Wednesday, June 23, 2004


The four most frustrating words in the world when the person saying them doesn't really mean it. For the last week this person has been located somewhere in India where they work for Directv! Who billed me $70 when they sent someone out to correct an installation error. For some reason this "issue" didn't compute with anybody I talked to, and believe me, I talked to quite a few.

They all gave me the standard response which is, "Directv is not responsible for work performed by contractors whom you hire." Okay. Fine. But I didn't hire anybody! I ordered Directv and you guys sent someone out to install it and now it doesn't work. "Well you have to call that company and talk to them because we're not responsible". So I did that and was told that I needed to conact the manufacturer of my equipment because Connect Television isn't responsible for equipment malfunction. I already knew that and my equipment isn't malfunctioning!!

So after a week of perching at the precipice of a cardiac accident I gave up on actually getting any service from customer service. I apparently was speaking a language that no one understands, although I must say that those people in India are incredibly polite when a customer is screaming obscenities at them. Unflappable really - do you think it was all those years of British occupation. Seriously I don't think they'd say shit if they had a mouthfull.

So anyway today I sent this letter out to Connect Television, a company that I am just sure is owned by Directv, though I bet they'd deny it.

Connect Television, Inc.
1110 East Dominguez Street
Carson, CA 90746
Attn: Accounts Payable

RE: Service charge dispute

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am disputing the $70 service charge, which appears on the copy of the bill herein attached. I am disputing this charge for the following reasons.

1) I ordered Directv in January of 2004 through the Friends and Family program.

2) The equipment was brought to my house and installed by Connect Television, Inc, a vendor sent by Directv – NOT HIRED BY ME. See attached copy of receipt from Connect TV for that day.

3) From the date of installation I had image breakup when watching television, but thought that it was normal because I was used to crappy cable service so even the occasional hiccup was acceptable.

4) Because I am rarely home to watch television on weekend days I was unaware that I was unable to receive my premium HBO service until I attempted to watch a movie one Saturday. What I got on all HBO channels was a black screen and a message that said “searching for signal”. This problem occurred only during the day, not during evening hours.

5) I called Directv and again they sent a Connect Television technician to my house necessitating that I take four hours off work.

6) The technician upon inspection of equipment determined that the satellite dish had been aligned incorrectly at the initial installation. His comment to me after re-aligning the dish was, “it was so out of alignment I don’t know how you were getting any reception at all.” Please see attached copy of that receipt of service and note that in the description box he wrote, “Realign dish – reconfigure family room a/c ok.”

I refuse to pay any amount of money for service to correct an error that occurred at the initial installation. I have no control over the skill level or ability of your installers. When I tried to resolve this problem over the phone I was told that I had to contact the MANUFACTURER of my equipment; that Connect Television was not responsible for whether or not the equipment worked!!! This may be true but then who is responsible for the angle that my Dish was aligned at? Yes, when the installer left the television was working but apparently he had aligned the Dish incorrectly so that I was not getting good reception 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now that the Dish has been aligned correctly I get perfect reception – ALL THE TIME! So it’s not that the equipment doesn’t work – it works great thanks. And I’m very happy with the reception that I’ve been getting since the Dish was properly aligned.

I would very much appreciate it if this charge was removed from my account immediately and this matter quickly resolved. Please respond in writing to the address noted below. Thank you for your time and attention.

And just for good measure I decided to give the CEO a little feedback on my customer service experience. It helps that just yesterday I read an interview with Mr. Stern that was in the Hollywood Reporter - Directv is celebrating it's 10 years anniversary...

June 23, 2004

Mitch Stern, CEO
2250 E. Imperial Highway
El Segundo, CA 90245

RE: Directv customer care

Dear Mr. Stern:

Attached please find copies of my correspondence regarding service issues that I have with Directv and their contractor Connect Television, Inc. (this is the vendor that Directv uses for Family and Friends installations and service in the L.A. area).

I am disputing what I believe to be an inaccurate service charge. I do not believe that I should have to pay for a technician to come out to my house and correct a misalignment of my Dish that was due to work performed by the first technician who installed the equipment. I have been attempting to resolve this issue over the phone with both Directv and their vendor Connect Television and at this point I am so frustrated I felt the need to give you some feedback about Directv’s customer care department. I am very pleased with my Directv service – now that the Dish is properly set up – and I have referred many of my friends to Directv as a result of my mostly good experience with the company.

However, I cannot express to you how frustrating it is to speak to not one, but numerous customer service representatives located somewhere in India! These people seemed unable to understand my complaint, not because they don’t speak English, but because they weren’t listening! Maybe I was deviating from their normal customer care “script” but they were unable to help me at all. In fact, they were “unable to transfer me to a supervisor” when I requested it!

When I contacted Connect Television, Directv’s vendor, I faced the same issue – a customer service rep who didn’t understand what I was saying, because he was so used to repeating the same thing to customers, which was that I needed to contact the manufacturer of my equipment because Connect Television wasn’t responsible for whether or not the equipment worked!! Well my equipment works just fine now that the installer error is resolved. He finally told me that I needed to send a letter outlining why I was disputing the bill and said that it was “my word against the installer.”

I read your interview in the Hollywood Reporter and the introduction of new services is definitely a positive for Directv, but in order to keep this massive base of customers, which has grown due to the excellent marketing plan, I do believe that customer service must improve – drastically. This is now, more than ever, a competitive market with the Dish Network and digital cable providing viable alternatives and ultimately I look at how I am treated as a customer to determine whether to do business with a company. In this instance I have to say Directv and their subcontractor should definitely reassess their customer care policy. Listening and comprehension are important qualities in any area of business but they are key in customer service.

Thank you for your time and attention to my “feedback”.

I had to go back in and edit all the sarcastic commentary about how nice it is of Directv to support a struggling economy like that of India - because God knows we've got plenty of jobs to go around here in the good ole USA - but that ultimately you get what you pay for and, while they're very polite customer service agents, they aren't actually able to provide satisfactory service. And that pretty much sucks.

When I need help I like to go to the top and since no one in India was able to transfer me to a supervisor, heck I'll just go to the CEO. I doubt he'll be able to help me either, because it seems like most CEOs don't actually do much beyond accepting massive paychecks and taking the heat when the stock price suffers a downturn.

But hey, you never know, and the most important thing is that I feel better.

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