To: Mike.White@DirecTV.com; Ellen.Filipiak@DirecTV.com
Subject: Very difficult customer service and customer retention issue
I have been a DirecTV customer for almost four years, and have generally been satisfied, excepting several problems I have had over the years with customer service and billing (in fact most of these issues were early in my time with DirecTV, and were the fault of a third party telco bundling your services).
Up until now, all of these issues had eventually been resolved to my satisfaction; and I have always been very happy with the programming, content, and quality of service I received.
I am writing because I have been experiencing a very difficult and frustrating customer service problem with DirecTV, for more than four months now; which has caused me many hours of wasted time, and a great deal of frustration and irritation.
I am sorry to have to resort to direct email to deal with this problem, but at this point I have exhausted my other options.
The problem I'm currently having stands as this:
I moved from my service address at the end of August, to temporary accommodations while waiting to start a new job, and complete my relocation. Knowing that I would be doing this, I called DirecTV in late July (I can't recall the exact date this point), to ask that my service be temporarily suspended from August on, while I was moving.
At that time, they informed me that my service could be suspended for up to six months, that I should just retain my DVRs, and call for installation of mini-dish hardware when I had a new permanent home.
I would like to continue using DirecTV. As I said, I have been very happy with the content, programming, and quality that I have received up 'til now. In particular, as an avid football fan, I really love NFL Sunday ticket.
I moved as planned. Some time in early August (before Sunday Ticket games started) I disconnected my DirecTV receivers and packed them up in boxes with the rest of my household. Unfortunately, for some reason, my service was never suspended.
Since September, I have spoken with your customer service or billing reps numerous times; each time explaining the situation, each time being transferred to multiple people, each time being assured that the issue would be fixed. Each time, a month would go by, and your billing people kept adding another months service charges, and I would get collection calls. In October, they added an unreturned DVR fee, and early cancellation fee of more than $300, bringing the total to over $600.
In October, I finally found out that the reason my account wasn't suspended in August as requested, was because I had an outstanding balance on the date I had requested to suspend my service.
At that time (October 30th), I was told that I could pay the balance due in August (it was appx. $150, about a months worth of services plus a late fee), and my service would be suspended for up to six months; however I couldn't do that yet, as the billing department needed to remove the box fee, early termination fee, NFL Sunday Ticket charges, and additional service and late charges.
I am perfectly happy to pay for the services I received, I just don't want to pay for services I did not receive, nor fees incurred because my account wasn't suspended as requested.
On that call, I spent over 3 hours on the phone with various service, support, billing, and retention personnel, and was transferred multiple times. I eventually lost connection while on hold for over 30 minutes. However, before the call was lost, I was told that they were working on the problem, and that my account would be fixed; that I just needed to pay the outstanding balance due in August, and that if we were disconnected they would call me back, or send me a bill at my temporary residence. I never heard back from them, but I assumed that finally, given all the time and effort, the problem was solved.
Since that time I have started my new job, and changed temporary accommodations, moving all the way across the country for the second time since August (in August I temporarily moved from Idaho to Arizona. Then, in November I moved to temporary accommodations in New Hampshire. We're looking for a house in the area now).
A few minutes ago, December 9th (at 11pm at night by the way) I received another call from DirecTV's collections department, asking me for more than $600, and stating that my account was already in collections.
I explained the situation yet again, and asked the service rep to check the notes. She did so, but said that she couldn't do anything about this problem as it was now December, and the last call was in October. She said that since I couldn't PROVE that I had called to suspend service back in August, that I would have to pay the full amount (less the early termination fee and box fee... about $350 total) to get out of collections and have my service re-instated.
After several minutes of going back and forth with her on this issue she became strident, and I became angry. I said that I wanted to talk with a customer retention representative, as this was a customer retention issue. She refused, saying "this IS the only customer retention for this account". I asked to speak with a supervisor and she told me that none were available.
At this point I was quite frustrated and I told her that unless we could resolve this issue I would be permanently canceling service with DirecTV. I asked her if DirecTV was really willing to lose a customer who wanted to pay them $150, and continue paying them more than $100 a month for the next few years, over less than $200. She said that it didn't matter because my service was already cancelled and that I was already in collections.
I repeatedly told her that I was happy to pay the balance due for services I actually received, I just was not willing to pay several hundred more for services and fees I didn't receive and shouldn't have incurred.
Finally I asked her for some way of resolving this issue short of a law suit. She informed me that I could send a letter to a PO box in Colorado and ask for a dispute investigation. I asked if there were any other way of expediting the process; if there was an electronic form, if I could email them, if I could call them on the phone, if I could fax them, even if I could get a direct address not a PO box so I could overnight a letter. She said that I could only contact the dispute resolution department by postal mail to that post office box, and that I would need to attach documentary evidence of my claims to the letter in order for a dispute to be considered.
At this point I apologized for becoming angry, and ended the call. I then immediately looked up the executive customer service contact information.
Again, I am sorry to have to contact you directly... This isn't a matter of not being able to afford it, or not having the money (though after two moves in four months, with an 8 month old baby, money isn't exactly flowing freely), it's simply a matter of not wanting to pay for services I didn't receive, and fees I shouldn't have incurred.
I sincerely hope that we can resolve this dispute to our mutual satisfaction and benefit. I really would love to continue receiving service from DirecTV.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and any assistance you can render,