DirecTV Will Get Their $280

Though I haven’t changed my position that Cancellation Fees Must Die, it was interesting to discover that DirecTV was/is monitoring social media for brand mentions, since someone from the DirecTV Office of the President left me a voicemail this morning due to yesterday’s post (and my Twitter mention).  I called “Veronica” back when I got back to my office 45 minutes ago.

It’s clear to me that I didn’t “follow their rules” and shame on me. Perhaps you think that I’m not justified in raining-on-DirecTV’s-parade with my rants — and I could probably get in to the inferior quality of their supplied DVR as another justification for my buying a DVR replacement at Best Buy — but suffice to say that due to a broken DirecTV DVR I had a choice: go to Best Buy and have DirecTV service back up-n-running within two hours, or what I now know “their rules” required. Those rules dictated that I contact them for a replacement DVR (and $5.99 per month in a service contract to “protect” their inferior product) while waiting what….3 days for the replacement to arrive by courier and thus be without service?

Since you and I “agree” to allow our conversations to be recorded (you’ll hear that boilerplate mention by DirecTV’s voice response system at the beginning of the recording below), so legally I can record it too and have done so in order to post it so you can hear the reason for their call (I edited out my phone/account number, the music, and got right to the interaction with Veronica).

The punchline? They’ve got me and one could argue that I don’t have a leg to stand on and — having run strategic alliances with a major software company where contracts are at the core and I read and understand every nuance — I should know better. You’d be right, but I’ll wager you don’t read Terms & Conditions of your satellite, cable, Google apps, Twitter and the hundreds of other Web apps you’ve signed up for, have you?

I’ll give them their $280 cancellation fee. But if the more than 40,000 views and pages of comments on this Target Trutech post (or searching on “Trutech” showing it as the #2 link in Google) is any indication of the attention this and yesterday’s post will surely receive, I’m going to guess DirecTV will find that being just a touch more reasonable with someone who’d been a customer for nine years might’ve been a wiser investment than a phone call of no value to either side, and the nickels-n-dimes they’ll get with their cancellation fee.

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8 Comments

  1. PXLated on December 17, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Legally they got ya – Morally they loose.



  2. Len on January 4, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Ever since they started with this “lease” thing, I knew it was trouble. So now I buy, I mean “lease”, and they got me. I can’t sell the unit on ebay when I’m done with it, since it’s not mine.

    I had a unit replaced by DTV once. I bought a brand new DVR and it broke within a month or so. Then I had to wait 3 or 4 days for a “refurbished” DVR after I paid for a new one. Grrrrr….

    I too have been a DTV customer for almost 9 years, and it’s true that there is no such thing as loyalty to their customers. It would have cost them nothing to reverse their decision. So basically, they “gotcha” for $280 but probably lost another $6000 in potential revenues for the next 9 years. Not to mention the bad press from this blog.



  3. Dan on January 6, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Steve, great investigation and follow up on the DirecTV issue. I must say I admire your composure in that recorded call.
    I recently cancelled DirecTV for similar reasons and used the experience as the first post on my own new blog. I have also been interested in recording such conversations, and was wondering if you could do us the service of describing how you record calls? I would not presume to promote my blog on yours, but feel free to check the link I sent for my own experiences, and thus my impetus to record. I have briefly experimented with low budget solutions, and am a bit stuck between my desire to gain a leg to stand on, and my miserly ways. Thanks, Dan



  4. Steve Borsch on January 6, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Dan,

    Bummer on your DirecTV adventure.

    “I have also been interested in recording such conversations, and was wondering if you could do us the service of describing how you record calls?”

    I can. I use Skype for my outbound calling (easy, use a headset, etc.) and have the $3 per month unlimited calling.

    To record the calls on my Mac, I use AudioHijackPro: http://www.rogueamoeba.com/audiohijackpro/ It’s extremely simple and the quality is as you heard. US$32

    If you’re on a PC, the Skype client is light-years past the Mac one and there is an awesome recorder (Pamela) you can get here: http://www.pamela-systems.com/ US$30

    Good luck!



  5. Colin on February 3, 2009 at 4:34 am

    I for one after reading this will make sure not to deal with them



  6. Mike on February 14, 2009 at 1:11 am

    I am now in a battle with DirecTv (AKA the devil) after I canceled my service I had for over 6 years. Back in October 2008 I moved to a new house and used their “Movers Connection” offer to get service up and running here. The technician who did the install said that one of my receivers was “outdated” and would not work with the new dish so he went to his truck and got a new one leaving the old one behind. Well, DirecTv is now saying that extended my agreement by another 2 years! I argued on the phone for about an hour and the CSR finally agreed to not charge me the $480 early cancellation fee but she would charge me $100 early cancellation fee for a new DVR I got back in December 2007. I agreed to that, even though I thought it was BS, and she said she would e-mail me with the final amount I would need to pay. I never received an e-mail and today I found a $518 charge to my checking account that I did not authorize. Thinking that I had taken care of this already I called to complain and was told by another CSR that the first CSR was wrong and they charged me the $400 fee anyway. This CSR also said since they had my credit card on file that gave them the authorization to charge my account for the full amount. I was also told to write a letter to them but it appears that does not do much good. I will be contesting the charge with my bank and hopefully they will credit me the amount back. I will gladly pay for the service I used before cancellation but the extra $400 is completely ridiculous!



  7. R Dolan on March 16, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Just canceled my DTV account and am being billed for $400. Outrageous! You have to pay their ‘protection’ to get service and to not get caught in their contract trap. Lets keep spreading the word on this. It is a crime that they are getting away with ripping people off in such a manner. After 10 years of service, valid or not, I feel scammed.



  8. T Blockey on August 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I was never told about my contract and I switched to a DVR and was never told about that contract. Turns out I would have met my first contract. When I canceled (A not so easy task to do) I was never told about a cancellation fee. They charged my card and that is how I found out. I fought it off my credit card and then they charged it again. This happened for about 4 months until the credit card company got upset and just banned them from my account.

    I have no recourse as far as I know legally to do anything about it hitting my credit report which I will let it do. DirectTV has lost me as a customer forever. I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire and I hope the eventually go out of business or are bought out and then I will toast to them. I had Direct TV about 12 years ago.

    It is crazy to ruin a customer for life. Wonder how long they can do it.



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