I have been a loyal customer of DirecTV since 2000 when I moved into my current house. Today, AFTER getting an HD upgrade I'm turning off service. It actually became a matter of safety (did I just type that?)..
Through the years I bought 4 DirecTV TIVO’s and have been very happy with the service and the picture. When the DirecTV / TIVO relationship fell apart I looked the other way and dealt with it. I really wanted new TIVO software but the image quality of DirecTV was good and the interface on my aging DirecTV TIVO’s was still far superior to the unconscionable Comcast DVR, when it worked.
However, recently a series of events unfolded that were simply unparalleled in my history of service based businesses. Those few who follow my blog will know I have been in search of an acceptable HDTV experience since the beginning of the year. For a long while I subscribed to both Comcast and DirecTV . This allowed me to try different configurations. As the months unfolded it became clear there was only going to be two viable choices. The first being DirecTV HD DVR with the new HD Locals in the Denver area, and the second being the expensive TIVO Series 3 on Comcast.
Being a happy, in fact ecstatic, DirecTV customer I went to great lengths to get my hands on one of the first new DirecTV HD DVR’s. Even though it didn’t have the TIVO interface I was resigned to the favorable economics and what was surely the superior technology involved. I called DirecTV and scheduled the upgrade to my Dish and multi-switch required to make the new HD Locals work. As it turns out, DirecTV has regional contractors that do all the installs for them.
Here is where I take a short break in the story……….
Cut to a board room somewhere deep in Englewood Colorado, not far from where I am writing this. It’s at least 18 months earlier. There are VP’s and product people present. They are all hearing a pitch that a new Satellite must be launched into orbit that will allow DirecTV to broadcast local HD stations into multiple markets. These new birds will downlink everything in MPEG4 and require all kinds of new infrastructure on the part of customers. At the end everyone claps and a new bird is launched and what has to be something like $300M is allocated to this effort, and everyone feels good.
Back to present day…..
So, I call DirecTV and then dispatch Ironwood Communications to come out to my house.
The first Install Date…
Dude shows up, spends 5 hours at my house. Can’t get the DVR to work and asks me what stations I should get. I tell basically ALL OF THEM and then explain I have to go to a meeting but he is free to stay and work it out. He says no problem. I leave the house, come back in 30 minutes. He has left the house with not only the new stuff not working, but he has broken the rest of the system.
The second Install Date…
I call DirecTV and they apologize for the people that hold their customers in the palm of their hand. They tell me they will send the same idiot back to my house in “about a week”. I explain that this is unacceptable. They are sorry. I ask for the Ironwood number and after some negotiation they give it to me.
Official Ironwood Installation Vehicle
Several days later a professional Ironwood installer shows up in his company issue van. He is going to fix everything. He spent 2 hours at my house and explains that the multi-switch they installed is partly broken, “but works good enough”, and “fixes everything”.
Except its not fixed, the new DVR only half works, some channels come and go, and the second tuner doesn’t work.
The third Install Date….(attempt)
My wife calls Ironwood and attempts to get an installer back out. The installer refuses to come back out to the house and hangs up on my wife. He says the DVR is broken. She calls DirecTV and they make the local Ironwood “moron” call back. At this point he is uncomfortably, (read scary) rude and hangs up again….
So… I call DirecTV and explain that I can’t get anything to work and the installer has turned DANGEROUS. (I can’t believe I just typed that). They tell me they want to get it fixed right away and they need to send the installer out. They also tell me that installers don't like to come out more then once because DirecTV only pays them for the first visit on upgrades. Ok, that’s not happening, there is no way this guy is coming back in my house (I can't even keep him on the phone).. I convince DirecTV to send me a new DVR, they do (after 45 minutes on the phone). I get it, install it, doesn’t work. (remember the broken multi-switch).
Cut back to the DirecTV boardroom, 18 months earlier..
Do you think that during the presentation to the executives at DirecTV about launching $300M local HD Service they thought they would actually LOSE customers with it?
Back to present day….
Last week I installed 3 TIVO Series 3’s on Comcast Cable. Total cost to me around $3,000 (I REALLY can’t believe I just typed that). The DirecTV service and boxes would have been around $300 out of pocket to me. BUT I elected to spend 10 times that amount. And frankly I could not be happier.
Today, after 6 years of being a happy customer of DirecTV I’m turning off the bird, AFTER you guys spent the money upgrading my dish.
What the hell are you guys thinking? If you don’t own the customer you own NOTHING. Some guy named Earl has your BALLS in his hand and is squeezing them…
I bought some TIVO stock today. It’s depressed and their DVR is expensive. And, in my opinion they will save Comcast. Goodbye DirectTV.