I am very unhappy about DirectTV's service which occurred right after I signed the contract at a local Sam's Club.
My wife and I switched to DirectTV from Time Warner Cable (TWC) when TWC increased our monthly fees (the service fees began at $75 / mo and were ultimately raised to $162 / mo even as I reduced the features). I note that DirectTV advertised a very low monthly fee and I realized I could save $60 / mo by switching to Direct TV (or so I thought) and using a VOIP telephone along with an independent internet cable provider. I can say that we were pleasantly surprised at the improvement with the quality of the TV reception from 720p to 1080i. That surprise was quickly overcome by the problems with DirectTV. My complaints with the DirectTV service include, but are not limited to the following:
1) Refund Not Issued
: At the time I signed up, the salesman promised to refund me one full month of service since we had to remove a tree for the satelite antenna. To date, we are still waiting on the refund.
2) Surprise Installation Fees
: We were not informed that we would have to pay the technician to install a pole on which to place the satelite antenna. The salesman informed us that the installation of the satelite antenna and receivers would be free, but that there would be charges if the technicians had to upgrade the cables in our house. The technician informed us that he would not charge us if he put the the antenna on the roof or side of the building, but that he could not because he was not allowed to put the antenna on a shingle roof nor on a house with siding. He gave us no choice and informed me that we would have to pay him right then for the installation of a pole in the ground.
3) Surprise Service Fees
: After the technicians completed the installation they handed me the telephone and left the building, at which time I learned that there would be NO follow up service in the event the satelite equipment failed. The Direct TV person on the telephone informed me that I either had to pay a 2 year maintenance fee right then of approximately $180 (I don't recall the exact figure) or that I would have to pay a hefty service fee if the satelite antenna or receivers failed and required service. I found the manner and timing in which Direct TV disclosed this to us to be very offensive since they did not disclose this fact to me prior to the sale.
4) Local Reception Problems
: Since installation, we have experienced problems receiving certain local stations: the video image on the screen will simply freeze. We have noticed this on ABC and Fox stations. The service man who came out to troubleshoot the problem informed us that this is a problem with the Direct TV feeds and not with the satelite receiver nor antenna.
5) Download Buffering Problems
: When we signed up, we were not informed that in order to watch certain movies that we needed a fast internet download speed nor that we had to first download the movie before we could watch it. After all, we thought this was a Satelite and not an internet service. As a result, when we select certain movies to watch, the screen frequently freezes and provides the message: "Buffering". After installation and after the first service call directed at this problem, the Direct TV technician informed us that we must first download the movies we wanted to watch and then plan to watch it several hours later. I note that we did not have this problem with our cable provider.
6) TOO Many Informmercial Stations
: Before we signed up, we were informed that there were numerous stations we could watch. We signed up for, I believe, the Direct TV Entertainment Package. Yet after installation, we discovered that the majority of the Direct TV stations were Infommercial stations. It's very frustrating to have to use the remote page through these stations to find stations of interest to watch which were not infommercial stations. We discovered at a later date that we could block these stations. Yet we found it extremely time consuming to reprogram the satelite receiver to block out all of those infommercial stations. Afterwards, we realized that we really did not have many stations left to watch.
7) The Majority of Those 10,000 Available Movies are Not Free
: The salesmen and technicians both informed us that there are over 10,000 movies on DirectTV which we can watch at any given time and implied that these movies were free to watch. At no time did they inform us that we would be charged for watching these movies or how difficult it is to search through the movies to find free movies to watch. Simply stated, there are very few free movies. I returned to watching movies on Amazon Prime on my computer connected to my TV since it is easier to find the movies on the computer than using the Direct TV remote and since my perception is that Amazon has a greater selection of free movies to watch than does Direct TV.
8) Difficult to Use Remote
: The remote is not easy to use. During the first few weeks, my wife who is technically challenged, could not figure out how to use the remote control and wanted to disconnect the Direct TV service immediately - regardless of the cost. I personally gave up paging through the channels and wrote down the channel numbers to press for the stations I watch. Surprisingly, due to the problems I have in finding quality programming I found myself setting the Direct TV to a music station to play only music while I read books instead of watching the TV (I am now discovering what I have been missing)!
9) Error With Bill and Refund Delay
: Our monthly bill charged to my credit card is supposed to average $49.00 / month for the Direct TV Entertainment package. Yet Direct TV charged me over $150 for just the satelite service (I eliminated the bundling of services and went for independent companies to provide that service to save money). When I called Direct TV to complain, Direct TV informed me that they made an error and would simply credit the overpayment against future bills. They also stated that it occurred on a global basis and initially refused to credit my account for their error. After speaking with a supervisor, I finally convinced DirectTV to credit my credit card for the overcharges. DirectTV stated it would take approximately 10 to 14 days to credit the account even though I stated it should occur that day!
10) Fox Negotiation Problems
: I admit it, we watch a lot of Fox TV programming. Yet when DirectTV and Fox entered into a contract dispute over charges, DirectTV made a big deal of it and kept running banner ads accross the top of the channel stating that as customers we would not be able to watch Fox TV after a certain date because Direct TV was dropping Fox since Fox intended to increase the cost of the programming to Direct TV. REALLY!!! It appeared to us as if we were watching little children fighting and running home to mom and dad. To us, it caused us to dislike the Direct TV service even more.
11) Opera Winfrey Network (OWN) Problems
: We signed up with Direct TV because my wife's friends told her about the Opera Winfrey Network and because she decided that she wanted to watch Opera Winfrey. Less than two months after we obtained Direct TV, they notified us that we would have to pay more money for us to watch the OWN channel. When I tried to get out of the contract because Direct TV could not perform as promised, DirectTV informed me that it was too bad, that they could anything they wanted with the channel programming, that we could not do anything about it, that it was an OWN issue where OWN decided to charge more for the OWN programming and that Direct TV was passing the charges to the consumer by removing the channel from the less expensive programming, that DirectTV was not going to adjust our monthly charges down if they no longer included the OWN channel in our programming package, that Direct TV would not keep our bill the same if we had them move us up to the next tier programming package which included the OWN programming, nor would they allow us out of the contract because we were not satisfied with how Direct TV handled all of these issues. Due to the perception of extortion to increase their profits, we will not be changing our service plan to the higher level programming package to watch OWN. Sorry Opera!
Quite simply, we are very frustrated with Direct TV (not the servicemen who were very skilled, polite, and nice) and the fact that Direct TV makes us feel as if we as customers are wrong and have no rights. In fact, they do not make the Direct TV experience pleasurable. My wife and I decided after less than two weeks that we will not continue with Direct TV at the end of the contract. If the DirectTV problems continue to increase our frustration then we may simply terminate the contract early.
So what to we intend to do if DirectTV does not resolve the above problems to make us happier as DirectTV customers? Well, we probably will not return to Time Warner Cable due to their extremely high service costs. Our son's girlfriend (who's working on her PhD) provided a very novel solution: she stated that she and her friends were perfectly happy watching the local TV stations using local High Definition TV antennas and in their use of the internet to stream movies from websites such as www.HuluPlus.com
and recommended that we do the same.