DirecTV customer service

Or… how not to deal with an irate customer

Update, August 12, 2004: For the first time I’ve gotten two bills with the same total! Woo!

Update, June 7, 2004: Yet another bill with a different total. One of these months it might actually settle down.

Originally written April 30, 2004

When I bought my new house, I decided to finally break free of Time-Warner Cable, since I hadn’t been very happy with their service. I bought a DirecTiVo and figured that I’d be in better shape, since a few friends have been happy with DirecTV.

It took about five months for the honeymoon to end, but now I’m convinced that the best solution is probably going to be throwing away the TV once the one-year subscription is done.

As I said, I signed up for the service just before the first of the year. Since signing up with DirecTV, my monthly bills have been:

January 5, 2004 $43.37
January 30, 2004 $62.94
February 28, 2004 $53.67
March 31, 2004 $42.44
April 30, 2004 $90.37
May 24, 2004 $42.26
June 24, 2004 $53.08
July 24, 2004 $53.08

I’ve been paying everything they’ve asked for, and just hoping that the bill would eventually settle down so I could actually budget for whatever the proper amount is going to be, but as you can see it hasn’t. Now part of this is understandable. The bill at the end of January had added service for a second receiver, and in March, my three months of free HBO was supposed to run out. Instead, when I received my bill in March, the price had gone down. I suppose I should have noticed, but it was just one of a dozen bills I pay at the end of the month, and I didn’t pay it any special attention, since I hadn’t had two bills for the same amount yet.

This month, as I sat down to pay the bills, I noticed that I was past due, in spite of having sent in everything they’d ever asked for, and was being threatened with having my service shut off. I got on the phone to try and determine what the mystery $23.42 on my bill was (it’s listed as a Payment Correction) and why I was suddenly past due.

After spending twenty minutes on the phone with Angie, I was told that someone else had written my account number on their check, and their payment had been mistakenly applied to my account. When DirecTV noticed the error (probably because that person had been cut off and called in to complain), they just took the money back out of my account and hit me with a late fee. I got no notice that anything had happened with my account, other than a mysterious “Payment Correction” that had no further explanation.

I ended up getting the late-fee cancelled (Woo! I saved $1.02!), but that took another five minutes on hold as Angie got approval for the credit (the front-line people can’t credit a customer a friggin’ buck without getting a supervisor?!?), and they’ve oh! so graciously extended my payment deadline so my service shouldn’t be cut off because of their mistake, but at this point, I have no confidence that they’re going to bill me correctly again. I also notice on my bill that they’re going to be increasing the cost of my service after my initial year is up.

They also offered me a free month of Showtime to make up for the hassle, but I expect that would carry over and I’d have to be on the phone with them again to cancel that, so after telling them as much, I refused it.

I find I’m not alone, in having problems with their billing department.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a high-end DirecTiVo come Christmas 2004, drop me a note. I’ll be shutting off the service entirely. I’m not sure whether I’m going to go back to cable or just use the TV for target practice at that point, but I don’t see why I would stay with DirecTV any longer than I have to.

Yeah, I’m probably being completely unreasonable about this. After all, why should I expect customer service from a company that’s selling me a service? What was I thinking?

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:08:40.