DirecTV: Unethical, and Not Too Smart
I’ve kept the DirecTV post pinned to the top of my page because as I’ve said before, when a company does a great job, I’m an evangelist for it, but when a company engages in shady tactics, I warn my friends. DirecTV is a shady, unethical company. Here’s why:
When I moved into our new home a couple of months ago, I decided that since I hadn’t been terribly impressed with Comcast, I’d investigate satellite TV, and thus I called DirecTV. I’ll try to make my description of the experience brief, but to begin with, ordering DirecTV, and attempting to bundle it with telephone and internet service, was the singularly most confusing purchasing experience I’ve ever had in my life—and frankly, it wasn’t even close. Before I finally placed my order, I spoke with at least four—there might have been a fifth—CSR, and each of them told me a little bit different story. First guy gave me the basic scoop; I thanked him for his help, told him I’d think about it, and hung up. Called back, and a different guy gave me a slightly different story, and I decided to purchase DirecTV, so he transferred me to a third CSR, who told me she’d give me more in my package than originally promised; sure, why not? Our phone call got cut off, though, so I didn’t order, but I called back a few days later to place the order, told the fourth CSR about the offers I’d received already, and he basically told me I could have it all. Great! Sounds like a deal!
And then I got my first bill.
It told me that I had made a 24-month commitment, which would have only been 18 months, but alas, one of the bonuses I’d chosen was to receive a DVR receiver (and six months worth of free DVR service—I’ll confess, that has been a helpful thing) extended the “commitment” I’d “made” by another six months. One problem: at least four different CSRs had told me all of the details and benefits of what I’d receive, but not one said the first word about a commitment. Kind of an important little detail to overlook, don’t you think? I mean, if I’d talked to one CSR, and ordered without that person having mentioned a commitment, I could possibly have put it down to an oversight.
But not four. I like to still think of myself as a young person, but I wasn’t born yesterday.
So I promptly called a fifth CSR, and then talked to a supervisor, all to no avail. I spoke to a different manager-type, who told me that she was “sorry” that the CSRs hadn’t mentioned it, that it was something they were supposed to mention, but that she couldn’t release me from the “commitment” I had “made”.
See, I’ve never had satellite before, never understood that there was a commitment, etc. Now, that said, I did two things wrong. One, I got an installation notice prior to the installation, and didn’t read it carefully. It apparently mentioned the commitment somewhere. That was my fault, and I take responsibility for it. Similarly, because both Karen and myself were busy the day it was installed, we allowed our 18-year-old to sign for the installation, and that form indicates the commitment. Shouldn’t have done that as well, in hindsight, but here’s the deal: you speak with four different CSRs, and not one of them mentions this commitment, you have no reason to assume it exists, right? Yep, could have saved myself the hassle if I’d read that installation paper; you bet I will next time.
But the point is that a company that is ethical wouldn’t have four different CSRs who conveniently fail to mention anything about commitment. Or in light of these circumstances, would work something out with me, the customer. But not DirecTV, because DirecTV is not an ethical company, and deserves the business of none of my friends and readers, an outcome that I hope my post accomplishes.
UPDATE: The Story Gets Better (Well, Actually, WORSE)
So one of the things that they promise me–not just one person who made a “mistake”, but at least a couple of the CSRs, and a supervisor as well–is that, for bundling services with AT&T, I’ll get a $15/month credit on my bill for a year. OK, sounds good. Except that I get my THIRD bill yesterday, and my credit still hasn’t shown up. So I call DirecTV.
You can probably fill in the blanks from here.
The CSR has “no record of that, Mr. Harvey”, but she is prepared to offer me a $10 credit for 6 months, as well as another year of DVR service. I do the math, and that comes out nearly $50 less than what I had been promised. So I ask for the next person up in line, and I get the euphemistically-named Something RESOLUTION Agent. This is code language for “he can’t really resolve anything either, but only frown thoughtfully, review what you already have been told, and make you the same offer the original CSR made.” He’s polite and all, and so am I, though I do find a way to mention the dishonesty with which I’ve been treated from beginning to end by this shoddy excuse for a company. “Will that be OK, Mr. Harvey?” I’m surfing the net anyway in between times when he’s either looking up something about my account, or having a smoke, for all I know, so I say, “nah, why don’t you give me the person above you”. I really don’t expect this person to be any more helpful than the previous two, but let’s give her a whirl, so he connects me to a Something RESOLUTION Manager.
Nothing gets resolved. Duh.
Finally, I settle for the twice-offered offer, plus she throws in 3 months of a premium service I don’t really want, but basically take because I’m going to get everything I can out of these people for the grief they put me through.
So…want a TV experience that will drive you nuts, make you pull your hair out, and want to slap somebody? Try DirecTV.
I sure wish I hadn’t.
FURTHER UPDATE: I decided to see what DirecTV’s Better Business Bureau rating was. It’s a C. “Oh, but that sounds at least average.” Think again, Satellite Breath. There are 11 possible ratings, from “AAA” to “F”, and “C” is the 9th down the list out of the 11. Dish Network, by comparison, gets a “B”, still not tremendous, frankly, but 3 grades better than “C”.
Further evidence that this is really a pitiful company.
Oh, and to any DirecTV people reading this, come back to me with a reasonable, decent, and ethical offer to resolve this little squabble, and I’ll remove this post and limit the damage to whatever has already been done…