Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Beware of giving your credit card to DirecTV

Make absolutely sure you do not have a credit card on file for DirecTV. If you do, you are putting yourself in real jeopardy. You'll stand the chance of being auto-billed for charges that you don't agree with, and reversing them is time consuming and contentious. Read on.

After having DirecTV High Definition service for the last 18 months, our HD reception stopped working. The picture would pixilate, or worse, display a "Searching for satellite, 771" error. At first we thought something was blocking the dish reception, or that we had moisture on the LMB, none of which proved to be true. I called DirecTV Customer Service and they dispatched a technician.

After the tech analyzed the problem, he claimed that it was our DirecTV DVR that was the problem, and swapped it out for a new one. One week later the problem was back. The technician returned to our house and claimed that the problem was actually with our Samsung DLP TV, not the DVR, and that it was putting out an "...unacceptable amount of voltage" and destroying the functionality of the recorder. He refused to replace the DVR again, and referred me to his supervisor. His supervisor repeated the same story and said he would not keep replacing the DVR until we had the TV fixed.

I didn't buy his story, but decided to at least call Samsung and check it out. "Poppycock", they said. If the output connections were carrying excess voltage, the TV simply wouldn't work. Based on their explanation and DirecTV's refusal to fix the problem, I reluctantly decided to cancel DirecTV. After all, they were unable to deliver the service we paid for, even though it had been working just fine for 18 months.

Here comes the shocker.

They agreed to cancel the service, but claimed we owed them an early termination fee of $460 due to the fact that they had just given us a new DVR 1 week ago. I should note here that we paid monthly maintenance on all this equipment so I assumed that it was covered. It turns out it is covered, hence no charge for a new DVR. Nonetheless, without being forewarned, accepting a new DVR obligated me to a new 2 year agreement.

Of course, I'm disputing the charge with DirecTV and American Express. I just want to make sure that everyone understands how deceptive DirecTV can be. Had I been told that I was obligated to 2 more years, I never would have accepted the new equipment.

Caveat emptor!