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.


Anonymous said...

Oh, it was much worse for me. Apparently, I just missed the deadline. they refused to cancel the $200 charge for football. (Apparently they ran some scam -- sorry, I mean "promotion" -- where your package is free nfl ticket and the next year is auto billed. I watch no football and have 0 interest in it. Their legal argument? We gave you notice each month that you would be auto billed, thus you agreed. I responded: Well, I'm giving you notice right now, that I'll only pay 70% of your bill -- think that's enforceable too? After 20 minutes, a supervisor -- and the legal threat of a viable and embarassing class action, they capitulated. Funny though, I really do like DirecTV. The rep I spoke to said they'd been getting seriously pissed customers all day though. Go figure -- someone should talk to the customers before they ram some stupid "marketing" scam down their customers throats. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

On 5/15/12 I called to cancel NFL Sunday Ticket's renewal for 2012, *before* the season started. Because I changed some on my equipment in September, I checked my bill to see how the equipment billing was handled, and learned that for the last 3 months they had been charging me $32.99 installments for the 2012 NFL Sunday Ticket! This, despite the fact, that my 6/11/12 statment has an entry dated 5/25/23 saying "NFL Sunday Ticket Will Not Auto Renew Next Season." But wait a second ... what's this? ... that item shows a "start" of 5/15 and an "end" of 6/14. Hmmm? Well lookie here, that same statement has an item "starting" 5/22 and ending "6/21" that says "NFL Sunday Ticket 2012 Renewal Notice: No Payment Due."

Well before I call them tommorrow, Sunday, I am going to see if those game channels are actually being received. If not, it should be an easier task to convince them to refund my money. IF they *are* being received I fear I will encounter resistance even though this is clearly *their* error as shown on "their" statement. Why is that? Because I fully expect them to claim that my cancellation was for "next season" [ie:2013]. Again, why? Because they are an incompetant and unethical business.

Why? Because while I was online trying to determine how much my new equipment that I mentioned before was going to cost, I put one of them into a "Shopping Cart." Well I got the answer on how much it would cost. And I closed the window with the shopping cart. And then two days later that equipment was delivered to my house! It took my 45 minutes of my life that I will never get back to convince them of thier mistake and that I should not be charged for it. And that they needed to send me a return box. Which was nearly 3 weeks ago and I haven't received it. So I fully expect them to try to charge me for not returning it.

And in case you want further evidence of their incompetence and unethical behavior, my current bill shows that I have been upgraded from a $6/month protection plan for my receivers to a $20 "Premier" plan that also covers my TVs and Tablets. I NEVER ASKED TO BE UPGRADED! AND THEY CLAIM THEY CAN CHARGE ME $10 TO CANCEL THE UPGRADE!

Sorry for the rant, but from everything I have read my experience is, rather than being rare, is actually commonplace.

Anonymous said...

These folks are really good with their "promotion". I guess they are banking on the millions of Americans who want the Sunday Ticket but forget those like myself, a foreign student, who is not interested in American football to warrant the channel. Still, they are en route for a class action suit. I am pretty particular about my bills being a student and I only wanted Directv for my newborn to have the Sprout channel to watch. Needless to say, I made copies of the payment or costs schedule that they display for you online when you're signing up. In the months where they have begun to charge for the Sunday Ticket there is no indication in that schedule of such (charges in those sections are blanked to nil). Mind you the 3 months free HBO etc movie package is shown with it's post-free offer charges for the entire 2 yrs. So it was quite a surprise to me to see these Sunday Ticket charges suddenly appear when I have my payment schedule to follow. It is interesting also that they give you incentive for automatic bill pay which means if you expect a certain amount out each month as noted in the payment schedule you would not be aware of unauthorised changes until they hit your account and as such means you're past this "after season starts" deadline. These guys are great cause in this technological world you also do not see online what the charges are unless you also sign into the paperless billing. So they know they're hitting alot of folks unawares. I'm glad I have my payment schedule. I come.

Anonymous said...

I switched to Directv from Dish to take advantage of new equipment and lower promotional programming. I signed up for the free 3 month movie channel deal and told the installation company I switched with that I did not want the Sunday Ticket even though it was free. I knew that meant cancelling it later. I only watch 5-6 football games a year, and it's free locally.

I called and cancelled some movie channels after the three months. I knew I had signed up for those. What I didn't know is that I was signed up for the Sunday Ticket anyway.

I enrolled in the auto pay so I don't have to mess with mailed bills and I can throw their promotional stuff right in the trash.

Year two, I noticed my bill had jumped and noticed I was being charged for Sunday Ticket. I called to cancel, or course not. I asked to be cancelled for next year. No, I can't do that. Directv said I had to wait until the end of the 2012/13 season before I can even cancel the auto-renew for next season.

Directv said they sent a mailing about the Sunday Ticket and cancellation, but other people like me, who auto-pay, throw their movie guides and promotions in the trash as well.

Yeah, my fault for not reading every scrap of mail I get, but to not allow cancellations, even with a penalty, or cancellations of the 2013-14 season smells like a scam.

Anonymous said...

I am also a victim of this NFL Sunday Ticket.They have scammed me for $200.They say i was verbally told to cancel which i wasnt.Their is nothing in writing.My word against thiers.Im bound by a two year agreement.They got me over a barrell.This company needs to be a lesson and where to i sign for a class action lawsuit because im in.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a directv vendor site in ga. And I remember when we were force to make people take the paid version or retain the nflst free offer that was offered via sales as a incentive to join dtv or suffer diaer consequences. Such as write ups constantly and minipulation in the sales bonuses. For the Accounts you could not successfully force the customer to keep.
My last day with the company was yesterday and according to the lastest information. I guess directv realized the sneaky businesss practice has come back to haunt them so diectv will again make there employees make you retain the last year nflst that it basically gaven away free but this time will take money out of the employee sales incentive that is figured into the paycheck. The nflst in 2011 was almost 350.00 and you just go and give it away free in 2012. They lost major money and now trying to recoop the lost this year in 2013 and try to clean up the mess they have created only creating a more bigger headache. Just one more shady thing that directv is doing in 2013. So if u were one of the people who got it free in 2012 be prepared for a very long and drawn out conversation with the Rep u get requesting to remove the nflst they have already sending out the nasty little memos to the staff about what you better do to get the customer to keep it and not transfer to anybody. They already got you in the required 2 year commitment so basically you screwed.