A few days ago while driving home from work – using my headset so that I could keep both hands on the steering wheel, of course – I was making phone calls. One was to determine the process we will be going through to move Mr. A’s cell phone service from Verizon to T-Mobile. I had also decided to call DirecTV to see if I could reduce our channels in an effort to save some money. The cost for DirecTV has increased steadily since we moved here, and the last increase was just too much, especially since there’s not a lot of television watching going on around here. Mr. A stopped watching television last year, and I was only watching television for a few minutes on the weekends while I ate lunch or dinner. But I have stopped watching altogether in the last couple of months because:
- I cannot figure out how to get the new flatscreen TV (that AJ bought his dad for his birthday in 2010) to stop searching for channels which it is never going to find. There is no reception out here, and I don’t know how to make the stupid television stop going through setting itself up every time I turn it on.
- I had resorted to watching television in the bedroom but since Mr. A is no longer watching television he piled a bunch of boxes in front of the television and now I can’t get to that one either.
That’s okay. There wasn’t much to watch that interested me anyway.
Our youngest, AJ has Netflix and doesn’t even have a receiver in his bedroom any longer. That leaves one person who watches television and really enjoys watching television, our oldest son, Big A. If you are a regular reader here you may recall that my oldest son has Down Syndrome. One of Big A’s favorite things to do is to watch cartoons on Cartoon Friday. He just beams when his shows come on, so although I would like to lower our bill, I do not want to eliminate any of his favorite channels. I naively thought there must be some way to find out exactly which channels are being watched regularly.
The first person I got on the phone had an Asian accent. I admit sometimes I become impatient when talking to customer service representatives. I don’t like to admit that, and I feel guilty when I’m rude, and I thought to myself these poor people must think Americans are just a bunch of jerks, and I don’t want them to think I’m a jerk, so I decided I wasn’t going to let my impatience get the best of me, and I was very careful to be polite as I explained my question in four different ways. The young woman tried her best to answer my question to my satisfaction, but it didn’t matter how many times she explained how the service works, that wasn’t the answer for which I was looking. I kept asking, politely, using different words, if there was any way to determine which channels are being watched on my account, and she kept describing how the basic level has x number of channels, how many channels I had access to currently, and which channels were family programming. Finally she offered to send me a brochure.
Finally I said, “I don’t think the answer I’m looking for is on your list there. Is there any way I could speak with a supervisor?”
After a few minutes, finally I had a supervisor on the phone.
A man. With a very heavy accent. I’m not sure if I was actually now speaking with someone in India? At any rate, I started all over again and explained my situation.
But this didn’t get me any further than the first person I’d had on the phone. First he tried to tell me all the channels that were family friendly and appropriate for children to watch. Uh… that’s not what I was inquiring about. After a few more attempts, finally he offered 90 days of Showtime free of charge! Uh, no, I’m not interested in that either. Finally I was able to get through to him and he told me that DirecTV does not monitor the channels we watch at all. I found that hard to believe, and after all the misunderstandings we’d been through so far I was sure this wasn’t the right answer.
Finally I had an idea. Struggling to be polite, because I had become so frustrated, I took a deep breath (quietly) and said, “I think we are having some problems communicating due to the language barrier. Is there any way for me to speak with a representative who lives in America?”
He asked me to hold. In just two minutes I was on the phone with Brad from Utah. I explained my problem to him, and he assured me that DirecTV indeed does not have any idea which channels we are watching.
I still find that hard to believe. What if I got a court order? Could they then release my viewing records to me?
Needless to say I wasn’t able to get anywhere with lowering the satellite bill.
I had never thought of asking to speak with a representative in America, and I was really surprised that it worked. I’ll remember this in the future.
Have you ever tried that?