DIRECTV — Promises and Reality

DIRECTV -- Promises and Reality

Shortly after I discontinued DIRECTV as my television supplier a few years ago I started getting mail from the company saying "We want you back," with tantalizing offers of 130 channels, four premium TV channels free for three months and free installation for up to four TV sets. Just sign a contract for two years. Those offers came on a regular basis every month for several years. And the price was right.

If I may make a suggestion, don't forget to read the small print on those mail offerings — or on the contract you enter into. They may surprise you.

When I recently went back to DIRECTV, I found that the "select" package I signed up for (the one with all of the promises) actually delivered 68 network channels and about six local channels — and just two premium channels of the four promised. If you add all of the network, local and four premium channels together, you get 130 — but about 54 of them are part of the premium channels and those, as indicated, are for just three months. If you want to retain them, you pay for each one individually. And many of the regular channels you get are nothing but hucksters trying to sell you something.

To add insult to injury, I received an invoice from DIRECTV for protection services I did not order. And you can imagine what it's like to get THAT straightened out!

Do I need 130 TV channels, including the four premium channels? No, but that is what DIRECTV offered in its mailings month after month for years. In the old days that was called "bait and switch." I'm not sure what they call it these days when the major providers of television services seem to practice this on a regular basis (see "Goodbye Comcast and Good Riddance"). The sad fact is that there are few alternatives to these major suppliers and, as a consequence, many families just keep going from one to the other as the initial package (the one with all of the goodies) ends.  

As these companies continue to consolidate and become more powerful, the average family will find that its choices will diminish while the services provided will decrease and the cost will increase. Sounds like an opportunity for some enterprising company to come in and provide some competition to the giants and relief to the beleaguered users.

Beau Weisman, Editor