Have you ever seen those television ads promoting DirecTV's moving service? They run them all the time, bragging about how the easiest thing about moving is moving your DirecTV account. Let me tell you, that is a festering pile of consolidated crap.
Knowing that I was getting close to a move, I called DirecTV's main number. The person on the phone was quick to thank me for being a customer since 1998. I explained about how I was moving from a condo into a home in a few weeks and needed to keep my service running at the condo until the day I moved--but also needed a dish and DVR installed at my new residence. This seemed like a pretty simple request to me, but it was mind-boggling for the DirecTV rep. Ultimately, the solution was to cancel my old account, open a "second home" account now, and move my hardware over. "Okay," I'm thinking, "we've got this pointed in the right direction."
The subcontracted DirecTV installation crew comes out to the new home as scheduled and installs the dish and receiver. Upon closer inspection, I realize that they installed a DirecTV HR25 (a non-DVR) instead of a DirecTV HR24 (a DVR). I'll write this off as an honest mistake, since further research shows that the order was for the HR24 as described. My custom installer, Simply Home Entertainment, is in the process of building the equipment rack and soon will be programming the vast Crestron system, so I need the correct box ASAP. This is where the trouble starts. I call DirecTV to explain the mistake, and the idea of trying to replace a non-DVR with the correctly ordered DVR appears to be too much for DirecTV's customer service to handle, thus I'm transferred to the second home division. Fifteen minutes into the explanation of my problem, their minds are blown, and I am transferred again. Pushing 40 minutes into the call, I get a "supervisor" who couldn't try harder to explain what she can't do for me. She adds an additional wrinkle that we won't be able to use our currenr Genie at the new house (the installer emailed during the call and told me this wasn't true, thankfully). At 52 minutes into the call, I am transferred a fifth time to a "manager" who finally seems to understand that he's going to have to go "off script" to solve the problem. At 1:22 into my call, the manager says he can ship me a unit in five to seven days. I tell him I need the unit overnighted and thus am back on hold. The nightmare never ends. Hell, I'll pay for the FedEx, I say, but they can't do that...At this point, I'm headed to the roof of my new house to jump, but it's only one story, so I would likely only break a bone or two.
DirecTV isn't the only company that makes customer service painful. Time Warner, which I use for Internet service here in Los Angeles, is equally poor when it comes to customer service. They force you to march down to their Customer Service Center near the 10 Freeway in Santa Monica, as they simply cannot have you, the client, move or change hardware in any meaningful way. Your modem could be only one month old, but you still have to return it to Time Warner if you are moving and get another one that's exactly like it. It's just silly.
In 2010, our former managing editor switched to AT&T U-verse for a bundled phone-and-TV service, and it was a 100 percent nightmare. He wrote about the experience extensively here on HomeTheaterReview.com. He was so detailed in archiving his agony that a high-up executive at AT&T called him and tried to nurse the situation through personally to a positive resolution. In the end, that simply wasn't possible, and he went back to standard cable and phone lines.
There are plenty of companies today that want to sell you TV stations a la carte over the Internet. I am warming up to this idea more and more. Cable companies and satellite providers have such a monopolistic lock on your $150-per-month TV package that they don't want to let go. You'd figure that the idea of client retention--especially someone who's one of your longest-standing clients--would be paramount in such a large operation, but sadly you'd be wrong. A large percentage of young consumers looks at a cable bill as a wholly unnecessary expense. TV streams through an app and can be watched on a tablet, phone, or computer. They don't consume television the same way we do, and perhaps they are on to something...since the major cable/satellite players seem more interested in conquering the media world than on excelling at their core business. End of rant.
How has your interaction with your cable or satellite provider been over the years? Tell us your story below in the Comments section.
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