This past weekend, two of our DirecTV satellite receivers failed. The failures were unrelated: one stopped working after the magic smoke leaked out of the vents; the other kept rebooting itself and scanning its disk, without ever actually starting up.
My wife called DirecTV and told them about the problems. The customer service rep agreed to send a replacement for the receiver that was smoking. However, we would have to let the other receiver keep trying to scan/repair its disk for 48 hours before they would declare it dead and replace it.
A couple of days went by, and we received a replacement receiver. We hooked it up and called DirecTV to activate it, and that went fine.
So far, I'd call this reasonable service. Then we asked about the other failed receiver, which was still not working after 48 hours, and that's when things changed.
The rep who helped us activate the replacement receiver for Old Smokey looked at what he could do about the other receiver. It turned out that, because we have had multiple receiver failures and replacements, he had to pass us over to a special case manager. The special case manager was, of course, not available at that time, so we had to agree to let him call us the following day.
The special case manager called at dinner time. I spent 45 minutes on the phone with him. Most of that time consisted of the following questions, asked repeatedly, with a few minutes of on-hold music once in a while:
- What are you doing with your receivers that causes them to fail?
- How many receivers do you have?
- Why don't your receivers' serial numbers match our records?
- It would be very unfortunate if we had to charge you a lost-equipment fee for the receivers you cannot account for. I'm trying to help you. Are you sure you don't have any other receivers you haven't told me about?
After a few rounds of questioning, the manager told me he wasn't going to honor my request to replace the bad-disk-drive receiver, because they had already replaced it, according to their records. And I didn't admit to having a receiver that their records said I did have. What had happened to that receiver?
It was obvious to me that when we made the original call about the two broken receivers, the rep recorded that they were sending a replacement for the bad-disk receiver instead of the smoking receiver.
So according to their records, I was supposed to still have a receiver I sent back, and not supposed to have a receiver they sent me. In the manager's mind, that meant there were two receivers unaccounted for. He kept asking the same questions in different ways, clearly convinced that I was lying or withholding information.
My wife and I have been paying DirecTV over a hundred dollars per month for several years. Do they really think we did that as a scam to steal one of their receivers?
You Are Free to Go...But Don't Leave Town
After 40 minutes of interrogation, he finally said, "Oh, I see what must have happened. That representative must have recorded the wrong ID. Let me fix that for you. Thank you for your patience."
Maybe he gave up on proving my guilt. Maybe it took him 40 minutes to accept that someone could have made a mistake.
At the end, he made it sound like I should be grateful that he was able to straighten things out for me.
And he let me know he'd be calling again to check up on me. If any more mysterious receiver failures happen, he'll give us his personal attention.
I look forward to the day when we can cancel DirecTV and get all our TV programs via the Internet. I think DirecTV knows how close we all are to that point, and they are milking us for all they can while they still have a business.