropouts.

    • scoutermac says:

      The installers can be horrible. That is why I prefer to install my own dish. However, when I signed up for dish network I had only previously had directv so I let the installer install it this time. The problem as I understand it dish network has many more satellites to chose from than directv.

    • slyabney says:

      I’ve had three installers (1 move and 1 stolen dish) and have had no issue, so your limited experience is refuted by my limited experience.

      Also I have an HD dish on my roof and there is no issue with the quality of the signal.

    • 3fingerbrown says:

      My limited experience confirms yours. Numerous horror stories. The worst was setting up an appointment and telling them I would have a guy on site ready with a chainsaw to cut down any tree that needed to go. Installer (who arrived 4 hours late) refused to do that “for legal reasons”.

    • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

      My DirecTV installer is awesome. The guy genuinely cares. I have the new HD Dish and it is mounted on my roof braces and all. Stable under 60mph winds. Only the hard ass rain we get interrupts my signal.

  16. BMR777 says:

    I once tried signing up for satellite TV and the installer *no kidding* forgot the dish! You think they would check that they have the one piece of equipment that they need before showing up, right? Professionals? HA! Worse than Comcast, believe it or not!

  17. ClemsonEE says:

    DirecTV offers a free move and installation once every year, I would see if you could use that for a free installation.

    • NorthAlabama says:

      won’t work, against policy, and a lie is never a good idea, from the customer or the provider.

      a move is not the same as a relocation, and when the installer shows up and realizes that it was a try to game the situation, they will cancel the work order and leave without doing anything.

      it has something to do with the way they get paid for a move vs a relocation…

  18. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i cut directv in favor of roku. i find i save more than the cost of a dish relocation every single month.
    if the OP has the inclination, it’s not that hard to move a dish yourself. i’ve done it. not fun, but not especially difficult. especially if you have someone who can listen to the signal while you orient it.

  19. j2.718ff says:

    The summary is missing an important piece of information… “the installer bolted the dish to his deck because it would supposedly work better” Better than what? Better than not bolting it on the deck, sure. Better than tying it to his car? perhaps.

    • Coffee says:

      If you scan down two inches: Slightly over a year ago, I had directv installed. I asked the installer if he could put the dish on my roof, to which he responded “I guess so, but it will work better on the deck.

      Yes, the summary wasn’t as thorough as it should have been, but when the article is mainly pasted text from the OP, the summary is usually more of a lead-in.

  20. Schildkrote says:

    “Not if you ask DirecTV, though—they insist that “there [was] no way for the to know the trees would grow.””

    I guess DirecTV doesn’t have any proofreaders either, much like Consumerist.

  21. bosozoku says:

    I had a similar issue – I just called DTV up and they were more than happy to stop by and relocate the dish at no charge. Of course, I was nice about it, I clearly stated the problem and followed all of the other ‘how to get good customer service’ guidelines.

    My only complaint about ’em is the per receiver charge I pay every month since I have 4 in the house, other than that, they’ve been great.

  22. ScottG says:

    1. Buy a chainsaw
    2. Wait for neighbors to leave
    3. Cut trees down
    4. When neighbors come back and ask, claim ignorance, but invite them over to enjoy a nice fire since you have a lot of firewood to burn.

    Seriously, it sounds like you may be out of luck, although it sounds like you are right about the reasons for the installer not placing it on the roof.

  23. nopirates says:


    i had a directv dish installed on my roof many years ago. over time, the neighbor’s trees grew and messed up the signal

    i called directv, explained the problem and they came out and moved the dish to the other side of my roof

    perhaps their policy has changed

  24. Robert Nagel says:

    Wait a year for the contract to be up and call to cancel. When retention has you tell them you will stay if you get your $50.00 back with another $25.00 for aggravation. Their cost to attract a new customer is high enough that they might go for it. If they don’t there is always Dish or cable.

  25. s25843 says:

    I had a DirecTV installer install a Dish IN FRONT of a tree.

    His coworker who had to come out and fix his eff up,, couldnt stop laughing,, ,and took plenty of pictures

  26. Here to ruin your groove says:

    My parents have had issues with their dish needing to be moved with both Direct and Dish Network. They always came and adjusted the dish without additional cost.

    Maybe it was the way you approached them. “I can’t seem to get service anymore!” VS “Your installer screwed up, here is why, now fix it.” Either way, hope this gets resolved.

  27. oldwiz65 says:

    A professional installer is one who does the install without burning your your house down or abducting your children. The installers tend to be not that bright anyway.

  28. Hagetaka says:

    Most install standards say that when an installer shoots his line of sight to the satellite (both in direction and elevation), they’re supposed to keep a 5 degree margin all the way around to allow for trees swaying or growing. That’s normally enough to provide for a few years’ growth.

    Here’s the problem, though. Many installers are under cost pressure (if they’re subcontractors, every job they don’t do costs them money) or performance pressure (in-house installers are ranked on things like speed and jobs done). So the natural urge to do a marginal job overwhelms the fear of having your job inspected by management or QA. Every single tech has a few jobs out there they’re not proud of.

    In this guy’s case, he can argue to DirecTV customer service that the installer put in a marginal job that didn’t even meet their own QA standards. Unfortunately, I believe after 12 months they can’t backcharge the installer for the job, so you’re basically arguing for them to eat the service call. Like anything else, cancellation threats can do the trick.

    One other issue, especially with winter installs, is an installer aiming dead-ass into a tree. The dish gets a signal through the branches, until spring comes and that tree sprouts leaves. Over a couple of months, the customer’s signal strength goes to crud, and one of us has to come back out to move the dish. It makes for a bad situation if that was the only place we could put the dish to get signal, and we have to tell the customer they need to cancel. Understandably, they’re pretty upset. And usually the guy that did the crap install quit or got fired months before so you have no one to take it out on.

  29. kathygnome says:

    The installer wanted it on the deck because they are paid a set price by the install and it was faster. Just like some will just tell you you can’t get satellite and move on rather than spend the time putting it on a roof.

    If it’s just the HD channels, it may just be misaligned. The HD dish is pointed in one direction, but gets channels from three separate locations and the dish has to be aligned and tilted just so to get them to all bounce correctly off the dish onto the LNB. It’s far more difficult than the original one dish, one direction dishes from 10 years ago.

  30. justjoe says:

    I’m just going to go get one of those old C-Band dishes. Sure, tuning in anything on them was an adventure when you had to wait for the dish to finish rotating, but where else could you snag network wild feeds?

  31. Steevo says:

    Ya know what? It’s simple as this: Directv is your TV provider. They are completely responsible for making sure you have a suitable tv picture on your tv.

    If that thing is not working they must fix it if they want to be paid. I have had this very discussion with them. They wanted to charge me for a service call. I said “It’s your equipment and you installed it. You are responsible for it’s functioning.”

    If you were to get a bill for anything you don’t have you should properly refuse to pay it. Especially if whoever sent you the bill is responsible for providing it. That’s just obvious.

    They are just like any service provider. If they don’t provide the service that’s completely their problem.

    They installed the equipment.
    They are solely responsible.
    If they install it and it stops working, they are solely responsible.
    If it catches on fire they are solely responsible.

    Simple. Why in the world would they not be responsible for their being a proper picture on the front of your tv?

    Why should you pay to fix their equipment that they own? That’s just ridiculous.

  32. Chrisnif says:

    Suggest you add the protection plan, make a complaint about a week later that it “just doesn’t work” and they should send someone out.

    • Steevo says:

      Protection plan? That you have to pay for?
      What a scam that is!

      If your tv doesn’t have a good picture because of the functionality of their equipment it’s not for you to pay to fix! Not that they wouldn’t enjoy you paying to fix their defective equipment and installation, sure they would.

      But you do NOT have to pay them for repairs or service.

      Tell them if the TV doesn’t work they can do one of two things: Fix it within 24 hours, or get their equipment out of there and you won’t be paying them. You’ll get another provider who can perform.

      Watch how fast they back off. It’s the law. They have just nowhere to go.

  33. Bog says:

    I tried to get both Dish and Direct. Neither installer would set me up with service because the trees across the street blocked all the satellites. They said they would either need to put up three or four dishes or install a 30 foot mast to see the satellites. While I wasn’t happy about that I was glad that they were apparently honest about what they could and could not do considering my terrain issues.

  34. shthar says:

    I want $50 for the time I wasted reading this.

  35. Bagumpity says:

    They will do ANYTHING to get you to agree to the simplest installation location possible. For them, the optimal setup is a pole sunk in your yard, with the dish below chest level. Why? Because it’s a lot less work for them, and they can finish a lot more installations in a day.

    I continually hear stories from neighbors about how they accidentally hit those poles or the dishes on them while mowing or just playing in the yard.

    Just insist on the rooftop installation. The installer can bitch all he wants, but the satellite provider will drop him like a hot potato if he balks (they’re all independent contractors). When my dish was installed, the dude tried the “it will work better on this pole in your yard” story, and then when I refused to let him do that, it became “well, that deck could probably hold it.” When I said absolutely no way would he put sensitive electronics next to my BBQ grill, he got pissed off but eventually agreed to get up on the damn ladder and put the dish on the roof where it belonged.

  36. shepd says:

    Roof installations weren’t my choice as an installer, either. Not because I don’t like being on the roof, but any time you drill through a roof, you risk it leaking. I’d have the homeowners sign off that they didn’t care if they insisted and do the work.

  37. TucsonScott says:

    I kind of had the same problem with Direct TV. Installer came out to upgrade our existing dish to a digital one. Because it was snowing slightly he decided to mount it on the ground against our wall instead of replacing the existing one on the roof. When spring arrived the trees in front of the dish were thick with leaves causing service problems. I called Direct TV and they said there would be a charge to us because this was a dish relocation request do to “cosmetic reasons.” I canceled my service right then and there and mounted a digital antennae to the dish on the roof…problem solved.

  38. NorthAlabama says:

    yes, directv needs to figure out that customers started expecting service related issues to be resolved on directv’s dime once they started charging $100-$150+ a month for service, and $400+ for sports packages. that is, if directv still wants to keep getting that $100-$150+ a month…

    they lost me, a 5 year customer, over equipment issues that could only be resolved with me entering ANOTHER 2 year agreement. really??? hello comcast.