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Damge during install and service calls - any suggestions?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by tomlisa555, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. tomlisa555

    tomlisa555 Cool Member

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    Jun 8, 2010
    I am not sure if this is the right place for me to post this sort of question, but I did a search and found a few posts in this category regarding damage claims.

    I had my original install on June 5th, I was supposed to have the whole home dvr service and internet kit installed as well, however, the first installer did not connect us to the internet or provide a deca so he was sent out a few days later to correct that. Said he had to either drill a hole through the living room wall out front of our home to get another line from the splitter for the deca. Needless to say, we did not let that happen. he said the only thing else he could do would be to get the coax from the spare bedroom that was not being used to reach to the living room to connect to the deca (router is located in living room). His drill was not working, so he asked to borrow my husband's drill (this detail comes into play in a moment). He drilled several holes in the spare bedroom wall and cut into the wall, and one hole goes all the way through to the living room. The directv coax was connected to the rooms existing coax in the wall and was laying along the wall and then went through the holes out to the living room. This was supposed to be their "professional installation". When asked what we are supposed to do about the holes and coax just hanging out of the wall, he says call customer service and they will compensate us, but he said the holes and coax were necessary for our system to work.
    Fast forward to two weeks and 4 service calls later, two senior technicians are servicing our home. Consumer advocacy has already been contacted at this point. They state the coax was necessary and they said they would try to correct the hanging coax. They drilled into the wall a few times and then ripped off some of the drywall, so it would lay inside the wall. Insulation now exposed and drywall missing in patches.... great.... So fast forward another week..... Yet another senior technician comes and says we must have new lines ran from the splitter to the receivers and deca.... We had over 15 inches of blown insulation installed in our attic in December and we didn't want him up there compressing it or messing anything up, but he said he has been up in attics and never had an issue and there was no other way to get the sytem to work, as our 6 year old coax was the problem. We told him that if he went up there, we would have to do a damage claim. He said he understood but he would be careful and we shouldn't worry. We took pictures before he went up there and as soon as he came out, he was here for over 13 hours that day and we documented it all. he cracked our AC ductwork, but luckily my neighbor could fix it so we left that off the damage claim.

    We took detailed accounts of everything, took pictures and forwarded everything to the damage claim rep we were assigned to. After she forwarded it to the local office for "investigation", a supervisor called and asked questions, then stated he approved it and we would hear from our damge claim rep in a week or so and be getting a check from them. Guess what? We got a letter stating it was denied because original installer stated my husband drilled the holes and the coax was existing (even though my husband did not do the drilling and the installer added their coax to our existing coax line that was in the wall)..... and to top it all off, the claim regarding the insulation was denied because that installer stated that we gave him permission to go up there and it was necessary so they are justified in their denial. We have had 4 more service calls and numerous equipment exchanges. Necessary? Justified? We got denied and now our damage claim rep is not returning our calls. Our customer advocacy rep stated on the day the installer went up in to the attic that if he says its neccessary let him do it and then if needed I can make a damage claim. never was I told that if he has permission, I am out of luck with getting anything fixed. If someone is supposed to do a service, but causes damage in the process, how are they not liable?


    Guess what the problem was? Disfunctional deca power cable. Took over 6 weeks, 12 techs, and countless service calls, and over 800 dollars in damage for the problem to get fixed and it wasn't because of the techs doing troubleshooting. It was all because of the wonderful and helpful people on here.

    I am sorry that I am taking so long to explain this situation, but it has been a long and complicated process. If it wasn't for VOS, The Merg, and 69Hokie, we would not have been able to figure out our issues and be able to have our MRV working. We still owe them so much for all their help.

    We just hope that someone can point us in the right direction with this customer service and damage claim issue. We have been through so much with this install. We have had over 40 hours of service calls and this damage and all we have so far is our first 6 weeks paid..... Is that what I am supposed to take and get over it? Can I appeal it? Is there someone else I can contact? Thanks a bunch!

    Lisa and Tom
     
  2. joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    Feb 28, 2007
    Things have really gotten out of hand!

    The Directv system has become quite complex.

    With so many components, the chances of hitting a defective unit right out of the box increases.

    The FREE standard installation does not cover anything above and beyond surface wire and drilling holes.

    Still, general liability insurance is there for a reason. Since you have been denied repairs....and you think someone should be fixing your home you gotta sue. IF the installer was a Directv employee you sue Directv in your local small claims court.

    Joe
     
  3. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

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    Jun 9, 2006
    Any pictures you can post?
     
  4. Blaze

    Blaze Legend

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    Jun 9, 2010
    Tom Indeed post pictures..........
     
  5. Manctech

    Manctech Icon

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    Jul 5, 2010
    That sounds like a nightmare of a time. I too would like to see pictures. Your from NC which worries me. Hope it wasn't my office (Charlotte) that did such crap work! :nono2:
     
  6. hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    Jul 28, 2004
    Photos will be needed to file any claim...regardless.
     
  7. joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    Feb 28, 2007
    tomlissa555,

    You may have identified the issue...In your original post you mentioned:

    If someone is supposed to do a service, but causes damage in
    the process, how are they not liable?

    And my non lawyer comment is; it all depends. IF the installer was delivering equipment and backed over your mailbox that would be his liability. But he was in your home giving...at no cost to you...a FREE installation so you accept liability. And you have to provide access to your home where the system has to run.

    You use the term "Needless to say"... but you really gotta say why you wouldn't let the installer drill your wall to eliminate the additional interior wire work. It is at that point I would have handed a FREE change order and, as a contractor, offered you a price to continue using additional time and materials to accomplish custom (not included) work.

    At this point the installer also could have just left.

    Looks like Directv already expended much professional time above what they offer for FREE. Now you want them to pay you for the privilege of being a customer.

    Report back how this goes in court.

    Good luck,

    Joe
     
  8. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    Nov 13, 2007
    Advertising aside, DirecTV does not provide "professional installation." They provide FREE, BASIC installation. No professional works for (criminally low) flat rates, site-unseen. Think about what you might have paid an electrician or plumber to do similar work: $500+ at least. Your DirecTV installers most likely made <$10/hour. You don't get professionals, nor professional-caliber work, at bottom-basement prices.

    Your installation was far above and beyond what is normally included as standard. Running lines through an attic with tons of blown-in insulation is not standard. Wall fishing isn't standard. Drilling your outside wall and bringing the cable in *is* standard. That should have been explained to you, and maybe it was.

    Before any work was done, the installer should have told you what he was going to do, and let you agree or disagree, before he did it. It sounds like that was done on several occasions. Their may have been some "extra" drywall damage that is a legit claim, and the attic issues are legit (though you should have been charged in the first place - they were trying to go the extra mile for free to satisfy you).

    Now, I will say this: the installer who went into the attic when you already told him you would file a damage claim on him was an IDIOT, but he also is almost certainly an in-house tech (no contractor would be that dumb), so he won't be held directly responisble, at least financially.

    Had I been doing your installation, I would have advised you that:

    - Wall-fishing isn't free, and that due to the fact that you can never tell for sure what's in a wall, there may be dry-wall repairs/repainting necessary that aren't my responsibility. You would have been given the option to green-light the work or not, and had to sign off if you agreed before I'd begin working.

    - Going into the attic isn't free, and under the circumstances wasn't advisable and maybe not even possible without damage. I'd have gotten a sign-off before starting.

    - "Hiding the cable" isn't free, or even always possible. I'd have offered to tack it down along the baseboard if you wanted (free), or given you some custom (not free) options.

    I would absolutely agree that the techs you had made some dumb decisions and probably did some work that caused legit damage that should be claimed. But I would also suggest that your expectations may have been a little too high for a free installation.
     
  9. Manctech

    Manctech Icon

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    Jul 5, 2010
    We are responsible. Maybe not legally, but the company I work for has the policy, if a damage claim is filed and accepted as avoidable damage (or even unavoidable in some cases) the cost falls back on the techs up to 500$

    One time I was running a second line for a DVR in a singlewide trailer. There was already one cable there so I cut it from inside and pulled it through and grabbed my 3/4ths paddle bit to make the hole bigger. Caught an electric line on the way through. It shouldn't have been there but I probably could have seen it had I peered in with my flash light. Of course I just assumed "Well if the last guy ran through the same spot there can't be anything in the way". WRONG.

    Customer wasn't happy but also understood. I had a electrician out there in less than an hour, was fixed less than an hour after that. I handled it without involving Directv.

    I did however have a damage claim through DTV that was paid out. (Knocked over a vase) :(

    I would keep pushing DTV especially if it is as bad as you say it is.
     
  10. joe diamond

    joe diamond Hall Of Fame

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    Feb 28, 2007
    Are you an employee?

    Employees can be fired for negligent actions or unprofitable work efforts. Employees do not pay for insured risks. That is an overhead cost of the business owner.

    Directv can take care of themselves.

    Joe
     
  11. HDTVsportsfan

    HDTVsportsfan New Member

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    Nov 29, 2005
    I can't figure out why so much drywall damage was done on the first go 'round, and then so much to lay the cable inside. Exposing inulation must mean it's a decent size hole for this situation. Pictures would be nice to see.
     
  12. Carl Spock

    Carl Spock Superfly

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    Sep 3, 2004
    As a guy who has had to pay for damages done by both home and car installers, tomlisa555, you may have to take this to small claims court. Document everything. Both of you write down your stories separately. Anybody witnesses, have them write down their observations. I also hope you took a ton of pictures.

    And BattleZone, yes, the installers went well beyond what is required for a free install. The fact that they shouldn't have doesn't relieve them of the responsibility of paying for damages. The install company is still on the hook. The installation company's employee messed up. The company is still liable, even if they did work not required. In fact, you can say they are especially liable if they did work not required. They messed up work they shouldn't have done in the first place. These two wrongs don't make a right.

    Manctech, I would have quit if I'd been you. My company, or insurance, always paid for the damage my employees did. I got the benefits of my employee's labor; I also had to pay the expenses.

    We even totalled a customer's car once. That was covered by insurance. My personal best came from a screwdriver in my back pocket. It punched a hole in a leather driver's seat of a very expensive motor home. The customer was standing right over me at the time. I looked him in the eye, said I was sorry and told him to send me the bill.

    The advantage to small claims court, tomlisa555, is that (1) there are no legal fees and (2) you get to chose the venue. You'll make the installation company and DirecTV respond in your local court. That will cost them money, and hopefully will move the situation off of stalemate by the threat alone. Sue the installation company and DirecTV both. Sue them for the price of the repairs, cleanup, any lost days from work, reinsulating the attic, even for the termination fee because you would never have done business with these bozos if you knew the damage they'd do. Make it as high a figure as you can without going over the limit for small claims court.

    And even if it goes all the way to trial and you lose the suit, at least you will have your day in court. That's worth something.

    It's a shame it's gotten to this. I can guarantee you the installation company has insurance to cover this. They'd still have to pay the deductable but in my store, the only fireable offense here would be trying to cover it up, like the installer is doing by lying about what you authorized. Everything else was a cost of doing business.

    Good luck!
     
  13. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    Nov 13, 2007
    Oh, I completely agree, and more-or-less said so above.

    Most installers (that aren't "in-house") are subcontractors, not employees.
     
  14. Carl Spock

    Carl Spock Superfly

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    Sep 3, 2004
    I still think the primary installation company is liable, BattleZone. tomlisa555 didn't hire the sub-contractor. They contracted with DirecTV who contracted with the installation company who contracted with the sub-contractor. I don't think there is any distinction here, legally, between a sub-contractor and an employee. Both are doing the bidding of DirecTV and the installation company. About the only difference here is that DirecTV and the install company could also chose to sue the sub-contractor for messing up to recoup any damages they might have to pay tomlisa555. You can't do that with an employee.

    But then, I'm not a lawyer. I only play one on the Internet. :grin:
     
  15. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    A subcontractor IS a company, a stand-alone entity, and are responsible for their own work and damage. There is a HUGE legal difference between employee and contractor.
     
  16. Carl Spock

    Carl Spock Superfly

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    Sep 3, 2004
    No caps necessary, BattleZone. Relax.

    If you are talking about Manctech having to pay up to $500 for mistakes he makes, I can understand that if he is a sub-contractor. His boss might not accept financial responsibility for his mistakes. I wouldn't do it that way, but that was my store, not his.

    Regarding the larger issue and the focus of this thread, of course a sub-contractor is an independent business all to themselves. In the OP's case I don't think that distinction matters. I know you aren't saying DirecTV should tell the OP, "Too bad. So sad. Sue the installer. He is an independent business. We aren't involved," and walk away from this problem.

    DirecTV is the primary business here. They hired a sub-contractor, the installation firm, which hired their own sub-contractor, the installer himself, to do the job. DirecTV is ultimately responsible for the work performed even though they are two businesses removed from the physical work. They are who the OP called to set up the install. DirecTV booked the install. DirecTV paid for the installation work. DirecTV is the primary beneficiary of the installer's work. DirecTV is certainly ethically responsible for the installation.

    Assuming the installer is a sub-contractor, he can be sued as a business by DirecTV for his shoddy craftsmanship, and/or fired altogether, but that's it. To use a old phrase, sh*t rolls downhill. It ends up on the installer's shoulders. But first it's got to pile up upon DirecTV's neck. That's all the OP needs to worry about. Plus DirecTV has the deep pockets to pay for any judgement.

    BattleZone does bring up a good point here, tomlisa555. You need to find out if the installer is an employee of the installation firm or a sub-contractor. If he is an employee, no problem. Everything is taken already care of. If he is a sub-contractor, you should add the installer himself as a defendant to your suit in small claims court, in addition to DirecTV and the installation company. You're covering your bases this way.
     
  17. Blaze

    Blaze Legend

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    Jun 9, 2010
    tomlissa555,

    The installer has to use "Reasonable care" while installing "Your" system you could sue or just Contact "your" Insurance company and file out a claim.


    Just Because its "FREE MEANS NOTHING";)

    Look here.
    http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1314
    http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1730
     
  18. Manctech

    Manctech Icon

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    Jul 5, 2010
    I work for an HSP. Our Insurance covers damage claims. However we have a 500$ deductible that falls on the tech via payroll deduction of a large number of payments.

    I don't exactly agree with it, but it comes with the territory.
     

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