Monday, September 08, 2008

Television service

So I've looked at what I'm spending on television service and TiVo and it's quite insane. I called my current provider, DirecTV, over the weekend after looking at offerings from various providers, including Comcast, Dish, and DirecTV. Like most companies, these companies are focused on getting new customers and offering insane deals for becoming a customer rather than making offers to existing customers to keep them around. Case-in-point: I've been a DirecTV customer for almost 8 years (through 3 moves), and they've never offered me a thing.

Here's what I did and what I got:
  • I called DirecTV customer service and asked for retentions. The customer service rep tried to field the call, but based on the fact that I was asking for upgraded equipment, he had to transfer me to retentions.
  • Once retentions got on the phone, I explianed that I had been a customer for almost 8 years, that my payment history was perfect, and that I had also moved with them 3 times -- she acknowledged all of that.
  • I told retentions that I wanted the DirecTV Plus HD DVR for one tv and didn't want to pay for it and I wanted the basic HD receiver for the other tv and didn't want to pay for it. Furthermore, I requested that she change my programming package to the promotional price advertised on their website for new customers.
  • Retentions did this for me: Plus HD DVR normally $199 with a $100 instant rebate and $19 handling for $0.00; they charged my card for the $118 and immediately refunded my account $118. HD receiver normally $99 for $19 handling. Promotional price of half what I'm paying now good for the next 12 months. Free installation.
So with all of that, I'm paying $19 in equipment, which is pretty negligble, my monthly service charges drop by about 50%, I can cancel my TiVo description because the DVR service and equipment is included, and I get HD service to boot. Granted, the DirecTV DVR is not as feature-rish as TiVo, but based on what I'm using TiVo for now and what it's costing me, it's good enough.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask in order to get companies to stand up and take notice. It would sure be nice if there were more structured programs around upgrades for existing customers -- I would be happy to execute agreement extensions if companies were willing to manage the upgrade schedule for me and do it in such a way that it felt good.

Moral of the story: if you're going to play this game, be sure to stick to your guns until you talk to the right person and be sure that you know exactly what you want before you start the conversation. (you might also want to be really willing to switch if you can't get what you want)

Picture from thebeev

No comments: