Direc TV Inc / deceptive business practices
DirecTV was unequivocally the worst experience that I have ever had with any product or service. It’s hard to believe that such a company can legally operate while employing the deceptive business practices that I encountered throughout the 17 month term of service that I had with them. Once they have you, there is no way out. If you request to cancel service due to their deceptive billing practices, failure to honor agreements/promises or evasive customer service and unresolved problems, they will threaten you with a huge termination fee for canceling early.
I cannot believe how many hours (probably days if you add them all up during my 17 months of service) that I spent on the phone & emails in good faith trying to give DirecTV the opportunity to honor the promises & agreements they made. However, despite all this effort, I was met time and time again with extremely evasive customer service that will drag out an issue (no matter what it might be) for as long as they can in what appears to be a tactic to wear you down into just giving up.
A perfect example of this the $50 Visa gift card that was promised at the beginning of service for enrolling in auto bill pay. They initially told me it would take 4-6 weeks to arrive. After a couple of months I called to check on the status of it and was told that it wouldn’t be sent until after three billing cycles had passed. A couple of months later I was then told that they never had any Visa Gift card offer. In future phone calls I spoke with managers and representatives who said each time that the issue was being sent to a special “escalation department”. However there was never any type of response or resolution.
I requested several times to just credit my account for $50 in lieu of the Visa Gift Card and they said they couldn’t do that. Finally after 10 months and countless phone calls I said that I was going to cancel my account. They immediately threatened me with a $250 early termination fee if I did so. Then they put me on hold and said they would credit my account for $50 (even though they said this couldn’t be done in the countless phone calls over the previous 10 months).
When I signed up for DirecTV, I specifically indicated that it would be for RV use. At the recommendation of the DirecTV rep, I ordered a mobile tripod for an additional $50 that could be used for this purpose. I was told that the local channels would be available wherever I went. That, however, was not the case. I was later told that I needed to pay a significant additional fee to receive local channels. When I said I wanted to cancel because I couldn't get the local channels that they promised and I was paying for, Directv again threatened to charge me with a huge early termination fee.
I finally had enough and told Directv at the end of 2008 that I was going to cancel my account regardless of any termination fees. They transferred me to the “retention department” and offered me a price of $34.99/mo that was locked in for the remaining 12 months. Wanting to avoid the termination fee I agreed and thought the problems were over. I asked the representative to put notes on my account regarding the offer in order to avoid any issues in the future. The next month they debited my checking account for $42.99. I called DirecTV and referred them to the previous offer and account notes. They said they saw the offer and put in a request to correct it but it would take 7-14 days. Then the next bill came and it was for $62.99. I called again and they still hadn’t corrected the first error and were about to debit my checking account for $62.99. They said they would send a request to the now mythical “escalation department” but it would take another 7-14 days. When I called to follow up they said that $62.99 was correct and they didn’t see any offer of $34.99 from the retention department. After several more weeks and many hours on the phone & email and they still refused to acknowledge the offer that was made even though the first representative confirmed the notes were in my account.
I decided at this point I needed to handle all future correspondence in writing. So I sent an email to customer service and said that I was cancelling my service and would file a complaint with the BBB. In subsequent replies they first said they would charge $42.99, then $37.99 and then $39.99. It was different with each representative and each reply. They still refused to acknowledge the first offer of $34.99 notated on my account and even refused to acknowledge the $37.99 that I now had in writing. I finally had to cancel auto bill pay to prevent them from arbitrarily debiting my account for unauthorized overcharges.
For anybody that hasn’t gone through this process and is wondering why not just cancel service and then refuse to pay the early termination fee? The answer is Directv has your debit/credit card on file. Within days of cancelling service, they will charge your card for the termination fee without any type of bill, authorization or notification. In my case this was a debit card linked to my checking account. Poof…$139 in cash was gone without my knowledge. Fortunately I had enough cash to cover the charge. But this could easily have resulted in some hefty overdraft and returned check charges.
When I requested that they refund the charge, they referred me to the customer agreement that says they have the right to charge your card without notice for termination fees. Apparently, DIRECTV believes that it is acceptable business practice to actively evade any promises/agreements made with the customer, but fully expects the customer to keep paying for their “service” or suffer the consequence of a huge early termination fee.
Please do yourself a favor and stay clear of this company. No matter what “special offer” they have at the time and no matter how good it may seem, they will do everything within their power not to honor it. You will end up spending many frustrating hours on the phone, usually with no resolution. And if a resolution ever does come, it will often take months of continuous follow-up in order to make them honor their agreements.
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