Warning: TV is a “Non-Essential Service” and DirecTV Viewers are Being Disconnected Amid Billing Disputes
In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, where information is essential, corporate says your DirecTV service is for “entertainment only.”
Last night was Passover.
My wife prepared a special dinner in the midst of the pandemic. She does amazing things with food, and though we didn’t have the requisite Jewish accoutrements or typical Seder-style food this year, the dinner was amazing.
At about 8PM I re-entered my home office, turned on the television, and received this message:
I unplugged the television to try to reboot. The new screen returned with “Error Code 726,” along with information about how to “refresh” our service.
We had never had this issue before. I followed the instructions, logged onto the DirecTV.com website, and was unable to complete the instructions as the website too said: “No servers were detected.”
I again tried to fix the issue manually; unplugging the television then plugging it back. The new message read, “Your account is only authorized for 0 locations. You must remove 3 locations from the list below.”
The three locations were all the rooms in which we have DirecTV service.
I tried calling the 800 customer service number. They were closed. The recording said they opened at 8 Eastern.
I called at 5AM Pacific the following morning. Today. The supervisor I spoke to told me my service was disconnected, and we would have to pay $199 for its resumption.
This was unacceptable. I just went through a dispute with them not two weeks prior when they had disconnected our service. The dispute was allegedly resolved, the bill was paid. That was that.
Last night, on Passover, they disconnected us again. Nine days later, on a holiday. I spoke to a company supervisor this morning. He said they cannot reinstate the service until we pay now for the current bill … when their own website says it’s not due until the 14th — which in itself is wrong, and part of last month’s dispute.
Today is the 9th.
We’re going to terminate our service once the world returns to a state of relative normalcy.
It’s not so much the billing discrepancies and related nonsense that forced my hand to write this piece. It’s the fact that in the Covid-19 era parent company AT&T itself considers television a “non-essential service.”
“It’s entertainment only,” said the DirecTV supervisor in his own words.
Meantime, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The world is in a crisis and many of us rely on our television for news reports, which I told the supervisor.
His response: “You can listen to the radio.”
I lost my temper from there. He realized he was in the wrong, and blamed AT&T, the parent company, for policies of which he had no control. “It’s automatic,” he said. “When your service is disconnected, it’s a system-wide thing. Only a payment can reconnect you.”
I got his name, and maybe should include it here but I will not. The fact that AT&T corporate is allowing the disconnection of services for anyone at all during this period is reprehensible. The fact that they do so in the midst of, or following, disputes is equally reprehensible.
I posted about this on my Facebook this morning. For a glimpse of equally grim responses from others with similar experience, see here: https://www.facebook.com/joel.eisenberg.77
Finally this, for the record: Television, along with books, streaming services, music … even if this “non-essential service” was indeed “entertainment only,” that consideration in itself is a crime.
As we’re all self-isolated, or quarantined, such services are precisely what’s keeping us all sane at the moment.
AT&T should be ashamed of themselves, and should be boycotted.
Thank you for the indulgence, and thank you for reading.
We paid the damn bill, as we had little choice in the matter. They also made good with us to a point, but they could have done better. I cannot wait to disconnect this service on our terms.
Switching companies during the pandemic won’t happen, as no TV service person is entering my home during this period.
Once we do finally switch, however, speaking for myself I will never forget how AT&T comported themselves during this period in our history.
“TV is entertainment only?”
That’s just about the worst response any informed person with responsibilities should hear. My mother lives 3000 miles away. My brother lives 3000 miles away. Thankfully I have another brother nearby, and yes, most of us have phone, radio and internet.
But taking myself out of the picture … what about the elderly? Are older people being disconnected now too in the midst of disputes? I sincerely doubt my wife and I are alone in this matter.
There should never be a shortage of information for anyone in such a crisis.
P.S. The Yelp reviews for DirecTV can be found below; 1662 reviews at the time of this writing averaging one-star out of five. Sadly, others have shared similar experiences:
DIRECTV - Los Feliz - Los Angeles, CA
1662 reviews of DIRECTV "I was informed by Direc tv that i needed my boxes updated as mine are obsolete. installer Raul…
Further, please see this 2015 brief from the Federal Trade Commission website:
FTC says DIRECTV wasn't so direct about fees and negative options
Have you seen the ads where a popular celebrity touts DIRECTV on his own behalf and as the Painfully Awkward, Overly…
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