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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm trying to help out my brother who lives in LA, but haven't found a definitive answer on this. He currently has only one receiver (and old RCA), and only subscribes to the local channels -- he's had this for years, back when they offered "locals only" subscriptions.

He's interested in getting the LA locals in HD, and I told him that I thought if he bought an H20, he would automatically get the MPEG-2 feeds on 81, 83, 87, and 89. But since LA is transitioning to MPEG-4, I wonder if I gave him bad advice? Seems like they should automatically be turned on, unless there is a concerted effort NOT to authorize any new receivers for those channels. On the DirecTV website, if I enter his zip code into their "local stations" page, the "80s" channels are listed as being available -- but who knows when that was last updated.

Anyone have any real world experience with this?
 

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No experience with that, but he may want to be careful about what he does in terms of getting a new receiver. All receivers are leased now (I'm sure you knew that), but activation (of HD equipment) also requires a two-year commitment to subscribe to a minimum of the Total Choice package. If he is getting just locals now and nothing else, I am assuming he's paying a whole lot less than $45-$50 a month. If he upgrades equipment, his "locals only" grandfathered status may be out the window.

He may want to discuss that with D*, and if they agree to the upgrade and him keeping locals only, he should get it in writing. And I would suggest he try to get something tangible in writing, not just an assurance from a CSR that there is a "note in his account".

Sorry, I've got nothing for you with regard to your actual question, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response. I actually had the same thought, and told him to call D* *before* he buys the thing. He did, and they said he could do that and still continue to pay for the just the local channels, however he didn't specifically mention that it might be an HD receiver. In fact, he hadn't thought that he could get the locals in HD until I mentioned it.

I was looking through the info for the H20 on both the Best Buy and Circuit City websites, and neither one says anything about having to subscribe to "Total Choice." The most I've been able to find is the words "2-year commitment required," but it doesn't say commitment to WHAT.

In any event, I will definitely pass along your words of wisdom to him. Thanks!
 

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In theory he should get the HD Locals on the 80's channels automatically. Those channels will not be "turned off" and replaced by the MPEG4 versions until sometime later in 2007 at the earliest. But as JLucPicard points out, he has an unusual channel package, so he should check with DirecTV first. Of course, there's no harm in getting or borrowing an H20 and trying it. He'll need at least a 3-LNB Phase III dish, though, in case he still has an older round 18" single LNB dish.
 

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videojanitor said:
I was looking through the info for the H20 on both the Best Buy and Circuit City websites, and neither one says anything about having to subscribe to "Total Choice." The most I've been able to find is the words "2-year commitment required," but it doesn't say commitment to WHAT.
Perhaps you should have looked at the DirecTV website:

DirecTV Agreements said:
Programming Commitment & Activation
As a DIRECTV customer, you agree to receive certain DIRECTV programming, activate your service and return leased equipment.

Programming Commitment

* You agree to pay for 12 consecutive months (for standard receivers) or 24 consecutive months (for advanced receivers) of a $29.99/mo. or above programming package.
* You agree to pay a $4.99/mo. lease fee for your second and each additional receiver.
* If you do not fulfill your Programming Commitment, DIRECTV may charge you a fee of up to $150 for standard equipment or $300 for advanced receivers.

Activation

* You agree to activate your DIRECTV service in accordance with the Equipment Lease Addendum or be subject to a non-activation fee of $150 per receiver.
* You agree to activate and maintain DVR service if you leased a DVR or HD DVR - at a cost of $5.99/mo. This charge is included in the TOTAL CHOICE® PREMIER package. This fee covers every DVR in your home.
In this instance, watch out for that non-activation fee above all else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks! I have a Phase III dish that I retired when I installed my AT-9, so I was going to give that to him. In the meantime, one of the LA HD locals (KCBS) is on 101, so if he gets that, he should be good to go on the other three.

I just called him though and passed along the info in the first response above, and told him to call back and be very specific about what he wants to buy. Not sure if they will give gim anything in writing though -- don't know how the CSRs would deal with such a request.

On a related note, when I activiated my HR20, the CSR said absolutely nothing to me about being commited to anything, though I already knew what I was buying into. You would think this would be the #1 item on their list? Or maybe it's in their best interest NOT to tell you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
harsh said:
Perhaps you should have looked at the DirecTV website:
Ooh. Yeah, I did look there, but obviously not hard enough. This is exactly the way that I understood it, which is why I was a little surprised when he said he called them and was told yes, he could add a receiver and keep his current "locals only" package. Either the person he talked to didn't know what they were talking about (hard to believe, I know), or they are willing to give him special consideration because he's had that package for so long.
 

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Again, given what we are seeing here, if anyone offers to let him upgrade equipment and keep his programming the way it is, he needs - at minimum, I would think - an e-mail agreeing to very specific terms. There is too much history of people being told something that really seems far afield from standard terms, only to be held to the standard terms at a later date and being told, "We're sorry, that CSR should not have said that".

Similar to what you said about not being told about the lease - it's their policy now and all new activations are bound by it, but I have yet to see anyone who claims that they "weren't told about it and did not sign anything saying I agree to it" actually get out of it based on those claims.

I just get a real "treading on shaky ground" feeling about all of this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, the bottom is line is that you were absolutely correct. I had him call back, and be very specific about what he was asking for ... the CSR he got this time had to go check with his supervisor, and the answer was exactly what you thought -- ANY change would trigger a commitment to "Total Choice" or higher -- 1 year for a basic receiver; 2 years for HD.

So, that takes care of that. He will sit tight with what he's got. Sincere thanks for your words of warning!
 

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Sorry for what it means to your friend, but I am glad you found that out before he did something and couldn't go back.

This forum has saved my bacon a few times - happy to return the favor!
 
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