Thursday, September 17, 2009

DirecTV Bites

I've been waiting for resolution on this issue so I can blog about the entire story from start to finish, but it's taking too long. So I'm going to give you the story up to now... and I'll try to limit the details so I don't bore you completely. Here goes!

I had a Nextel cell phone and wanted a new cell phone. So I went to an AT&T kiosk at the mall to look at some plans and phones. The agent there told me about the cell phones, and then AT&T U-Verse. I told him I can't switch to AT&T yet because I have a contract with DirecTV. He said, "No problem! That's who we use!" He looked up my DirecTV account on his computer, and said I was eligible for U-Verse and it would be such a great deal for us. I listened and asked questions, and took brochures home to Dan.

A few days later on August 11, I called DirecTV and spoke to a woman. I asked one simple question (and even asked it twice). I said, "We are thinking of moving to AT&T U-Verse, but I want to make sure we won't have any penalties from DirecTV. Can I upgrade to U-Verse?" Her answer was yes, and I quote: "It will save you money and give you better benefits." I asked again if there would be any penalties, and she said no. I was a little surprised, but then thought about how DirecTV and AT&T were partners and so it must be cool.

So we proceeded with buying a new cell phone and ordering the installation of U-Verse. We bought it through an AT&T dealer (not the mall kiosk) and the guy there told us the same thing about DirecTV and AT&T's partnership. I thought all was well, right?


U-Verse was installed on August 25. I called DirecTV that night to update my account, and was told that U-Verse is NOT part of DirecTV for this particular instance. DirecTV partners with AT&T only for satellite bundling. And since I was breaking contract with DirecTV a whole year prematurely, I now owe them a $240 early cancellation fee. WHAT?! I explained my phone call from August 11 to DirecTV, how I was told that there would be no penalties, yadda, yadda, yadda. The agent offered me $10 off a month and a $350 credit to stay with DirecTV. She said I still had time to cancel with AT&T and stay with DirecTV. (Never mind the six hours I had spent that day with the AT&T installer in my house, drilling holes in my wall, moving furniture, etc.)

I won't bore you with all the letters and phone calls I've made to DirecTV since August 25. I've also been in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper article about this issue, filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and complained to AT&T as well about their uneducated and misguided agents. The bottom line is we owe $240 to DirecTV because of their mistake and misinformation.

And in the midst of all of this? I hadn't formally ended my contract with DirecTV because I was waiting to see if they would waive the penalty before we cancelled. But guess what? About a week ago, I found out they terminated my service anyway. Their call notes show some mystery "male voice" called them on September 5 and told them to cancel our service. (And, NO, it wasn't my husband. He hasn't had any contact with DirecTV and has been letting me handle it all. I'm the bulldog when it comes to these issues.) Apparently, the guy at DirecTV told me that there is no password on our account, so anyone that knows our name and address and phone number can call and change our service. So since our service was canceled by Mystery Man, the $240 early cancellation fee would be charged to the credit card on file at DirecTV. I told the agent no, but he said, "The only way for the cancellation fee to be waived is to reinstate the account." Uh... no thanks. Why on earth would I go BACK to you after such dishonesty and mistreatment? Ha.

I'm beyond frustrated with the awful customer service I've received. There have been so many rude and snippy agents that I've spoken to. And, yes, I have their names on record, not that anyone at DirecTV or AT&T would listen to that anyway. (My friend Danielle recently wrote about her bad service too. What's up with the bad vibes lately?)

And I'm downright ANGRY that I did the proactive thing and called DirecTV before we switched and was told there would be no penalty. So I proceeded with canceling and now I'm paying for it. I don't feel I did anything wrong! I think DirecTV should pay for their mistakes, not me.

I will also be notifying the state attorney general about these misleading business practices. All the brochures I've received in person and in the mail show the DirecTV and AT&T logos on them, so it misleads the consumer into thinking the two companies are partners and offer reciprocal products. None of the marketing materials explain that they are partners only in very limited capacities.

So. Humph.

Now I'm all fired up again about this issue. And there's no resolution, so far. The BBB is still waiting for a response from DirecTV about my complaint. Let's hope I have good news to report about all of this soon. In the meantime, I hope this whole ordeal helps some of you avoid the same issues. My main warning is this: stay FAR away from DirecTV. Their agents are rude, unhelpful, and dishonest. DirecTV sucks, and I'm not much happier with AT&T at the moment.

I'm tempted to go live off the grid in Montana. Except they don't have Chick-fil-A there. Or even White Castle. Ha. (That's my attempt at humor. Not so good at that right now.)


Michelle said...

Oh yikes! That's no good. We have Comcast and thankfully no contract, but ... we have been toying with switching to U-verse. Definitely not DirectTV but this definitely cements the decision to avoid DirectTV. Forever. That's just icky and wrong. And I sure hope either the PD or the BBB get you some results soon!

Gina said...

We had a similar situation with Charter. What is the deal??? Do you think maybe Jackson called to cancel? ;) Good luck getting everything figured out. I am impressed with your self-advocating.

Gretchen said...

I hate dealing with dishonest businesses like that. Good luck! If the newspaper dosn't work, try a TV station. They are pretty good about making companies back down.

Robin said...

I had a Cingular operator just out and out lie to me once. I told the supervisor, "You say the conversation is recorded, so let's find the tape and listen to it!"


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