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I ordered DirecTV service for my home a month or so ago, because where I live we have Charter Communications for cable and Charter’s prices are astronomical (and service level significantly lower than what I’m used to.)  It’s unfortunate that Time Warner isn’t the cable provider in the area, because as an ex-contractor for them and as a long-time customer, I felt that overall Time Warner Cable was about as good as a monopoly cable company could get, and while no big company seems to do the customer right 100% of the time, they at least seemed to give half a damn about customer satisfaction and value for the money.  Honestly, I was disappointed that I’d have to move to satellite service, especially with the threat of things like long-term contracts looming.  Yes, you have to commit to a contract with DirecTV, but I understand that it’s a way of subsidizing the equipment installation costs, so it’s not that big of a deal to me.

What is a big deal, however, is the “teaser deals” and impossible-to-understand terms under which the service was sold to me.  I ordered a $40/month package because it was the lowest I could get with a DVR (vital to keep the wife happy, lest I be tormented for the rest of my days).

Imagine my surprise when I receive a bill with a base package price of $65.  That’s before some of the kooky fees that come along with the deal.

Here’s how it works: the sweet deal only lasts one year (12 months), and to get the sweet deal, you have to mail in or electronically submit a rebate request with an apparent 6-8 week wait for processing.  The representative forgot to mention that little detail, and I have to pay the significantly higher bill now, then wait until this rebate is credited back to my account at some arbitrary point in the future.

They really do make it impossible to know what you’re getting into.  You know all the fine print under their packages on their website?  Here’s copypasta of the one for my package (emphasis added):

Offer ends 3/3/09 and is based on approved credit; credit card required. Price reflects an $18 bill credit per month for 12 months after online or call-in rebate, plus an additional $5 bill credit per month for 12 months when you enroll in Auto Bill Pay program and provide a valid email address for the latest news and special offers from DIRECTV. New customers only (Lease required. Must maintain programming, DVR Service and/or HD Access). Lease fee $4.99/mo. for 2nd and each additional reciever. See offer details.

You have to have a credit card, pass a credit check, fill out a rebate form, AND give them access to your account or card, AND be willing to receive DirecTV spam, just to get the price they advertise.

Where did honesty and transparency in business practices go in this country?  Why do I have to jump through 100 hoops just to pay the price that the salesweasels at DirecTV shout about?  Doesn’t this seem a bit dishonest to anyone else out there?  If I ran my computer business the way DirecTV does their sales, I’d be out of business within a few months.  Every major electronics retailer seems to do the same thing with covertly hidden “pre-rebate” pricing and attempts to “add value” in ways that only add value to their wallets rather than the customer’s actual needs.

Let me be very clear: I feel that rebates are a dishonest business practice.  It’s a way to prey upon peoples’ personality flaws that prevent them from successfully and correctly submitting the rebate in order to extract more dollars from them.  Big business seems to be exclusively in the game of extracting as much cash from each customer as possible regardless of the morality of how they go about doing so and regardless of actual customer needs. It infuriates me to no end, and I’m tired of it.

When someone walks into Tritech Computer Solutions, they see each and every thing on my price sheet quoted with the actual final price.  There are no rebates.  There are no ripoff “extended warranty plans” to mess with.  The price quoted is the price paid.  No deception, no distraction, no questions necessary, period.

Why can’t every business work like that?  Dread the thought that a business actually keeps its customers happy and listens to their needs!  I suppose that’s the corruption of trying to pad out your books for the fourth fiscal quarter so your stock doesn’t take a hit!

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One Comment

  1. DirecTV has become very good at their “bait and switch” tactics. Upon reading the fine print, customers should know that, if they merely subscribe to the “basis” package, they will not be able to get HD Free, nor will they be able to get Free DVR upgrades, among many other stipulations. I am an employee for DISH network and I currently subscribe to HD Free For Life, with DVR in both rooms and a continuous cycle of Free Programming due to my auto-pay status. If anyone with DirecTV is interested in a more customer-friendly company, take a look at Dishnetwork.com.


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