How DirecTV Screws Its HD Customers

DirecTV is the Scrooge of the 2007 Holiday Season.

Imagine if Scrooge told you he had a great High Definition Package, thus causing you to subscribe to the service and pay the $9.99 fee for ALL their wonderful HD channels. And then imagine if Scrooge told you a few months later that he was going to add a bunch more for you — and all you had to do was upgrade your DVR so you could get them. All still for the $9.99? Scrooge would seem like a very un-Scroogeable kind of guy. Sort of nice. Pretty cool.

But Scrooge always ends up showing his true colors.

Effective December 15th, DirecTV quietly removed five of the original basic HD channels (HDNet Movies, Universal HD, MTV HD, MGM HD and Smithsonian HD). As someone who watched HDNet Movies and Universal HD quite a lot since the beginning, you can imagine my surprise when they were suddenly gone. Two of the original HD channels I had gotten in the main $9.99 package.

Apparently, per a DirecTV Supervisor (Badge #X3136), “DirecTV can change you package, your lineup, and ask for more money anytime they want. They don’t even have to tell you.”

So basically, I asked, “DirecTV can take away half my HBOs and put them into a new HBO Awesome Package and ask me to pay $5 bucks more a month to GET BACK THE CHANNELS I ALREADY HAD without any warning, respect or basic business acumen?” After the supervisor looked up the word “acumen” she said “YES.”

I don’t know, people — but I find that total bullshit that a company like DirecTV can give you a set of channels, charge you a certain amount FOR those channels, then quietly take some away and ask you to pay MORE MONEY for the channels you already had in the first place. I get suddenly charging more for a BRAND NEW SLATE of channels. But if I already had ’em? And was already paying for ’em? And if your equipment salespeople convinced me to upgrade so I could get ALL the channels?

I’d be pissed.

Which I am.

By the way, my next book is going to be ALL ABOUT DIRECTV.

25 comments on “How DirecTV Screws Its HD Customers

  1. kapgar - December 19, 2007 at 6:14 am -

    Comcast does this to us pretty regularly as well. So it’s not just you and DirectTV. They all screw us. All the time.

  2. Pauly D - December 19, 2007 at 7:02 am -

    Kapgar – Something MUST be done.

  3. Jerry - December 19, 2007 at 7:48 am -

    It has always bothered me that the federal government mandated all stations to broadcast in both analog and HD a few years back and now we as consumers have to pay extra for the technology. Mandates — bad! Getting sucked into a channel package at one price and then getting hit with higher fees once you sign up — more bad! (especially when you consider the only thing on right now is a bunch of ghost hunters and paranormal hacks)

  4. gina - December 21, 2007 at 8:32 am -

    Ooooh. DIRECTV sucks. My family is currently going through a similar angry-letter-writing dialogue involving the state government. It’s awful. Greedy, selfish jerks.

  5. MT - December 23, 2007 at 4:59 pm -

    Totally par for the course, sounds to me. Since you’re a writer, I’d a thunk you were used to being contractually screwed. Anyway, you might want to send your complaint to tips@consumerist.com.

  6. Jack - December 23, 2007 at 9:31 pm -

    Sounds par for the course.

  7. Kathleen - December 24, 2007 at 5:58 pm -

    I’m sorry Pauly. 🙁 that’s really frustrating. you can be like me and not have cable? just an option… 😛

    blow the assholes out of the water.

  8. Amy - December 24, 2007 at 8:29 pm -

    Happy Holidays!

  9. Jennifer Lankenau - December 24, 2007 at 11:47 pm -

    Thanks to my new home and my housemates, we don’t even have cable…I just realized that I haven’t watched cable TV since Burning Man (August) and I haven’t stopped breathing…but then again, Lost will be back on in February…gotta figure that problem out…

  10. Em - December 26, 2007 at 6:32 pm -

    We still use rabbit ears. I don’t think we HAVE five channels for anyone to take away.

  11. tcole - December 26, 2007 at 7:30 pm -

    Can you say better business bureau?
    file a complaint – at the very least it will be on their record.
    then put your complaint IN WRITING to the head DIRECTV dude!

  12. Ernie - December 28, 2007 at 10:00 am -

    I am annoyed by this also. I went as high as the DirecTV presidents office, and all they could offer was 3 more free months. I could care less about MGM and such, but HDNet Movies and Universal have been with us since DirecTV’s HD inception. Back then DirecTV was getting thier butts kicked by cable as far as HD goes. But I stuck with them. Now they took away channels. I even asked if they could a la caret them, and I was told no. DirecTV was great because it gave you options. Little by little they are turning into the Cable Companies that I left to begin with.

  13. Keith - December 28, 2007 at 6:11 pm -

    Hey, at least you get more HD channels than any other provider. Time Warner Cable is offering barely 20 HD channels (including local TV stations), while the standard-def channels they already offer keep touting their HD capabilities (which TWC isn’t giving us). If I hadn’t just gotten a new HD TiVo, I’d consider switching to DirecTV… though your info might also dissuade me.

  14. Russ - December 29, 2007 at 2:28 pm -

    I feel the same way. I left Comcast several years ago because of the same issue. Now that DirecTV has gotten big and bloated they feel the need to do the same. I called DirecTV and they gave me the “you can pay an extra 4.99” crap. I of course wrote them an e-mail and they replied the same. I wrote again wanting my voice heard as a consumer. Let them know that they would never exist or make a profit if their customer base left for a competitor.

  15. GregK - January 1, 2008 at 12:56 am -

    We all for some reason continue to allow EVERY cable and satellite company to sell us packages. Packages which include 75- 90% of channels THAT WE DON”‘T WATCH ! WHY can’t we set up our own line-ups and pick and PAY for ONLY the channels we want!!! Why am I forced to pay for and click past dozens of channels that are either not what I ever watch or is not even in my LANGUAGE ???

  16. RichS - January 1, 2008 at 10:20 am -

    I looked around Directv’s website looking for a reasonable explanation of how they could advertise $9.99 HD pkgs with 30 channels, while I pay $9.99 and my channels started to disappear. I finally called them for that explanation and got “So you can save money or pay the extra $4.99 to get what you used to have” Huh? By that logic they can charge me $9.99 for a HD pkg. any not deliver any HD channels thereby saving me the expense of having HD channels.

  17. Pauly D - January 1, 2008 at 10:56 am -

    RichS – Exactly why it’s so stupid. I’m going to take this to the next level and sleep in a sleeping bag outside the CEO’s office until they make this right.

    I actually even e-mailed Mark Cuban (who I know from being a Producer on his show The Benefactor) to make sure he was aware what DirecTV was doing with his HDNet Movies channel. His lack of response, I suspect, means that he was probably aware of the change. In thinking about it, I’m sure HDNet Movies is making more now that they’re in the Ultra-Secret Awesome Five-Pack HD Special Channel Lineup Thingamajig.

  18. Amy - January 8, 2008 at 4:47 pm -

    Oh man, don’t even get me started on DirecTV and all the sh*t they’ve pulled lately. OK I’m started…we got the new DVR (not Tivo) and it’s a pile of junk. So I got a new HD Tivo (on ebay since the company would not sell me one). Then I found out that neither my new Tivo NOR the DVR they already sold me, is capable of getting all the new glorious channels so I have to get a new DVR (one of their POS ones, oh and it’s really expensive) in order to get these channels. This is the first I have heard of them taking away ones we already have. If that’s the case I am going to be livid. Thing is, I really hate cable and I’m addicted to TV so I guess that’s what they’re counting on. That’s not the only trouble we’ve had, just the most recent. GO get ’em Pauly!!!

  19. David McDaniel - January 24, 2008 at 7:26 pm -

    Paul,

    I know exactly how you feel. I had the same reaction and called several folks at Directv to voice my dissatisfaction. When you think about it, everything about them is nickel and dime. Bad news is what choice do you have since most of the best HD is on the channels you mentioned.

    Worse yet is the premium sports programing they offer. If you buy for a season, it will take an act of GOD to cancel a sports subscription. I could change carriers but not much would change as they are all the same. You can only watch so many movies, so how else can you put your HD TV to use.

    What I do now is send an email complaining three times a week. Might not change anything but it makes me feel good.

  20. Chris Bowley - January 27, 2008 at 10:34 am -

    I came across this thread only due to a search for complaints against DirecTV. I am currently on a mission to spread the word about how totally bizarre this company’s attitude is towards customers. Having got “slammed” with charges for services I didn’t order, and having had them break promises they made throughout last year, today I received a message teling me they have made an unauthorized charge on my credit card… bloody amazing! I filed a complaint with FCC – not that this will go anywhere – and now look forward to seeing if any of the media outlets would want to have fun with this.

  21. Jen - January 31, 2008 at 6:47 pm -

    Hey Paul:

    Here’s another one. We cut off our service with DirecTV back in November, 2007 because we have decided to go with cable instead. Then, last week I get a call from a collection agency saying that DirecTV had turned us over to them for a bill we owed. I was a bit confused as we had always paid our bill as part of a package that we had with our phone company. The lady at the collection agency indicated that the bill for evidently for movies that we had ordered and never had been billed for. Evidently, DirecTV scans the “memory cards” that are stored inside of the receivers when a customer sends the receivers back. We evidently had never been billed for movies that we ordered from November…of 2006! Then she proceeded to tell me that there was also a charge for movies that were charged in December of 2007, well after our November 3, 2007 disconnect date. The long and short of it is that I called DirecTV and the Customer Service Representative refused to help me and told me that I had to write all of this to their billing dispute division out in Colorado, then thanked me for using DirecTV. I told her I certainly would not make the same mistake twice. Oh and the reason that they turned us over to collections? They tried to send us a bill and it was returned because they sent it to the wrong address (our street instead of PO Box). I guess they do not know how to pick up a phone either. I feel for the rest who have commented here who have also had to deal with such an incompetent company.

  22. Shar - February 8, 2008 at 8:46 pm -

    Well, we just spent the week in HELL with DirecTV and I am going to tell anyone who will listen not to use their services..
    On 2-4-08 we did the hookup..on 2-5-08
    On 2-5-08 called and said we had problems ..channels locked up/audio not in sync with video, poor signal etc.
    On 2-6-08 tech came & replaced the receiver, still bad signal, stil no fix.
    Had doctor appointment on 2-7-08 so didn’t do anything.
    On 2-8-08 called and associate said we’re stuck with it, We were 1 day past the 3 day limit to disconnect. We were never told it was a 3 day minimum, the tech had said we had 30 days.
    So I contacted the Oregon Attorney Generals office & filed a complaint against them for fraud and misrepresentation. I don’t know where it will go but I am not paying them a dime for a thing.
    Oh that was the other thing the associate said we had to pay a $460 disconnect fee since we were 1 day past the disconnect time.
    Thanks for the opportunity to vent here……….
    Shar

  23. Buck - February 25, 2008 at 5:28 pm -

    Directv is a crime organization. 1st, I sign up for a $51.99 package + HD+sportspack and for whatever reason, I pay $110/mo now. amazing how that works.
    The HD fiasco at Christmas time was the real topper. I noticed HDNET was not working, called and was told if I wanted to “enhance” my HD experience, I had to pay an extra $5/mo.
    They suck arse, and I hate them all.

  24. Bob Ryan - April 10, 2008 at 8:35 am -

    I have the latest “screw up” from DirecTV. Let me start by saying I was one of their biggest promoters and was willing to pay the $150 a month for what I wanted to see. I know its tough to see all they do to get NEW customers but I was surprise ho little they care about their existing ones.
    I noticed a charge for MLS Sports Pkg. on my latest billing. I paid for the pkg last year and was not able to watch as many matches to justify the expense. So I wasn’t planning to subscribe this year. Well, when I called DirecTV to remove this expense, they told me they could not do it. That since I got such a great discount last year for the pkg and an renewal deal this year I was required to renew it. I asked exactly what was the savings last year (I was never told of any discount or requirement) and the discount this year for me to be forced to renew? Customer service could not give me an exact price but did say it was probably a total of $2-$3 a year in savings. When checking closer I found it was 24 cents savings a month. The real point is that it was just put on my current billing and never asked if I wanted it or not, then I was told it could not be removed (Only 1 week as elapsed in the season). I have about had it! They knock Cable for their lack of service and go and do “crap” like this??????

  25. […] I’ve been screwed before by DirecTV. […]

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