DirectTV’s DVR Lease Shell Game

My life in television purgatory came to an end recently when Kassia and I moved back into our home, after an extensive remodel, and re-activated our DirectTV service.

[ad#AdSense1] My brief stint with Charter Cable reminded me of what truly bad customer service is like. Never mind the torture device that Charter calls a DVR. The day Charter Cable is the only option in my life is the day I stop watching television. Which is pretty much what I did for most of the spring and early summer.

Given the amount of time I’ve spent ranting about Charter Cable over the past four months I should be happier about my return DirectTV.

While I am still happy with DirectTV’s service, I have to say that the company’s equipment leasing scheme has me feeling like I’ve been fleeced.

When I think about watching TV, what I’m really thinking about is watching TV on my trusty TiVo. Without the TiVo pay TV isn’t worth watching. TiVo is an essential filter that brings value to my television viewing experience.

I was more than a little annoyed to discover that in order to upgrade our service to an HD package, I would have to buy a new DirectTV brand receiver/DVR.

I was fine with the part where I had to buy a new DVR, my TiVo is nearly seven years old. It was the part about not being able to buy a new TiVo that really bothered me. My recent Charter experience demonstrated how truly horrible a DVR can be. Don’t let anyone tell you that all DVRs are the same. Those people are fools who watch commercials by choice and buy what they’re told to buy.

After doing a bit of research (research = talking with Tim Gaskill) I decided that the DirectTV DVR couldn’t possibly be worse than the Charter DVR, and might actually be a slight upgrade from my ancient TiVo Series One with the hole drilled in the case and a frayed ethernet cable hanging out of the side. My TiVo has been modded so much it looks like something Homeland Security should know about.

I decided to call my friends at DirectTV to upgrade my service.

The helpful DirectTV sales lady explained that the new DVR would cost $199, and that an additional $4.99 per month lease fee would be added to my bill.

Wait a minute? Did she say lease fee? If I was leasing the DVR what was I paying $199 for?

The operator explained that the lease fee isn’t really a lease fee at all. She doesn’t know why they call it that. It’s actually more of a DVR service fee.

She assured me that the $199 that was about to be charged to my Visa was indeed a purchase.

To be honest, I felt sort of strange even asking. Why else would I pay $199 for a DVR if I wasn’t actually buying it? If I walked into a Circuit City or a Best Buy and paid $199 for the very same box I certainly wouldn’t ask the sales person to verify that I was, in fact, really buying the DVR.

So, I take the operator at her word and finalize my purchase.

Three weeks later my next bill arrives. I’m looking at the details and I see the $4.99 lease fee. Actually seeing it on my bill makes me more curious.

I do a bit of research on The Google and quickly realize that I’ve been had. The lease fee that is not really a lease fee is, in reality, a lease fee.

And the $199 I paid for the DVR? That’s also a lease fee. Except it’s really more of a down payment.

I’ve come to find that I didn’t really buy anything, and the new DVR that’s sitting in my living room is actually property of DirectTV. If I cancel my subscription tomorrow I have to return the box or pay a penalty.

Oh, then there’s the small matter of the two year commitment. Of course I agreed to that without complaint. After all, I’ve been with DirectTV for nearly eight years and I have every reason to expect that I might be with them for another 8, or maybe even 80.

At least that’s what I thought before they snookered me into this crazy equipment lease deal.

Could this possibly get worse? Well, yes, in fact, it can. It turns out that the DVR I’m leasing comes with a 90 day warranty. If the damn thing breaks after 90 days I have to pay to repair or replace it. Even though it technically isn’t my DVR.

DirectTV has a solution to that problem. For an additional monthly fee I can insure the DVR that isn’t really my DVR against any possible damage.

Honestly, I don’t know how this can possibly be legal. Apparently I’m not alone. There’s a class action lawsuit in the works and I’ve discovered a legion of disgruntled DirectTV subscribers (and former subscribers) on various AV forums online.

If you read the fine print you find that DirectTV does actually mention the lease agreement, but it is so buried on their website that I can’t actually link to it. The lease is not mentioned on the the DVR product page or the page that lists the details of each service package. And based on my experience, some of DirectTV’s own employees don’t really understand the lease agreement.

Here’s what DirectTV needs to do to make things right:

1. Provide better disclosure. DirectTV needs to be more obvious about the fact that all equipment is being leased, and more transparent about the terms of the lease. They also need to disclose the total cost of the lease prior to signing consumers to a long-term commitment.

2. Educate all DirectTV sales staff and affiliates (including sales people at Best Buy, Circuit City, and any other retail outlet that sells DirectTV equipment leases) about the terms of the lease, and instruct them to provide customers with accurate information.

3. Give customers the option of purchasing their own equipment, and support third party products like TiVo.

In the past I’ve been something of a DirectTV advocate, providing a strong recommendation for the service and encouraging friends and family to sign-up.

After this experience I’m much less likely to recommend DirectTV, and I’ll probably spend quite a bit of time warning people about DirectTV’s deceptive equipment leasing practices.

33 Responses to “DirectTV’s DVR Lease Shell Game”

  1. larry says:

    ATT U-verse.
    4 receivers, 1 hd dvr no purchase, no lease
    wifi router

    monthly agreement, no long term contracts

    6 mbps inet connection

    so far I’m happy

  2. Jim says:

    So basically, given the two-year commitment, DirecTV is charging you $320 dollars just to give you the ability to pay them another $80-100 month to watch their programming.

    What happens if, next year, they come up with the most godlike HD-DVR in human history? Despite the fact that you don’t actually own your DVR, you can’t upgrade, right?

    Or even worse, what happens if they ever decide to support TiVo again? Too bad! Such bullshit.

    The fact that all DVRs aren’t the same is, ironically enough, the reason that I’m sticking with Charter. As long as they’ll support my TiVo Series 3, I’ll probably remain their customer.

  3. Kirk says:

    Larry: So far no AT&T UVerse isn’t available in my area. Maybe in 2 years after my DirectTV commitment expires.

    Jim: My sense is that I could upgrade to whatever super new DVR DirectTV comes up with. I would just have to pay whatever the new lease fee is AND extend my commitment by another 2 years. It’s funny that DirectTV is acting like a mobile phone provider right around the time the courts are ruling that mobile phone providers can’t charge an early termination fee.

  4. Tyson says:

    Two words: Tivo HD

    Kicks A S S!

    Even places nice with Time-Warner cable.

  5. Vinny says:

    OK ..maybe someone can shed some light for me …Direct TV’s notorious leasing deal. I have two receivers …one came free of charge, with the service, one is being billed a 4.99 “lease” charge. Now …according to DT, I own both boxes; this 4.99 is a “programming fee”. I wanted to upgrade one reciever, and add to the system, using my own purchased boxes. According to them, I’d have to pay the 4.99 “lease fee” for all addtional boxes I didn’t even BUY from them. Why?

  6. Kirk says:

    Vinny, It’s been my experience that DirectTV isn’t very good at explaining the details of the monthly bills that they send to their customers. If you purchase a receiver from DTV, it’s actually a lease. After MANY calls to DTV I finally got them to eliminate the monthly lease fee on my single HD DVR receiver.

    The 4.99 monthly fee is per *additional* receiver, and it applies to any additional receiver, regardless of where you purchased it. It’s actually a programming fee, although your bill probably identifies it as a lease fee. DTV operators are helpless to do anything about the wording, despite the fact that it’s misleading.

  7. Here’s the secret- yes it is a lease fee- a fee of 200 dollars- that’s just for the privilege of having the device. The lease fees you pay every month are actually unavoidable Mirroring Fees. Mirroring is what DTV calls their way to copy the service of the “Primary” receiver over to other receivers. That means you will ALWAYS pay this- even if you own it which… truth told- owning that receiver is $500 or $499 but lets not split hairs. Owning the HD-DVR which is only guaranteed to work on Direct TV’s service (and rarely works then) doesn’t save you any money- you still pay the $5 mirroring fee every month forever.

    Also- Leasing is just that; not lease to own as many seem to be confused by… you will never own leased equipment. Ever….

    The only advantage to owning is that you won’t have to return the receiver when you wise up and cancel your services.

    Also- for those that don’t know- DTV REVERES 3 year customers to the point they will offer a free upgrade if you have never had that type of advanced equipment… however they will still place the 2 year commitment that is $480 early cancellation fee (Either involuntary or voluntary) it does tier down 20 bucks every month you complete but…. that’s hardly compensation.

    End of the line- yes ATT is more expensive than some cable companies- but it doesn’t lure you in with introductory pricing plans (that I have ever witnessed) and both ATT Uverse and Cable companies that offer all 3 services will offer all 3 services at a premium of just under about 200 bucks. (which is actually somewhat pleasing in my eyes)

    In fact our current supplier of internet, Cable, and Phone gives us high speed internet topping out at 23 MBPS down- 2MBps- over 200 channels and two phone lines for only 150 bucks or so and that’s the price after introductory offer.

    So needless to say- DTV is the devil- stay away from it- I am warning you now…


  8. sam richmond says:

    directv well I have currently an HR10 which was HD but they changed and it is no longer HD so I upgraded for $100 and new 24 month contract guess what they sent me a refurbished unit that is scratched and plastic front has a gash they refused to replace it due to cosmedic I will be changing to Dish Network

  9. Kelly says:

    Does anyone know the address I can mail ALL the equipment to, I am canceling it and want NOTHING to do with Direct TV again!


  10. thomas grahame says:

    before direcTV I had a programmed VCR which functioned very well. Since DirecTV I cannot record at all
    in spite of wiring diagrams and help from experienced people. Does DirecTV have a way of blocking existing equipment to sell DVR

  11. Rob says:

    Yes most is true, the biggest issue is they do not disclose the extension. I have 4 receivers and one went dead, I called and they would replace with a refurb or new, i said ok, well after i got the email confirmation I read the terms which was a link in the email, in this in the middle and in bold was the extension clause 1 yr for standard def and 2 yrs for HD. I called next morning to cancel the reciever, they said ok , but it shipped out and i got it and had to send it back and then send the broken one back, they said a recovery box so it’s free back.

    The lack of disclosure on the phone and the fact that I made a 2 yr commitment with them – I pay – they provide and the lease box didn’t make it 2 years (1.5 yrs) and they wanted to extend my agreement 2 years when the equipment originally given to me didn’t make it the 1st commitment.. oh well.

    The deal breaker is extension of contract for a broken unit, i can see a commitment like a cell phone for a new unit and thus a commitment as they units are expensive or so they say ..

    A PLUS for direct is their customer service is in the USA and they speak english. I was with Dish for 10 years and they went to overseas and good luck with communication. I actually called dish and said hey i watn new equipment, been with you 10 years and have the old metal units still the person in broken english said could get one unit but not 3 or 4… Well when i signed for directv and got $300 off new tv i was buying anyhow and called to cancel dish, i was connected to a perfect english speaking person that would have given me the moon, i mean they were willing to pay the termination fees for the direct of i canceled and stayed with them, I said since you have chose to go over seas and I gave your company the chance to work with me and didn’t I have to say goodbye and maybe in two years i might be back. I took me 2 months to get my 1/2 month payment back, it’s not automatic they send you a refund when you cancel unless you hound them weekly.

    Nothing’s perfect i guess, I’ve had direct 1.5 years and it’s the same picture as dish, i’ve actually had no issues except a dead unit which is in a guest room and i can survive, it would get sticky i guess if you had one unit and it died beofre your commentment..


  13. Kevin says:

    This “lease” game is the same that was played by the telephone companies years ago. The good old telephone hanging on the wall or sitting in the living room was ALWAYS the property of your local telephone company and you paid $2/month to lease it. The phones lasted forever and the lease was never paid off. Finally the govt got involved and required the phone company to remove the fee.

  14. Victor La Fountaine says:

    Called and asked for advertised rebate offer for Direct TV. Advertised, $100 dollar rebate to myself, and person advising them for the monthly fee of $39.95 Rcvd equipment, and called to confirm the rebate information the installer would not take. They told me no problem, however I could not apply for the rebate for 30 days. Thinking this was not right, I again called one week later, and was advised the same information. With that, I did not suspect any foul play, and expected my first months billing for the agreed $39.95.
    When I got the bill it was for $69.41, and I called them as to why it was not what I had agreed to? They said that it was because the rebate information was not applied and that I could NOW apply for it online. I asked if I was to pay the bill, would they apply the credit due to my account, and she told me no, and that it would take another 8 to 10 weeks to apply it. I then told her that was NOT what I had agreed to, and they were now expecting me to pay the rebate amounts to them ahead of time, and that later on they would give me my own overpayment back. I then told her, that if that was the way they did buisness, that I did not want their service, to bill me for the amount of service that I had used, and to take their equipment back. They said fine. Later on, a salesman,(I have his name in my records), called and asked what it would take to keep my service with them, I replied, very easy, just honor our agreement of the rebate and the agreed price of $39.95. He said fine, he would apply a rebate of $50 to make up for the overpayment, and that he would also, include three months of free HBO. I said fine, however, I INSISTED THAT THEY SEND ME SOMETHING IN WRITING with this agreement. He said he would email it to me. After a week of no email, I again called them, and asked why I had not rcvd the agreement. The lady told me that it had been automatically sent. I asked her to simply resend the email, and I would then be happy to pay the bill (now this is two months at the overcharge price). She refused, and said she would not send it, and when I asked for a supervisor, she would not get one, and said that I would not get the aggrement sent to me. With this I then said, if you are not going to honor your aggrement, then I no longer want your service. She said fine, now they are harrasing my mother and I from a collection agent for the amount of $431.00 FOR EARLY TERMINATION,,,, I would sincerely like to see this go to court, and would like anyone to please give me some advice..
    Victor La Fountaine

  15. Louann says:

    I just went back to Comcast because they offered me a no contract triple play deal that only a salesman can offer you. He knocked on my door, not over the phone. I have had Direct TV for 6 years now, and with the economy being what it is we are having money issues, so we are trying to save wherever we can. I have been in this new house for two years and have had nothing but problems with DTV. I was never told about a early termination fee ever, till the women on the phone just told me. I got the first DVR in 2006 and the secound on when we moved here in September of 07. This woman was insisting that I got the DVR in o8, and that I would be charged for the early termination of the 2nd DVR. That it was a two year deal. I said I was not paying for It because I was never told about it. Then she said she would be sending me a prepaid package so I could send both DVR’s back to them. I don’t know if I should even send them back to them if they are going to try to charge me that term. fee. Will someone let me know what they think I should do with the box’s If you were me.

    Louann Hepworth

  16. Jeff M says:

    I was a DTV customer for 12 years, about 3 years ago decided to upgrade to HD
    well the DVR’s were backorder for 6-10months so I went to Direct Buy and bought the DVR. DTV tried to charge me lease fees for over a year until I finally told them enough times that this was not legal – so I had a line on my statement called lease rebate that credited back the automatic charge. Recently I got a very good deal from Comcast so I cancelled my DTV and they insisted that the receiver was their equipment. I sent them copies of the receipt and they refused to accept this evidence, sent me a prepaid return box and a bill for the equipment. I threw the return box in the trash and told them to pursue their recourse for whatever they thought it was worth. Two lessons stand out from all the posts on this site: 1. Refuse to sign a contract for length of service, this will require some cooperation amongst consumers and would quickly solve many problems, but in reality it will probably not happen unless the government steps in. 2. If something seems intuitively unfair or manipulative it probably is and if we don’t walk away from offers that appeal to our greed, then we are most likely going to get screwed.

    Encouraging the little people to resist being taken advantage
    of by the corporations. Just look at how good TiVo was and how they
    were destroyed by companies out to make a buck.

    Jeff M

  17. Jokar1030 says:

    This is such a joke, I’ve been with DirecTV since 1994 in all that time I’ve been paying for both the DVR service and the two extra satellite boxes not discussed in this article. I’ve seen a change in the level of service since it was part of Hughes and spun off as well as a gross change in the cost of service in that time. Existing customers aren’t offered anything including a free pay per view movie for staying with direct TV. When I made my last move and upgraded to HD I had to do a so called buy and pay for the equipment and installation myself another $200 plus bucks. I kept the service because of the geographical moves I’ve made and the access to the NFL Sunday ticket but I’m through being a sucker for a company that places shareholder value ahead of customer satisfaction. I can watch the games on the NFL network but I totally plan to dump DirecTV and use ATT U-Verse. I’d like to know when the class action suit will be filed I’d sure would like to see some of the money I squander for TV service returned to me. I say stay away from them if you can because there plan is to get money out of you anyway they can.

  18. dishman says:

    look heres the deal it’s not a lease fee it’s a mirroring fee to give you programming on a second tv. Any satellite company has one dish just waives it if you plug it into a phone line or internet connection. Cable companies have them too unless you are poor and you get basic channels on the other tvs. And you people who proclaim 20mbps you would never use that in everyday life but since cable isn’t digital by any stretch of the imagination they have to give you high dl speed to compensate for lag go dsl. A dsl satellite and phone package averages 98 dollars and you get much more reliable service. Cable user= bad credit score because if this guy had to pay 199 that means he failed the credit check that’s easier than getting a target card or a secured card from your bank. Bash satellite if you want but customer service scores tell the story and directv discloses everything over the phone they call them rcc’s or required call components and if they don’t tell you those quality assurance listens and they record every call if they don’t you have the right to request the recording and if you are right you may cancel without penalty and I do mean every call. Instead of whining make sure you disclose all the facts and I say this on behalf of directv despite the fact that they closed the directv call center that I worked at in arizona due to company cutbacks based on the loss they took on the sunday ticket now I work for dish network pay is better but I kept my directv.

  19. That’s great Dishman, but I only have one DVR and one TV. So, it’s clearly not a mirroring fee. And I paid $199 for equipment that I don’t actually own. You may call it whining, but usually when I pay that kind of money for technology I like to have some say in what I’m purchasing. That’s not the case with DirectTV. There’s still only one option — the truly mediocre DirectTV DVR.

    Still waiting for the return of TiVo.

  20. Scott says:

    I was with Comcast but their customer service is absolutely horrible and their tech support is useless. Decided to go with Direct TV almost two years ago. The lease fee and the charges for equipment that i do not own has me waiting to get out and like everyone else the sales people can’t give you a straight answer as to why I have to pay so much for equipment that I do not own. I don’t even want to get into the fact that when I switched from basic to HD I was told that it was not a problem (ie no charge) and when I did it they wanted $300 and I refuse to pay the $100 to upgrade the receiver for my other tv.
    My HD DVR just crapped out on me so they are sending me a new one but my contract (in my mind) expires in a few months and by that time I am hoping for U-Verse (not that I think that they are a saviour but I do feel as though I being nickel and dimed with DirectTV

  21. Michelle says:

    Beware of contract salesmen from Direct TV that lie to you just to make a sale! I was told that my Panasonic DVR would work just like it does with cable by Direct TV salesman, Mike Linyard. I reiterated that it was a Panasonic DVR and asked again if he was sure that it would work the same. His exact word was “Absolutely!” BULL ! It does not allow me to watch one show and record on another, and it did with cable. It also has problems accessing listings for the TV Guide, and it didn’t with cable. I called Direct TV; spoke to Phil, who could not tell me how to make it work. I asked to speak to his supervisor, whose name was Richard. He said that it would not work, so I explained what I was told by Mr. Linyard. I asked to be let out of my contract, since I was sold on it under false pretenses. He said that I could not have the contract nullified, regardless of whether I was lied to. I then asked to speak to his supervisor, who he said was not there. I asked her name, and he told me it was Daphna. He said that she would return my call in 72 hours. Guess what? I never heard from her. What they failed to consider is that they won’t have jobs if they don’t provide some semblance of customer service. Word spreads quickly, especially in this day and time. They made no effort to appease or satisfy me in any way. Instead, I felt like they reveled in some sort of pseudo power by offering to do nothing. Even though the entire contract should have been nullified, they offered to do nothing. If you’re reading this, provide your own customer service. Type Direct TV+complaints in Google. You may just change your mind about considering Direct TV. I plan to tell anyone at a Direct TV sales counter the same. They’re in several retail stores, and I can dissuade more potential customers by telling the truth than my one contract would have meant to them.

  22. Janelle says:

    Same thing that happened to Victor also happened to me regarding rebate. When I did apply for rebate I did not want to receive their emails so received a $5 less per month rebate. Asked for them to override my request, that I would receive their emails if they would give me the extra $5 off monthly. Said they could not override – yeah- give me a break.

    Now have run into the same thing many of you have – want to add another receiver was told I would have pay an upfront “lease” fee plus the monthly fee, and an installation fee and a new user fee of $50. WHAT??
    Supervisor told me that because I have only had their service for 6 months, I had to pay the extra $50. Yet, as a brand new subscriber, I got two receivers and installation free. I said doesn’t ordering another receiver show “good faith” that I intend to stay with your service? I guess not!!!

    I have looked online and found receivers, but will still have to call to have service activated. And from what I have read understand that DirectTv will restart my two year contract at that time. What a crock of —-!!! I would definetly cancel if I could — but cannot afford the $400 cancellation fee.


  23. im jacob. i have direct tv. porno in high def is unreal. i likee buttholes upclose in high def. you can see dingleberries and all.

  24. Michael says:

    I just read Janelle’s comment of 6/2/2010.

    I too am being hit with the “new customer” fee of $50. They’re calling it a “credit history” fee to me. It is NOT covered in the 12 specified points in the customer agreement, but it’s a “stealth” fee they’re throwing on due to the one-sided nature of their whole contract, oops, I mean “commitment”. (They apparently don’t have contracts.) Read your agreement, it’s not specified, even though their CSRs love to refer to that paragraph.

    I’m fighting it. And complaining to all who can hear.

    I wanted the Whole-Home DVR service, and I was willing to pay the $150 equipment and installation charge to get it. But not this extra $50. Because they want to suck me dry, they are losing the $422 for MLB Extra innings for the next 2 years, and all of the PPV money I’d spend.

  25. CheapGuy says:

    You guys have not figured out the system yet. Yes, you still have to pay the $4.99 “lease” fees but you can get so much else for free to make up for it.

    Ok, so here is what I am talking about. If you want the goods but dont want to pay the big up front fees for it, just call the major compeditors in the area and get a quote from them, or lie and say that is what they quoted you.

    Once you call direct tv to cancel your service, they will do anything to keep you. They will wave fees and give you free stuff. Example, I wanted HD and they wanted me to pay over $150 for the equipment i needed. Once I got a quote from teh competitor that was lower, when I got off the phone, I have a Free HD DVR, free HD Reciever, Free Installation, and I was paying $10 a month less then I was before for 6 months because of the package they put me on.

    Long story short, if you threaten to leave, and have a price quote from a compeditor, you can get almost anything you want. They will work with you.

  26. CheapGuy says:

    Update to my last post. Once I got off the phone with Direct TV when trying to cancel, I got all the free stuff and a lower bill then going in.

    Either way, I love DirectTV and dont want to switch away. It is great. You just have to know how to work the system.

    I also have:
    1 HD DVR, 1 HD Receiver, 1 Regular Receiver, qwest DSL 7.5mb, and a verizon cell phone bundled. I pay around $150 a month to Qwest for all of it.

  27. Hrmm that was unusual, my remark got consumed. Anywho I want to to express it’s nice to learn that someone else also highlighted this as I’d a tough time locating the same information in other places. This is the first place that helped me understand why. Thank you.

  28. brian says:

    Just came late to the party to discover that I have been robbed by Direct TV. I paid the $300 to purchase the equipment and have been told that it is leased. I made a complaint to BBB, then was contacted by an unrepentant DirectTV representative to “resolve” my complaint. I explained that it was unnecessary for her to recapitulate the corporate reasoning to me. She assured me she that she would not and then proceeded to do so. Waiting to join the class action suit.

  29. Rob Hart says:

    On Monday July 19th 2010 I watched a television ad which prompted me to research the Direct TV website, I looked over the packages and then I called the number from the webpage. 1-888-777-2454
    I ordered a package which included 225 channels, free lifetime high definition, an HD-DVR recorder, an HD Receiver and 3 standard receivers, I was promised 3 premium channels, Showtime, HBO and another, for the first 3 months. I was promised that I could record and watch those recordings (DVR) on any television, in any room. All of this for a monthly bill guaranteed amount of $69.00 for the first year, on a 2 year contract.
    I set up installation for between 4:00 – 8:00 Friday July 24th 2010, My wife scheduled time off work, missed an important company dinner and waited, and waited. No phone call from them, NO Show!
    I called Direct-TV, was told it would be between 9 and 9:30, I told them if it was after 9 pm it would have to wait because I have a six year old child, they apologized and rescheduled my installation to between 8:00 am-12:00 noon the following day. (Saturday July 25th) Again, we waited, missed a boating trip, when it rolled on noon, we called again to be told that we were not scheduled until the following week Saturday July 31, 2010?
    As you can imagine I was very upset, I was told that the local company cannot install on Saturday July 25th because they didn’t have the required equipment, that tells me, they didn’t have the equipment on Friday, when I was supposed to be installed originally, I was told the equipment would have to be ordered, the earliest date was the 31st between 8:00am – 12:00 noon.
    I reluctantly agreed, on Saturday July 31, 2010 the technician arrived at my home at approximately 1:30pm, he proceeded to remove my existing working Dish Network equipment and started to install the Direct TV equipment.
    After about one and a half hours my wife came to me very upset and told me that the tech only had the HD DVR and then the standard receivers for the rest of the rooms and that for us to be able to record in each room in would cost us an additional $500.00 to $600.00 payable, up front?
    I called Direct TV and was told that the tech was right and I should check my order. They told me basically that I was lying about being able to watch and record in every room and that I ordered a system that you can only record and watch in one room. The Dish account that I was replacing Direct TV with, gave me the ability to record in two rooms, why would I order less?
    After 2 hours of phone calls and waiting on hold, I finally said enough take out your equipment and reinstate my Dish. Before I cancelled I asked the customer service rep if the tech would everything back as he found it, I was given a definite yes, but the tech had a different story. The Tech proceeded to cut the wires the Direct TV dish and removed some of the direct equipment leaving an ugly satellite mounting bracket and excess wires on my roof. Then the Tech (Jamie) proceeds to tell me that he cannot restore my Dish to working order??? I called again to Direct TV again, this time I pretended that I wanted new service and again, the Salesperson told me “yes you can watch, record and playback in every room on a standard receiver, the tech and my wife heard the salesperson on the phone promise something that the tech states is impossible, as did the original customer service rep that I cancelled with earlier in the day. I passed the phone to Jamie, the Tech, and asked him to explain. Jamie spoke to the salesperson who confirmed to Jamie that I could watch and record in every room, Jamie told him that in fact you need an HD Receiver to be able to record in every room and the salesperson stated that he was a new to Direct and had just finished a big training session about their new NFL promotion and this new DVR multi-room service package they are promoting and in his training was told different?
    Jamie agreed that indeed customers are being mislead into signing with Direct based on false information, to be fair to Jamie he called his people while I was calling Direct TV. He corroborated the fact that I was promised recording equipment in each room and supported me in asking Direct to honor the original agreement. Direct refused to offer any kind of assistance, Jamie left my house, and I ended up not having any television service at all because each DISH wire had been severed.
    Since that time, I ordered again new service, this time I recorded the conversation. I never told the sales agent any of the previous experiences; I just acted like a new customer. Again, I was told that I would get TV in 5 rooms with the ability to record and watch in all of the rooms. I made the sales agent repeat numerous times “Yes, you can watch and record in every room for a monthly bill of $69.00 with no upfront expenses”.
    Later, I called Direct TV customer support and explained again the situation; I even played the tape to Daniel a supervisor who identified himself as #100254661. He was no help at all.
    As it stands, I am disgusted by this entire ordeal, I wasted another day waiting on installation of Direct TV, I currently have no television service at my house at all, and I have a new install date of August 10th, I have ordered the same as I did previous except this time I wasn’t offered the 3 premium channels?
    I have transcribed word for word some of the recorded conversation between myself and the Direct TV sales agent, as you will read I asked twice in this section of the transcript;

    RH Lets just clarify what I want, I want 5 rooms, HD in one room is all I really need but I want the ability to watch and record in all of the rooms.
    DTV Right
    RH OK, how much is that going to cost me?
    DTV Your monthly charges for that is $69.99
    RH And that is the extra fees on top of the $39.99 for the package that I ordered?
    DTV That’s $5.00 for each room for independent viewing, so you are looking at a total of $20.00 for your rooms and then we have got your HD DVR wholehome DVR service which is $10.00 as well waived with HD cost which is minus -$10.00 for that. Plus the $39.99 for the package, so that brings it to $69.99
    RH That’s great.
    DTV And I’m going to send you an e-mail of all this so you will be able to look at it.
    RH OK, You are sure that I can watch and record in every room?
    DTV I’m sure, you got the whole home in there so you’re good.
    RH OK, great.

    Later in transcript after I gave my credit card information;

    RH So I have 1 HD DVR, 1 HD Receiver, 3 standard receivers, and I can watch and record on any room, right?
    DTV Right! With that whole home DVR function, the installer has a special way of putting up your wiring so it’s all transmitted through each receiver.
    RH And I don’t have to pay anything extra than what you have told me, the $69?
    DTV No, I added everything together, $69.99.
    RH OK, So when they come to install this it’s not going to be an issue with the installation guy?
    DTV No why should there be an issue with the installation guy?
    RH I’m just trying to be the devil’s advocate, so err….
    DTV …Oh no….laughing.

    I asked a total of 4 times “Can I watch and record in every room”, every time I was assured that I could. I confirmed the pricing numerous times, I have the complete recording of their lies, I believe that this constitutes fraud. Can you offer any help or advice?

    Rob Hart

  30. Jon says:

    I purchased new HD DVR’s on e-bay for 1/2 the cost of Direct’s price, when I saw the lease fee for my units, I called in and questioned this. I was told that all Direct TV equipment is leased, no matter where you buy it, it belongs to Direct TV and must be returned to them when you terminate service. Does anybody have the skinny on if this is true or not? Do units purchased from Best buy at a cheaper cost still belong to Direct? How can they charge a lease fee on a unit you bought elsewhere?


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