Tuesday, September 11, 2007

DirecTV Sucks

Following up on my earlier post, I've just gotten off the phone with DirecTV and can tell you that unless you're a slavish NFL fan like I am, you should never order DirecTV. In fact, if I could get Sunday Ticket from anyone else, I probably would have canceled my service during that call.

This hasn't been a good month in my area of Chicagoland for having satellite TV; August was often rainy in the evening, and rain = no satellite service. Last night was another thrilling experience; some rain, some clouds, and ESPN was out, preventing me from watching EITHER of the Monday Night Football games. Tonight, I went to my DVR to re-watch the Titans-Jags game, to do the charting I do for Football Outsiders and Upon Further Review.

And when I press play, nothing happens. Black screen. I try fast-forwarding, and still black screen. The time bar isn't even moving. I try trouble-shooting. Unplug, plug it back in. No change. Reset the system. When it comes back, no change. Do some online searching-nothing seems clearly applicable. No help. I call DirecTV. They tell me to do what I've already done. I go through their prompts and manage to speak to a human maybe only about 15 minutes after I called; I know, that's practically instantaneous for a TV service provider, but it's like 10:15 at night. She tells me to do what I've already done; very helpful. No, my other DVR programs are working, both those taped before and after. No, I didn't tape two other things about the same time and inadvertently overwrite the order to tape the NFL game. They apparently had a problem with a black screen for some games--5 minutes on hold tells me Titans-Jags wasn't one of them. No known issues. But, that's ok, I flip down to Short Cuts and see the Titans-Jags game still has an airing to come.

That certainly seems like a simple solution. Sunday Ticket subscribers get a free preview of Short Cuts opening weekend, so I'll tape it off that and chart tomorrow. Except I try changing the channel and get a message that the channel isn't purchased. Customer service rep takes 10 minutes to figure out that (a) I'm not a SuperFan subscriber, (b) I'm not interesting in give DirecTV $99 to become a SuperFan subscriber, particularly given that they just screwed up, and (c) the free preview of SuperFan was only through the 10th. Fine, it's your problem, so just give me SuperFan for the rest of this week. Doesn't sound that hard to me. Alas, DirecTV isn't me. That's apparently WAY TOO HARD for DirecTV to do, to give me SuperFan for 8 hours, then cancel it. Instead, I can get Showtime free for 3 months (or maybe 4). I'll let you in on a secret: I moved this summer, so I had a free preview of Showtime. I think I watched 5 hours of Showtime in 3 months. Showtime sucks. Showtime doesn't solve my problem. I offered you a simple solution, one that would have kept me happy. And you say you can't do it, and offer me fucking Showtime instead? I'm sorry, but that's simply NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I know I've sung DirecTV's praises before, but that's because I haven't really had any problems aside from those nobody can control (viz., the weather). And that's not really a test of any organization's competence. What tells me something about an organization's competence is how they handle themselves when they have a problem. I had a problem tonight. They did nothing to solve it, and didn't take the simple solution I offered them.

DirecTV may seem like an attractive option, particularly if you're a Big 10 alum looking to get the Big Ten Network, and maybe they just have to be better than the cable company for people to go with them, but I cannot in good faith recommend their services to anybody. As an NFL die-hard, I have no choice (which is why DirecTV is paying the NFL so much money), but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

Fortunately, I knew better than to assume some sort of overall competence from a television-services provider and set up my VCR to record the game, so UFR and the FO charting will be forthcoming. Not tonight, though, not tonight.

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