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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
[THIS IS AN EDITORIAL - THE VIEWS EXPRESSED HERE DO NOT NECESSARLY EXPRESS THE FEELINGS OF ANYONE ELSE HERE ON DBSTALK.COM]

What has happened to ECHOSTAR in the past year?

Dish Network was one of the most customer friendly companies, everything Charlie did he did it for the consumers. Dish Even won 2 JD Powers awards for customer service. Dish was also very Internet board friendly and even went as far to have DBSforums owner John Hodgson on one of the Dish Network Tech Chats.

Over the past 12 months we have seen an open company turn into an evil corporate empire. The company that would bend over backwards for users was now telling them that if they did not like things there are other services to choose from.

Quality wise things went down hill for Dish too. The Picture quality went down hill most once they launched must carry. Dish is blaming the quality on must carry but Dish knew for over 2 years that must carry was coming. We don't hear complaints from DirecTV users about picture quality and they had to follow must carry too. DirecTV was able to meet must carry by launching a Spot beam satellite, Charlie could not get his satellite launched because no one wanted to insure him, it seems that Charlie likes suing everyone he does business with.

Equipment quality did no better then picture quality, it started last year when Dish released a software update for its Dishplayer without testing it first, many Web TV beta testers (myself included) reported these bugs but yet these reports were ignored and the software shipped anyways. After months of complaints and the threat of a class action lawsuit, Charlie announced there would be an "emergency" software release. It took almost 4 months to receive this "emergency" release. And oh yeah after that Dish sued Microsoft blaming them for all the Dishplayer problems.

Then Dish made an announcement that because of the Microsoft / Dishplayer problems that from now on the would be doing all hardware and software in house so that they have control of everything and this way everything will be perfect. Then came the Dish PVR 501. Out of the gate it did not have many of the features promised in the ads. In a earnings report Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen made mention that they did release the product unfinished just so that they would have a PVR out there. Over months promised features began to pop up and so did the bugs. It seemed as though having Dish control everything to prevent bugs did not work out at all, even now Dish has been updating the 501 software every few weeks squishing bugs and accidentally introducing more.

Then Charlie surprised everyone with his successful bid for DirecTV. I think even Charlie was surprised in his win, at merger time it seemed he did not know what would happen next. Still to this time there is no clear cut idea of what will happen if the merger does happen. If Charlie does takeover DirecTV I am sure we will see many upset customers upset about having to switch out equipment, repoint dishes, and get used to new lineups.

Charlie has also decided as of recent months to play hard ball with programmers who provide service to Dish Network, they have dropped ESPN Classic and are in a nasty court fight to drop ABC Family. While Charlie is mad about price increases from ABC and his goal to "protect the consumer" the customer does not make out when a channel is dropped, customers have not seen any new channels to replace the ones dropped and have not seen a reduction in their monthly bills. In dropping these channels Echostar violated its own customer agreement, which states that consumers will be notified in writing in changes in programming. And of course after all this Charlie notifies us that he must raise our prices $1 a month.

All of these things add up to total customer frustration. And that frustration has been a bad thing. Over the past few months we have seen some of the most vocal Echostar supporters actually drop their Dish Network service in favor of DirecTV. It has been shocking to see the likes of DBSforums Dan Collins, John Buffington of Echostaruser.org, among others totally get rid of their Dish Network equipment and banish Dish products from their homes.

At the recent CES show in Las Vegas, Dish introduced its new PVR 508 system. The PVR 508 is exactly the same at the PVR 501 the major difference is that it has a larger hard drive. The retail price given for this single tuner PVR is $499. It should be noted that a Dual Tuner DirecTivo is selling for $79. Something does not seem right with this picture.

Why is Dish Network scaring away all its best customers? We know they are watching
us closely. (On my own homepage that gives info on the new MOXI unit Dish Network has visited the site almost 100 times. Yet I have not heard anything from them concerning my site.)

Why are all the cries for support going ignored? Email sent to Charlie's Echostar mailbox use to get replied to within 24 hours, now your lucky if you get a reply at all. Why are customers fleeing Dish Network like the plague? Why is Echostar out there watching all of this go on yet does not to put out the fire? Why is it that their actions only seem to throw more fuel on the fire?

These are all questions I cannot answer. But Echostar should take a good look at how its being run if it wants to have any success in getting approval for the merger. From where I sit today if Echostar does not clean up its act soon they won't have to worry about the merger they will have to worry about staying in business. It's a sad story, but we have seen it happen before, lets look at the Cable Internet service @HOME. Once @HOME (much like Echostar) was sitting on the top of the hill, and then things started going down hill, bad business decisions were made and customer complaints mounted. Now the king of broadband @HOME is going out of business. Dish should wake up now and learn from others mistakes, before it's too late for them.

Scott
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Lets try not to believe that we represent a valid sampling of DBS users. I know many people with DBS that nothing of what you refer to above. I know of many people who have only recently SIGNED UP for DishNetwork and others who are very happy with the service.
Yes they do have problems, but they are easily fixed and hardly noticeable to the average subscriber.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I too am disappointed in Dish network. I signed up for their "I like 9" promotion a couple of months ago. I was told by Dish customer service (I called 800-333-dish) and the dealer I went thru that the 4900 was an eligible receiver for the I like 9 program - "as long as I paid $199 or higher" which I did. After getting the 4900 installed and activated, Dish called me back 3 or 4 weeks later and said it wasn't good for the promo after all and I was going to be billed regular rate instead of the $9. They said I should have gotten a 301 instead. I tried to do that but the dealer has gone bankrupt and closed their doors in the 3 or 4 weeks since my install. I called dish back and let them know this. Their response? "Sucks to be you. What's the big deal paying full price?" Well, I signed up thinking I was going to get a promotion. I offered to pay another $100 (for $299 total) to get the receiver swapped out for a 301. They said I would have to pay full price for it and I couldn't exchange the 4900. They also said I don't qualify for the "I like 9" promo because "I'm not a new sub anymore...I've had the service 3 weeks and I'm not new anymore". I asked them if there was anything else they could do and they said yes - to pay full price for a new receiver and service. I cancelled. I have told countless people about my experience with dish. I would never do business with them EVER!
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't blame you ColorodoRob. That is lousy customer service. Did you sign up with DirecTV?
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Scott the "customer friendly" aspect came from delivering a solid value to the consumer, providing an option to DTV, and putting their CEO right out there in the limelight for all to see. When I look back at what's changed over the past 31 months I've been a subscriber I would have to point first to a lack of value, then a lack of quality, and finally a lack of followthrough.....whether it be in addressing service problems or individual bug issues with the products themselves.

I don't think any of us would give them high marks for customer service even when they were winning awards. The fact is they were just better than DTV so more than likely won the award by default. Again had Primestar not been taken out of the loop I find it doubtful that E* would've won any JD Powers awards.

When we look at timeframes involved in the downturn of the company I find myself looking back much further than 12 months. Customer service was already bad and had to be addressed by Charlie on numerous occasions, receivers had problems that were addressed by Charlie on numerous occasions, etc. Over the past year I suppose that people could point to PQ but even then were you to look at Google results of alt.dbs.e* from almost three years ago PQ was already an issue.

I do agree with you that telling people to look elsewhere if they don't like the current offerings is probably not the best approach. Matter of fact I tend to think that it will put people off and certainly be a cause of concern over the proposed merger. At one time it may have been an appropriate statement as DTV and E* were putting forth different offerings. Now though it does come across much more "high handed" rather than being based upon providing value as they tried to do in the past.

What really bothers me Scott is Charlie's way of doing business and the "spin" that we all receive. He used to make scathing remarks about how DTV would pass on the cost of packages like NFLST on to the rest of the subscribers. Now we are seeing the same thing imposed upon us due to locals. We are also seeing channel losses without compensation and instead of compensation we see rate hikes even though the company FINALLY started turning profits.

With Charlie it's always about the blame game and you hit the nail on the head when you brought up the locals issue including the degradation of PQ that came along with it.... though there were obviously problems prior to their addition.

They had the deadline well in advance and simply didn't rise to the occasion as well as DTV. Now they want to blame everyone but themselves.

And that is really a Charlie state of mind isn't it? He'll blame the govt., he'll blame competitors, he'll blame engineers, he blames everyone. A good CEO has broad shoulders and accepts responsibility. He doesn't. He needs to figure out that when all is said and done that the vast majority of people don't care about the "whys", the "hows" but do care very much that when they invest so much money up front and monthly that they receive the quality and value they were told they would receive. His damned job is to ensure that happens and THAT is what he needs to focus on.

As for the DP.....I'm not sure how long you've been a Beta tester but you know I've had access to the program. The problem with WebTV ignoring their beta testers has been an issue for longer the DP has been in existence and has been a problem with the DP specifically for much longer than just the past 12 months. There were bugs at launch and those bugs worsened with the PTV Service upgrade at the end of 99.....they've simply gotten worse every time lol

I agree that they didn't listen to their previewers last year, that they released a build that they shouldn't have, and that the "emergency" bug fix was a joke. All I am saying is that there are several previewers I know personally that could illustrate in great detail that the problems with the DP and the previewer program existed long before last year.

Regardless of the minor viewpoint differences I agree with you entirely. This all boils down to putting we the subscribers in the back seat and not caring in the least whether we enjoy the ride. E* has moved away from the fundamental business practices that got them to where they are today. It is starting to show in the number of new subscribers added and it is likely showing in churn rates. I think it time for Charlie to step up, shoulder the burden of blame, and as a true leader resolve to fix the problems facing both the company and the subscribers. Until we are put back into our rightful place as the most important people in this equation, until the blame game stops, we will not see any improvements. J
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Intresting perspective....Scott and logandraven.

I kinda agree with IH8Cable thoughts.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi John. I agree with him too. I don't for an instant believe that what is discussed here, or in any dbs forum, is necessarily reflective of what the mass communities views are.

At the same time I do think it important to point out that a lot of people have no basis to compare when sharing their viewpoints. For example....If you take someone who lives in the boonies and has been served either by antenna or by some local yokel cable company and that someone decides to go with dbs then odds are they will like everything they see and not be dissatisfied in any way.

I've seen the same thing with devices. There are plenty of people out there who claim to never have had issues with the DP on the Web side or tv side. If they've never used another internet capable device then exactly what is it that they are basing their opinions on?

Many of us here, myself included, have been long time dbs subscribers. I was a Primestar subscribers for YEARS and have now been a Dish Network subscriber for 31 months and at times was even a cable subscriber with various companies. I also have several family members who subscribe to DTV so have gotten to use their services at length.

What that boils down to is being able to compare various services and receivers due to having used all of them. It also provides for the ability to have witnessed the improvements or downturns in the quality of service provided by those companies due to long term usage.

Certainly my views, or those by others with similar experiences, may not be shared by the vast majority or new subscribers. At the same time it doesn't make our views any less truthful :cool: J
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi,

I cancelled my Dish Network AT150 yesterday due to a run in with a CSR. The short story is that I wanted to remove my credit card from autopay on my Mom's account. The CSR refused. It's funny that no one refused to accept the credit card from me (not my Mom). Anyway, after fighting with my Dishplayer with every upgrade, etc. I decided to end my AT150 sub.

When I got home from work last night I still had the service. I tried to call today and was put on infinite hold.

Anyway, my opinion really is negative after 1 1/2 years. I've noticed a steady decline in CSR service and knowledge. I was ignored or patronized with the Dishplayer issue. Also, I'm not too happy with the AT100 lineup vs Direct TV TC. Now, of course there is the deal with locals, TC and Family Pack. Not sure if I'll take the plunge until the FCC rules on the merger.

Any thoughts about taking the DTV risk now?
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If Echostar and Hughes merge together, then you'll see everything going down hill except the price; that will go up and be roughly the same as cable. With only two competitors out there, the prices will just keep going up and up.

Look at what happen initially with cell phone service when the FCC granted just two liceneses. There were only two ompanies and the prices were outrages compared to other coutries. Now with more companies in the game, the prices are coming down. Write your congressman expressing your opposition to the merger.
If it don't go through you'll see a big improvement in PQ and CS.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My recommendation for you is to go ahead and subscribe to DirecTV. I even suggest you going for a DirecTivo. An Ultimate TV would probably bring back bad memories, since its just a souped up DishPlayer. You might wait till February 1st when the new Total Choice Plus packages comes into effect. It will include the Family Pack.

You are wondering about the merger, right? Well, IMHO, the merger wont get approved. Even if it does get approved, its gonna be years before even a free swap of receivers comes into effect. I think it will be 2005 or 2006 before you will even be swapping your receiver for a similar receiver. So, go ahead and take the DirecTV plunge. You will not regret it at all. Also....think of it this way: No more Charlie Chats to watch. That alone is worth getting a DirecTV, IMHO. :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I believe those folks with gripes scream the loudest. I agree with some of your points, but the honest truth is that the percentage of people that don't have any problems is in the high 90's. If my grandmother, great aunt and mother-in-law(all elderly)can use the service 99.9% of the time without complaint, maybe some of us are either too picky or we tweak the stuff too much. Regardless, anyone who reads these forums should take what you see with a grain of salt (or maybe a shaker full).
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"My recommendation for you is to go ahead and subscribe to DirecTV. I even suggest you going for a DirecTivo. An Ultimate TV would probably bring back bad memories, since its just a souped up DishPlayer."

Huh??!! UltimateTV is an incredible device. Just because it backed by Microsoft (a company not in finaincial trouble) doesn't make it an evil piece of equipment. They were the first with the dual tuners. If anything, DirecTivo was a souped up Dish 501 since both had only single tuners for a long time. Who wants to watch what they are recording? The dual tuners feature was the main selling point to me for UltimateTV. If DirecTivo had had the dual tuner option first, I'd have bought their equipment. UltimateTV will be the first with remote recording as well, but that isn't the topic of the discussion.

I went from a Dish 501 to DirecTV with UltimateTV service. I can't even compare the two. The picture quality with DirecTV has been better than Dish, and I have had few complaints with the customer service, but a year ago Dish had OK customer service as well. I am hopeful for those of us with DirecTivo or UltimateTV that Dish will use DirecTV's equipment after the possible merge that is manufactured by reputible third parties rather than the proprietary equipment they are using now.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Neilster wrote:
"I agree with some of your points, but the honest truth is that the percentage of people that don't have any problems is in the high 90's."

I realize that you are generalizing but even so given the performance of the DishPlayer and the 501 units I find your percentage to be grossly high.

"If my grandmother, great aunt and mother-in-law(all elderly)can use the service 99.9% of the time without complaint, maybe some of us are either too picky or we tweak the stuff too much."

I've never made a single modification to any of my units be they Primestar, the Dish Network equipment or cable equipment. Then again a lot of this goes back to what I was saying about having a basis of comparison.

If your grandmother, great aunt and mother-in-law never subscribed to Primestar then they probably wouldn't notice the rather lengthy lag time that is ever present when using the DishPlayer to change channels. If those same women have never subscribed to DTV then they probably wouldn't notice that the lag time in scrolling through the EPG using the DP is much worse.

If people have no basis of comparison then I suppose that power-offs, pink screens of death, missed recordings, 1 minute recording etc etc etc would probably appear to be a reliably working unit. To those of us who DO have the experience with various services then we can point out the flaws, the bugs, and the downright shoddy coding that causes the vast majority of the problems with these products.

It's also a matter of perspective. I've seen DishPlayer owners who subscribe to the WebTV with the unit claim it to be faster than their pcs. LOL So what that the pc they are using is ancient and bogged down by an overbloated operating system it is their perspective that matters. That being said my Dreamcast, an OEM unit from Uniview, the NIC from ThinkNIC/Oracle, my old WebTV Plus unit, my old WebTV Classic, and my PIII 866 MHz Dell pc all kick the dog hell out of the DP when it comes to surfing speeds and all connected to the very same phone lines.

All I'm saying, and I think all a selective few who do have the backgrounds with various services and products are saying, is that broad generalizations of what the rest of the community feel about the service and the performance of their hardware could absolutely be a direct result of their LACK of experience with similar services and products with which to base a worthy opinion in the first place. J
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have came close to cancelling because of a REALLY BAD CSR mistake that ook 7 calls to fix the problem. Its sad the company has so many problems. The CSR pay at the pittsburgh call center is very low, and they have a bad curn problem. This only make customer service worse....
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As I posted on AVS, Im looking at taking the D* plunge, but the final desision is upto my mom, but if we lose the supers that will push things even farther. The new TC+ Package is an excelent value even with no TMC and Encores.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I would suggest taking plunge only if you want DirecTiVo and have locals available. Since 40% of the country has no locals available for those, its not worth paying $10/monthly and not being able to PVR network programming. Yeah, there are few channels DirecTV has that Dish doesnt. But when you already have say 100 channels, you may not get time to watch all channels that much.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
"I realize that you are generalizing but even so given the performance of the DishPlayer and the 501 units I find your percentage to be grossly high."

I was generalizing. However, I would be interested to see exactly how many DP's are out there.. I dare say that number is pretty low comparatively. As to the performance of the 501 - I myself have never had a problem. Some folks are pissed off because it doesn't do what they want it to, or because it isn't a Tivo - Currently, it does everything that it is supposed to do. Future enhancements are just that - future enhancements, not guaranteed functionality. For instance, I miss callerID - I had it on my 5000 and loved it. I knew that E* was thinking about it for a future release, but I also knew that it wasn't there then, and I still bought it with that knowledge. Tomorrow is not a guarantee, so enhancements will come when they come. I know that some people's 501's have legitimate trouble, and that's unfortunate, but with anything electronic that will happen.

I got a little off subject. I wonder if anyone has an accurate guess on the number of 1000's or 3800's out there - those units are absolutely rock-solid IMO. I still think that their customer sat record is in the nineties somewhere given the number of subscribers.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
as a former employee of Crap Network, I said the same kind of things (here on this board - and got slammed for it) Scott said , but that they all took place INSIDE the company. Just think....if Dish treats paying customers this way, how do you think they treat there own employees that should just be happy they even have a job (even though most of them aren't qualified to work there in the first place)?
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi Neilster. When you are talking about older units I have to agree with you entirely. Whether it be DTV, E*, or Primestar units, all of the older receivers performed to a level that is demanded out of most consumer electronics.

The shift in performance has come over the past couple of years. The DP has performed poorly, TiVos have had their problems, and UTV units have had problems as well. Unlike a few people I don't expect that these products should have problems....matter of fact I think that they should NOT. The reliability seen in older units helped both E* and DTV achieve success. Units like the DP have at the very least tarnished their image and even caused people to cancel their subscriptions.

As for the number of units out there you might try contacting M. Lumpkin although I doubt he'll actually release the numbers. That being said the DP was well ahead of both TiVo and ReplayTV until last year at which point TiVo at least surpassed sales of the DP. It would be interesting to know how many people have opted to choose reliable older units over the newer buggy units. J
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I just got a home theater magazine at home which talks about PVRS and Mark Lumpkin was quoted as saying that over 150,000 Dishplayers were sold.

I am not home so I cant tell you the title, but will loook when I get home.

Scott
 
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