Why I'm (probably) going to cancel DirecTv

As soon as we moved into our house (about 10 years ago), my first call was to DirecTv. I hated the cable company. Hated the very idea of a monopoly that was incented to give me bad customer service would get my money.

DirecTv was easy. Make a call, a guy comes out and puts a satellite receiver on your roof and voila, you're good to go. Make a phone call, talk to a real person (!) and change your programming package. Easy. Fast. Great customer service. I referred all kinds of people to them over the years. I found Tivo through them, and TV isn't TV w/o Tivo.

Then I decided to get an HD TV. Problem #1, they didn't have an HD receiver with Tivo. They didn't actually support Tivo anymore. They used their own home-grown DVR software. Not nearly as good. They don't support 2 active caches (meaning you could watch two things switch between them easily). It has problems differentiating between first run and re-run.

But I digress. Tivo isn't even an option, becuase DTV wanted to save money. Problem #2, they didn't have an HD receiver with even their own substandard DVR. I waited. Finally they released one. I convinced DearWife to get the HD TV, and she signed off. I called DirecTv to order the new receiver (which I paid for). Sorry, none in stock. Please sign up for our waiting list.

Hey, a couple weeks later, I get a call. They have one in stock and I should be getting a call from my local installer within days. I buy the TV. and wait....for weeks and weeks and weeks (during the best Bears season in years no less).

Finally they ship one. I call and complain that I wasted at least $200 because the TVs went down in price. The rep gives me 6 months of (nearly) everything free. Good customer service. Mistakes happen.

And then they decide that the way to get more subscribers is to get more HD channels. I started noticing problems with my audio late last year. The audio would drop for a about a second at at time. It was always on HD channels, and always on the networks. It wasn't always, it was irregular. But try watching LOST when the dialogue drops for a second 10 times in a few minutes.

Generally, I would assume that DTV would just take care of it, but they didn't. I called in February, and asked what was up. After fumbling around their awful IVR (which in my current job REALLY irritates me), I get to a very nice rep who tells me this is a broadcast issue and will be resolved in 24-48 hours. Great, thanks. While I'm on the phone, I ask if they have any specials for long term customers. I get 3 months of Showtime free and $10 off for a few months. Great, thanks.

Again, good service.

About two weeks later, I notice the problem again. And with the baby and all, I've been too busy to call and complain. Until I turned on the White Sox today and had 15 minutes. After going through the same crappy IVR, I got a rep. She was very nice and apologized for the problems. She transferred me to a different rep.

Now this is where the problems really start. Among the things they told me was that this is a known issue. They're not sure if it's software or hardware, but it's a known issue. So now I'm upset that they didn't tell me this in February. Second, they haven't fixed the issue in TWO MONTHS. That is utterly ridiculous. Third, the HD part of DTV is almost worthless (due in large part to it's unpredictability).

Finally, while I'm on the phone, I ask to be transferred to retention. The rep says "what are you trying to accomplish by doing that?" I tell her I want to complain about the lack of response to the issue I was having. "But what are you hoping for?" - So I tell her I'd like some kind of programming. "You're already receiving free Showtime. All my system (editor's note- it's not the damn system that's keeping you from doing anything, it's your judgement or initiative, don't cop out) will give you is the $5/month HD Extra package with the Smithsonian channel (editor's note: yay!). " Pass. I ask for her to transfer me to retention again.

She reiterates that it won't do me any good, because I won't get anything. "I understand that. I want to register a complaint." We did that dance for a while. No luck. No transfer. So I ask how I am going to know if they think they fixed the issue (remember this same issue was already 'escalated' to the highest level 2 months ago). Her system wasn't set up for that, she doesn't get notified.

So basically, I have a nearly worthless HD DVR that I'm paying a good amount of money for, and the rep completely blew me off. On top of that, I'm going to have to randomly call to see if they think they fixed this known problem, they won't call me. I. HAVE. NO. WORDS. (ok I have a lot of words) I took a nearly unprecendented step (for me) - I sent a Customer Service EMail. Two hours later, I got a very polite Email from Sandie.

Sandie mentioned a couple things. First, she forwarded my email to management so they can follow up with the rep I was unhappy with (coach her). She's very sorry about the technical problems I am having. So that's nice.

She wants me to know that they value me as a customer hinted that she might be able to help me, and I suppose would tell me that in person if I would just call them.

Pass. I'm not calling them. I did that more than once and it got me nowhere. So I went onto Twitter (I'll explain what that it later if you don't already know.). I relayed that I'm probably cancelling DTV and asked if anyone had strong opinions about Dish and/or Comcast (who I use for my ISP). Minutes later, I got a response from a Comcast employee who saw my tweet offering to help me out. Ya think DTV found my tweet? No.

You think they'll see this blog post and do anything about it? No. I'll give them some time, but unless they come to me with something significant, I'll pay the money that I don't want to pay and drop them after this entire debacle. It may be the devil you don't know, but I'm willing to bet on a company that is at least making an effort at using technology (like Twitter) to improve their customer service.

Also, I'll be going with Comast because I'll get the chance to use Tivo again and I think it'll be cheaper. It didn't help that Dish's site gave me a network error when I tried to configure my system.