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The Phone Call

August 12, 2010

My fingers tapped out the familiar number: 1800directv.

“Thank you for calling DirecTv. Por primaldos….blahblahblah….(translation: if you want to complain in Spanish) press dos.”

I hum without sound, waiting. “If you are a current DirecTv customer, please say “YES.” If you are not a current DirecTv—“


“—customer, but would like to take advantage of—“


“I’m sorry. That response did not register. Please speak clearly. If you are current DirecTv customer—“


“Okay!” (This in a bright, sing-song recorded tone. I’m not sure what the inflection is actually for, because it’s not working to make the computer seem more human.) “Please say your phone number so I can check our system for your information.”

Blah, blah, phone number.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch that. Did you say—“

No. Wrong. I guess the computer doesn’t do Southern. I repeat my phone number.

“Please wait while I access your records.”


“Great! I’ve got you right here. Please state a reason for your call so I can direct you to the right place.”

Well, you see, lady, I’ve got this really terrible itch…

“You may choose 1 for—“

“Customer Service.”

“Okay. I believe you asked to be connected to a customer service representative. But first, let’s see if we can isolate the matter. You may select 1 for Technical Support, 2 for Upgrade to Premier, 3 for Add Local Channels, or 4 for My Screen is Snowy.”

I kid you not. “Customer Service,” I say through gritted teeth.

“I’m sorry—“

“CUSTOMER SERVICE! I WANT TO SPEAK TO A CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE! I want to get a better deal! I want to stop paying surcharges! I want to switch to DISH!”

“I think you said ‘Customer Service.’ Please hold while I connect your call.”

A representative comes on the line after a five minute hold. After much discussion, he is clear on the fact that I have called three previous times today (yes, I had to deal with the computer every.stinking.time) and that I am simply paying too much for my t.v. and want a better deal.

“I’m trying to give you guys a chance,” I say, as I have three times before. “I’ve been a long-term DTV customer, I buy movies all the time…yall are pretty much getting spanked by your competition, though, in terms of programming and surcharges. Dish is offering 120+ channels right now with free HD for life. Life, dude. You’re charging me ten bucks a month for it. Plus another ten for two receivers, which I would not be paying with Dish, plus my DVR charge, which I would have to pay, so that’s cool. I just can’t justify continuing to spend upwards of eighty-five a month, though, when I can get essentially the same package through Dish for $29.99.” I pause for breath. “So what can you do for me?”

“Well, we can offer you the DTV Extra Pack, which is only available to our HD Access customers. You’ll get six extra channels for three months FREE.”

I chewed on my lip. “Really? Six whole channels? But I have to keep paying the ten dollars for the HD Access in order to get this great deal, right?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“And after three months, I have to pay for these six extra channels, right?”


“And how much extra is that?”

“Let me just see…$4.99.”

“So what you’re telling me is that you’ll give me six channels free for three months, but you’re going to ADD five dollars to my bill thereafter. You do realize I’m trying to save money, right?”

“We can also change your programming to our Family Pack. That’s $29.99 per month.”

“But I’d still have all of the surcharges?”

“Well, yes.”

“And how many channels would I receive?”


“So my other option is to cut roughly 150 channels out of my current programming and pay roughly thirty dollars less.”


“You do understand that Dish Network makes it possible for me to have just about every channel I care about, without the surcharges?”


“Okay. Just checking. Can you transfer me to someone who can tell me how many months remain on contract?”

“Certainly. But before I transfer you, I just want you to know that I can offer you five dollars off the Starz movie package. Would you be interested in hearing more about this fantastic opportunity?” All of this was said as quickly as possible, almost like the disclaimer announcer at the end of a car sale commercial. I had to laugh.

“For real?”


“No, I’m not interested. Please transfer me.”

“Transferring now, ma’am.”

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Shirley permalink
    August 12, 2010 8:37 am


    sounds like my call every time I called them. I swear my blood pressure rose more and more each time I dialed that number, ugh! And they couldn’t understand me either!! But I will tell you, Dish is the same way if you have to call them back for any reason, so keep that in mind, it took me like 30 minutes, at least, to cancel the order to have Dish hooked up at my house, that convinced me, I just needed to stay with DTV as much as I hate calling them too!! I hope you got somewhere with them, it would give me hope anyway…lol

  2. August 12, 2010 8:52 am

    Lori, I can totally relate to you here! I hate dealing with the stupid ‘computer voice’ for minutes on end that has no idea of what you’re asking. Also, having a salesman throw out some ‘amazing’ offer which really isn’t anything which will help you but rather trying to keep you temporarily satisfied through the means of subterfuge.

    Frustrating, to say the least.

  3. August 12, 2010 9:04 am

    I.HATE.AUTOMATIVE.PHONESYSTEMS!!!!! I feel your pain sister! What ever happen to being able to push zero on those systems in order to talk to a live person? I am interested in if they ever did give you a better deal. I know around here, there is so much offered that they will give you the moon to keep you as a customer. I was looking into getting rid of my land line. Phone company wouldn’t work with me on lowering my bill so I switched to my cable company. My bill is now cut in half and the phone company calls me every few months wanting to offer me the same as my cable company. I love telling them they are a few years too late for that. And it makes me feel wonderful every time!

  4. August 12, 2010 10:20 am

    Oh Lori! I am laughing and fuming at the same time! What has customer service come to these days??? It is infuriating! Maddening!

    And makes you wonder how some companies have and keep any business……..

  5. August 12, 2010 10:51 am

    okay. that was hilarious!!! sorry. but, dang, how did you remember all of that???? oh yeah…repetitive learning….LOL….sorry…a-hem….

  6. diane permalink
    August 12, 2010 11:10 am

    I am always willing to pay extra if I can get past the automated call center and speak to a live person. at least I feel like I am paying someone to do an actual job!

    I miss my DTV … we went FIOS when steve was pick-pocketed in europe and we had to make our calls via cell phone. verizon reduced our outrageous europe to US bill by 60% if we agreed to set up FIOS throughout the entire house – cell, home phone and computer. it was worth it at the time, and by the sounds of it, maybe we’ll stick with it instead of trying to go BACK to DTV. at least we can count on FIOS continuing to screw up our channels … some months we get more than we pay for, and some months we have to call because some screwball cancelled a channel, and then we get it reduced for the inconvenience.

  7. August 12, 2010 12:08 pm

    I think what I hate more than the automotive response system is the human drone who I talk to that offers the “special deal for you ma’am” after I have spewed my intestines about the problem I have.

    It’s like they don’t comprehend our previous conversation and that frustrates me even more.

    By the way, we got DISH about 5 years ago. We love it. I’m glad I made the switch and don’t feel taken advantage of when I pay my bill every month.

    I wish you, directly, good luck! 😉 (bad joke, huh?)

  8. Anaise permalink
    August 12, 2010 2:01 pm

    We had the same sort of “conversation” with a toy company recently.

    Honestly, my heart goes out to the poor fellow who was trapped into only being required to offer you those crummy answers instead of actually helping you.

  9. August 12, 2010 11:39 pm

    Wow! That was so realistic. I don’t have Direct TV, but I have had very similar conversations with AT&T which just about send me over the edge of a cliff. It is so annoying that human beings never answer phones anymore and you have to suffer through 10 minutes of computer interrogation before you can get to speak to someone who lives and breathes. I hope you don’t have too many months left on your contract and you can get a better deal soon without anymore annoying phone calls!! Good luck!

  10. Lori permalink*
    August 14, 2010 8:46 am

    Shirley–thanks for the warning! Didn’t get anywhere, unfortunately, with DTV. 😦

    Jason–I knew it would be a very common denominator for most people. AFter the second or so call, I figured I better find the humor in it and save myself some frustration in the process. 🙂

    Bonnie–that’s hilarious! What a great feeling!

    Rachel–I know, right? I think they GET the business initially by promising incredible things…how they keep it…that’s a mystery.

    Misty–you have to find the funny sometimes, you know? Otherwise, you just go crazy being mad. And I started jotting stuff down, btw.

    Diane–huh. I’ve never heard of FIOS. We have Verizon phone service, though…I just reduced that to the bare “911” minimum.

    Cee–ok, glad to hear a good testimonial about Dish. That gives me a little hope! Thanks 🙂

    Anaise–I know! He had to make that silly, wrong-time-wrong-place offer.

    Naomi–thank you! I’m committed through December, which is not the end of the world. We’ll make it.:)

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