September 3, 2010

Why Leaving DirecTv Has Been Like Leaving An Abusive Relationship


Dancing With The ... Stars?
photo credit: Mike Licht,

Almost 13 years ago CycleGuy picked out the house we live in. By himself. As in, he was in Arizona and I wasn’t. Yes, we were married. No, we didn’t hate each other.  He moved to Arizona to take a job before I got out here.  Just like he did when we moved to Ohio.

Aside: Before I go on, I have to say I see a pattern here. He moves somewhere for a job and I follow later.  Sounds like a country song – My Husband’s Leaving Me, Sorta. But I digress.

Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by myself, CycleGuy picked out our house on his own. He did a great job because I’d have picked out this same house too.

However, the genius builder never coordinated with the cable company to pull the cable to our house.  Who’d have known to check that before they moved in? Well, not us that’s for sure. And our house faces North and the back is to the South and back in the day (of 1997) you could get about 6 channels if you just had an antenna. But we couldn’t even get that because we have a mountain (or, as CycleGuy calls it, a hill — he’s from Colorado where they know mountains evidently) that obstructs our ability to get a signal from whatever it is we’d need to get a signal from to get our local channels.

So no cable and no free channels. And being people who need to watch the news, AKA The Daily Show, we call up the satellite company and they’re out in about a hot second to whip up one of their dish-y things and get us set up with 8,643 channels. WooHoo! Although I have no idea what most of these channels are because if it wasn’t QVC or Lifetime (I needed a good downer movie every so often) or whatever the channel was for The Daily Show I had no clue and never really cared.

Fast forward a few years and we switch from ‘the giant dish’ to the little one and go with DirecTv. We got that DVR thing and life is good. That is until they don’t carry cycling anymore. Mon Dieu! Some people have their NASCAR or their Monday Night Football, we do the bicycling. Because cycling is a somewhat controversial sport that no one really watches I guess that it’s OK to drop it from the line up. Whatever! But DirecTv had done this before and dropped channels only for them to reappear soon. I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, cycling season was over so who cared.

Fast forward again a few month this time and it’s cycling season and there’s nothing about whether DirecTv was getting back cycling. I get a bill that said they’re raising my monthly fee. Huh? You cut out cycling and now you want me to pay more? Really? I’m not that person. I don’t deal in these types of shenanigans!

Boop, Boop, Boop, Boop (that’s the sound of me dialing the 800# for DirecTv). The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hello, DirecTv? Why are you raising my rate but leaving me without Versus?

DirecTv: Our prices reflect enhancements and improvements [after which all I hear is the teacher from Charlie Brown talking]

Me:  I’ve been with DirecTv for about 10 years, and new customers [after which I’m sure all the agent heard was the teacher from Charlie Brown talking]

DirecTv: I’m sorry you’re not happy with our service.

I’ll spare you what was a 20+ minute conversation and the several subsequent conversations which ended in my canceling DirecTv. Because basically what they told me was that my loyalty means nothing to them. [Don’t start gloating now Qwest, you’re on my radar right now!]

A few phone calls later I’ve got Dish Network coming out to install and set up our new dish and receiver and whatever else it is they have to do that I have no idea what it is. We’d had Dish Network before and we left them because they were cutting channels too, but they’d since added them back and more. They now really competed with DirecTv AND they had cycling. Had they not had cycling we’d have no reason to have TV.

Yes, I’m 700 words in to this and just now get to the fun. Day after I cancel I get a call from …. wait … can you guess? Correct! DirecTv. They were calling me to tell me that as a loyal customer they value my business and they’d like for me to be a customer again. What? Are you kidding me? I’d spent days on the phone with ‘you people’ getting no where but as soon as I commit to a contract and have an early termination fee but haven’t yet learned how to turn on the TV without asking BabyGirl you’re calling me wanting me back? Are you serious, DirecTv?

I wasn’t good enough to help BEFORE leaving for the competition but as soon as I AM GONE it’s all, please please please come back. We love you. We’ll take care of you. We didn’t’ mean to hurt your feelings or be mean to you.

If you read that last paragraph in isolation you’d see that it sounds like I’m talking about an abusive relationship. And, well, that’s kind of what it’s like when you’re a loyal customer. They treat you like crap and ignore you and tell you that you’re not worthy. Until you leave. And then all of a sudden you’re valuable and they really do love you and if you come back they’ll give you special things and pat your hair and tell you they love you.

And if you don’t go back right away they’ll start calling you all the time. Yes, I’ve had up to 3 calls a day from DirecTv asking me to come back. And I’m always nice because this is their job and in this economy just having a job is huge and I’m not here to hassle anyone. I explain my position and why we’re in this position of them calling me. Every. Time. They. Call.

I’ve been asked a few times if I want to be on their no call list. But I don’t because the calls don’t bother me. What bothers me is that they still don’t get it. After 7 months of me telling them that all I wanted was to be treated fairly as a loyal customer when I was a customer, they still don’t seem to understand the words coming out of my mouth. If they valued me as a customer when I was one we wouldn’t be here. I signed a contract with another provider because DirecTv basically told me to I was worthless to them. That I meant nothing. That I could leave because they did not care.

Except really they do care. A Lot! But evidently not enough to get me out of my existing contract without my paying a lot of money. Why would I pay money to come back to you? You told me I meant nothing to you, but you were lying. You didn’t think I’d really go, did you DirecTv? But I don’t play that way. I had been committed to you for years. I even told you I was considering leaving you. I told you why I would leave. I asked for you to show me that I did matter to you.

We shared such good times. But then you saw the pretty girl with the shiny hair and I didn’t matter any more. I know you were looking at her, you don’t need to lie. She was pretty. She looked nice. She was something new. Me? I was just the ugly old lady who you thought would never leave.

Until I did. And now you want me back.

I’m not sure, though. Because I’m not sure you won’t do the same thing to me again.

NOTE: Please don’t yell at me because of my reference to abusive relationships. No, DirecTv didn’t do to me what these horrible men do to women in abusive relationships. I’m not comparing myself in that sense, so please don’t hate me.



Tanya September 3, 2010 at 5:44 am

My husband and I were just talking about Direct T.V.last night. He was saying how he had heard they were awful. I guess he was right, damn I hate when that happens! Great post.

Cycleguy September 3, 2010 at 9:49 am

All I want to say is that this post is completely correct the only thing that is missing is my beautiful bride is completely toned down in it! She has no love for these people an the fact that I work in Marketing and know that it is infinitely cheaper to keep a loyal customer than acquire a new one makes her even more irrate, “well then they need to treat me like I am somebody!” Ahh yes Qwest you are truly next.

I pity the fool who comes up with a lame excuse for raising rates and downgrading service to someone who has been with you for over 13 years versus free trials and upgraded equipment to someone who they are trying to attract! In this economy consumers ARE reviewing their statements and NOT settling for “well its just what we pay”, work a little harder and take care of your customers, they will take care of you….

Sara September 3, 2010 at 11:54 am

Yes, CycleGuy, I could have been much more ranty but I wanted to get my point across and not get to their level. I am a professional!

Laura (@chambanalaura) September 3, 2010 at 11:31 am

We have a hate-hate relationship with DirectTV. We have had ridiculous billing errors with them that have taken MONTHS to correct. They have a hold on us because of the damn MLB contract.

Sara September 3, 2010 at 11:53 am

A hold? Because you’re going to watch too much TV and then skip town? And they won’t be able to find you what with your credit card and social security number in their files. And because you have no digital footprint at all and live in a cave? This is what is wrong with good customer service for loyal customers. They don’t treat us well at all!

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