July 29, 2008
I too have experienced the DirecTV bait-and-switch pricing policy. You made a smart move to return your new set-top box. I am one year past where you are and you are correct; DirecTV uses BAIT-and-Switch pricing practices.
I had received the NFL package (only) for aver a decade on the non-HD hardware. Last year I upgraded to the dual tuner+DVR set-top box. I too was told the $199 was a purchase for the new set-top box. Further, the DirecTV sales associate assured me that no new charges would be linked to the upgrade.
Once the new HD set-top box was activated they started sending bills that added several *undisclosed* charges. These charges included the $4.99/month for the "Primary Lease Receiver", $5.99/month for "DirecTV DVR Service", $9.99/month for "HD Access" and an annual fee of $99 called "Super Fan" which they said was required to receive NFL games in HD. The folks at DirecTV are crooks. They sell one thing then abuse their customer base.
After much conversation with DirecTV and turning off the service because of all the undisclosed charges they had their Customer Retention department call and they waived the fees that were undisclosed for the first year. They waived the 4.99/mo 5.99/mo, 9.99/mo and the Super Fan uplift. Now that it is time to sign up for the upcoming NFL season again they are trying to add the undisclosed charges back **but this time with a twist**. Not only do they want me to pay for the undisclosed charges listed above they are insisting that I add a "Base Programming Package" as well. Not a chance. I have been a Comcast broadband customer for over a decade at this same residence and have used the DirecTV service for the NFL Package *only*.
You are a smart person. I wish I was as smart as you and would have run away from these DirecTV Crooks. If you are considering service with DirecTV I strongly suggest you get all pricing and fees documented from they *in writing*. Good luck with that as they do not want to disclose how they will attempt to gouge you.
=== Details for those that would like to avoid the frustration of a DirecTV purposefully mis-stating prices only to add undisclosed charges “after” turning up the service. ===
Here is yet another educational tool to use when attempting to deal with DirecTV.
One you successfully escalate out of the black hole of the phone Customer Service group you will end up in the Customer Retention group. Their mission is to prevent disconnect orders. I have had to deal with them last NFL season (2007-2008) and again this NFL season (2008-2009).
After being escalated to Carmen (agent ID U 3957) on Saturday 7/26/2008 we were able to come to an agreement on pricing and fees for the upcoming NFL season. When I asked her to send me an email with the pricing commitments she refused. I offered to document the details of our conversation and email them to her to receive confirmation in writing of the arrangements made. She again refused. Carmen simply said I have the new pricing and fee structure noted in your account record and that would be all I needed. I learned my lesson from last season that without commitments from the crooks at DirecTV "nothing sticks".
I scribed the detailed notes from the conversation (Customer Retention rep Carman U3957 and sent it off to the DirecTV Customer Service department (firstname.lastname@example.org). They replied back indicating that did not or would not honor the commitments made by THEIR CUSTOMER RETENTION AGENT (U3557). Instead, they wanted to break the commitment made at the time of my upgrade which was for the NFL Package *only* ($249) (7/18/2007) and the revised commitment made on 7/26/2008) for the NFL Package + Super Fan + DVR fee/mo + HD access/mo ($491.82 assuming a 9 month NFL season).
In short, DirecTV is now and has practiced unethical and in my eyes illegal pricing policies. Stay as far away from these folks as you can and save yourself the grief.