Thursday, February 19, 2009

DirecTV, you're dead to me

I just watched the latest episode of Lost with my wife, and it was really nice. Not so much that it was a good episode (although it was) but it was nice that the image didn't get all pixelated every five minutes. Of course, that should be the norm, but it hasn't been for the past year or so. Today was different though because I switched from DirecTV to Dish Network.

Unfortunately, switching from one to the other hasn't been an easy process. I've had DirecTV for some time now, and for the first few years I didn't have any problems. It wasn't until I upgraded to their HD service that I started to have some problems. Basically, it was fine for the first several months, but then some of my shows would come in all pixelated and messed up. After they sent somebody out to fix it, things were fine again for a few months, but then the whole mess started up again.

What was worse was that eventually the initial warranty ended, and I had to sign up for some extended protection or have to pay for every time they came to my place. I made a stink about that, and I got them to charge me less than they normally would. Eventually though, the DVR started to crap out on me, and I had to have them send a replacement.

Not too long after that, it crapped out on me yet again. By this time (and I've probably left out a few other times) I was done with them. The only catch was that I was locked in a contract with them, and they wouldn't let me out of it without paying a harsh penalty. I asked to be let out of it, but they convinced me to let them try and fix the problem one more time.

Of course, it was fixed, but just a few weeks later, the whole mess started up again. This time, I not only called but I also wrote a letter to them, insisting that I be let out of my contract, even threatening legal action. (A friend of mine who's a lawyer confirmed for me that I actually would have the law on my side if they continued to be unable to provide the proper service to me.)

When I called this weekend, I found out that they had finally let me out of the contract, and I promptly cancelled, despite the nice lady on the other line asking if there was any way they could make things right with me. The next day, I called Dish Network, and then they had an installer come out the day after that. I'm still getting used to this new system, but so far, so good.

Writing about this, it doesn't seem so bad, but I've written before about how much I hate talking on the phone in general. Calling to deal with this stuff caused me a lot of stress, and no doubt a seriously raised blood pressure. The thing is, I'd go weeks in between when there was a problem and when I'd finally call, as I found myself getting way too worked up about it. Yeah, I'm weird, but I can't seem to change that particular aspect of my personality. (Some of my shows would actually always come in fine, like The Daily Show, but shows like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles I wound up watching online, which isn't too bad, but what's the point of having a flat screen, 42" TV if you can't watch a show like that on it?

Kirsti had some friends of hers tell her that they weren't happy with Dish Network, but none of their complaints had anything to do with their shows not coming in properly. The complaints had more to do with their automatic billing system and their equipment (one friend said that she hated their remote). I'm not too worried about equipment problems, because the guy on the phone told me that if it breaks down, I can always take it down to Radio Shack to exchange it. There's one of those just a few minutes from my house, so that's not so bad.

Honestly, all of the stress that this has caused me has made me wonder if having TV is even worth it. I suppose that if everything works out, I'll start to view it as something to help me relax rather than something that drives me crazy.


Dan said...

We had problems with Dish network about 4 years ago when we first had it hooked up. The issues were resolved quickly by them. Since then, no problems at all...
We are holding out though for AT&T UVerse to be hooked up in our area. AT&T includes phone, internet and TV that is comparable to what we have now for $99 a month. Not sure about the reliability though (maybe I should stick with what I have ?...)

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I think that AT&T is now using DirecTV, and if that's the case, then I'd advise against that.