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[long rant] Dish "automated" screwup--and VERY unhappy customer


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#1 OFFLINE   TopCat99

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 08:00 PM

This will likely only interest a few readers, but I must vent somewhere ;)

I've been a Dish Network subscriber since mid-September 2000. I've seen my share of billing snafus, but this one just takes the cake.

After an apparent "missed" auto-pay in October, I got a double-bill. I called and got a very polite and helpful CSR who reinstated auto-pay and took care of the balance. He also offered to take a look at my account "just to be sure" everything else was in order. Long story short, at the end of our convo I asked for his supervisor to tell her what a professional and thorough job he did (took us about 45 minutes to get everything fixed--and he even offered me the DVR promo for being a customer so long).

So then we hit the new year, and apparently all professionalism went away with 2003. I should have had another auto-debit on or around Dec. 26th. As before I didnt' bother to verify as it's supposed to be HASSLE-FREE. So I get up in the morning and hit the telly to find it on Channel 9900 (the "You've got a DISH 500 system!" splash screen)--my service had been suspended.

So I call customer support. To get to a CSR, you must first put in your phone number and it tells you your balance. It seemed I owed $203.51 and was 34 days delinquent. The first CSR is about as friendly as a genital wart and will ONLY tell me it's been suspended for non-payment but won't tell me what happened with auto-pay. This was after he claims I didn't have an account :nono: I ended up hanging up on him before I lost my temper and called back.

Next guy is a bit more helpful, but no more friendly. I was smart enough this time to visit the website and print out my current and two previous statements to back up my memory. Anyway, sure enough they missed an auto-payment, hence the enormous balance. He coudln't explain to my satisfaction the delinquency and resultant suspension so I was transferred to a third rep.

Before I go any further, I want to make it perfectly clear that I was in no way notified that the auto-pay was missed. Dish has two phone numbers for me, my snail mail address, my email address ( from the online account stuff), and the receivers are each capable of receiving mail. That's what I mean about lack of professional courtesy--it's their error (the card certainly works!) and they suspend me without notice for it.

The third rep explained it in very gory detail. And I wrote it down as he said it. This is basically how it went:
December 9th bill: ZERO balance
Auto-pay on/around 29th for following month of service
Next billing cycle date: Jan. 9th. This WOULD reflect double-bill for 29th payment missed--but again, no one could bother to let me know it was missed

BUT! My current statements read that "Services for 12/23 to 1/24" are due plus the next month (1/24 to 2/23). Now I did do an upgrade on Nov. 13th that would pro-rate the rest of the month into December. That CSR told me it'd show up with my 12/24 cycle (January's services), AND my Dec. 9th bill did show $0 balance which backs that up. So what we have is a 34 day delinquency that just doesn't make sense. Period.

So this prompted a third phone call. I had another CSR just carbon copy what the last one did, using the same math as above. But he added that the only way he could see how this comes out (after putting me on hold and supposedly talking with a supervisor) is the new automated system starts counting you delinquent NOT from the due date, but from the date the previous month's services start! Effectively, the services that my statement claimed to have started December 23rd *really* started on November 13th--despite the zero-balance bill. The math still doesnt' come out exactly (couple days off), but this means my January services have been past due since December 13th (since they bill a month ahead)--even though the December 9th bill was $0! and therefore there had no balance *to* become delinquent.

And the final kicker--the one that has me researching DirecTV systems this evening--was received in the mail today: my latest bill. It says, "Your account is past due ... Please pay to avoid interruptions in services." Juuuuust a tad late, don't you think?
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#2 OFFLINE   Mark Lamutt

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 08:27 PM

Damn...I do have to ask this just to be sure Topcat - has the expiration date on your credit card expired? If it has, it can't be billed to with CCautopay, even if it's still usable in stores.
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#3 OFFLINE   TopCat99

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 08:29 PM

Nope. September '05. This is not the first time a payment has been missed. But this IS the first time I was suspended for it--and not even two weeks later.
Cable? We don't need no stinkin' cable!

#4 OFFLINE   DVDDAD

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 08:52 PM

Location: Staring at my shiny new 921 in my basement!

Mark,

It's too bad the 921 isn't fully funcional yet. Then you could be in your basement staring at your new HDTV displaying OTA HD programs that were recorded without incident on that 921. Well, hopefully we'll all be able to do that in a few months!
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#5 OFFLINE   Mark Holtz

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 09:11 PM

I would suggest a snail mail explain the situation, in polite terms, what happened. The address for Dish is:

Echostar Communications Corp
5701 S. Santa Fe Drive
Littleton, CO 80120

But, I admit, a billing SNAFU with bad customer service forced me from cable to DBS. It wasn't the only thing, but it was the final straw.
"In many ways, this opera does fulfil my often quoted description of what most operas is about. The tenor is trying to sleep with the soprano, and the baritone is trying to stop them." - Sean Bianco, KXPR At The Opera
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#6 OFFLINE   TopCat99

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 09:13 PM

Oh don't think they're not getting one ;) Plus I'll put my cancellation in writing if I do go that route ultimately.

I've been eyeing D* for quite some time (mainly drooling over my buddy's TiVo). This just might be the kick in the hiney that makes me do the switch.
Cable? We don't need no stinkin' cable!

#7 OFFLINE   cdru

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 09:29 PM

I feel for you TopCat. I've been fighting with my DSL provider for close to 6 months to get my billing straightened out. Either they bill me for the wrong amount, they don't bill me at all, or they bill my employer by sending to to my work number's phone bill (don't ask). You'd think that billing wouldn't be that difficult and once it's set up it should just work.

#8 OFFLINE   stickyfingers

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 09:34 PM

I've been eyeing D* for quite some time (mainly drooling over my buddy's TiVo). This just might be the kick in the hiney that makes me do the switch.

If you're out of contract w/E* now, hold out for a couple months (heck maybe try to pickup some free programming due to this mess...they offered me 1 month free programming on top of the 3 free I was supposed to get and a total of 6 months free locals) till D* runs new sub promos on the HD-Tivo. E* gave me the super screw w/an 811 I ordered (as a first time customer - the post is around here somewhere) and after 5 weeks I got so sick I told 'em to keep the imaginary free 811, bought an Sammy T151 and went OTA. I'm saving my new sub status w/D* for the HD-Tivo as well...

Brian

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 10:54 PM

Call me crazy but if you knew E* was having a problem with your auto pay you should have check your credit card to make sure it was billed. Regardless of your payment method it is ultimately the consumer using the service to follow up and make sure these types of things do not happen. I would advise you to check your credit report most companies report 30 day lates to the credit bureaus and from what you posted your account was 2 x 30. You definitely want to escalate this because of the auto pay error it should be corrected if in fact it was reported late. Does E* send a written confirmation that auto pay was set up on your account? And do you have the name of the supervisor you spoke to it sounds like it wasn't documented on your account and even though you were told all is well if it was not corrected on the system then you are pretty much up the creek. With out documentation of the error from a companies point of view ( I THINK THIS IS WRONG BUT ) you are just some one late on their bill telling a story to save your ass. If the original call was not documented on the system then it did not happen. Unless you recorded the call you have no proof to back up what you claim. I record all call I make to customer service centers. I use a recording system that has an audible beep every few seconds so the rep I speak to whether it's @ American Express or E* they know they are being recorded and the tone of the call is always a little more professional on their end. Good luck and check that credit report!

#10 OFFLINE   Mark Lamutt

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 11:05 PM

Mark,

It's too bad the 921 isn't fully funcional yet. Then you could be in your basement staring at your new HDTV displaying OTA HD programs that were recorded without incident on that 921. Well, hopefully we'll all be able to do that in a few months!


I actually did that tonight... :D
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#11 OFFLINE   TopCat99

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 11:06 PM

Yes, it's documented. Remember, a verbal agreement is only worth the paper it's written on ;)

Anyway, it says "AUTO PAY" in the due date field on your statements (whether paper or electronic) when in auto-pay. My December statement--you know, the one where I magically had a balance that did not appear--said just that.

And as for me checking on it, the whole point of of auto-pay is so I DON'T have to worry about it. E* owes a courtesy to notify the customer when said payment doesn't go through--just like everyone else does. And considering my bill usually runs $80 to $90, I don't think 37 cents would break them. "Simply your life..." they say to get you to enroll. Suuuuure...
Cable? We don't need no stinkin' cable!

#12 OFFLINE   Mark Holtz

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Posted 16 January 2004 - 11:02 AM

Oh don't think they're not getting one ;) Plus I'll put my cancellation in writing if I do go that route ultimately.

I've been eyeing D* for quite some time (mainly drooling over my buddy's TiVo). This just might be the kick in the hiney that makes me do the switch.

Looking at your avatar, will it be you or your cat who is writing the letter?
"In many ways, this opera does fulfil my often quoted description of what most operas is about. The tenor is trying to sleep with the soprano, and the baritone is trying to stop them." - Sean Bianco, KXPR At The Opera
Check out my list of links.

#13 OFFLINE   EchoDork

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Posted 16 January 2004 - 02:56 PM

Yes, there are instances of CCA being missed. If your credit card expires, they attempt to notify you three different ways, so obviously the computer didn't think that was an issue. If CCA tries to ding your account and finds nonsufficient funds, it tries again a few times rapidly, then every so often for the next couple of days. If, by the end of 3 days, it doesn't find any way to collect the money, it cancels itself. I don't think any express notification is sent out, since usually you won't be disconnected until 58 days after the due date of the delinquent bill... they just assume you'll see your next bill and pay it.

So as for what happened here, I'm not sure. But no, they don't generate snail mail notification if CCA bounces. With the number of bad credit cards and NSFs they see, that 37 cents would soon turn into a major expense :rolleyes:

Trust me, I submitted several Business Improvement Ideas (laugh laugh) about this sort of thing, but the bean counters at the top seem to be convinced that CCA notification works just fine the way it is. I don't think I ever got so much as a response to any of my inquiries.

#14 OFFLINE   TopCat99

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 05:58 PM

Sure it would be a major expense--no doubt here. But that 37 cents is cheaper than the $80-100 a month they just lost, don't ya think? ;)
Cable? We don't need no stinkin' cable!

#15 OFFLINE   EchoDork

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 07:28 PM

But didn't Winback offer you a free receiver, $500 in cash, and a trip to Florida if you stayed with Dish Network?

In-joke, I suppose.

#16 OFFLINE   odie

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Posted 17 January 2004 - 10:20 PM

Sure it would be a major expense--no doubt here. But that 37 cents is cheaper than the $80-100 a month they just lost, don't ya think? ;)



They didnt loose it you still owe the money for services received.

#17 OFFLINE   GADAWG

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 10:06 AM

This will likely only interest a few readers, but I must vent somewhere ;)

I've been a Dish Network subscriber since mid-September 2000. I've seen my share of billing snafus, but this one just takes the cake.

After an apparent "missed" auto-pay in October, I got a double-bill. I called and got a very polite and helpful CSR who reinstated auto-pay and took care of the balance. He also offered to take a look at my account "just to be sure" everything else was in order. Long story short, at the end of our convo I asked for his supervisor to tell her what a professional and thorough job he did (took us about 45 minutes to get everything fixed--and he even offered me the DVR promo for being a customer so long).

So then we hit the new year, and apparently all professionalism went away with 2003. I should have had another auto-debit on or around Dec. 26th. As before I didnt' bother to verify as it's supposed to be HASSLE-FREE. So I get up in the morning and hit the telly to find it on Channel 9900 (the "You've got a DISH 500 system!" splash screen)--my service had been suspended.

So I call customer support. To get to a CSR, you must first put in your phone number and it tells you your balance. It seemed I owed $203.51 and was 34 days delinquent. The first CSR is about as friendly as a genital wart and will ONLY tell me it's been suspended for non-payment but won't tell me what happened with auto-pay. This was after he claims I didn't have an account :nono: I ended up hanging up on him before I lost my temper and called back.

Next guy is a bit more helpful, but no more friendly. I was smart enough this time to visit the website and print out my current and two previous statements to back up my memory. Anyway, sure enough they missed an auto-payment, hence the enormous balance. He coudln't explain to my satisfaction the delinquency and resultant suspension so I was transferred to a third rep.

Before I go any further, I want to make it perfectly clear that I was in no way notified that the auto-pay was missed. Dish has two phone numbers for me, my snail mail address, my email address ( from the online account stuff), and the receivers are each capable of receiving mail. That's what I mean about lack of professional courtesy--it's their error (the card certainly works!) and they suspend me without notice for it.

The third rep explained it in very gory detail. And I wrote it down as he said it. This is basically how it went:
December 9th bill: ZERO balance
Auto-pay on/around 29th for following month of service
Next billing cycle date: Jan. 9th. This WOULD reflect double-bill for 29th payment missed--but again, no one could bother to let me know it was missed

BUT! My current statements read that "Services for 12/23 to 1/24" are due plus the next month (1/24 to 2/23). Now I did do an upgrade on Nov. 13th that would pro-rate the rest of the month into December. That CSR told me it'd show up with my 12/24 cycle (January's services), AND my Dec. 9th bill did show $0 balance which backs that up. So what we have is a 34 day delinquency that just doesn't make sense. Period.

So this prompted a third phone call. I had another CSR just carbon copy what the last one did, using the same math as above. But he added that the only way he could see how this comes out (after putting me on hold and supposedly talking with a supervisor) is the new automated system starts counting you delinquent NOT from the due date, but from the date the previous month's services start! Effectively, the services that my statement claimed to have started December 23rd *really* started on November 13th--despite the zero-balance bill. The math still doesnt' come out exactly (couple days off), but this means my January services have been past due since December 13th (since they bill a month ahead)--even though the December 9th bill was $0! and therefore there had no balance *to* become delinquent.

And the final kicker--the one that has me researching DirecTV systems this evening--was received in the mail today: my latest bill. It says, "Your account is past due ... Please pay to avoid interruptions in services." Juuuuust a tad late, don't you think?

I have cc autopay also. I have a second home and set up cc auto pay because they sent my bill there and sometimes it was a couple of months before i got down to my second home. They started sending my bill to a different address half a state away. I didnt know until I showed up just before christmas and turned on the tv and found my dish turned off. So i called them only to find out they changed my address on their own. The other customer called and complained about receiving my bill so they cut off service. Because I didnt reply to them. They even stoped billing me on cc auto pay wanted to charge me a reconnect fee and another two months up front because they didnt bill me on the twenty first and this was the twenty third. I had already paid for january and they wanted me to pay for two more months ahead for their goof. It took over two hours on the phone to get this right and I bet when i get my next bill it will be wrong also. If my warranty fee goes up to 5.99 a receiver a month dish can kiss this dawg goodbye. my 721 is still a peice of junk and i paid retail price for the thing no breaks from dish.

#18 OFFLINE   cicijay

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 10:26 AM

Credit Card Auto Pay is hit or miss and Dish could care less. I didn't get service turned off but they 'missed' a credit card auto pay and charged me with a late fee. I had to work at getting the late fee removed and thay had no clue. My bank said that they should be able to tell me the authorization/rejection number because my bank had no record of an attempt to use the card around the time my credit card autopay was supposedly rejected.

#19 OFFLINE   EchoDork

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 01:10 PM

If you want some irony, there is HUGE pressure on CSRs to get CCA sales. E* wants ALL their customers to sign up for CCA, because that means they can slash their budget in the billing department. They offer silly benefits to CCA customers, like waived S&H and (before 2/1/04) waived equipment handling fees.

As for the CSRs, they tracked our CCA sales meticulously, made it a point to mention when an agent didn't get any... you know, the usual hard sell nonsense. That's why it's so amusing to me to hear about all these problems with CCA.

#20 OFFLINE   TopCat99

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 06:40 PM

They didnt loose it you still owe the money for services received.


I meant future services, odie :P In this case, that means the 1/23 to 2/24 cycle, and all periods afterward.

No matter how much they ticked me off, I would not cheat them out of their fee for services properly received (from December until last week)--I'm not that unethical.

I'll call tomorrow after I get home and cancel. I don't wish to call before work because a coworker will end up getting my wrath undeservingly ;) :D

I didn't get service turned off but they 'missed' a credit card auto pay and charged me with a late fee.


Been there a few times. This was the first time I've been turned off. I still don't get how I'm delinquent on a balance my bill didn't even show--and shut off after only 34 days instead of the customary 58 even though their math is wrong period, but I digress...

And I did forget to mention before until you reminded me, cicijay: my bank couldn't find an attempt either.

But didn't Winback offer you a free receiver, $500 in cash, and a trip to Florida if you stayed with Dish Network?


That came after the previous CCA screwup. That was the friendly and helpful CSR that offered me the 510 and necessary hardware changes in exchange for "being with us for three years, six days, seventeen hours.....," continued CCA enrollment, shipping back a spare (deactivated) 3900, and two years' enslav--uhhh contractual obligation. That was another fiasco I won't detail here, but suffice it to say I got the receiver but not the promised SW44 and when I called was told an installer would call me. I never heard anything else and shipped the 510 back in disgust. That was three months ago.
Cable? We don't need no stinkin' cable!




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