Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DirecTV Customer Service and NFL Sunday Ticket

I had an angry experience with DirecTV this morning. Before I get into the details I have to say in retrospect that by comparison to other experiences I've had (such as Time Warner Cable Phone Support), they did pretty good. But only by comparison.

How did this start? This summer after problems with Hotwire Communications TV service in Boca Raton, we decided to keep using DirecTV and reviewed our plan. We canceled most of the pay channels, except HBO, and decided we were not going to watch enough football to justify the cost of NFL Sunday Ticket, a package that allows you see just about every NFL game.

That summer phone call with DirecTV seemed to go well. Today I realized it hadn't gone as well as I'd thought. While we did receive a credit back for our first payment on the NFL Sunday Ticket package, they continued to bill us for it the next two months and that would have continued.

Our Discover Card was somehow compromised a few weeks ago. Thanks to Discover and/or Walmart, this was caught quickly and we got a new card. This prompted a payment problem with DirecTV, which we had been paying with that Discover Card. In the course of changing the payment I reviewed the bill online and noticed that we were still paying for Sunday Ticket.

The first problem with the experience today was that DirecTV would not allow me to review bills or statements online. In order to do that I had to sign up for paperless billing. There was no option to continue paper billing and still review bills and statements online. In other words, DirecTV is forcing customers into paperless billing. Personally, I don't mind this but it doesn't seem right.

Next, once I was in I wanted to cancel the NFL Sunday Ticket via the online interface. Nope.
Notice the little box that popped up in the bottom right. It did not allow me to remove NFL Sunday Ticket online. Why not? The obvious reason is that they want to make it harder to cancel services. I'm pretty sure they make it easy to sign up for a new service. It's only when you want to cut your bill that they make it hard.

The other problem with this moment is that it tells the users to "call customer service at 1-800-DirecTV." I did. First I got a computer with a fake human voice. Sorry, I hate that. I press Zero to get a real human. No dice. The computer/human voice tells me that in order to get me to the right person, to please say what this is about. So I say "Cancel Sunday Ticket". It/she says "I can help you with that." No, no you can't. And that shows a disregard for my desire to talk to a real human, which you just acknowledged.

I press Zero again. So now I get transferred to a real person. Of course, it's not the right person. She asks me how I'm doing. "Not happy." She asks me or my name and phone number for security. Fine.

Then, after a brief conversation, she says she's going to transfer me to NFL Sunday Ticket department. Really? Why did I go through all of this only to get to the wrong person?

Back up a few paragraphs and look at that picture again. Why did DirecTV give me the general customer service phone number? Why not give me the direct number to the NFL Sunday Ticket department?

The guy I spoke with last did get it taken care of, or at least he told me he did. I'd check right not to be sure but I'm unable to login to my account (might be due to the firewall where I am right now rather than DirecTV). Of course, the person I spoke with in the summer told me it was taken care of.

It turns out that there was a credit on our account for the first NFL Sunday Ticket payment back in July, but they continued to charge us in August and September. How many other people did this happen to? I suggested to the last guy that he forward this concern to his manager to see how many other people have the same problem. He left me with the strong impression he didn't care.

So why am I angry? Because if I hadn't noticed this would have cost me at least $200. This should have been taken care of back in the summer. DirecTV shouldn't engage in practices that make it hard for customers to check on things online, and should not force feed paperless billing on people. And if you're going to insist that I call to get something resolved, give me the direct phone number instead of making me talk to a computer.

As I mentioned, this was still much better than my Time Warner Cable experience or my previous fiasco with HP Customer Service. While it was frustrating to have to jump through all the hoops, once I called the number it took about 7 minutes to get to the right person. That's dramatically better than what I went through with the others. But it's still not good enough.
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