There’s an extra bounce in my step today, perhaps a little extra change in my pocket (as to whether it goes jing-a-ling-a-ling, that’s for another story, perhaps one set in 1986). On this weekend of love and romance and Valentines, I’m celebrating a break-up that’s been a long time coming.
Today, I ended my two-year relationship with DirecTV.
I’ve recently shared my distaste for DirecTV (here and here), so it was only a matter of time before I officially pulled the plug. I decided to wait until the series finale of Friday Night Lights aired on Feb. 9 before quitting; DirecTV gave the show new life by picking up first-run episodes starting in the third season, so I figured I could at least acknowledge and support the company’s help in keeping this great program on the air.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve tested Hulu (both in terms of the regular, free version and the $8/month Hulu-Plus), and I can access almost every show I currently watch through the website. The ones that aren’t on Hulu are either available via other means or simply aren’t worth making the extra effort at this time.
I have realized I still have access to quality television programs without having to pay around $70 each month. Besides, I can also now force myself toward other creative endeavors, like writing and reading, and away from wastes of time, like complaining about DirecTV.
I’d rather slowly digest for 1,000 years in a Sarlacc pit monster than deal with DirecTV. Tangent — when trying to come up with a “I’d rather … than deal with DirecTV reference, I had this conversation: Cory: You could go highbrow and say you’d rather have been President Mubarak today. Me: I’m not even sure I would get that, let alone my audience. What about a sarlacc pit reference?
The company didn’t go down without a bit of a fight, though, and I guess they had to make at least some sort of effort. I’m guessing they have a set of scripted responses they’re required to give in order to sweet talk dissatisfied customers into staying. I cannot be counted among those who would ever give them a second chance, and despite my repeated efforts to explain this, the customer service representative still attempted to bring me back into their evil clutches.
This is what happened (and I should note that this is the actual conversation and not an approximated recap; I took notes):
“Thank you for calling DirecTV,” the customer service rep said. “How may I help you?”
“I want to close out my account.”
He responded in a falsely cheery tone: “You need to close your account? Bummer. What’s up?”
His use of “bummer” only reaffirmed my decision to leave the company.
The rep explained he’d have to transfer me to another department, which would occur after I heard a couple of beeps.
Instead, I heard a dial tone.
I’ll give them credit: not letting me actually complete the transaction is a novel way to keep me as a customer.
I called back and in response to this particular bubbly female rep’s query as to how my day was, I explained I was in no mood to be hung up on again.
“Oh my goodness,” she said, her overacting reaching late-1990s Al Pacino levels. “I won’t hang up on you.”
I told her I simply wished to close my account.
“Is there a reason you no longer want to stay with DirecTV?”
“There’s a laundry list of reasons too numerous to share.”
When pressed for a few examples, I started with poor customer service.
“Oh, I understand,” she told me. “I’m a consumer, too. Customer service is very important. This is just very surprising. We always rank high with J.D. Powers on customer service.”
“Well, you rank poorly with S.K. Hall.”
She went on to make her sales pitch, trying to woo me with various levels of reduced pricing, free Showtime (honestly, is that even worthy of a woo? Showtime? They couldn’t toss in HBO?) and savings on my DVR.
“There is literally nothing that can be done to get me to keep DirecTV.”
“Oh. Well, I appreciate that bit of information.”
She didn’t appreciate it enough, apparently, as she then tried further enticements, which mostly (and by “mostly” I really mean “solely”) consisted of bashing my decision to watch shows online.
She pointed out that DVR service didn’t exist online. I pointed out that the beauty of the Internet is that I can watch shows anytime I want without the need of a DVR. I don’t need to program anything. I just simply need to — and this might have been hard for her to understand – get online.
She then noted that some shows have problems streaming, telling me that she uses Netflix and she often has problems keeping a connection. “It’s so annoying,” she said. “I mean, sometimes I just want to watch a movie.”
This is where I should probably point out that she told me she lives in Idaho. I didn’t even make a joke.
All this time, she was allegedly “processing my account to close it out” for me, but I’m fairly certain she was more interested in keeping me on the line until she ran out of offers. Her next one came in the form of an additional $15 off my package.
“Again, there is literally nothing beyond offering it for free that would get me to come back to DirecTV,” I told her.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to paid TV, there’s no way we can offer it for free unless you come to work for us,” she replied, tossing in some forced laughter.
“Yeah, I think I’m going to say no to that.”
She kept on trying, saying “Hopefully, if you’ll give us a second chance …” I admired her tenacity if not her intelligence. I still interrupted her, though.
“Look, I don’t mean to cut you off, but there’s not a chance in hell I’ll stay with DirecTV. I’ve waited for this moment for two years.”
She assured me she wasn’t trying to make an actual sales pitch, which seems odd since she was throwing out offers like Ben Roethlisberger at last call. No, she had another reason for talking. “Just so there’s no dead silence, I’m just giving you information,” she said.
“Dead silence is actually preferable to me.”
And with that, she shut up, and the battle was won. I heard the clacking of her keyboard, which remained the only sound until she said, “Your account will fully close at the end of the next billing cycle on Feb. 16. Thank you for your time with DirecTV.”
The plug has been pulled.