Can I convince DirecTV to upgrade me or should I switch to Dish?
September 16, 2009 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Should I stick with DirecTV or switch to Dish? OR: Can I get DirecTV to upgrade my receiver for free?

(I've read this previous question but there are some differences in options and preferences)

I've had DirecTV since 2005 and have always been happy with their service, but I'm looking into upgrading to HD and can save a not insignificant amount of money with Dish (Comcast is more expensive).

DirecTV has a reputation for good customer service, which is important to me and is part of the reason I chose DirecTV when first signing up. We've been thinking about upgrading to HD-DVR, and to do so we would have to get a new receiver - we currently have an old DirecTiVo receiver (from 2005). I've called DirecTV twice and the best (they say) they can offer me is the receiver for $200. In addition, adding the HD package ($10/month) will bring our monthly cost to around $77.

With Dish, we can get the channels that we want, plus their HD and DVR for $67-$77 (depending on which package we go with) a month and we wouldn't have to pay the $200 for the new receiver. Also, we would get a -$15 /month promotion for the first year.

The biggest sticking point right now is the $200 for the receiver. I've been happy enough with DirecTV that I wouldn't mind the extra per month cost (there are more channels, even if they're not on our 'must have' list - and their customer service at least until now has been good).
Is there a way I can convince DirecTV to upgrade my receiver for free or less than $200? Here are the ways I'm a good and bad customer for DirecTV:
-Customer for 4 years
-First upgrade in 4 years (first person I talked to said this would help)
-I've had premium channels (HBO) in the past
-I've referred a friend (did the actual referral so DTV knows)
-No current premium channel subscriptions
-Last summer and this summer we put the satellite on vacation mode (so we didn't get or pay for service for ~4 months each year)

I thought my next step would be to call directv and tell them I'm thinking about switching to Dish, is there something else I should try first? Should I tell them that I'm thinking about switching because I can get the free receiver?

If they still won't budge - should I switch to Dish? My concerns are:
-Customer Service
-DVR cool features
-DVR ease of use

I've never experienced Dish's customer service, but for some reason I have a bad impression of it (probably just a sense I've picked up from the internet). Those of you who have it - how is the customer service? How does it compare to DirecTV?

How is the DVR service? I get the impression that neither will live up to the DirecTiVo that I have right now - is one significantly worse than the other?

Does either offer cool ways to connect my service with my computer? (e.g. an easy way to stream shows from my DVR to my computer) It looks like I can schedule recordings from the web or iphone with both, but does one company offer other features that the other doesn't?
posted by chndrcks to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a "valued customer" I'm getting a $99 quote for the DirecTV HD DVR Receiver on their website. So there is some wiggle room in the $199 price. I think I became a customer in 2001, not sure when/how I entered 'valued' status.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:33 PM on September 16, 2009

I would essentially ready myself to switch to Dish, and when everything is ready (I know the costs, I am ready to go and pick up the receiver, I am about to switch now), call DirecTV and ask them how much an HD receiver would be. When they state the too-high price, run down your list: "Well, I've been a good customer for 4 years now". No luck? "This would be my first upgrade". Etc. If they don't budge: "OK, then I guess I will go ahead and cancel my service now." That may get them to sit up and take notice.
posted by splice at 1:36 PM on September 16, 2009

We recently switched from DirecTV to Fios for HD service. I love DirecTV but I had the same issue with the HD receiver as you do, $200 for a receiver is just too much. I called them up and let them know what Verizon was quoting me for service. They got close to the price match on the package and dropped the price of the receiver to $100. I told them that I would call them back and they gave me a special customer retention number to call. When I called back a day later to tell them I was going with Fios they dropped the receiver price to $0 and came very close to matching Verizon.

We ended up going with Fios (and love it), but if you call up DirecTV and tell them you are a longtime customer and thinking of switching they will work with you.
posted by brownbeards at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2009

I'm getting the $99 quote for the Hd DVR too, you could always play the let me talk to retentions card. You might take a look around, there seem to be a lot of folks there that wind up with great deals.
posted by busboy789 at 1:48 PM on September 16, 2009

Can't comment on whether or not DirecTV will work with you, but I was a Dish customer for around five years and found them to be excellent from a customer service perspective. When I had to cancel (out of necessity - I was moving house and the landlord in the new place wouldn't allow a dish on his property) they waived the early termination fee on the contract. That, plus some other good experiences and helpful/friendly reps made me think pretty highly of them. Also, I seem to recall DirecTV constantly raising rates during the time period I had satellite (I kept my eye on them, in case I ever wanted to switch to cheaper service) while Dish did so much less frequently and often fought with the cable channels themselves over it.

Oh, and the HD-DVR they provided me with during that time was top notch.
posted by Rewind at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2009

Your idea to call DirecTV and tell them you are considering switching to Dish is the correct approach. I found reports a couple years old of people getting free receivers (or service discounts equal to the price of the receiver) by doing this.

If you Google for "DirecTV retention" you will even find the number that goes directly to the retention department.

You might need a new dish. Make sure they throw that and the installation in too.
posted by kindall at 2:02 PM on September 16, 2009

I think you should definitely try to negotiate with them. When we left DirecTV last year (after about 10 years), they offered us the HD DVR for free if we would stay.

When you call the customer support phone number, ask the person who answers to transfer you to the "customer retention department".

Those are the people who have the power to negotiate a bit more.

good luck.
posted by jimmereeno at 2:03 PM on September 16, 2009

Dish can give you this deal because you will be signing a 24 month contract with them. Directv cant match the deal. Well, they might, but you'll really need to call, say youre canceling, and see if the retention guy will make you an offer.

Those of you who have it - how is the customer service? How does it compare to DirecTV?

About the same. I dislike the software in their DVR, but its not much worse than the one DirecTV uses. I guess I've been spoiled by Tivo. I pay quite a bit less than DirecTv too.

DVR cool features

You can read reviews on the net for the DVR. I think its okay. It doesnt have wireless so you'll need to connect a ethernet cable to it or a phone line or they will punish you with a fee of 5 dollars. I found this out later on after install and it pissed me off that they didnt tell me. So I bought a wireless router, put dd-wrt on it, put it in client gateway mode, attached it to my wireless network, and attached it to DVR. It blows my mind that I had to spend 70 dollars and 45 minutes of configuration on a wireless router when adding a wireless chipset to these things raises the price maybe 10 dollars.

The feature set is typical. It does allow you to connect a usb drive for extra storage space, which I think is pretty neat.

DVR ease of use

Once you realize that it calls subscriptions 'timers' and that theres no virtual button for options but a real button on the controller, it gets better.

How is the DVR service? I get the impression that neither will live up to the DirecTiVo that I have right now

Its much worse than tivo, but you cant get directivos anymore. The HD DVR from DirecTV is homebrew. I dont think any of the major carriers use tivo.

Does either offer cool ways to connect my service with my computer?

Nope. I dont see any options to control it via the web or anything either.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:42 PM on September 16, 2009

Speaking of TiVo, do you really want to support the scam-tastic fellow that is Charlie Ergen? I wouldn't be entirely certain your Dish DVR will continue working if Ergen doesn't back down. I know if I were TiVo, I'd tell them to go pound sand after all the ridiculousness Dish has put them through.

You can of course threaten to leave. Tell them the cable company is giving you a better deal. In my case that's actually true. The rack rate from my cable company is significantly less than what DirecTV charges, and I only miss a couple of HD channels..ones I'd not only have to pay DirecTV the $10 HD access fee, but even more on top of that.

You might also consider waiting a few months until the new DirecTiVo comes out. It's supposed to be out early next year. Nobody knows what the pricing will be like then, of course.
posted by wierdo at 10:46 PM on September 16, 2009

I'm in a nearly identical boat as you!

Personally, I'm upset with DirecTV for:
- jacking up my rates (~$70 to $90+ over the years) and offering nothing extra in return,
- not providing a new DirecTiVo that can handle HD in a timely manner (It's *next year* now?)
- offering instead a crappy wannabe DVR (My in-laws have it, and they put up with it, but it's not nearly as good as TiVo.)

So, I'm going to be switching to FiOS on Saturday. I bought a TiVo HD XL, and I'm going to use a cablecard with it. And, I'm going to be getting the service almost for free by comparison. (Although the rate is promotional, it's locked in for 2 years.)

So, I'm spending more at the outset than you'd like to, but I think I'll be much happier with the outcome. YMMV.
posted by Citrus at 7:22 AM on September 17, 2009

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