The Wages of Satellite TV: Customer Service Circles Uranus As It Goes Down The Drain
September 1, 2009
You’ve had your DirecTV service for years, and now you’re moving/getting married and you can’t have it (for whatever reason) wherever it is you’re moving next. So, you call to cancel your service, and you request the return boxes for your DirecTV equipment. Seems like it all went fairly easily and quickly and you go about your life, secure in the knowledge that soon those boxes will arrive, you’ll pack up the receivers, send them off via FedEx, and everything will be good.
Imagine your surprise a couple weeks later, when you discover that, unbeknownst to you, DirecTV has hit your credit card or bank account for the cost of your receivers. It’s not that you’ve already gotten the return boxes and you just haven’t sent the equipment back. In fact, you may have already requested the return boxes multiple times and are still waiting on them!
It’s worse in those cases where you asked your best friend or your folks for their credit/debit card information when you signed up, because they told you they needed to collect 19.95 (plus tax) for their “handling fee”. They’re the ones who will likely end up finding out they’re missing funds, then. How do you explain that to them? Their first impression is going to be that you weren’t paying your bills, which is, in fact, the furthest thing from the truth.
Keep in mind, this isn’t only related to receivers. DirecTV will play this game to get an Early Cancellation Fee, too. They won’t even tell you they’re about to do it. You’ll just find out after the fact.
This was your rent/mortgage/car payment/tuition payment, and now it’s poofed away like a genie in a bottle! In addition, you’re now getting bounced check fees from your bank because the money that had once been there to pay your bills is just plain GONE, and having a credit card declined is just downright embarrassing, especially when you had reason to believe you had the credit available to pay for whatever item you’ve just tried to pay for.
You most certainly don’t recall giving Directv permission to dive into your finances when you cancelled your account!
You call DirecTV to demand what’s going on. Who gave them permission to take money from you?
“You did. When you signed up for service, you were told and then agreed to our charging your credit or debit card if you didn’t fulfill the Terms of Service to which you agreed when first you signed up. Once we get those receivers back and process them (which, by the way, they can and will drag out for 6 to 8 weeks), it’ll take another 6 to 8 weeks to have your money refunded.”
Of course, this is what happens in a PERFECT world, and this answer seems less than perfect on its face, already.
In point of fact, customers often have to contact DirecTV several times over the course of several months to get their money back. Each time, they’re told that the process takes 6 to 8 weeks, even if the money’s been held for over two months already!
Meanwhile, bills are piling up because of returned check fees and over limit fees.
Landlords/lenders/creditors don’t give a damn that DirecTV took your money without notice, because they (rightly) want to be paid what THEY are owed. The Billing representative you speak with when you call is very likely someone who barely speaks English and lives somewhere overseas where they can’t even GET DirecTV. The only time you find a native English speaker on the other end of the phone is when you’re calling to set up service. It’s the only time Directv actually works to get your business.
How long is it going to take for people to band together to make a forceful response to such despicable actions? Corporations only pay attention when enough noise is being generated at them that they want it to stop. That’s when they start to consider listening. I don’t believe that other communications providers are any better than Directv, but by pointing the finger at just one provider, we bring light to the actions of all.