DirecTV and How To Eff Up Customer Service in a Recession

In the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, DirecTV should be kissing my ass rather than probing it.

In my old house, after years of substandard service and creeping rate hikes with Comcast, I mistakenly called Comcast when I was moving and expected them to be responsive.  Long story short, after the 4th call just to have my service moved (timing is important – had to keep the kids entertained during the move) Comcast had a) cut off the cable in my existing home and b) canceled the request to have my servince installed in the new house.

I wish I could remember his name, but I finally got one customer service tech who gave me his direct extension and told me to call him back to make sure that everything was done.  I tried calling him back, but was told by the slack-jawed yokel who answered the 800 number that it was “impossible to connect me” with the very same guy.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Comcast Slack-Jawed Yokel: “We can’t connect you to XXX.  It’s impossible.”

Me: “How can you tell me that its “impossible” when it has already happened?

Slack-Jawed Yokel: [Perplexed silence].

Ok.  I gave my dim-witted Comcast rep five minutes to solve my problem (I was on about the 7th call).  When the clock struck five, I hung up, and like a drunken bar fly at last call when the lights come on, fell into the waiting arms of DirecTV.  You had me at “hello.”

Been pretty happy for the last year and a half — until now.

Yesterday, I received the email (screen capture below) that told me ominously, that “as of March 4, 2009, new pricing will be applied to your account.”  Note to DirecTV: I guess that they have heard the expression that if you are going to eff me, you should kiss me first.

picture1

Insert banjo music from "Deliverance."

Ok.  I was born at night, but it was not last night.  So I know my rates are going up – at a time in which many in the country are losing their jobs, and for those of us who are lucky enough to have jobs, are most likely hoarding cash.  That’s stupid, but not criminally stupid.

Yet.

The criminally stupid part was providing me a link to click on “for more details.”  So I’m expecting some sort of customer-service mumbo jumbo for “we’re bleeding subscribers and need cash, so like the federal government, we’re making you pony up.”

What I got, represented in the screen capture below — ALMOST AT THE EXACT, SAME SIZE AT WHICH IT WAS PRESENTED – was a .pdf file (don’t you think that DirecTV knows that abandon rates soar when you have to click on a link and open a .pdf??) that “explained” the price increase.  Judge for yourself:

  1. If you can read IT;
  2. If it makes sense; and
  3. If it represents good customer service to explain a rate increase document that was written by the legal department.

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DirecTV, you had me at “hello.” Hell, I even buy your MLB Extra Innings package every year, upgraded to a hi-def dish and receivers.  I willingly GIVE you more money.

But when you lead with an email that says:

“Dear DIRECTV Customer,

Because your business is important to us, we want you to know about any changes to your DIRECTV service as far in advance as possible.”

and follow it up with an unintelligible and impossible to read .pdf form written by the freakin’ legal department, do you really think that I am feeling “valued?”

I can accept a rate increase.  I am a big boy.  Tell me.  But don’t call me “valued,” don’t tell me how great you are by saying “we want you know to about any changes to your DirecTV service as soon as possible,” and then make it impossible for me to figure out why.

After an abusive relationship with Comcast, I may just need to take my DirecTV relationship to couples therapy – or head back into the bar at last call.

Mark

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Comments

  1. Sick ‘m Cujo.

    I have DirecTV too and was so annoyed at the rate increase, I – oh ye of MLB packages and so many add ons we’ve considered refinancing our house to pay for my extravagant satellite bill – I called and said, “oh yeah?” and cancelled everything other than the basic package and the DVR. They jacked my rates up. I’m paying more than $100 less a month now. Take that, peckereads.

  2. I have yet to get an email about rate hikes but will keep an eye out for it. Ive been with them for ten years maybe ill be exempt :-). My HD DVR went bad and they are replacing it for 20 bucks. Seems reasonable to me.

    I guess when you pay your CSRs ten bucks an hour you don’t have much $$ for training.

  3. Comcastcares1 Says: February 3, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I hope that we can earn you back as Comcast customer. If you change your mind, feel free to contact me. I work for Comcast and I would like to help.

    Best Regards,

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations
    We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com

  4. I got the same email.

    However, it does state that if you are already locked into a deal, it won’t change until your deal expires.

    Call them and ask when you are no longer under a service contract. Then politely ask that customer service rep to note on your account that your price should not go up until that time.

  5. blue buddah Says: March 1, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Extremely annoyed by the increase — I’m canceling service and going ota tivo hd. Looked into a few dyi options including boxee / appletv, but all were lacking the necessary features to ensure wife acceptance.

    DTV is truly missing a potential opportunity by not offering a $30 basic low cost al a carte service.

  6. Screwed in SC Says: April 7, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I wish I had read this before last week. Because I’m unemployed, I signed up for DIRECTV to save money from cable. They quoted me $44.99 a month, and didn’t mention taxes and a DVR fee that actually brings it to $56.99. I am sure after the 12-month period ends, I will be paying much more than cable for a more lousy service.

    Also, they asked for my credit card information to run a check, and then charged around $77 for my first month, WELL BELOW THE QUOTED PRICE. When I called to complain, they couldn’t explain why they did it, but apologized with a $21 credit. But they refused to reverse the charge.

    And to top it all off, they sent out a 21-year-old to install my dish. He was scheduled from 12-4, shows up at 5:10 pm, cuts a hole in the wrong side of my roof, works for four hours into the night and then tells me he can’t install it and will have to have to reschedule someone else. So I gave up another 3 hours for a guy, who promises me he patched the hole in my roof “and it shouldn’t leak.”

    I already have technical problems with the service, problems I never had with cable. STAY WITH CABLE!

  7. omalley303 Says: January 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    What a terrible experience!! I work for DISH Network, and am online tonight to see what people are saying about DISH Network vs. DIRECTV. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of people are in the same boat as you when it comes to customer service from DIRECT. They don’t have customer service reps available 24/7, which seems really strange to me as a former customer service rep, because I know a lot of customer’s issues can be resolved with over the phone trouble shooting. In the future, if you are looking for superior equipment, better customer service (ACSI survey) and lower prices think DISH Network.

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