The way the system is structured, you can never be 100% sure who is doing what, and I think it was intentionally designed that way, so that everyone guilty of this can claim "Oh, it wasn't me, it was Company X that did this".
The problem is when doing satellite installations as a contractor or subcontractor, you can never be sure if you will actually ever get paid for doing the installations, or even if you are paid for them, that you will be allowed to keep the money you earned.
Most of the problems arise from what is termed "backcharges", and this can cover a wide range of situations under an unusually wide umbrella term. For example, if you, as an installer, didn't do something quite right, and the company has to send someone out after and "fix" or repair your error, then the money for that installer/technician is paid for by you, or "backcharged". Now, normally I would agree that this could be a legitmate use, but it gives too much leeway for the company to play havoc with money they owe you, especially when you fall under the sub-contractor term.
Depending on how extensive the repairs that need to be done are (and this is from only by what the company claims they are), the charge may range from a simple "service call" charge (at the time I was installing, it was $35) to them basically stealing back the entire amount they paid for the installation when it was done the first time. And this stealing of money from installers was "legal" because it was in the contract.
And one such company I worked for, New England Satellite & Sound, located in Woonsocket, RI, pulled this many times on me and other installers they had working for them at the time. Depending on what suited them more, they claimed either that we as installers worked for them, not the company that they got their installation orders from, or that we worked for the "parent" company, which at the time was Halsted Communications. The story changed to which ever answer was more convenient for them at the time.
Halsted Communications, the company that issued the installation orders to NESS, also through many different times had, or so NESS claimed, set it up so that installers doing anything other than what they considered a standard install (which varied depending on who you talked to at any time of day) so that any extra work had to be "justified" before they would consider paying what the "acceptable charge" was for that, but if there was any question, they had no problem just taking money without justification of any kind. I asked to see the paperwork that was issued that supported the backcharges claimed against my work many times, and NESS was either unable or unwilling to show that.
Me and a group of other satellite installers basically split off from working for NESS due to the shoddy treatment we were getting, and went to work for one of the guys who claimed he had run a company before for this sort of thing. If you are reading this and considering going to work for a guy that goes by the name Erik Thomas, think long and hard about it. He is an example of the problems with this whole industry. He also claimed to have a company named "Thomas Communications", which after legal proceedings were filed against him by a former coworker, turned out to be the name already of a legitimate company elsewhere in the state. Numerous attempts were made to retrieve money owed by him to me and others, with legal right to claim, and to my knowledge, have been unable to obtain this money.
The next company (while working as part of what I thought at the time was Thomas Communications) I have had experience with was a company that had a local distribution center in my state, but I do not remember the name. This company had no problems with backcharges, but they told us as installers that we would have local work. We believed that to mean local to us, but well after the time they said the local work would be happening, the only thing that was local about it was it being local to the distribution center.
The problem with TC was towards the end, he (Erik) got greedy and got ridiculous with the backcharges he was claiming. He was claiming that we "lost an installation" which meant that we as a company couldn't claim that customer for an installation, either because they went to another company or decided to not get anything installed. He backcharged a coworker for a job that wasn't even that coworker's to begin with, and then told me that "you will have to figure it out between you", expecting me to pay the money he charged that person out of my own pocket. Now most "normal" backcharges would be at the most, what could be expected to be paid for an installation. The charge he assessed on this one was $350, well above and beyond the normal $65-$110 (depending on the amount of receivers installed) an installation would expect to be.
I could go on, but you get the idea here. The problem is, this is unfortunately the norm out there as far as I have seen it, and from talking to other people who are also in the installation business, for the most part, it is the same all over the country. Now, this being the case, and even if Dish and DirecTV aren't actually backcharging the installers this (which they don't do to the hourly people), then they either are aware or are ignoring this, and therefore, just as responsible for this to happen. But they still let it go on.
The "local" companies are doing their best to keep it quiet so that people don't hear about it, but the only people who end up paying is the local installers, because if anything is charged to the companies with the work orders, they do their best to make sure that cost gets passed on to the people who are out there making them the money.
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