I wasn’t going to post anything today. I had visions of everyone packing up for a long weekend. But something came up.
We’ve been using DIRECTTV to receive a television signal at our weekend place since the early 1990’s when a technician came to install a dish on the roof of our house upstate. The company has upgraded (made the service more expensive) over the years.
Recently it merged with AT&T and since then, we have been bombarded with ads touting their special “If you move take our service with you.”
Tuesday, when my husband Googled DIRECTTV to find out where to call to cancel our service, the only telephone number he could find on their website was the one to order the “If you move …” special. He called it and told the customer service man that we were selling our house and wanted to cancel, but were not moving to a new home and asked about next steps.
The man kept hammering away, “You must need service where you live or have a friend or relative who needs it. It would make the switch much easier for you.”
My husband explained that we live in New York City. You can’t stick dishes outside windows. Further, we don’t know anyone who needs service [nor do we have time to find someone—not our job]. All we want to do is cancel the service and move to our next chore.
My husband asked if someone could come to the house and uninstall us and take the boxes. Someone came when we added a TV. He said he was sure that we were physically capable of doing the uninstalling and added “It would be much easier if you ordered a new service.”
Eventually, after much haggling back and forth, he said “You’ll get a prepaid Fedex box with instructions as to what do.”
My husband asked: “What if we get electrocuted, getting your signal boxes detached?”
He replied: “Turn the power off.”
My husband asked: “What if we abandoned the equipment?”
He replied: “You can’t do that” and he read off a whole list of pricey penalties.
Husband: “Where can we drop off the signal boxes?”
Customer service: “You can’t, they must be FedExed to Memphis. We’ll send the shipping boxes to you in seven business days, but allow for two weeks.”
Husband: “But we will probably be out of the house by then.”
After a few more minutes of the same, my husband agreed that we would detach the DIRECTTV boxes, pack them, but not their wiring, and bring them to New York, where the company would send the prepaid FedEx boxes with the instructions as to how to detach them. Eventually, we will FedEx everything to Memphis.
My husband had the distinct impression that had we been ordering a new service somewhere else, someone would have come to uninstall us. Also, all of this hassle seems a bit silly since the equipment is so old that I can’t imagine it being of use to a soul.
The customer service rep was doing his job, trying to keep a customer, but he didn’t know when to stop even after my husband explained about restrictions to hanging dishes in NYC apartments. Further, what good to us are instructions sent after we’ve already disconnected the system?
The next day we got an email: “Give us a chance to make it right,” with special offers.
I can’t believe that we are the only customers to move to a place that doesn’t accommodate DIRECTTV and frankly, if they wanted us to be left with a good memory of them, should we subsequently move to a place with DIRECTTV as an option, they’ve lost us by complicating our lives now and making us jump through hoops to get rid of them.
This industry reflects extremes. When I returned a Time Warner Cable TV box almost two years ago, [we were changing to FIOS], nobody at the place said a word nor did they ask a question. That, too, surprised me.
Should a company train its customer service department when to stop pushing? Should they make it convenient for customers to discontinue service? Have you experienced similar inconvenience when trying to discontinue a service?