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DirecTV will sell HR 44s to Solid Signal and Weaknees - but not me

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by FarNorth, May 29, 2013.

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  1. May 29, 2013 #61 of 263
    Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    Second warning, please be nice to each other. This is a good topic and if a few bad apples cause it to be closed, it will be a loss for the whole board
  2. May 29, 2013 #62 of 263

    studechip Godfather

    Apr 16, 2012
    Of course there are many more pcs than dvrs, but they aren't making a few hundred or so. They make enough of them that the price differential isn't that much than if they were making a lot more. Are you saying that Directv uses better components than pc makers?
  3. May 29, 2013 #63 of 263
    Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    Not better, but lower volume. I know you are having trouble believing it, but most of the components in a DVR are quite unique while the ones in pcs are shared across many manufacturers.
  4. May 29, 2013 #64 of 263

    studechip Godfather

    Apr 16, 2012
    Perhaps, but there really isn't that much to them parts wise. I don't see the cost being all that high.
  5. May 29, 2013 #65 of 263
    Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    With respect, I disagree.
    1 person likes this.
  6. May 30, 2013 #66 of 263

    FarNorth Godfather

    Nov 27, 2003
    If you're correct .... then why would DTV sell DVRs to SS or WK at a huge loss? SS has HR 44s listed at $349 so they must be buying them for, say, $280. Why would DTV sell something for $280 that cost them $700? And back to my original point, why won't DTV sell me an HR 44 for $349 instead of selling to SS and keep the profit for themselves?
    1 person likes this.
  7. May 30, 2013 #67 of 263

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2013
    Aren't the receivers and DVRs Solid Signal sells as "FOR COMMERCIAL USE ONLY" owned by the commercial account? If so, it seems difficult to believe that Directv would sell them at a loss. They cost more than the residential lease price for the same model, but not all that much more.

    I think some people are overestimating the complexity of a satellite receiver. The SoC, RAM, and flash appear to be of comparable spec to what you find in a midrange wireless router, which sells for $50. Purely commodity parts. Ditto for the power supply, ethernet and HDMI PHYs and so on, and for the hard drive in the DVRs. Those will all be pretty much the same as you find in PCs everywhere.

    The only bit of hardware I can think of inside any Directv receiver or DVR that's not a mass market commodity part is the satellite tuner, but there is likely little change in the hardware used for satellite tuner chips since Directv went to SWM, aside from building in DECA. I'm sure they roll a new version every couple of years to take advantage of newer semiconductor technology allowing for smaller chips or for more tuners on a chip, and may occasionally take advantage of the opportunity to add new stuff that will only be used in future - like how they added SWM to the H20's tuner before it existed as a product.

    They may well use a single rev of the tuner chip across all receivers made over a two year period, so the economies of scale aren't what the big boys get, but are better than a simplistic view that assumes because they only sell 'x' of a given receiver model that's the economy of scale they have to work with.
  8. May 30, 2013 #68 of 263

    sregener Godfather

    Apr 17, 2012
    Since you brought up cell phones, let's look at what an analogous relationship with your cell provider would look like.

    You want a new cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S4. The cell phone company that has coverage in all the places you want says, "We'll give you a free Samsung Galaxy, but we can't promise you it would be an S4. It might be an S2 or an S3, as those are functionally equivalent and our system has no way to know which one we're sending you." But you really want the S4, so you go online and look around, and find a place that will sell you a Samsung Galaxy S4 for $249. Both come with the same contract to the cell phone company, the same terms and conditions, but the $249 price is the only way to be sure you get the S4. They also tell you you should pay $10/month for their "protection plan" such that they will replace it in case anything happens to it during your contract period. You purchase the protection plan and the S4 from the company. Two months later, the cell phone just stops working. Not sure why. You submit it for replacement and they honor their protection plan and ship you... a highly scratched up, "refurbished" S2. And you have to take it, because you're under contract. On what planet would this be right or fair?

    If there really was no difference in models, I would have left DirecTV anyway. I couldn't stand waiting 40 seconds on startup to change the channel with young children in the room and no way to get the images off the screen because the DVR was completely ignoring every button press. I got in the habit of turning on the receiver 5 minutes before we intended to watch anything. It felt like going back to the days of tube radio, waiting for the tubes to warm up. And even after the 5-minute warmup, it was still unresponsive at times. Since I left, DirecTV added one of my must-have HD channels, and I'd love to come back for the higher-quality HD picture, but I absolutely cannot and will not subject myself to receiver roulette.

    As for Dish doing the same thing, I'm a little surprised by the claim. When I ordered my service, I got to select my model from a pull-down list. And I can go online today and order a second receiver and choose between a Hopper and a Hopper 2. They aren't going to give them to me for free (which seems fair enough to me) but I do get to pick my model. And if my Hopper died, they'd replace it with a Hopper or Hopper 2, but not a 722k. I can't imagine they'd replace a Hopper 2 with an original Hopper, either. Maybe somebody somewhere has a horror story, but I haven't heard it yet. And if I talk to a DIRT member, they can often handle my "special requests" for hardware. None of this garbage of "we don't know what's in the box, just that it's an advanced DVR."
  9. May 30, 2013 #69 of 263

    RunnerFL Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    DirecTV isn't selling to SolidSignal or Weaknees, they are both DirecTV Retailers. SolidSignal and Weaknees lease the receivers FOR DirecTV.
    1 person likes this.
  10. May 30, 2013 #70 of 263

    unixguru Godfather

    Jul 9, 2007

    Cell companies are not perfect but they have a much more reasonable prorated early termination policies. No fracking lease. They apparently want to keep their customers. It seems they will continue to set the standard if they move to eliminate subsidies.

    I doubt there is much difference in the cost of an HR34/HR44 and an iPhone 5.

    Our iPhone 4's (AT&T) were out of contract awhile back and we switched to AirVoice prepaid. Same network. Almost identical service. HUGE $$$ savings. Which shows how much people are getting ripped off by these providers.

    Isn't it interesting that there are 2 cell networks that all the providers run over. Just like there are 2 sat "networks". Sat TV needs a lot more regulation. Anti-regulation people can whine but phone looks better than TV.
  11. May 30, 2013 #71 of 263

    Greg4050 Cool Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    I agree with FarNorth on this topic. I have been a customer since the early 90's and have only had a truck out to my house twice. I have purchased the ST every year since its inception and also subscribe to a fairly high monthly package. I think its safe to say that I have paid for any equipment DTV was nice enough to let me use. (Which is funny because I've paid for everything except a SWM upgrade.)

    I was perfectly happy to buy the receiver I wanted, if I wanted it before DTV would give it to me, but now my purchase is really just a lease. With all the new avenues for media to reach us, I think DTV is closer to losing more customers than they realize.

    I originally went with them because they were the only option I had. Now I already have Comcast in the house for broadband, (I'm even paying them an extra $20 for basic cable that I dont use... but that is another gripe.) and ST was really the only thing keeping me. I "bought" 2 500s when they came out, but I wont be playing this game anymore. It's not even the "cost" of the lease, its the extra 2 year commitment you "agree" to when you make the upgrade.

    The NFL is has jumped the shark. First, you couldnt make any contact with the QB above his shoulders and now RBs will be getting penalties for inadvertent contact. It's only a matter of time before the combination of lawsuits from retired players and the player pool drying up because parents no longer let their kids play, kills the cash cow.

    I'm also a small business owner. Whenever I have a new product or service, I look through our customer database and reach out to those I think would be most interested. How hard would it be for DTV to do the same? They always ask where I got the receiver I activated, so I imagine they have it on record that I'm a Solid Signal customer. As others have posted, we a very small portion of their customer pool, but I bet we represent enough revenue for this to be worth the little time I think it would take to implement.

    What you've been paying for HD? Too bad we are going to give it away free only to new customers unless you call and pitch a fit.
  12. May 30, 2013 #72 of 263

    bobcamp1 Icon

    Nov 8, 2007
    I call B.S. on this. The only unique part is the main chipset, and D* deals in high volume so they'd get a huge discount. I make something that uses similar horsepower for a much, much, much lower volume, and that chipset costs $300. I bet D*'s price is around $200. Everything else is off-the-shelf parts or a one-off of an existing product, including the hard drive which is a PC's. Based on my experience, my estimate for parts & assembly of that DVR is around ~$350.

    Since D* can charge the same upfront lease fee multiple times for the same box, the boxes assembly (and probably the R&D costs) costs are more than paid for.

    Getting back to the topic, FIOS customers can pay a one time $40 fee to upgrade to the latest box, and all replacements will be the same or better. That kind of program would please the 5% of people who aren't happy with the old boxes.
  13. May 30, 2013 #73 of 263

    MysteryMan Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

    May 17, 2010
    Sorry, but I have to disagree with you on more regulation for Satellite TV. We need more government in our lives like Custer needed more Indians!
  14. May 30, 2013 #74 of 263

    acostapimps Hall Of Famer

    Nov 5, 2011
    Cash rules everything around me, dollar dollar bill y'all :)
  15. May 30, 2013 #75 of 263

    bananfish Mentor

    Aug 13, 2007
    I'm not sure I understand the question. I don't get to choose the price ... DirecTV does. What I do get to choose is the price I am willing to pay. If DirecTV had a policy that customers could, for instance, get the HR34 for X dollars or they could instead pay a premium for the HR44 -- i.e., X + PREMIUM -- I could make a sensible choice as a consumer. As it is, they charge some customers hundreds of dollars and other customers nothing, and then they essentially dictate which product the customer will get (and which product the customer will get if the original product breaks down).
  16. May 30, 2013 #76 of 263

    unixguru Godfather

    Jul 9, 2007
    Generally I don't like government involvement either. How are these issues going to get addressed otherwise? Didn't other utilities go through a similar transition?
  17. May 30, 2013 #77 of 263

    wingrider01 Hall Of Fame

    Sep 9, 2005
    Cell companies have the same exact monetary termination clause that DirecTV has, you want to terminate your contract early for a smartphone pay a final bill that is not pro-rated and a termination fee on each and every line on the plan if you are on a family plan - if you have 5 lines in contract you pay 5 termination fees. On a smartphone the ETF is 325.00 - (10.00 * each completed billing cycle), on a QMS it is 150.00 - (4.00 * each completed billing cycle). If you cancel 1 day before the contract is over you still own a 85.00 etf on a smartphone and 54.00 on a QMS device.

    Now how exactly is a cell phone ETF policy more reasonable then DirecTV?

    As far as your comparison to cost, you are going same network to same network, if you wanted to go to T-Mobile's network with those iPhones you would have had to submit a request to ATT to have them unlocked, which up until April 2012 it would not have happened, even now to get a unlock for the iPhone you have to qualify by either having a completed 2 year agreement on the iPhone with ATT or have a receipt showing you paid full retail price for the iPhone from a ATT authorized retailer. If you bought it second hand then ATT will not unlock it at all. Heck even if you pay full retail for the Samsung S4 ATT will not unlock it for 6 to 12 months due to a exclusivity clause in the agreement.

    Cell carriers regulations and ETF policies are no where near as reasonable as you think they are, they requirements for service are even stricter. At least with DirecTV if you have 5 units and you termination early you only pay one ETF not five.
  18. May 30, 2013 #78 of 263

    sregener Godfather

    Apr 17, 2012
    Issues get resolved all the time without government getting involved. I just went to the grocery store and complained to the bakery staff about the new cookies they're selling. They're the same price as the old ones were, but they're just horrible. The baker told me, "This was forced down by corporate." I said, "I know, and I'm not blaming you. But I'm the customer and I'm providing feedback that I used to buy these all the time and I don't buy them anymore." Now, maybe my voice won't make a difference, but you can bet that if enough people complain, the message will get back to corporate. In the meantime, the market works. They're selling a lot less cookies. Which is another way the message gets sent.

    There is no need for the government to get involved for DirecTV to stop playing the receiver model ignorance game. Customers like me who leave (and I told them precisely what it would take to keep me - I wanted an HR24, and no other model - and was told in no uncertain terms that they couldn't promise me that) and customers who complain loudly get heard.

    I can't believe that when they get a receiver in for a repair, they open it up and can't tell whether it's an HR21 or an HR23 or 24 without checking the model number sticker. I can't believe that they can just pull parts from the "Advanced HD receiver" bin and put them in any of the models they try to foist on customers as identical. And I can't believe that they can't read the model number sticker on the box before packing it up and shipping it out. That's all they had to do to keep me as a customer: put a FedEx sticker on a box with an HR24 sticker, schedule an install (which I could have easily done since the satellite installation was already in place) and they'd still have me as a customer. Would it have cost them something to ship me the box? Yes. But the lack of a well-paying customer is costing them far more.

    What I really believe lies behind this problem is that they believe that if they let customers pick model numbers, older model numbers will collect dust and they'll have to write off the cost sooner. In other words, if everybody who calls for service demands the newest receiver, their stockpile of older receivers will depreciate very quickly. This is a bean counter decision, and they're gambling on the fact that they'll lose few customers over this. Believe me, if enough people leave over the receiver model issue, the bean counters will redo their math. But the reality is that we're probably the minority that care, but we're typically the higher-paying minority. By not meeting our needs, DirecTV is begging us to choose anyone else.
  19. May 30, 2013 #79 of 263
    Mike Bertelson

    Mike Bertelson 6EQUJ5 WOW! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Jan 24, 2007
    I don’t think regulation has anything to do with anything. It’s also not fair to regulate satellite TV and not cable/iptv.

    There’s a huge difference between the HR34/HR44 and an iPhone 5. The HRs are serviceable and the iPhone isn’t. DVRs (from all providers) can have a useful life cycle several times that of the average cell phone. I have a Galaxy S2 that’s less than a year and a half old and it is obsolete compared to what’s come out since then. Heck Moore’s Law is probably longer that the average cell phone life cycle.
    Regulation isn’t the answer. Just what is in phone regulations that has anything to do how much they’re charging for ETFs? The answer is absolutely nothing.
    The FCCs website even says the only way to protect yourself is to carefully read the provided agreements so you are aware of what the ETF will be.

    So, your idea that more regulation will reduce the fees is just wrong...it will likely cost us more money not less.

    1 person likes this.
  20. May 30, 2013 #80 of 263
    Diana C

    Diana C Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Mar 30, 2007
    New Jersey
    I think this is one of the big differences between Dish and DirecTV's model. All of Dish's receivers and DVRs are manufactured by Echostar. As a result, there are much better economies of scale available, since all Dish receivers of a given model are identical.

    This is not the case with DirecTV. There are slight differences between the HR24s made by Pace and the ones made by Samsung, for example (different power supplies for example). So, you have to look at each manufacturer and model as a unique build. This will greatly effect the unit cost of any unique component. The cost of manufacturing and populating the circuit boards, particularly in the volumes we're talking about, will be far more than sum of all the components combined.

    As to the cost of commercial account units, remember that while the customer may "own" these units, they still have a service commitment, and DirecTV usually makes a lot more money from commercial accounts than they do from residential accounts, so the equipment is still being subsidized by DirecTV.

    As I look at DirecTV's (and Dish Network's) financial performance they don't seem to be making huge profits. They ARE profitable, after MANY years of not making a dime, which is a good thing - unprofitable companies don't survive.

    Yes, the lease model was adopted to save DirecTV money by reducing their taxes (receivers are a depreciable asset) and by giving them a supply of recycleable hardware. Does it mean that the few tenths of one percent of their customers that care what model they get have to jump through hoops to make it happen? Sure...but the number of customers that are going to leave over it is infintessmially small. The management has a responsibility to the stockholders to maximize value in any way that doesn't materially hurt the business. No matter how you slice it, this issue falls into that category.
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