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Poor Installation Story

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by paragon, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. paragon

    paragon Godfather

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    Nov 15, 2007
    Hello,

    I am posting this story purely in case someone important at DirecTV reads the forums so that they may be aware of what is going on.

    I had an install done in the State College, PA area done Saturday, August 23rd. When I scheduled the install I was given the 800 number for Ironwood Communications, and that is who I communicated with leading up to the install.

    The installation was scheduled for 8AM-12PM. Around 9AM I received a call from the tech saying that he hadn't left the office yet because "their equipment hadn't yet come in" but that I was his second install. 12PM rolls around and I haven't heard anything from the tech, so I call him (I had his cell phone number from the call he made) and he says he's finishing up the first job and will be there in about an hour (1pm). Around 2pm, no word yet, so I call him again and he says he is just leaving the other job and will be there in an hour. So, he finally shows up around 3pm.

    When he gets here, he only has ONE of the two HD DVRs he is supposed to have for my install, and the only dish he has in his truck is one that was either used or had been beat up in his truck that looks like it went through a tornado. It had scratchs all over it. Eventually he chased down a tech on the phone to drop off the second HD DVR. (On a side note, both HD DVRs were refurbished HR21-200s. I think it is pretty poor that brand new customers get refurbs). Beyond that, I was supposed to have two AM21s brought to the install (they were even listed on his work order) but he didn't have them and didn't even know what they were (I did call DirecTV and get them to ship me out the two AM21s, so that issue was resolved). He also ran out of double grounded wire and had to get some from the guy who brought the second HD DVR.

    So anyway, I had an SWM8 that I purchased myself and installed myself ahead of time in case the installer had no clue what was going on. Sure enough, he had never even heard of SWM and was amazed when I told him that it only required one line to each DVR. He also argued against the necessity of grounding anything, though I pushed and he did it (I don't know if he did it right, however). He had an easy job from me, all he had to do was install the dish and run the cables to the SWM. I hooked up the HD DVRs to my TVs myself.

    So, he installed the dish and I thought all was well until we started to run through the setup. I started looking at the signal strengths and noted that I was getting signal levels from 20-60 for 99c and 103c (101, 110, and 119 were all fine). I pointed this out to him, and he told me that those satellites "aren't used for anything, all of the HD comes from 119". When I tried to explain to him that he was wrong, he blew me off and refused to correct the signal strengths. He activated the boxes and left around 6pm.

    After he left, I took a stab at fixing the signal strength issue, and I noticed that he hadn't installed the mast plumb. About an hour after he left Ironwood called and asked him if he had left my job yet, because another customer was calling, wondering where he was. This means, around 7pm he had yet to reach one of his customers to let them know what was going on. At this point, I told Ironwood about the dish alignment problem and they more or less wrote me off, saying they "would email someone about it".

    The tech had given me his supervisors phone number, so in the morning, I called it and he answered and had a guy call me to say he would come out and fix it. The guy showed up about 45 minutes after he said he would, and then basically tried to tell me there was no way he could align the 99 and 103, and that this was as good as it would get. I told him that the mast wasn't plumb, and he said that it didn't need to be. He kept telling me that I wasn't letting him do his job. He tried to put BBCs on the HD DVRs (a no-no with SWM), and then when I told him not to, he literally left my house and said he wasn't going to help me. My fiance went out and sweettalked him, and he came back and did a little bit of work on the dish. At this point I was getting signals in the 75-85 range on 99/103. I told him this was sufficient for now, and let him on his way as he obviously didn't know what he was doing. I talked to the supervisor again and told him what the status was, and he said that I should be ok with 75-85 (probably true, I guess, but subpar in my opinion) but to call him if I had any problems and they would come out again.

    I went out and looked, and the mast was in the exact same non-plumb place. I did a little bit of work on the dish and was able to get the mast plumb and my signals on 99/103 up to 86-95 range in about 15 minutes of work. Why I, someone who had never touched a satellite dish in his life before, was able to figure out how to fix the problem when these two guys couldn't and/or wouldn't do it is beyond me.

    I also found out while the second installer was here that these guys don't even work for Ironwood, their company (they never gave me the name) is subcontracted by Ironwood. This seems like a shady practice to me, which makes it even harder to track the quality of installations.

    Anyway, I had an overall very sub-par installation by a company that was subcontracted by Ironwood and I wanted to make sure the story was documented in case anyone of importance were to read it.

    Thanks for listening.
     
  2. Knon2000

    Knon2000 Legend

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    Nov 20, 2006
    Ironwood has a very poor history with many, many users on here.
    Heck, I have had issues with them, and they only recently got added as our service contractor in the midwest. In my case, a repair order mistakenly sent a repair visit to a house in Florida (I'm in South Dakota). After them not showing up, I called to complain, and they swore on God's green earth that nobody was home. Even giving a detailed description of the house that I "lived in"
    Lucky the house color was wrong, otherwise wouldn't have had a clue what happened.
    Well, then the rescheduled a new visit, again, a no show.
    Turns out that the local office never received the paper-work (this visit was 37 days after original call was placed trying to get problems with alignment fixed)
    Well, Called them again, really bitching this time, and, well, they showed up on the following Thursday (soonest available slot), this time, he didn't have a ladder. All I could say was DAMN. I told him to stay put, I called DTV, and spoke to a rep that credited my account for double the value of the ladder that I pulled out of my garage so he could do his job.
    All I can say is that these guys working thru subcontractors is really, really making Direct TV look like a Mickey Mouse organization.
     
  3. Grentz

    Grentz New Member

    5,916
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    Jan 10, 2007
    Its a sad thing that a lot of these installation contractors suck so much.

    Try to forget the install experience now that it is over with and working and enjoy your great TV and service!

    Honestly Directv has awesome TV service and is pretty good to work with directly, but many of the installer firms they contract out are just horrible and sadly directv makes you work with them:(
     
  4. Johnnie5000

    Johnnie5000 Godfather

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    Mar 26, 2008
    Either those guys are absolutely craptacular subs or you're not telling us the whole story. I personally think both. More than likely if a tech gets mad and says that he isn't going to help you then you most likely have a really bad attitude about the whole situation. Play nice, thats all I'm saying.

    No techs ever carry AM21s. You order those from d*, plain and simple.
     
  5. paragon

    paragon Godfather

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    Nov 15, 2007
    I was playing nice until the tech told me that it wasn't necessary for the dish to be plumb, that the 40-60s was the "best he could do" even though I have about the clearest view of the sats that you could have, and that I needed BBCs even though I'm using an SWM.

    I did order the AM21s through DirecTV, they said the tech would have them and they were even on the work order.

    You obviously must be a tech in order to take their side even though they are clearly at fault.
     
  6. C5 OUTLAW

    C5 OUTLAW Cool Member

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Why does everyone always call the 800# ? First option should always look for a local dealer.Then if you have a problem(A BIG IF) you have a face and name.
     
  7. Johnnie5000

    Johnnie5000 Godfather

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    Mar 26, 2008
    Honestly, dish being 100% plumb and level isn't life-and-death important on getting a good signal on the 99 & 103, but having a good signal on said satellites is important. You are correct in the fact that 40-60% is weak. Weak enough to pixelate on a cloudy day.

    No warehouses techs deal with stock them. The CSR you spoke with just told you what you wanted to hear on that.

    Of course :D Only getting one side of the story here as well. If you're being completely honest here and not embellishing the slightest bit then you are in the right, I'll give you that.
    It sounds like you're dealing with sub-contractors though and not the real deal. Don't get me wrong, not all subs are dumbasses, (this forum is proof) but the majority don't have proper training. And as a result techs such as myself end up going in behind them and doing damage control to make folks like you, the customer, happy.

    Let me ask you this, did he at least install two monopoles to support the new dish?
     
  8. paragon

    paragon Godfather

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    Nov 15, 2007
    In this case, the dish being plumb was the necessary correction. The changes I made were solely to make the mast plumb, and my signal readings on 99/103 jumped up to the 85-95 range once I did that (and the readings on 101 went up a bit too, I am getting 100 on some transponders).

    I understand that techs don't stock them, and I'm not that upset about it (I did get DirecTV to order them for me after the fact), I was just pointing it out as something else that went wrong. They WERE on the work order, which is weird since they don't stock them.

    I don't think I have embellished. I won't lie, once the second tech started to give me the run-around, I did start to get a bit upset, but I wasn't berating the guy or anything.

    Yes, the first guy did install two monopoles. +1 for the tech.
     
  9. paragon

    paragon Godfather

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    Nov 15, 2007
    Because calling the AAA number is how I got two HD DVRs for $100 total and $10 off my bill for 2 years.
     
  10. Johnnie5000

    Johnnie5000 Godfather

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    Mar 26, 2008
    See, you went too cheap, thats why you got a crappy tech. :D

    More than likely, he had one slightly loose bolt on the foot of the mount, holding the pipe. When the weight of the dish was put on the pipe, it went out of level. Seen that happen a lot. He should have repeaked the dish at least though. I don't put my ladder away until I've checked the signal level on a receiver these days for this reason.
     
  11. aphex

    aphex AllStar

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    Oct 30, 2007
    Let me say first off, that generally I have a strong dislike for Ironwood - and how they operate. Not the employees but the company/management.

    Due to the fact that they get a lot of "can't find the address" and "customer isn't home" and "Lives in townhome/condo and cant install" they appear to schedule more installs per day than they can actually perform. 3 for 3 I've had Ironwood cancel and reschedule me for installs.

    There is also no excuse for a tech who just wants to do a half-assed job and then leave if everything isn't set up right. I'm somewhat surprised because I thought installers got dinged somehow if the customer wasn't happy up to 5-7 days after install.

    Now - on the other hand - you supplied your own SWM-8. If you read through the installer section of the forum you will see I posted a thread about a SWM-8 install that I had that went very well (Ironwood was the HSP) and that they really came through for me to hook this up. My understanding is that Ironwood *does not* have to cater to customer provided equipment if they don't have to. They are supposed to do whatever is in the work order.

    I knew supplying my own SWM-8 could put me between a rock and a hard place. If they had refused or done a crap job and I called DirecTV, I may have been told to pound sand since there was no sign of the SWM-8 on the work order.

    Just trying to give a perspective from both sides. DirecTV generally works in the customers favor if the HSP was in the wrong. I'd try pushing them to see if they can help get something done.
     
  12. paragon

    paragon Godfather

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    Nov 15, 2007
    The problem was actually that the dish was leaning too far forward, and I had to bring the bottom of the mount out a little bit by putting washers behind it. This got everything plumb and my signal readings up. It's mounted on my deck, I guess that piece of wood isn't exactly plumb itself.

    When we were going through the signal strengths I pointed out that I was getting crappy strengths on 99/103 and he said that "those satellites aren't used for anything", when I said they were used for the HD, he said "no, HD comes from 119", so I said "I think they changed that recently", and he said "well I do this every day man, I know what it is". He didn't even go near the dish again after that point. Just activated, packed up, and left.
     
  13. Mertzen

    Mertzen Hall Of Fame

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    Dec 8, 2006

    People want their free install. Many have no problem spending thousands on plumbers, carpenters; even gardeners but don't want to pay a decent price for a professional install.

    And yes, there are countless bad seeds out there.
     
  14. kroche22

    kroche22 Mentor

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    Jul 22, 2008
    My install recently went well for the most part. It does seem like the techs do need to be better educated on their products and how to properly install them. When my tech was running through showing me how to work my receiver I asked him about the signal strengths. He reluctantly went into that section of menu and started flipping through as fast as he could. I asked him to slow down and show me the signals on 99c. he looked at me and said "What are you an installer or something". I said no I just like to be educated about a product I'm using. The signal strength was low 50-60 on 99c. I didn't argue with him because it was obvious he was out of there. It took me 10-15 minutes to correct the signals to 85+. I think they count on people being uneducated and not to question them. IMO
     
  15. paulman182

    paulman182 Hall Of Fame

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    Aug 4, 2006
    The difference here is that we are promised a free install; we don't beg or negotiate for it.

    It's a little different with the others you mentioned.
     
  16. Mertzen

    Mertzen Hall Of Fame

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    Dec 8, 2006
    Oh I completely agree with you there. I wish there was a charge for installs. But the game is where it currently is.
     
  17. putty469

    putty469 Legend

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    Jun 5, 2007
    This forum has also repeatedly given information on how to self-install with components from SolidSignal and others (dave29 for SWM8's). Unfortunately, with the free D* install you have to endure a potentially bad installer. But, you get free equipment that you can tweak later. A self-install makes you pay for the gear but you get the satisfaction of doing it yourself. Glad you knew enough to get them to tweak that 40-60 signal and to install an SWM8.
     
  18. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

    8,969
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    Nov 13, 2007
    First, you clearly had a horribly under-educated, under-trained installer. There is no excuse for not knowing about the importance of getting the Ka signal strengths up, or how to do so. Nor should the tech have argued about grounding. If one of my techs did that, they would, at the very least, be suspended. The customer has every reason to be upset about this.

    A couple of things to note, though:

    - A dish *can* be peaked without the mast being level. I've done it many times. Still, DirecTV wants it as plumb as possible for the circumstances, and there is no excuse for leaving the dish with low signal strength.

    - The SWM national rollout was just this week. Most techs are just starting to be trained on them, and subs are the last to get told anything. Further, techs won't see or be trained on the SWM-8; they aren't used for residential installs. Their training will be in the SWM LNB. Expecting any residential installer to know anything about SWM-8 is unrealistic.

    - Despite what the CSR said, DirecTV does not ship AM21s to HSP warehouses, and techs don't install them. Most will never have even seen one, or know they exist. They can only be ordered from DirecTV AFTER you have an HR21 activated on your account, or they must be purchased retail from a handful of vendors.

    - Consider this: your tech had at least 3 installs that day. He lost several hours in the morning waiting on equipment to be delivered. It took him at least 4 hours per install, and he didn't even need to run additional lines at your place due to the SWM. After being "at work" (i.e., at his local shop) since 8am or earlier, he was expected to leave your house at 6pm, and was fully expected to go do another install. In most areas, techs commonly have to keep these hours (14+ hour days), and are usually required to work 6 days a week. Even still, they are behind and have to schedule jobs far in advance. It makes it very difficult to pull people out of the field for training, and also makes it very hard for techs to stay motivated when they are given, and forced to deal with, far more work than they are capable of.

    Of course, none of this is the customer's fault at all; but much of it isn't the techs' fault either. It is part of DirecTV's legacy of keeping the installation portion of their business at arms' length, as well as not regulating their HSPs to ensure that the installers are treated fairly and reasonably, not to mention paid decently. If those things were fixed, DirecTV would be able to get and, more importantly, KEEP the better installers around. As things are today, anyone with even a small amount of skill and knowledge moves on from DirecTV for better pay and better treatment just as soon as they can.
     
  19. jckm

    jckm New Member

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    Apr 28, 2008
    **- A dish *can* be peaked without the mast being level. I've done it many times. Still, DirecTV wants it as plumb as possible for the circumstances, and there is no excuse for leaving the dish with low signal strength.**

    I second that. Infact the mast do not need to be anywhere near plum to peak all satellite signal, but it is alot easier for the tech to peck the signal if it is plum. I done it before, where I have to make it at an angle to get clearance from the wall (experience tech probably know what I'm talking about).
     
  20. Johnnie5000

    Johnnie5000 Godfather

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    Mar 26, 2008
    Yup, been there, done that. Hate it when the wall is in the way. :lol:
     

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