Service of Not Letting Go Easily

September 1st, 2016

Categories: Aggressive sales, Customer Service, TV

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?


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6 Responses to “Service of Not Letting Go Easily”

  1. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Sorry you had all of this trouble! Years ago an elderly relative had a terrible time getting rid of her phone carrier. She’d just moved into a new home and the previous homeowner had tried to discontinue landline service to no avail. The company claimed the former owner was the only person who could discontinue service and claimed that she hadn’t. The new company couldn’t give her service until the previous company cancelled the old account. Phone service is rather important to seniors and I was afraid her service would get disconnected without warning and that she’d be unable to use the phone in an emergency. The company was unmoved. I tried explaining to them that there was no how no way we were paying for service we didn’t want and we’d been in touch with the former owner who wasn’t about to pay for service to a house she no longer owned and for service she insisted that she’d cancelled. They were still unmoved. After months of this nonsense, and after repeatedly telling the employees of the company what my plan was verbally and in writing, I filed a complaint with the state authorities and suddenly we were able to get her the service she wanted. There is absolutely no way I’d ever to business with that company again–even if they promised me free service. We’re done. In fact, I haven’t heard or seen any ads for them lately. Perhaps they’re done, too.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Gosh Nancy, what a sickening story!

    If your relative didn’t have you to fight what might have happened? I can see credit ratings going down the tube as well as phones being disconnected. My blood boils reading this.

    I am tempted [but don’t have the time] to smash the stupid boxes we must pack and move to NYC waiting for the darned Fed Ex box to then ship to Memphis.

    Goodness me. I wonder sometimes if anyone listens?

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Yes. I had difficulty with Sprint for “slamming” which morphed into a service I never requested, along with charges over $400.00. Called the FCC, then called Sprint and reported the results of that conversation. End of story.

  4. Nancy Farrell Said:

    It almost seems as though making the customer happy isn’t part of the business plan in some cases. I’ve heard it said that it is less expensive for companies to convince former customers to come back than it is to acquire new customers but what of people who have been treated so poorly they will never come back? I gave up my cell phone service provider because the coverage was poor and because I kept getting slammed with bills in the hundreds of dollars for every reason they could think of. I fought every single overcharge and won but eventually I told them I didn’t have time for this. I want to be able to order pizza from the train on the way home and I don’t want to pay $400 a month for that. That was 6 years ago and they’ve spent lots of money trying to win me back but I’m not interested. So what did they gain by treating me badly? They didn’t get an extra cent, they did get a cancelled contract, and they’ve spent lots of money trying to get me back.

  5. Debby Kunen Said:

    Debby wrote on Facebook: You can’t make this up!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Congrats. But should a person have to go through these hoops? Not everyone knows to call the FCC which you and Nancy knew to do. Sprint and DIRECTTV are reputable companies–at least I thought that they were–and shouldn’t stoop to such measures. The importance of reputation seems to be less important these days than sales–no matter how you achieve them.

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