I blogged in this space a couple of days ago about my displeasure with my satellite provider, Direct TV. The giant corporation had raised my satellite rate by ten dollars a month without the simple courtesy of a prior notification - and they had already collected the increase through an automatic payment from my credit card. When I called to find out what was going on, I was unable to get through - so I redirected my questions through a chat application on the company's web page.
My "chat" was with a Direct TV employee named Donna L. She explained the increase as some sort of standard rate increase that had gone into effect on January 1st. When I told her that I was unhappy with the increase, she attempted a car dealer negotiation by asking how much I felt that I should pay for the service. Instead of getting into that discussion, I asked about the penalty for ending my contract early. She told me that it would be twenty dollars for every month that I was short of completing the agreement. I then asked when my contract would end, and she declined to provide that information, instead attempting to pass me off to an account specialist (better known as a "retention specialist") to answer that question. Not wanting the added stress of having to argue and defend my decision over the phone with a high-pressure salesman, I told Donna L. to cancel my subscription to Direct TV at that time.
Then I went to the gym to de-stress. When I came home, the satellite service was still running - and it still is operational today!
Yesterday I emailed Direct TV to ask why my request to disconnect had not been honored, I received the following reply a couple of hours later from an employee who identified himself as Alfred P.
Dear Mr. Macy,
Let me begin by thanking you for keeping our service for several years. We most certainly appreciate your business with us. Our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our progress possible.
My name is Alfred from DIRECTV's Email Support Team, and I understand your concern as to why your account is still active when you have requested to have it cancelled. I am glad to be given the chance to respond to your email today.
Our record shows that you have contacted our CHAT Support Team on 01/31/2015 about the end date of your service agreement. Donnalyn offered you to speak with one of our specialist to fully address your concern but you refused and would just like to cancel the account; after which your chat session was disconnected.
Mr. Macy, I am sorry to hear that you find it inconvenient to call in order to cancel your service. We want every customer's service experience to be exceptional, thus we want every single interaction to be as personal as possible. We believe that speaking with our customers is the best option to address all concerns and improve their service experience. Driven by our commitment to bring only the best possible entertainment experience to every customer, we ask customers to speak with us to further discuss available options before making their final decision.
Moreover, every customer is important to us and we certainly want to serve you for many more years to come. While we are unable to disconnect accounts via CHAT or email, we have set up a special phone line with a PIN that you can use to reach one of our account specialists directly. Our highly trained specialists are also experts in finding ways to resolve any concerns you may have regarding your account as we appreciate your business and we want to keep you as a customer.
Please call us at 800-824-9081 between daily. When the system asks for a Personal ID Number (PIN), enter XXXX (this PIN is good for five days).
We look forward to speak with you, Mr. Macy. Continuing patronage of our customers is based on the same things that led them to us in the beginning, exclusivity, value and cost. We believe strongly that DIRECTV is the best value available and we hope that you do not believe it is worth giving up!
Alfred P. DIRECTV Customer Service
What a nice reply - and what a load of crap! A customer may opt out of service from Direct TV, but only after subjecting himself to a telephone brow-beating by one of their high-pressure salesmen. Anyone who tries to leave without that bit of degradation will inevitably fall to the pressures of monopolistic privilege. And now Direct TV is seeking to merge with AT&T, the result of which will be an even higher wall of monopolistic privilege with even less opportunity for the concerns of individual customers to be heard.
My response to Aflred P. follows:
Thank you for your response, Alfred P. I find the fact that you are also declining to discontinue my satellite service to be as troubling as the overall arrogance of your employer in setting up an obstacle course to keep customers on the rolls.
I have enumerated my displeasures with Direct TV. The programming is mediocre on its best days, the price is much too high for the service provided, and my bill recently jumped up ten dollars a month - and was collected - before I even had the courtesy of a notice of the increase. Also, the first person with whom I dealt, Donna L;, would not provide me with information on when my contract agreement would be fulfilled, although she had all of my other information at her fingertips.
I am a retired senior citizen on a very fixed income - and every dollar is important to me. At this point I am declining your offer to speak to a retention specialist. If I needed extra stress of that sort in my life, I would spend time shopping in one of our local automobile dealerships. It is a recognized medical fact that stress can be very harmful to one's health.
Please discontinue my Direct TV satellite service effective last Friday, January 31st, the date upon which I initially made the request. If that cannot be accomplished at once, I will re-direct my request and complaints to legislative and regulatory channels.
Also, I am hereby revoking my permission for Direct TV to bill my credit card. Please send the final statement to me at my home of record.
Rocky G. Macy
We have all had to suffer the indignity of dealing with these "retention specialists" whose sole job it is to retain us as customers. For some the verbal combat is an exhilarating challenge, but for others of us it is an irksome and completely unnecessary waste of our time. Direct TV, AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner, Cox Communications, and all of the other giant cable and satellite providers should not have the power or authority to make us listen to desperate sales pitches as their commissioned workers struggle to make a living by retaining customers through high pressure sales. It is a sales model destined to create stomach acid and extreme animosity.
And, to quote Winston Churchill, "it is something up with which I will not put!"