Polska Brain Jelly

Directv: The ol’ bait and switch?

by on Mar.24, 2009, under TV

Directv sucks.  I really wish that I had come to that conclusion before I signed up for their service.  It all started when I started looking into HD services.  I was with DishNetwork at the time, and was considering their offering, but I thought I would shop around and try and get the best deal.  I looked at Suddenlink, the local cable provider, and promptly looked elsewhere when the total came up to be three times what I was already paying.  Dish was going to be around ten dollars more a month and Directv came in about fifteen dollars below that.  I was sold.  

I get online and sign up for the service.  The service included locals both in HD and SD.  I set up the install time and get the email confirmation with my order and install time.  Everything looks good.  Locals included.

Did I mention that I was told I would be getting local channels?  In both HD and SD?  Yeah, thought so.

Installer comes, puts up the dish and gets everything set up.  Looks great on my set and everthing is good to go.

Fast forward to a week later, I go to watch a local channel.  Only I can’t find them.  I get online and look at their channel guide, because the online dvr channel guide is about the most non-intuitive piece of crap I’ve ever laid eyes on.  I locate where it says my locals should be, only they aren’t listed on the dvr channel guide.  I manually punch in the numbers.  It says I’m not subscribed to that channel.  Great, they didn’t set up the channels right.  So I call customer service.  I spoke with a very nice rep that told me in a very polite tone that locals were not available in my area.  What?  Why wasn’t I told this when I signed up for the service or when it was installed?  Well no locals is a deal breaker with me.  There are a few shows that my wife watches on the Big Four, and not having access to those shows will make my life infinitely more difficult.  I tell the rep that I was never told that locals weren’t available, and that if I had know that locals weren’t avaialable, I would never had signed up for the service in the first place.  I kindly request that the service be cancelled.  But wait!  There is a way to get the Big Four from other markets, namely New York or Los Angeles.  These are the national feeds and with a quick and easy FCC waiver, that they would file for me (how convenient!), in forty-five days or less I could have my Big Four.  Okay, let’s give that a try.  Fast forward to approximately fourty-five days later, I get a nice little postcard from Directv saying that all but Fox SD and PBS were denied.  What?  I call up Directv and tell them I just recieved a card saying that locals are still denied to me.  They know, and they are very sorry about that, but they can resubmit the waiver for me… in another sixty days.  They also tell me that I can try an external antenna to pick up the locals.  At this point, I more than a little miffed, but I want to explore all options, and an antenna is the last one left.  I order an external antenna and spend an afternoon mounting it to my house and running cable in to my TVs.  Everything hooked up, and with the help of antennaweb.org I point my antenna to the proper direction and… I get one channel.  Fox.  The one I already had.  I spend the next two hours (with a friend of mine monitoring the signal power) adjusting the antenna in every which way possible and cannot get more than one channel.  It should be known that I live quite a distance from the towers and down inside a canyon to boot, so the possibility of me getting signal was a long shot anyway.  Frustrated, I resign myself to dumping Directv and going with another service.

Two days later, I get a free moment and call Directv.  I tell the automated service that I want to cancel my account.  I tell the automated service three times because it apparently didn’t believe me the first two times I said it.  It connects me directly to a customer service rep.  The rep gets my info and asks what I need.  I tell her I want to cancel my service because they offered me locals and couldn’t deliver, the waiver fell through and I can’t get over the air reception.  She expresses her sorrow at my plight and offers to submit a waiver.  I told her I already tried that.  She states that maybe the last waiver didn’t specify that Directv didn’t offer the locals.  What?  Why would I submit a waiver if I was already recieving the stations I wanted, and why wouldn’t you submit the waiver stating why it was being submitted?  Utterly confused, I tell the rep no, I just want to move on with life, I’ve spent enough time on this and don’t want to waste anymore.  She asks when I want to cancel and I say the next day.  She runs through her spiel about sending back the recievers and informs me that there will be a cancellation fee.  I politely inform her that I was not given the services that I was promised, and that if I had known up front that locals weren’t available, I never would have signed up for Directv.  I state that the cancellation fee needs to be waived.  Glossing over that statement, she confirms my cancellation and asks if I have any other questions.  I say yes, are they waiving the cancellation fee.  She tells me she cannot, that the corporate office has to do that.  She states that when they bill me for the cancellation fee, that I can use the website to send an email disputing the charge and why.  Bill me.  Right.  They have my credit card on file.  I doubt they would opt to ask for permission, rather than forgiveness.  Wanting to circumvent them charging my card, me disputing the charge, going back and forth and never getting my money back, I question the logic behind customer service not having the ability to service their customers, instead relying on a nameless, faceless corporate entity that is seperate, yet part of the whole.  She repeats the boilerplate line that the call center cannot waive the fee, blah blah blah.  At this point I ask for her supervisor.  She states that her supervisor cannot waive it either, and I cut her off saying I don’t care, I want her supervisor.  I’m not happy at this point.

Enter Christy.  She’s a floor supervisor!  She asks what’s wrong.  I wonder why she didn’t get the details from the previous customer service rep.  I explain that I’m cancelling because of services promised and not delivered, that I’ve tried every recourse to resolve the issue and that none of them worked, so I want to move on and want the cancellation fee waived.  She states that the cancellation fee will not be waived because the service agreement was for the activation of the equipment, not the programming.  Huh?  My blood pressure is just about at critical mass at this point, and all pretense of civility has left my body.  I tell her that had I known that locals weren’t available in my area, I wouldn’t have their equipment to begin with, much less activated it.  She goes into broken record mode, stating the same thing in different ways and I practice my arguing to a fence post skills.  I ask for her supervisor, planning on working up the chain.  She states her supervisor doesn’t take phone calls.  I inquire why a call center supervisor wouldn’t take calls.  She says that’s not his job.  I ask for their legal department contact information, her last name (they don’t give it for security reasons, but I got her rep ID), and then for her supervisor’s name.  It’s Basil.  Last name?  Don’t know, again for security reasons.  What’s his ID.  She can’t give it.  I ask what Basil’s job title is.  Floor Supervisor.  Double huh?  I thought you were a floor supervisor.  She is, and so is Basil, and Basil is her supervisor, but he’s not available to take my call.  Triple huh?  I thought you said Basil didn’t take calls.  And why does your “supervisor” have the same job title as you?  No, no.  She never said he didn’t take calls, just that he’s not avaialble to take calls.  I tell her I know that I specifically asked why he doesn’t take calls, and remind her that this call is being recorded.  She stumbles some for and asks if there is anything else she can help me with.  I tell her she hasn’t helped yet, but that I was done arguing and would be taking this to the next level.  

Not sure what recourse I have other than trying to fight the inevitable charge they are going to hit me with.  I am quite positive that this bait and switch treatment that I’ve gotten is beyond craptastic.  For anybody stumbling upon this rant, don’t sign up for Directv.  Other than the company being blatant liars about their services and the dvr channel guide being thrown together by a five year old, their customer service is some of the worst that I’ve ever experienced.  I’m not looking forward to the losing battle ahead, but I’ll be posting it all right here if anyone is interested.


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