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I would like a straight answer (long)

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by russdog, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. Aug 5, 2008 #1 of 53

    russdog Godfather

    Jul 31, 2006
    I have been a DirecTV customer for more than 10 years (first thru Pegasus, then directly). I am a good customer. We have a big house, with DirecTV boxes everywhere, including 2 HD-TIVO's and 2 HD-boxes. I subscribe to various optional programming packages. I pay them more than $175 per month. I am happy with DirecTV's actual service, but the Customer Service is so bad it's hard to comprehend how a company can screw things up so badly.

    I pretty much mind my own business. However, they contact me a lot, trying to get me to upgrade the HD-boxes. And, while I would be happy to upgrade, I cannot make a new service commitment, simply because we may be relocating, and I have no way to know what the circumstances might be at our new residence if we do relocate. If we don't move, or if we do move to a residence where we can get service, I would be happy to continue getting DirecTV. Until recently anyway.

    Recent events have me thinking they are engaged in deceptive business practices. Here's a review of the Actual Facts that lead me to think this:

    1. Last year, I got various phone calls from DirecTV offering me a free upgrade to the new HD equipment. Each time, I was assured there was no new extension to service commitment. (As I said, above, this matters to me because we *may* (or may not) be relocating.) Based on their *promise* of no new service commitment, the appointment was scheduled. However, just to be sure I wasn't being lied to, I sent email to verify that there was no new commitment, and instructing DirecTV to cancel the appointment if there was indeed a new commitment. I got a prompt email back, telling me that there was indeed a new commitent, and informating me that they were cancelling the upgrade appointment.

    2. Over the last 2 months, I have received *many* calls from DirecTV offering me a free upgrade to the new HD equipment. Each time, I explain that I would be happy to do it, but I can't because of the service commitment. Each time, I was assured that there would be no commitment. Which is exacty what I heard before. Since it was a lie then, I assumed it was a lie this time too. So, I told them that I need an assurance about there being no new service commitment *in writing*. I told them that if they could email me that in writing, I would do it. Each time, they told me they were in a Call Center and could not send email.

    3. On THREE occasions, they told me they would have someone look into this and get back to me. Nobody ever got back to me with a follow-up. Nobody. However, I did get more fresh calls (as many as 4 per week), in which what I described in #2 (above) happened all over again. And again. And again. After a while, I just quit answering their calls.

    4. Through the web site, I sent email to DirecTV about this, asking for clarification about whether there would be a new commitment or not. I received a reply on July 18 assuring me that, due to a special offer, there would be no commitment for the free upgrade to new HD-equipment, and asking me to call in to schedule the appointment.

    5. Just to make sure, I sent a follow-up message, asking for another verification that there would be no new commitment. On July 25th, I received a 2nd verification in writing that, because of the special offer, there would be no new commitment. They said that they would prefer that I maintain service for 2 years, but there was no required commitment that I do so. An exact quote from one of the emails is "However, for this special offer, orders processed on or after May 19, 2008 requires no commitment." Again, I have it in writing TWICE that I can upgrade for free with no new service commitment.

    6. Yesterday, I called in to schedule the upgrade. I was on the phone for more than a half hour, listening to Peyton Manning repeat himself about 12 times. The result of this call? The Customer Service Rep could not verify that there is no new commitment, so he checked with a supervisor who told him that there WOULD BE a new 2-year commitment.

    7. In response, I sent email to DirecTV summarizing facts 1-6 (above). I asked that they please get their story straight and call me. I specifically asked them to NOT tell me to call the 800 number where I would waste another half-hour listening to Peyton Manning. Within hours, I received a response which told me that my email was being "escalated again", and inviting me to call the 800 number because (and I quote) "Our call center is staffed with knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives who are ready to help." I just missed a phone call from somebody at DirecTV who asked me to call the general 800 number, with no extension provided. I also just received an email telling me that there *is* a new 2-year commitment because "the computer does it automatically", and with no other explanation.

    So far, here's the tally:
    • At least FOUR DirecTV people have called me (I didn't call them, they called me), and they *insisted* that, in this case, there is NO new commitment.
    • I have TWO emails from DirecTV confirming that, in this case, there is NO new commitment, including one that gives me the precise date when this offer when into effect.
    • I now have ONE person on the phone, and ONE email from DirectTV telling me there IS a new commitment.
    • So, the current tally for the last month or two is 4 phone calls and 2 emails saying NO commitment, and 1 phone call and 1 email saying there is.
    • Add it up, and it's 6 DirecTV people saying there isn't and 2 DirecTV people saying there is.
    • So, who should I believe? And why? (I asked them this in an email.)
    I want an answer from somebody who's higher up than just a Customer Service Rep because it's entirely clear that Customer Service Reps are telling different stories. However, it appears to be impossible to get one.

    Can you believe this crap? For the record, I do *not* believe this the Customer Service Rep's fault. For the most part, they are nice people. The problem is whoever the idiot is who's VP of DirecTV Customer Service. This is 100% a management problem, not a people-problem. It's not like I'm asking some obscure technical question. I'm asking a very basic question. The issue at hand is a very basic policy matter. There is no excuse for Customer Service people not having consistent answers available to them. Computers make it easy to do that. If DirecTV can get complicated satellite stuff to work, they certainly can have internal web pages for their staff that provides them with accurate information. Unless management doesn't want that.

    However, running DirecTV is not my problem. My problem is that no matter what I do or who I talk to, somebody at DirecTV ends up lying to me. I pay them more than $175/month, and they lie to me. When they repeatedly tell me there is no new commitment, when they say the same thing again and again, and it's a lie, I don't believe they are all just acting independently to invent the same lie. I believe they are saying what they've been told to say. To me, this looks like a pattern of deceptive business practices. I want somebody to explain to me how it's not.
  2. Aug 5, 2008 #2 of 53
    Lee L

    Lee L Hall Of Fame

    Aug 15, 2002
    Personally, I would have printed the 2 confirmations you have and gone ahead with it. If they tried to stick you with a commitment when you left (if you have to) I would be happy to send them copies.
  3. Aug 5, 2008 #3 of 53

    rudeney Hall Of Fame

    May 28, 2007
    You might also want to try recording the conversation you have with the CSR (check your state laws – you may need to infirm the other party that the conversation is being recorded). Get one to confirm that there is no commitment (like you have twice in the past) and that’s it. D* relies almost exclusively on verbal contract agreements. If you have yourself saying that you accept the offer with a commitment, and the CSR confirming that there is no commitment, then you have what you need. That and the e-mail you have should be plenty of evidence. Of course regardless of what you have recorded or in writing, it won’t keep them from “erroneously” putting your account under a contract in the computer. That’s the problem with D* - it’s the Carousel of Policy!
  4. Aug 5, 2008 #4 of 53

    ThomasM RF Engineer

    Jul 20, 2007
    Milwaukee, WI
    I have the answer. You should call Peyton Manning and see what his opinion is since you like listening to him. :D :D :D

    Seriously, I have a sneaky suspicion that you are getting all those calls because you have been deemed a "valuable" customer (I should think so giving them $175+ a month). One of their clever computer programs has revealed that you have old equipment and NO commitment which means you are a prime candidate to switch to DISH or your local phone company if they offer subscription TV. The computer doesn't know that you do not want a commitment.

    As for what the CSR's are telling you, asking them (or emailing them) with the question "Will it generate a programming commitment?" is like asking "Will I have any problems with my DirecTV service?" The answer is always "no"! ;)
  5. Aug 5, 2008 #5 of 53

    paulman182 Hall Of Fame

    Aug 4, 2006
    I would wait until after the potential relocation question was settled.

    However, you do have it in writing that there will be no comittment. This forum is bulging with reports of CSRs not always knowing about new promotions. When in doubt, the easy answer is "yes, there is a comittment."
  6. Aug 5, 2008 #6 of 53

    steve053 Godfather

    May 11, 2007
    I feel your pain. It's not accecptable for one arm of customer service to make an offer and then have it taken away by another.

    That being said I don't think that it's "lying" on the part of DirecTv. I think the corporate structure has vastly outgrown the ability to communicate within - and we customers pay the price. Inconsistant answers, broken promises, and "the run around".

    You deserve a straight answer, but I'm afraid thay you might not get one.
  7. Aug 5, 2008 #7 of 53

    russdog Godfather

    Jul 31, 2006
    Well, to tell you the truth, I don't see what the difference is. If they had some huge corporation, and everybody working there had to communicate by smoke signals and carrier pigeons, then you might have a point. But that's not reality. The reality is that they have everybody who works there looking at a computer screen. All they need is one internal web page where it tells everybody what's what about this particular issue. It's not hard to do, it's very easy to do.

    I think they don't do it because they don't want everybody working there to know what their policy is. I think they want to do 2 things: get rid of the mpeg2 HD boxes, and suck everybody into a new commitment while they're at it. By keeping their low-level people in the dark and *training* them to say things that are lies, they can blame it on the low level people "making mistakes". I used to like DirecTV, but now I think this is no accident. I think it's a con. The sad thing is that it probably works.

    I still have a couple months to go on my existing commitment (for the 2nd HD-TIVO). If they don't fix this, then once it's up I'm taking my $175/month and spending it elsewhere. All I tried to do is be a good customer and give them lots of money each month. Other than that, I mind my own business, I don't bother them. In response, they call me up and lie to me, trying to trick me into a new commitment. You can make all the excuses you want about "corporate structure", but that's what it boils down to.
  8. Aug 5, 2008 #8 of 53
    Ken S

    Ken S RIP

    Feb 12, 2007
    Basically, they don't do a lot of training for their customer service reps, they also use a variety of outsourced call centers. Lack of training and outsourcing generally leads to what you experienced.
  9. Aug 5, 2008 #9 of 53

    rsteinfe Legend

    May 7, 2005
    It seems to me that you've served your time in CSR hell, and it's time to kick it upstairs to the folks in the big corner offices.

    I would send a snail-mail setting out the facts of your situation in a calm, business-like manner, to the CEO of DirecTV. Here's the address:

    Mr. Chase Carey, CEO
    2230 East Imperial Highway
    El Segundo, CA 90245

    In addition, I would send a copy of your letter to Mr. Carey to Ms Ellen Filipiak, Sr. VP Customer Care, at the same address.

    The purpose of using snail-mail is that there is now a piece of paper on someone's desk in the CEO's office. It's doubtful that Mr. Carey will attend to this himself, but it will go to an underling with a notation to "take care of this." Someone will pay attention to a directive to them from the CEO's office.

    When Ms Filipiak receives her copy of your letter, she will know ( via your "cc: Ellen Filipiak" on the letter sent to Mr. Carey) that her boss has received what seems to be a reasonable complaint concerning the conduct of her customer care unit. If I were her, I'd be moving heaven and earth to attend to the matter before someone from the big corner office calls to find out what's going on.
  10. DarinC

    DarinC Hall Of Fame

    Aug 31, 2004
    So in other words, they aren't lying, they are just too large and unorganized to tell the truth. ;)

    FWIW, they have been making offers to those with legacy HD equipment to upgrade the hardware, because the legacy HD equipment is about to be useless for HD very soon. These offers do not necessarily include a renewed commitment... one of the mailings I received had the words "no strings attached". When I got one of the upgrade calls, the CSR did say there'd be a commitment associated with it, but once I went through the process, my account says "no annual commitment". So while my story may be just another example of conflicting stories, in the end my account does not have a commitment attached to it. Not sure if that makes you feel better, or not.
  11. dbmaven

    dbmaven Icon

    May 29, 2004
    Posted many times, but here it is again - the email address for the aforementioned Ellen Filipiak, which generally seems to get a legitimate and knowledgeable response:

  12. kaysersoze

    kaysersoze Duplicate User (Account Closed)

    Feb 28, 2006
    There are a couple things causing the problems you are having.

    1. The csr's you have spoken too are not doing their job and finding the specific promotion you are taking. Instead of looking for the specific offer they are giving you the canned answer, sort of a CYA approach.

    2. Directv has so many different promotions no one can keep them straight. For instance during the last quarter there were 5-10 different rebates that new customers could get based on their location, internet provider, blood type, etc... Even the rebate group could not keep all the different offers.

    I know this does not really help your situation, but hopefully it sheds some light on the how this can happen without anyone being intentionally deceitful.
  13. durl

    durl Hall Of Fame

    Mar 27, 2003
    Could it also be possible that CSRs are being given incentives for getting customers to upgrade? Some CSRs will say just about anything if it puts a few extra dollars in their pockets...even if instructed to be 100% truthful. (I'm not calling out Directv CSRs. I would guess that kind of thing happens with a lot of companies.)

    Management sees good results so they think everything is fine. And a lot of those customers who were told there's no commitment probably never find out because, while they abhor a commitment, they actually never planned on leaving anyway, they never notice a commitment, and so they enjoy their programming and new equipment. Many may notice but not bother to complain.

    I don't know if it's still a common practice but I used to be familiar with a company that would dock their reps pay if their accounts returned too much product. That came about to prevent reps from overselling to get the commission but telling accounts they could return the product right away.
  14. ToiletKitty

    ToiletKitty Legend

    Aug 15, 2007
    The only way for the OP not to get a commitment would be by activating owned receivers., which means, he'd pay full price for them. If he is being offered to upgrade free, they will both be leased units and will have a 24 month commitment.
  15. DarinC

    DarinC Hall Of Fame

    Aug 31, 2004
    Not true. As I said, the offer going out to those with legacy HD equipment comes with no strings attached. Look at the thread specific to that offer. We have a specific line item on our accounts that says no annual commitment. There is a $20 fee for something, don't remember if it's for processing, the service call or what, so I guess it's not completely free.
  16. bigboyman2

    bigboyman2 Guest

    May 6, 2008
    I wish we get incentives for equipment. There's nothing extra we get for selling equipment. Now premium service (individual, not stuff bundled together, like Premier), we get sort of "points" for. Don't ammount to much, but it's something. Not like cash comission, but it's something. Sorry, just thought I'd butt in there:)
  17. Grentz

    Grentz New Member

    Jan 10, 2007
    This is my biggest issue with directv, you call in 10 times and get 10 different answers (or shall we call them opinions?) on the matter and in the end it is up to the big crazy computer that if you were going by what the CSRs tell you, is just making up rules on the fly and doing as it likes.

    It is a real issue IMO, and they really need to work on it. There are companies that are worse, yes, but there are MANY LARGER companies that have much better CSR teams.
  18. Doug Brott

    Doug Brott Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Jul 12, 2006
    Los Angeles
    So Russ, if you're relocating would DIRECTV service be coming along or would it not be an option where you're going?
  19. russdog

    russdog Godfather

    Jul 31, 2006
    Beats me. Dunno exactly where we'll be living if we move.
    Maybe we don't buy a house right away, and live in an apartment for a while. Impossible to say.

    Until now anyway. Now, I'm about done with being lied to and jerked around.

    My new rule of thumb: If I'm doing business with somebody, and I need to tape-record the phone calls with them just to protect myself, then I don't need to be doing business with them.
  20. russdog

    russdog Godfather

    Jul 31, 2006
    BTW, I just got another response from DirecTV.

    This time it's Yet Another Story. Now they say I can get a free upgrade for ONE of my 4 HD units without a commitment, but upgrading more than one would be another 2 year commitment.

    I wonder if this is another lie too.
    No way to tell, really.
    And, no, I don't have this latest "promise" on tape or in writing.

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