DirecTV Inc Complaint - Avoid This Company
Resolution Update on 02/06/2008:
After emailing a copy of this review to the office of the president and vice president of Direct TV (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) I was contacted by a representative and the disputed charges were reversed.
MARINA, CALIFORNIA -- THIS HAS BECOME THE MOST DISREPUTABLE COMPANY THAT I HAVE EVER DONE BUSINESS WITH.
My problem with Direct TV began on December 10, 2007 when I first contacting the company about dissatisfaction with the service I was paying for. After that the story gets a bit complicated, but essentially Direct TV is now charging me a cancellation fee for a service that was never delivered as offered and was not used by me. I believe that I am a victim of deceptive sales practices that were disguised as "customer support" and have been denied any reasonable access to arbitration concerning these charges.
My disputed claim with the company regarding this issue seems to have been dismissed with a form letter that essentially takes no responsibility for the statements and practices of their customer service department.
This process has cost me at least 10 hours of telephone time, 3 hours of letter writing and now I am threatened with negative credit reporting that could seriously affect my financial well-being.
My statement of the facts of the situation are included in the following letter to their billing disputes department. Direct TV's response to this letter has been the form letter I refer to above which says that I was being charged for not fulfilling my commitment. The phone number in the letter put me back into the customer service telephone loop where, after telling my story to two more representatives, I was ultimately told that the decision had been made at the disputes department in company headquarters and there was no process available for further arbitration.
The text of my letter to their corporate headquarters follows. (Personal info deleted):
December 29, 2007
Direct TV Incorporated
Att: Billing Disputes
Greenwood Village, CO 80155
Acct # xxxxxx
Order # xxxxxxx
Marina CA 93933
Prior to this communication I have been a customer of Direct TV since mid-2003. On December 29, 2007, I contacted your customer service department to cancel my Direct TV subscription and arrange a return of recently purchased equipment. My service was cancelled and I was told by your representative that I would be responsible for some significant cancellation charges. I am writing to dispute the application of these charges and to request a reimbursement of $112.50 that I believe was inappropriately charged to me during the installation of the equipment. Below are the relevant facts relating to this dispute.
On December 10, 2007 I first contacted Direct TV Customer Service regarding dissatisfaction and possible discontinuation of my service because I was not receiving all of the high definition stations that I was paying for and was not able get a reliable off-air HD reception of local network affiliates of CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS.
At that time I was put in touch with a service representative who told me that although my receiver was an HD DVR, it was obsolete equipment that was not capable of receiving all of the HD service I was entitled to under my existing subscription plan which I knew to be on a month-to-month basis. I was offered an opportunity to keep the current subscription plan on the same month-to-month basis and to replace my HD DVR receiver with a newer model at a significant discount of $250 off of the $299 price and also to replace another obsolete RCA standard receiver in the master bedroom with a newer HD receiver at a one-time cost of $99. I was told that there would be no charge for installation and a 3rd DVR receiver located in a 2nd bedroom which I had previously purchased from Circuit City would also be correctly installed at no additional charge (I had installed it myself but it was only receiving a signal to one of its two tuners.)
Before accepting the offer I asked for and received very specific information concerning what I was agreeing to:
1) I would continue with my current subscription package on a month-to-month basis and was not entering into an extended contract. The only charges to me would be the one-time discounted cost of the “upgraded” replacement HD DVR receiver and the cost of the new HD receiver in the master bedroom.
2) An upgraded satellite dish would be installed to replace the one outside my home and would provide good quality high definition reception of the local networks mentioned above as well as ABC. This HD reception would be available on both of the new HD receivers without the use of any separate indoor antennas (rabbit ears).
3) The upgraded Direct TV DVR receiver in the family room would be hooked up properly and integrated into my existing stereo surround system and DVD player and VCR recorder (as was the one that was being replaced) with the remote control programmed to function in the same way as previously.
4) Complete installation would be at no charge and would also include proper and appropriate hookup of the aforementioned existing dual tuner DVR that is located in a 2nd bedroom. (It is important to note that I specifically told the representative that I believed that this hookup would require entering the attic and pulling a 2nd line into the room. I was assured that this would be “no problem” and would not entail additional charges.)
5) A television in a 3rd bedroom which served as an office would continue to receive “mirrored” reception from bedroom #2 at no additional cost.
With these questions and concerns answered in a satisfactory manner I accepted the offer and was eventually given an installation date of December 16 from 1-5 pm.
The installation crew called early in the morning of the 16th and asked if they could do the work immediately (9 AM) instead of the afternoon as per the appointment. I objected because I had scheduled my afternoon so I could be present for the installation and knew that I would have to leave my home by 9:30 AM. The caller, who identified himself as the supervisor, told me that an adult must be there but it did not have to be me. So, although I knew I had to leave before the installation would be complete, my wife would be available, and I agreed to the early arrival.
The two-man crew arrived almost immediately. I reviewed the work I had ordered and what I expected to have done and was given the following information by the installation crew:
1) Their work order only included the replacement HD DVR, the 2nd HD receiver and the replacement satellite dish.
2) They knew nothing about the receiver in the 2nd bedroom and would require a payment of $75 per hour to pull a 2nd wire through the wall and hook up the receiver properly.
3) They told me that they were simply a contractor and whomever I spoke to at customer service was either uninformed or deliberately misleading about the installation fees. They further stated that it was not uncommon for them to face similar situations where a customer had been given inaccurate information about the fees associated with installation of equipment.
At this time I had to leave for an appointment and since the crew was already present and everything else except the additional installation fee seemed to be appropriate, I agreed to pay them to complete the installation with the intention of resolving the disputed extra fee with your customer service department at a later time.
Upon my return after the installation I checked over the system and found the following:
—There was no HD reception of any of the local networks on either HD receiver.
—The installation crew had given no instructions or demonstration to my wife as to the proper use of any equipment or the new remote controls (which were different than the ones that we had with the previous equipment.)
—The remote control for the primary receiver in the family room was not programmed to function with my surround sound system and did not seem to be connected properly to it.
—My existing DVD/VCR player in the family room was not connected to the Direct TV receiver that had been installed.
I called the installer about the problem with the remote and my concern about the lack of HD reception of the networks. They told me that it was not possible to get the reception I expected with the receivers I received and they agreed to return to review the proper use of the remote.
I then called Direct TV once more to speak to a service representative about the local network programming and my dissatisfaction with the payment of extra installation fees. After about an hour of being bounced to various folks I ended up with a “supervisor” who told me that nothing could be done at that time about the installation fees that I had paid but Direct TV would replace the equipment that had been installed with equipment that was capable of receiving the off-air high definition signal. I was told that I would be called within 24 hours with an installation date.
As promised, the installer returned to my home and told me that the remote for the receiver I had could not be used to directly control my stereo receiver and said that the problem I was having with getting proper volume was a problem with my Onkyo tuner and not the Direct TV equipment. (Prior to this installation the Onkyo tuner had been working perfectly.)
By this time it was late in the day, I was quite frustrated, and I decided that because the installed equipment was going to be replaced anyway there was no further point in trying to make the remote for the current equipment work to my satisfaction. The installer was very pleasant and asked that I call him directly when I received the new appointment and he would personally be sure that everything was hooked up correctly and working. I forgot to remind him about the DVD/VCR hookup which I assumed would be done when the new equipment was installed.
I never received the expected call regarding a new installation appointment so a few days later I called to follow up on my own. At this time I spoke to another representative who said that although there was a record of my call on the 16th there was nothing in the service record about a promised replacement of the receivers and was told in fact that these receivers with built-in off-air antennas were no longer being produced and were not available. I was further told that the representative I had spoken to was not an employee of Direct TV and there was no way to follow up on what I was claiming to be promised… by this time I was so frustrated that I had very little desire left to remain a customer of Direct TV… the only saving grace was the polite and supportive tone of the representative I was speaking to who seemed as if she genuinely was interested in resolution of my plight… she said that she would immediately arrange for me to receive a high definition signal of an ABC feed and that she would request that NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS feeds also be made available to me. She said that it could take up to ten days and she could not guarantee that the request would be granted. Because of the good-will of getting the ABC feed I decided to wait the ten days to see if things could be resolved before completely canceling my service….
To my complete chagrin the promised high definition reception of ABC (which I was told would take place immediately) never appeared. This was the last straw… I had no time for more telephone calls and having lost all faith in the competence and integrity of your company ands its representatives I decided to switch to a cable service… which brings me back to the call I refer to in the first paragraph of this letter… when I learned that there was going to be a cancellation fee for canceling my service…
In addition to all I have mentioned above I would also like to note that when the local cable company arrive to hook me up to their service I was made aware of the fact that the Direct TV cable that was pulled to connect to the receiver in the 2nd bedroom and for which I had paid $112.50 had been incorrectly pulled through the wall next to the existing cable box instead of being attached to it as would have been proper and standard practice.
I acknowledge that my wife signed a form titled “DirectTV Equipment Lease Addendum” but claim that she did so as a matter of form because it was just put in front of her when she paid the installers. The 1st page (Satisfaction Checklist) had been X’ed out and there was neither time to read nor could there be a reasonable expectation for her to understand that she was signing a contract that was in any material way different than the one for our existing service. She was there only because the presence of an adult was requested. She had not been part of any of the telephone negotiations that I had carried on with Direct TV and assumed that you were a reputable company.
In light of the facts outlined above I hereby dispute the application of any service cancellation charges associated with discontinuation of my Direct TV service and request the reimbursement of the $112.50 fee that was paid at the time of installation and all charges paid by me for equipment that is being returned.
Marina, CA 93933