I'm very disappointed to say that after 25 years as a DirecTV customer, I cancelled today. I have no idea if anyone at AT&T will read these comments, or pass them up the food chain if they do, but I'm writing this on the outside chance that perhaps they do. I feel like I owe it to them.
I first became a DirecTV subscriber in 1994 when I was living Dallas Texas. As a transplant from Wisconsin, and a die hard Packer fan that would spend every Sunday in bar with a Satellite Dish that would cater to fans of other teams by airing their games, I couldn't sign up for the service fast enough when DirecTV offered up NFL Sunday Ticket for the first time. I did my own install on an apartment patio ... with my then father in-law and a chintzy little compass that came with it that was supposed to help you align the dish to the satellite. As a fan of NFL Football, I kept DirecTV and Sunday Ticket even after moving back to Wisconsin. It was an amazing product and I felt it was the best money I spent every year on entertainment. Even as the price rose over the years, I kept it ... because they continued to improve the product, and add new features. Eventually though (And I acknowledge this is not DirecTV's Fault) the product stopped improving, the number of games I could watch without DirecTV increased, but the price continued to skyrocket. I always seemed to be able to squeeze some money out of the cost by threatening to drop the service. But even that didn't keep it from creeping closer and closer to un-affordable. It didn't help that the NFL product has decreased during the same time, but that is a different post for a different executive. Point is, I got priced out of the best thing that DirecTV had going for it. The one product they offered, that I couldn't get anywhere else.
When I called to cancel that service last year they couldn't give me a price on Sunday Ticket I thought was worth it anymore, so I dropped it. But, they did give me a very competitive price through their retention department to keep the rest of my DirecTV services. I took it. For many years my experience for many years before that was that the programming options were unmatched, and the customer service had been best in class ... so I rewarded them by keeping it at what I thought was a fair price. But sadly, since AT&T purchased it, the customer service has not so slowly declined. In the market, numerous Streaming services have emerged that when combined offer broad programming choices that rival DirecTV, and are now offering content in true 4K. With the changes in the market, and customer preferences changing as well, DirecTV/ATT seemed completely ill suited to find ways to match the cost and programming quality of a multitude of providers of streaming services. Further, many cable companies closed the gap in terms of the number of options in channels and those broadcasting in HD ... something DirecTV once dominated the market in.
Yesterday I went to pay my most recent bill, and discovered it had gone up over $80 a month. I called in, asked to speak to the retention department, and spoke with a rep there that basically told me that my previous promotional price had expired and that they didn't have more that about a $20 a month discount available now. I have been through this song and dance before, and it while it always got tedius to have to keep doing it I played along because I thought the product was worth. That changed yesterday. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told there was not a supervisor working that day (It was a weekend). When I explained that I was a 25 year customer and that I was about to cancel unless someone could figure out a way to offer me a competitive price to stay with them, I was told 'We get new promotions each month ... I could try calling back again at a later date to see if I could do better'. That was pretty much it for me. I hung up and immediately called my local cable company. Within 25 minutes I had a price that also included 200 mbps wireless internet that would save me $140 a month over the price I was paying for my current internet (Not ATT - Not available where I live) plus DirecTV. I compared the channel offerings and the package I was getting was nearly identical to the one I was dropping with AT&T. And I was guaranteed that I would only see only a $20 a month increase in my price this year ... and one the year after ... before I was at the full price for the service I was subscribing to. Even at full price, I would be saving $100 a month. I'm not naming that provider because I don't want anyone assuming I'm just a shill for that company. The point is, without NFL Sunday Ticket being worth the money anymore, and a customer service/retention area that doesn't even try to retain 25 year customers with a price that comes close to matching what could be had from a number of their TV Content competitors, I no longer had a reason to stay.
Maybe DirecTV is a company whose time has come and gone ... like Blockbuster or something ... and this is what it looks like at the end. Or maybe, as a division of AT&T instead of being their own company that focuses on just providing great TV with great customer service, its become a profit center with little worth to AT&T to invest any further in. Or maybe, its just being poorly run. Or some combination of all of the above. I don't know ... I guess we'll see over the next 5 years as more and more people cut the chord from services like cable and DirecTV. I believe there will continue to be a market for dedicated TV providers ... especially for live programming like sports, local programming and other niche programming that doesn't do well in streaming. When that changes its over for all of them, I suppose. What I do know, is that none of those companies can keep losing their most loyal customers and expect to pick up new ones to replace them when they don't have anything new or unique to offer them at a price they consider worth it. They had that with NFL Sunday Ticket once ... and probably still have a sizable number of subscribers who keep DirecTV for that product alone. But I know for a fact those are dropping fast. Everyone I know that once had it, has dropped it in the last 3 years. Fact is, they offer nothing else ... not even good customer service anymore. It's a shame really. I used to be their biggest cheerleader for over 2 decades. Now, I'm writing to a forum board in hopes someone there sees a customer like me tell them they just lost me ... and I'm never coming back. I kinda feel obligated in a way to tell them why. It's just really sad, to be honest.
We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your valuable feedback. Your thoughts and suggestions have been heard. We are saddened to see a family member leave us, but we respect your decision. Thank you again for your honesty, and allowing us to improve.
Ariel, AT&T Community Specialist
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*I am an AT&T employee, and the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent AT&T's position, strategies or opinions.
I don't see how the NFL will stay with DirecTV after this contract ends. It would be too beneficial to drop the "exclusive" provider and offer Sunday Ticket as a standalone service. I never had any issues with DirecTV and their customer support until recently. They have me pulling out my hair with their new horrible business tactics and I'm ready to completely cancel my service. Customer service has completely gone down the tube. The only reason I have it any longer is Sunday Ticket. Point being, that I'm sure there are tons of fans who would pay the price to have Sunday Ticket, but don't want to deal with the headache that is DirecTV. It's about squeezing every dollar out of you that they can