Cancellation Fees Must Die
The problem is that more and more companies are making it very difficult to cancel (AOL and now Vonage are the best examples of creating barriers to cancellation by not answering the phone, putting you on hold forever, and other such goofy practices), and DirecTV has proven to be no exception.
One barrier to switching to a competitor is a practice, which I view as unethical and bordering on criminal, of putting in onerous terms and conditions that make it very difficult to cancel or make a switch by taking any change made during a contract, extending the term automatically, and applying cancellation fees if you choose to cancel. Most people make a change at some point during their time with a company and thus the unethical company can keep stringing people along indefinitely.
In addition to that, you and I have almost no recourse if we want to alter the contract before signing, negotiate or simply not pay these draconian fees. If we choose to tell them to go pound sand and withhold payment, they systemically say “F” you and turn you in for collection, eroding your credit rating.
Today’s DirecTV example is illustrative of this practice. Back in February, my DirecTV DVR went on the fritz and I went to Best Buy to replace it. Activating it at home later that evening, I was told that I’d wasted my money since they would’ve shipped out a replacement unit at no cost! We went ahead with setup, I returned the defective unit anyway and continued with service until today.
Turns out that the Best Buy receipt for that DVR had an agreement on it that said I was ‘leasing’ the DVR and was therefore signing up for a new two year agreement! Yeah I know, I should’ve just returned the one I bought after discovering they would’ve sent a free one or found another way, but I’ve got better things to do with my time than dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ with all of the crappy terms and conditions we’re all supposed to adhere to with services like this one (and T’s and C’s that say right in them that the company can change them without necessarily even notifying us! How’s THAT for a blank check?).
The DirecTV cancellation fee? $280. Think I’ll fight it? You bet your ass I will, and if things don’t work out with my other option, DirecTV will never, ever be considered as an option again and I would strongly caution you to take great care if you opt to use them.
UPDATE 12/17/08: Received call from DirecTV Office of the President. Post here.
About Steve Borsch
SiteGround is 'The One'
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.