I’m a single mom on disability – can DirecTV just raise my rates?

Shutterstock
By | October 9th, 2014

DirecTV is raising Kelly Yonta’s bill, and despite promises of offering her a discount, the increase seems to be sticking. Is she out of options?

Question: I’ve been a loyal customer of DirecTV for five years. I always pay my bill on time. I’m happy with my service, but have had to spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone with them, almost monthly, to keep my bill at a price I can afford. I’ve always managed to do so — until now.

I’m a single mother on disability and simply cannot afford more than $60 per month. Two months ago when they raised my bill from about $60 to $79, and I called to say I can’t afford it and would have to cancel, they issued me a $25 one-time credit and told me to call back next month to see if they had more promotions available to get my price back down to $60. I did so.

This month’s bill is over $80! I called again, and have spoken to no less than 15 different people since then. They lowered my bill to a little over $70, but I was having trouble meeting my monthly bills when it was $60, so I explained that I cannot afford more than $60 and would have to cancel.

My service is scheduled to be canceled in 5 days. They’ve called me every day since then to convince me not to cancel. They try to make me think they’re helping me out, but in the end, upon pressing for details, I find they are still raising my monthly cost by $8, and in order to get this great deal, I have to sign a contract.

Related story:   Stuck with a pair of shoes - and confused about Sears' refund policy

I know from the past, this is a bad idea because then they can raise your price and you can’t leave because you’ll be charged tons of money. When asked if they would send me something in writing saying they will not raise my price during the contract, as they have in the past, they said they can’t do that.

A DirecTV representative yesterday lied and told me that after a guaranteeing me a $29 credit each month, which he offered by phone, my total would be $58. But when I looked at my old bills, I discovered that my cost, before credits, is $103.

He actually told me, “Oh, someone else punched something into my computer. You’re right, it would be $74.”

I woke up this morning and turned on my TV to find a message saying “Not subscribed.” I called to tell them I wasn’t scheduled to be canceled for five more days, and a representative said, “I see you are scheduled to be canceled, so based on that conversation, there was a glitch in our system, and I will hook your service back up.” They did turn it back on.


The worst part of all this is that they are now telling me that the $25 one-time credit they gave me last month will have to be paid back now. They never told me that when they issued it. The person who issued it understood that I was only staying because she said there might be promotions next month that would lower my price to something I can afford. She never said if I had to cancel after all, I’d have to pay that back.

Related story:   A Territory Ahead gift certificate left behind

So, I’m not only being forced to cancel my TV service because it’s higher than the $60 I can afford, but now they want to charge me $97 this month. My TVs are important to me since I’m on disability, and though I don’t watch most of the channels I get, if I change my package I will lose some of the few that I do love! Can you help me?

Kelly Yonta, Kingston, NY

Answer: DirecTV can charge whatever the market will bear for its TV subscription service, but you also have a choice: Take it or leave it.

The company should have played this one straight with you. It was raising your rates, and while it might find a coupon to offset the pain, the increase would stick. Instead, it left you with the impression — however mistaken — that you were going to continue paying an affordable rate for your DirecTV service. That was wrong.

I don’t know enough about your personal circumstances to comment, but I can tell you about mine. I’m not employed by any one news outlet, and I write this particular column pro-bono, which is Latin for “Huffington Post salary.”

I am not a DirecTV subscriber. In fact, I don’t have a TV at all. I catch what I can on Hulu or by watching what’s online, but I can’t afford to send $100 a month to a subscription TV service. Your circumstances suggest that maybe you can’t, either.

I do list the names and numbers of DirecTV executives on my site, and you decided to send a polite appeal to one of them. That resulted in another rejection, unfortunately.

Related story:   iPhone freeze problem leads to big rate increase

I can’t force any company to rescind a rate increase (that’s above my pay grade) but I can find out why its sales people continued to call you and make promises by phone that they never kept. I think you were being jerked around by DirecTV.

In response to my query, you received a call from the company’s executive office. Although a representative reiterated their refusal to lower your bill, they did adjust your last bill to $70. You are now free of this monthly bill once and for all. DirecTV has done you a favor by giving you several hours of your day back, and although you might not feel that way, I think someday soon you will be grateful for it.

Should DirecTV have raised Kelly Yonta's rates?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...


  • Carver Clark Farrow

    They’re free to raise the rates just as the LW is free to cancel. What they shouldn’t do is lie or mislead any customer. They should be crystal clear about what is being promised as well as the consequences of accepting the new deal.

  • backprop

    Though we only have a Pair today, a refreshing “welcome back” to the Elliott Deck of Misfortune! :)

  • $16635417

    “DirecTV can charge whatever the market will bear for its TV subscription service, but you also have a choice: Take it or leave it.”

    Yes.

    .

  • panino

    single mum on benefits please drop Direct TV and use your money more wisely.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    It could’ve been worse. That $25 credit could’ve been the original pretense of sucking the subscriber into a new two-year contract. That would’ve been an even bigger mess to untangle.

  • VoR61

    I’m going to politely suggest to Kelly (if she’s reading these comments) that she consider Dish. We had a similar experience with a cable provider and investigated our options before settling on Dish. Thus far (18 months), our experience is a good one. We have the Starter Pack and pay $22 a month. They regularly add free previews so the value for us is good. Of the package channels, we have 25 on our favorites menu including local channels. Though less than what you may want, this package is worth considering.

    Dish has other packages from which to choose and they generally don’t have yearly increases.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Uh, so she thinks because she can’t afford DirecTV because she’s a “single mother on disability” that DirecTv should offer a her a cheaper rate!?!?

    Seriously?
    Let me give you a piece of advice:
    If you can’t afford cable, you don’t need it. You can live without it. I did so for two years. I’m still alive. Sure, while unplugged, I thought a Kardashian was something off Star Trek when I heard two people talking about it, but really…who cares? (And the ones are Star Trek are a lot better than those idiotic women anyway)

  • TonyA_says

    Pity party porn.

  • VoR61

    I read it differently. Being a single mother on disability is her way of establishing context. Those two facts are offered, I believe, to simply explain her limitations. There is no wiggle room in her budget.

    I don’t see in her comment a request for “mercy” because of her challenges …

  • Rebecca

    I went without cable for a couple years during a period where my husband and I were laid off at different times. It was actually one of the first things to go. This isn’t a consumer advocacy problem, its a living within your means problem.

  • John Baker

    This case was sooo wrong on sooo many levels…

    Lets start with this… You didn’t want to sign a contract so effectively that means that DirecTV can change what they offer you and what they charge you on a monthly basis and you’re are free to leave. They changed their price point and you were free to leave. Period.

    As I read her narrative, I got the impression that she thinks she’s entitled to DirecTV service at what ever level she decides to pay them. Sorry cable / satellite TV is not a right, it’s a luxury. Heck, one of the women in my office doesn’t have cable at all by choice. She pulls broadcast tv off an over-the-air antenna and has subscriptions to both Hulu Plus and netflix. Actually keeps up a lot better than I do with all the “shows.”

    Sorry, I don’t deal well with people who deal from the Elliott Deck of Misfortune or are entitled. Looks like I got a two-for today….

  • John Baker

    +1000 …. and a big AMEN from the crowd…

  • I still have a few more cards up my sleeve. Keep reading!

  • chickadee

    Netflix and /or Hulu+ is a much better use of your money. With a wireless box , you can watch them on the television. We dropped cable long ago, since Suddenlink has a monopoly in our area and they are terrible.

  • VoR61

    I disagree. She makes her case well, stating that a) they led her to believe they might be able to keep her bill at or below $60, and b) her TV subscription is important to her because of her disability (which I take to mean mobility is an issue and thus her only “entertainment” is the TV).

  • FQTVLR

    DirecTV should have honored the discount offered without prompting from Chris , but this woman needs to get her priorities straight. She says she spends a great deal of time monthly on the phone with DirecTV to keep the monthly bill own to where she can afford it on her disability income. And she also throws in that she is a single mother. While she may not blatantly say it she is asking for concessions because of her financial situation by bringing it up. I see just another invitation to a pity party–one I will not be attending.

  • VoR61

    A viable solution that may be obvious and even easy for most of us, but not for her. Her disability must be a factor in any recommended approach for this OP.

  • VoR61

    As I said to Raven, I disagree. In citing her “single mother on disability” status she is simply setting the context for her struggle. It is her main, and perhaps only, method of entertainment, and she can’t afford more. To say she’s asking for concessions is, I believe, a stretch.

  • sirwired

    Well, I suppose this letter could be worse: She could have signed the contract and then written in on how it was not affordable after all, and could she please, please, have help warding off the ETF. Kudos for that, at least. But like everyone else, I could have done without the whole litany of woes. News Flash: Most of us are on a fixed income!

    Yeah, let the TV go. After a little while, you won’t miss it. Speaking for myself, Netflix, while not carrying every TV show and movie out there, still has more quality programming than I could ever find time watch for a heck of a lot less than $70/mo.

    If she REALLY wants TV (and I can respect that some people might), you can simply play “Provider Bingo”… sign up for one of the other TV providers (Dish or cable) for a promo period, and when that expires, move on to the next provider. Even if all you have is satellite, after a year or two, DirectTV should be ready to welcome you back with open promotion-filled arms.

  • VoR61

    An easy solution if you’re not disabled. I’ve been there and found other things to do. But when you are mobility challenged, it takes on a different meaning.

  • sirwired

    Her reasons for not wanting to pay the new rates are irrelevant. She doesn’t like the price increase, thinks it’s too much, and wants to pay less. We don’t need to know anything else; the “context” doesn’t really matter.

  • sirwired

    What on earth could a disability have to do with signing up for Netflix or Hulu? You can watch them using a remote control just like any other TV service.

  • VoR61

    It does matter – always. Without, we will can’t properly assess statements a/or requests that are made. But I said that mainly in response to your statement “she is asking for concessions because of her financial situation by bringing it up”. Nowhere did she say that or imply it. She offered it a motivation (context) for the importance of this matter (to her).

  • sirwired

    What does Netflix or Provider Bingo have to do with mobility problems?

  • sirwired

    I didn’t say anything about asking for concessions; you must have me confused with some other post.

  • VoR61

    And how would she accomplish such a transition? How mobile is she – can she easily install the devices? And is she technically savvy? Does she even wireless internet?

    There’s a lot to be considered before assuming that anyone can just transition to a wireless box.

  • VoR61

    My bad – sorry. It was FQTVLR. Thank you for the correction …

  • VoR61

    You said “Yeah, let the TV go.”. When you’re mobility challenged finding alternatives to TV entertainment can be harder.

  • MarkKelling

    There is no wiggle room in my budget either and I am not a single mother, not on disability, nor do I have any other condition to use to gather sympathy.

    And yes, when you start listing reasons why you should get a lower rate for something just because, well that is requesting mercy.

    TV is not a necessity. With digital TV there are dozens of channel options in most locations available for free over the air. I lived without cable or satellite TV since 1985. I survived.

    Do I think what the various TV subscriptions cost is too much? Yes. Do I think people with disabilities should get a discount on those prices? If the provider offers one, sure. Otherwise, pay what they charge.

  • sirwired

    1) There’s no indication she even HAS a mobility issue; the OP (quite reasonably) doesn’t go into details.
    2) If she has internet at all, most (all?) providers include wireless in the subscription, or will add it for about $5/mo. And they’ll install it for you. ($5 for wireless + $12 for Netflix is a heck of a lot less than $60)
    3) If she doesn’t have internet, she can still play provider bingo. The other services will perform their respective installs for free.

  • VoR61

    Stating one’s limitations is information, unless we have evidence otherwise, which we do not. She set the context for her dilemma to Chris and that’s all the facts we have. The rest is conjecture.

  • Bubbles

    Judgey McJudgerson’s opinion has been noted.

  • Bubbles

    That was also the first thought I had. Never know with the companies. Also, why couldn’t they have put anything in writing?

  • MarkKelling

    All she states is she is on a disability income. There are many reasons for that. Regardless of the reason someone is on whatever income they are on, everyone must live within their means.

    We all have to look at what options we want in our life and make choices. If we want satellite TV we have to make the choice to pay for it out of our fixed income with the possibility of giving up something else. There are a lot of things many of us want but can’t afford.

  • VoR61

    In the past 30 months, I have contacted 4 providers and none will add internet for $5 a month. She said “My TVs are important to me since I’m on disability”. That is a strong indication to me that she has mobility issues.

  • VoR61

    What then do you think it means when she says “My TVs are important to me since I’m on disability”? That says to me that she has mobility issues and TV may be her most reasonable option for entertainment.

  • MarkKelling

    She is on disability which means she probably doesn’t go to work. I know if I wasn’t working my TV would be important to me too to help pass the time.

    My brother was on disability recently. Smashed his hand while unloading a truck at work. Since he needed both hands to do his job, he was on disability until the hand got well enough to go back to his normal work. He had no mobility issues. Many people on disability do not have mobility issues, they simply cannot do the job they normally do.

  • VoR61

    Well said. For clarification, I meant that she may likely be unable to do the things we can easily do to entertain ourselves.

  • MarkKelling

    You seem overly fixated on mobility issues.

    People can be on disability for multiple reasons and that can be temporary or permanent. She doesn’t state which it is (I think if it was permanent she would have stated so). Being on disability simply means that in most cases you were injured and cannot perform you normal work duties. It does not mean you are immobile.

  • Alan Gore

    This whole area of business is a fascinating interplay of markets, technology, and moral attitudes. Unlike water and electricity, the relatively new services of cable TV and Internet have never been defined as public utilities, which enjoy monopoly status in exchange for being limited to a regulated rate of return and legally specified rules of service. Cable companies and ISPs can charge whatever they want and complete openly in many markets. The problem is that in the numerous places where there is only one choice, there is nothing to restrain prices. With time, this may change; if we decide that TV and Internet are vital utilities, their grids will come to be treated be treated like our electrical service. Stories like the one OP tells are pushing this agends.

    The specific technology being used plays a major part in this process. Telephone companies can offer Internet and TV service over their existing copper cables, so long as the customer is within about two miles (by wire, not by crow) of a company switching station, Cable companies can offer fast Internet across their whole systems, but only in places that can be physically reached by the cable. DirectTV is one of the many wireless systems, in which a signal is beamed from a central antenna to the roof of your house. This can spread much more widely than the other two systems, but because of that very fact serve many places that cannot connect to cable or fast telephone lines. This gives wireless systems monopoly status in most places they serve, and the ability to raise prices as high as they want.

    Customers are also starting to receive TV service over the Internet. Being able to watch a missed TV episode on their own schedule from the network’s website is so compelling that a lot of customers are “cutting the cord,” or dropping cable to opt for Internet only. TV networks are getting together with cable companies are fighting back by limiting their Internet-delivered content to users who can verify that they are signed up with a cable company. Customers, in turn, are signing up with a plethora of third-party subscription and torrent services to get the programming they want anyway.

  • VoR61

    I did not say she is “immobile”. Rather, I said it is clear to me that she is physically challenged is a way that makes it difficult for her to get around and enjoy the things that we easily do. Hence the importance of her TV subscription.

    You say “overly fixated”. After 3 decades of volunteer work in nursing homes, and seeing many limping around on walkers and canes, it seems likely to me that her statements are indeed indicative of a mobility issue.

  • Fishplate

    Most local libraries will send books by mail to people with mobility issues, for free. TV is not a right, nor is it a necessity, no matter what your circumstances might be.

  • Fishplate

    Her problem is an alleged series of lies from the vendor. All that matters is that her income is fixed. The reason why is immaterial, unless she can state why television is a medical necessity.

  • VoR61

    All well and good, but she has $60 to spend. Internet connectivity alone can be that much. Then there’s the purchase of a computer (does she have one?). And learning how to use it. And finding someone to help setup whatever alternative solution she identifies. We simple don’t know enough about her circumstances to make that call.

    He request may indeed be rejected because “it is what it is”. But there’s likely more to a provider solution for her

  • VoR61

    It is material in that she sets the context for her request. TV is not a medical necessity, but it is understandably important to her.

  • VoR61

    Never said it is a right or necessity. Those are your words …

  • Debbie D.

    I agree that cable is not a necessity and the company can charge whatever the market will bear — we have a choice as to whether or not we can “bear” it; however, I also have been subjected to those calls to continue when I canceled my cable service. It seems the sales staff have been told to promise anything (verbally) to get you to sign back up (in writing). I now have Amazon Prime AND Netflix for less than $20/month. Most local shows (ABC/NBC/CBS/PBS) can be picked up with an inexpensive antenna (not your father’s antenna — nowadays it is a small flat panel sitting close to the TV).

  • Fishplate

    Whisky is important to me, but the liquor store won’t sell a bottle to me at whatever price I choose to pay.

  • Fishplate

    Then why can’t you agree that the OP should just drop whatever service she can’t afford?

  • VoR61

    Good for you.

  • kittymocha

    We’ve been a Dish customer for 10 to 12 years now and won’t change to Direct. When I investigated the two years ago Dish always came out ahead. We’ve never had any problem with Dish. My cousin switched to Direct from Dish one time but didn’t even stay 6 mos before going back. Another thing is in AZ where we have a condo I use the flat antennas on the wall to get local channels. I just don’t want to pay a mo fee for 2 residences. The LW might check into one of those to at least get some TV shows. Of course, it depends how far she is from the signals.

  • VoR61

    Never said DirecTV should give it to her at $60 – they likely won’t. I said it is important to her because of her disability and as Tony Beretta says: “That’s the name of that tune”.

  • Alan Gore

    That’s where people like me come in, hooking customers up with the amazing, but highly complex, array of technologies for exchanging information in this new world we have made. Think of us as the travel agents of the computer world.

  • sirwired

    Who are you subscribing to that won’t add wireless to your existing internet for a few dollars a month?

    Also, you keep UTTERLY IGNORING the idea of provider bingo. If she wants promo rates, that’s an excellent way to get it. And it requires not one foot of movement.

  • VoR61

    Because it isn’t that simple. When a restriction – ANY restriction – renders one unable to do things others can easily do for entertainment, I respect that TV can be important, enough not to want to give it up.

  • MarkKelling

    I understand your viewpoint on disability now. Thanks for explaining.

  • VoR61

    TWC, DirecTV, Dish, and AT&T.

  • MarkKelling

    My 30 yr old rabbit ears still get excellent digital HD TV reception. :-)

  • Fishplate

    Exactly. And yet, she cannot get TV at a price she can afford.

    She wants something she cannot pay for. We all understand the problem. What’s your solution?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    You’re missing the point. Evey customer has the right to ask for a discount for whatever reason. The provider can say yes or no. She is asking for a discount going forward, prior to incurring the cost. That’s 100% Kosher. When the discount was not initially forthcoming she did the responsible thing and cancelled the service. At that point they agreed to her request and provided the lower price.

    Quite frankly, she doesn’t need a reason for asking for a discount.

    Just because a provider has an asking price, there is no reason why you must pay it. It’s called negotiation. Do you pay the MSRP for your car? I assume not.

    I just signed up with a new legal case management provider. The provider wants a certain amount, I told them point blank, I was not paying that. I told them that I would have to pay for two systems while I transitioned my data as well as the staff time in doing the transition, it would cost too much. Not that any of that was relevant to the discussion, but it set the context for them to understand that I was very serious and that if they wanted my business they needed to be ready to deal.

    We went around for a month. They capitulated and gave me a 30% discount off the first year.

    Her issue is that after being promised a discount they reneged. Had I gotten my discount and the provider reneged I’d have been pissed as well.

  • VoR61

    I gave it elsewhere in this discussion: Dish. But she wants DirecTV to do everything it can, which allegedly they said they would ..

  • EvilEmpryss

    People forget that local stations that might be necessary for news, weather, and emergencies can still be obtained via antenna — for free. You get the top networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and all their shows, you just don’t get them in HD or anything.

    I have to agree that the plea of disability and single motherhood are being used for leverage, but at the same time I don’t have a problem with it so long as she doesn’t feel that they entitle her to special privileges. I’m a disabled vet and will sometimes ask if there are any special discounts for vets, but if the answer is “no”, I shrug and move on rather than wave a flag and expect people to salute it.

    If other cable providers are available in her area, she should consider calling them and asking for their new customer deals. Yes, she’ll likely have to sign a contract, but it’s usually guaranteed for a year or so to be a set price. She should also consider dropping those premium channels and going for a more basic setup. Since I’m a DirecTV customer myself, and I was paying that $60 rate just a few months ago, I think I know which package she was on and they have cheaper ones with fewer channels. If having digital TV rather than an antenna is that important, she could cut back on it. She may lose some of the channels she wants, but she’ll keep the TV and teach her kids a valuable lesson on the give-and-take of balancing a limited budget and living within your means.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Two words for you, Ms. Yonta… “rabbit” and “ears.” And start putting that $60 a month in a college fund for your kids.

  • VoR61

    Amen, Carver. “Context” has been my point too …

    +1000 sir

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    It seems that any commentators have a knee-jerk response to hearing a soc-called “sob” story. I agree with you that it merely sets the context for why.

    It’s really funny though because in real life, “sob” stories work wonderfully when presented property. I guess it’s because we’re on the internet

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If it’s irrelevant, why not simply ignore that part of the post instead of us having a discussion about it. I submit it’s not being taken as irrelevant but negatively by some.

  • ploughmud

    We have been disconnected for many years now. The only thing we subscribe to is Netflix, $8. mo.
    We use Roku which cost us $79. 6 years ago, no mo. fees ever. With Roku you get hundreds of channels to select from, you can watch when you want to watch them and NO commercials.
    It amazes me that people on serious budgets have to have an expensive subscription whether it be cable or Dish or Direct TV or something else. We also get many channels from the antenna FREE. We have saved thousands of $$ and are very happy.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Hear, hear! Playing the “single mother” and “disability” cards in a complaint about satellite TV strips my gears. Get a set of rabbit ears! And over-the-air TV IS in HD, even with rabbit ears.

  • VoR61

    Like others here, you read into her statement to Chris that she is seeking “leverage”. She is setting the context for her request – that she has a $$$ limit and that TV is important because of a disability – and that is all we can say unless we talk with her face to face.

  • Fishplate

    An argument based on irrelevant facts is misleading at best, and disruptive to the process at worst. You should know that, Counselor.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Really? If she stated she was an heiress with millions on the bank, you don’t think that would color people’s perceptions? Should it, of course not, but it would…greatly.

  • EvilEmpryss

    You can keep reiterating your point of view, but others read it differently.

  • Fishplate

    But the context is irrelevant. She has a fixed income. What difference does it make why that is a fact?

  • VoR61

    We humans are, with good reason, generally compassionate. The helpless and the hopeless need our help and we are inclined to do all we can. In the end, this issue comes down to what DirecTV can or cannot do. I don’t begrudge them either way.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    She tried that. It didn’t work. They came back with an offer agreeing to what she could afford then reneged.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Yup. I live in a medium-sized market (Sacramento), and we have dozens of HD over-the-air channels. A disabled single mom complaining about satellite TV? Please.

  • VoR61

    It is relevant in that she explains her $$$ dilemma to Chris.

  • Joe

    “Single mom on disability” seemed to be a red herring, so if you rephrase the question to, “Can DirecTV just raise rates?”, then the answer is clear. Yes they can. Should they? Who knows. I went through a period about two years ago where I questioned the need for $100+ a month cable service. I decided I didn’t need it and ditched the cable box. Now I have internet and a Netflix subscription. I hook up my laptop to the TV via an HDMI cable and presto, great programming at a very reasonable cost. No, you’re not going to get to watch many shows the day they come out, but if you can delay gratification for a couple days or even a week, you can find it somewhere.

  • EvilEmpryss

    You say this with what experience? I’m “mobility challenged” and had a mother who was mobility challenged. Books don’t run from you and you don’t even need electricity to read them during the day.

  • Fishplate

    She’s on a fixed income, and can’t pay what they’re asking. What else do we need to know?

    I’m truly trying to understand your point, but I just can’t see it.

  • VoR61

    Experience? Three decades of volunteer work in nursing homes. Family, friends and coworkers with canes and walkers – some who struggle mightily to move about. And who are we to tell them to abandon TV and just read books?

  • VoR61

    My point is that it is not only acceptable but reasonable for her to explain her challenges (financial and physical) to Chris to establish context for the importance of her request.

  • VoR61

    And so they are allowed to repeat the same theme but I am not? Not sure of your point here …

  • EvilEmpryss

    Multiple people voicing the same point of view. You alone, voicing your differing point of view. I know, you feel that if you thought like we do, then we’d all be wrong, but maybe your reality really is different from the rest?

  • Raven_Altosk

    Amen. If you can’t afford cable, you don’t need it.

  • EvilEmpryss

    We aren’t. Her budget is.

  • VoR61

    That’s your choice. But if you ever become disabled, you might feel otherwise …

  • Daddydo

    I have DISH and called Direct for a price out of curiosity. It was incredible…..for the first 3 months…..then the first year….then how expensive can you get? As an addict of TV, (4 recordings / 5 TVS per night) I want it all! Let’s face it, they both deliver a fine product for the HD TV lover. I would suggest that Kelly look around the neighborhood for a DISH dish, then ask that neighbor to refer her to dish. She will save $5.00 per month for a year. I alway have a 2 year contract and it has been raised $2.00 per month for the first time in 8 years. Good luck Kelly. BTW 1-800-333-DISH. No I do not work or have any association to DISH other than subsribing to them.

  • Fishplate

    Of course it is. But why is that important, except to elicit pity?

    That she “needs” television is perhaps relevant, but we are certainly not given enough information to evaluate that need. Merely being a single mother, or on some vague disability, is not enough.

  • VoR61

    Untrue. You and others have stated that she should just give up and read books.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    As irrelevant as comments that You should know that, Counselor :-)

    The unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate) reality is that often a huge part of our analysis is a judgment on the LW. Does the LW deserve what is he or she is asking? Not in a legal sense, but in a warm and fuzzy, squishy way.

    For example, a substantial number of the posts opine that the OP can’t afford DirectTV and should cancel the service. That is irrelevant to the discussion. But it fits into the paradigm of the more judgmental amongst us.

    Thus the stage must often be set for the reasoning why the LW is asking for assistance. It also brings in the question of “know thy audience”. Since this is an unfriendly venue with regards to “sympathy”, I would take a different approach if I were making an argument.

    It’s why the parties in a litigation must act and dress the part.

  • Fishplate

    Exactly, which is what I said. Her level of mobility or state of fecundity is not relevant to the allegation of lying by the service provider.

  • VoR61

    Untrue. Carver agrees with me. And if you were to read my initial posts, you’d find that I (and Carver) challenge the assumption by many here that the OP is playing the sympathy card.

    And I have offered her a suggested alternative (Dish), while most of you just tell her to grin and bear it and read books.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’ll bet you think TV should be another gummit entitlement program, right?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    First, he’s not alone. If 99% people say the earth is flat, it doesn’t make it so. It a logical fallacy called argumentum as populum.

    From Wiki:

    An argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”) is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition
    is true because many or most people believe it. In other words, the
    basic idea of the argument is: “If many believe so, it is so.

  • VoR61

    Not at all. I simple object to those here who simply say give it up or you don’t need it. I try to walk in the shoes of those less fortunate.

  • Fishplate

    The question before us is “Can the service provider raise their rates?” Why should the answer hinge on our particular state of squshiness?

  • VoR61

    Pity? Hardly. But you clearly do not understand the concept of context. And neither she, nor I, nor anyone here says she “needs” it. I have said I can understand its importance to her …

  • Fishplate

    And thus she would hide those facts, just as she trots out irrelevancies to appeal to emotion instead of fact.

    I’ve been there, I’ve seen it – over and over again. And human beings fall for that every time.

    Were the question phrased as “Should they raise their rates?” then you might get a different answer. But that’s not the case here.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s easy. Chris undoubtedly has more requests for assistance that he can possibly handle. Thus he must make a determination who should be the recipient of his aid. Need is a perfectly valid criteria.

    It’s one of the metrics I use when I take on a pro bono case as I did this past Friday. A kid was being jerked around. I listed to the story and accepted the case. Turned down another one because I did not see the need of the potential client.

  • Fishplate

    If she can’t afford the TV service, what are her options? You say “Dish” like it’s not TV.

    Dish will be cheap at first, but not forever.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    No, that’s not the question. The question is did they renege on their promise.

  • VoR61

    Really? And you know this for a fact. Hmmm, 18 months and counting – still paying the same – $22 per month. A great option for the OP. And the only increase we face are the same we all do. Across the board increases.

  • Carchar

    One of my daughters chooses to have neither a TV subscription nor a cable box. Her rabbit ear antennas on her digital TV pull in network shows. To supplement at a much cheaper price, she subscribes to both Hulu plus and Netflix. She is able to see what most of her friends see at a far greater cost.

  • Fishplate

    At the heart of your (and Carver’s) argument is that the details added to the letter over and above the fact that her budget is limited are relevant. A large number of commenters have trouble seeing your point.

    I have only seen so far from you that their relevancy is based on an appeal to emotion.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I respectfully disagree. This venue is hostile to anything sounding like sympathy. We’ve spent far more time discussion her mobility (the irrelevant issue) then the underlying issue of whether she should get a refund of the credit.

    As far as lowering one’s cable bill, that’s just part of dealing with cable. internet, etc. It’s part of the business model and they even has a department called customer retention.

  • Fishplate

    Then you have a larger heart, or more generous stockholders than the service provider in question. But that doesn’t answer the question.

  • Fishplate

    My TVs are important to me since I’m on disability,

    Things that are important can be reasonably interpreted as a need, especially when the concept of doing without is rejected.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Actually, my original post, (which I can’t see to confirm) doesn’t discuss that. It was the naysayers who brought up the disability question (repeatedly). I mostly ignored it because my passions were not inflamed for or against her.

    It merely gave me the context to seeing the LW as a 3D person.

  • VoR61

    Then you have misread/misunderstood my point and may never be able to comprehend it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The first paragraph answered the question…

    That’s easy. Chris undoubtedly has more requests for assistance that he can possibly handle. Thus he must make a determination who should be the recipient of his aid. Need is a perfectly valid criteria

    I’m not sure what is unclear about that response.

  • Fishplate


    I’m a single mom on disability – can DirecTV just raise my rates?

    And you agree that they can. And so they did. We both agree that there were allegedly lies told by the service provider.

    So, since we both reached the same conclusion based on only the facts, and not the issue of parenthood or mobility, why are they important?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Important Need

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The worst part of all this is that they are now telling me that the $25
    one-time credit they gave me last month will have to be paid back now.
    They never told me that when they issued it.

  • Fishplate

    We’ve spent far more time discussion her mobility (the irrelevant issue) then the underlying issue of whether she should get a refund of the credit.

    Because those issues were dealt with early, and are not in dispute. Of course they should live up to any promise they made. Nobody here disagrees with that.

  • Chris Johnson

    It might take me a while to dig up the source, but I read somewhere that approximately 60% of the people who could afford either cable or satellite television simply choose not to get it, and are satisfied with the channels that come over the regular airwaves (I know in many parts of the country, you can’t get anything over the regular airwaves). I’m definitely part of that 60%, not having had cable in over 10 years and any shows I want to see that aren’t on the regular airwaves, I just watch on the internet or Netflix. This woman, on the other hand, is getting government benefits and is complaining that she can’t afford Direct TV? When you’re on disability and are a single parent, you have other priorities. Also, she lives in Kingston, which is close enough to the New York City area and she should be able to get the regular network channels without any cable or satellite. Zero sympathy here. I wouldn’t say to her “get off your fat ass and get a job” because she may have a very good reason to be on disability, but she is in no way entitled to a discount on Direct TV, particularly since it is hardly a necessity.

  • VoR61

    The OP has not rejected the idea of doing without. In fact she cancelled her service. And importance does not equal need. It’s important to me to have peace and quiet, but I endure July 4th and New Year’s Eve ..

  • Fishplate

    When I look at packages on the web site, I see that they are all guaranteed for 12 months. After that, they – like the service provider the OP currently uses – is free to raise their rates to anything they like. That’s the answer to the question posed in this column.

    What they are not permitted to do is lie to their customers. That seems to be the OP’s issue. But beyond that, they can do what they like, as I’m sure they will eventually. Across the board.

  • Chris Johnson

    Damn right. No wonder Chris didn’t even bother setting up a poll about this. We all know how the vote would have gone on that. *Edit* I see he did. I’m not going to bother voting on this one though. She doesn’t need Direct TV, regardless of what the rate is. With $60/month, you can get a pretty generous Netflix subscription, more than the one I’m getting.

  • VoR61

    Eventually, yes. But $22 is far cry from $60. I have offered an alternate provider solution for her. Others have not.

  • FQTVLR

    I am disabled and have been since birth due to a spinal birth defect . I was raised on war orphans benefits as my father died in Vietnam. I did not make over $10,000 a year before taxes (in the early to mid-80s) teaching school. I know the limitations of a fixed income and made decisions based on what I could afford. At no point in my life have I ever brought up my disability in a discussion of what I can or cannot afford. Any time I could not afford something, including cable tv, I simply said I could not afford it. I learned that from my mother who used the same phrase when I was growing up. As sirwired said her reasons for not wanting to pay are irrelevant. There was no need to mention disability and single-motherhood. She simply needed to request help for getting DirecTV to honor the discount they promise her.

  • VoR61

    Because too many here cry B-O-O-H-O-O to any OP who explains his/her dilemma to establish the importance of his/her request.

  • VoR61

    First my sincere condolences for your disability and congratulations for both your courage and integrity.

    We have zero evidence that the OP used her disability status in her discussions with DirecTV. In asking Chris for help, explaining the reasons behind her request is fine IMO. That you wouldn’t is your call, but I can’t see some berating her for it …

  • SallyLu

    Maybe, since this mother is disabled, a wise choice for her and her family would be a tv subscription at $60 a month. That way, there is entertainment at an affordable price without having to leave the house. Who are you to tell a person that their use of any money they receive is not wise? Do you believe that since she is disabled and on (presumably) gov’t assistance, she should have absolutely no right to spend her money on anything even remotely fun? Sorry kids, your mom is disabled so you’re outta luck! She is clearly struggling and knows how much extra she has each month. Sounds like she is trying to make the best decisions possible with her limited income, and by limited, I mean that she can’t just decide to work harder to get a better job if she isn’t happy with her current situation. Sadly, there really was nothing Chris could do to help her, but I find it very sad that people who know nothing about this woman would judge her choices.

  • Jhana

    I want to address the headline-no where in the letter does she say “I am on disability-can they just raise my rates?” That’s the headline to grab our attention. Not sure who chose it but all of these sites are guilty of often having a misleading headline when the article is much more nuanced. That said, 2 things come to mind from this letter. One, she needs help getting them to undo the $25 credit they are now charging to when it was not clear she would have to pay it. She mentioned her financial circumstance to let us know that to her, this $25 is a lot of money. As is the addeed $9/month. Some people could just pay it and move on. She can’t, She also wants help getting clarification on WHAT is being offered to her. She felt they verbally suggested that her rates could be lowered. When they weren’t, she asked them to cancel. Two, it is ABSOLUTELY within reality to negotiate with a tv service provider, and it is not unheard of for them to jump through hoops to keep customers. Our cable bill jumped from $130/month to $220 with no warning. I called and spent a LOT of time on the phone letting the rep know I was not in a position to shell out $220/month for TV and could go without. He kept “finding” ways to lower the price until it got down to $125, which is the going rate around here. I don’t think it;s crazy for this woman to think that Direct TV could do the same with some negotiating. It happens all the time. She got nowhere, and thought maybe someone else could help her. It’s not out of the question that they might. Of course they don’t have to, but they can and do.

  • Annie M

    Can you imagine what would happen if every person with a hardship case wanted every company they deal with to make exceptions? Companies would go out of business. A digital converter box might be an answer to get some tv at no cost.

    Just as everyone on a budget has to decide what us a necessity and what is a luxury, unfortunately so does Ms. Yonta. Chris, you gave her excellent suggestions on alternatives.

    The sales people should have simply been straight with Ms. Yonta instead of trying to manipulate the system to try to accommodate her.

  • Annie M

    She can buy a Kindle and read tons of books for less than $60 a month. Anyone on a budget has to make a decision on what bills are most important. Chris gave her lots of options that are less expensive.

  • Don Sleeper

    I have had directv since 1995 and they have always been honest and professional with any questions I have. They raise rates about 3% once a year and always send a letter stating such. It’s the cost of doing business.

  • VoR61

    She wants TV. I have offered her a far cheaper option (for TV) …

  • VoR61

    +1000

  • MarkKelling

    I did not mean to suggest that I am against customers asking for discounts because I am not. I agree that every customer doing business with any company should explore what discounts are available and push to get them.

    However, in this case the provider is already giving her a fairly significant discount ($103 actual bill and paying only $60). The base price has gone up so she might still be getting that same $43 discount off the total bill. And we don’t know what the terms were for that one-time additional discount of $25 that they now want back. It may have been contingent on her signing a new contract which she did not do.

    I think the phone reps will say anything and offer nearly anything to keep you from cancelling your service. Is that right? No, but it does seem to be the American way these days.

  • SallyLu

    Thank you. It’s nice to see someone who can actually look at something from someone else’s point of view instead of saying “well I don’t have a tv so you shouldn’t need one either”. We all have different needs for very different reasons.

  • VoR61

    Thank you for saying so, Sally. I’ve been in some very tight spots, where TV was all I could afford to do, other than a walk in the park. For one period of almost 18 months, a friend had to buy me a 59 cent taco if I wanted to eat out. TV was my escape …

  • emanon256

    Reminds me of when I did private consulting, and after performing work, people would tell me they can’t afford to pay me, or that I should give them a break because they are a hobbyist, non-profit, what-have you. Drove me nuts. At least some people told me this in advance, and if they couldn’t afford me, or simply didn’t want to pay me, I wouldn’t work for them. I have no sympathy here, if she can’t afford TV, then she should cancel it.

    This reminds me of when I worked in A/R. So many people would appeal and say they couldn’t pay their bill, and have all sorts of excuses. Many of them submitted bank statements (we never asked for these) to show all of their expenses, and most of them had very high cable or satellite bills. Seriously, why should you get out of our bill, when you are spending more than you owe us on TV?

    I have a very important rule that I live by, and recommend to everyone. If you can’t afford something that you don’t need, don’t buy it. And don’t complain about it. I have sympathy for people who can’t afford housing and food, and believe we need programs to help them. No one needs TV.

  • VoR61

    She never said she “needed” TV – just that it was important because of her disability. And that we know of, she only said that to Chris as an explanation of her situation.

  • emanon256

    Ive been unplugged for 2 years now, though I do watch local channels occasionally.

    I also made the same correlation when I first heard about the Kardashians. And prefer the Star Trek variety as well.

    My grandmother is disabled and on a fixed income. She gets library books, FOR FREE!

  • Raven_Altosk

    Or she’s addicted to daytime TV shows. Who knows. Let’s stop feeling sorry for people “on disability” when we have no details. Some are there because they are “depressed.” I’m depressed…I have to work to pay for their bills! C’mon.

  • emanon256

    I want a Mercedes, but I am on a fixed income, and it doesn’t fit in my budget. I keep going to dealers and telling them that after child care costs, I can only afford to pay $300 per month with no money down. They offered me a low mileage lease for $400. When I went back, the next day, they said the lease was $350 a month, then they told me it required a down payment. I have gone in 15 times and they refuse to give me a Mercedes at a price I can afford, they quote me a different price each time. I am a business person and so having a Mercedes is important, otherwise I can’t impress clients. Can Chris please help me?

  • EdB

    Lying reps were one of the main reasons I left DirecTV.

  • emanon256

    My grandmother is disabled, not on disability as she retired before she became disabled. She gets free book delivery form the library.

  • VoR61

    “Feeling sorry” is not in play here. Commenters here want to vilify the OP because she stated that TV is important to her because of her disability. She didn’t ask for special consideration based upon that. It was background information to explain her limitations. Nothing more (that we know of). Of course it is your choice to label her intentions.

  • Bill___A

    Calling every month to see what discount you can get is not a good long term solution.
    Being on a fixed income means making some particularly tough choices. Most places have some OTA television and there is the net.

    I don’t think we are going to see a low income subsidy program for satellite TV.
    Maybe Chris can get them to start one for everyone who can demonstrate a need. We could all pay $5 a month extra and it could go into a fund…

  • pplaresilly

    My personal opinion is that it’s a income issue. Limited income that has no chance for increase other that the occasional governmental cost of living ( welfare, SSI, SSD, ) not to mention workers comp disability. There is no harm in asking for supplements from a company if they are available. I could not wait to receive my AARP card, I enjoy a good discount, it’s always a toss up between AARP and AAA, which ever gives me the most off. (smile )

  • emanon256

    What did disabled people do before TV existed? She still has other options for entertainment. #1 thing that comes to mind is books. I have a diabled father, and a disabled grand mother. My grandmother gets free books from the library. They deliver. And many towns have programs that take disabled people on outings for free. My father goes into the woods almost daily and he has mobility issues. My father also has no TV.

  • VoR61

    That’s great if it works for them. But to argue about “before TV existed” has no bearing on today IMO. It’s not up to us to say to her “do this or that”, when she has less expensive solutions for TV. Nor should it affect Chris’s involvement.

  • emanon256

    When I was working on Boston, I was able to get all of the local channels in HD, by sticking a paperclip into the digital antenna input on the back of my TV. I am not joking, this actually worked.

  • VoR61

    Overstated …

  • CubsFan007

    I’m with you Chris. If money is that much of an issue – cut the cord. I do not own a TV or cable service and I am very happy. There are plenty of online options. Take the money spent on TV and put it in savings for when you really need it.

  • ShrimpBoy

    “I don’t see in her comment a request for “mercy” because of her challenges …”

    I guess you missed the part about being a single mother and being on disability. Because those facts were completely relevant. Yeesh. I have a huge mortgage, three kids in college and an expensive third trophy wife. I gotta tell you after everything there isn’t much left. Maybe I should get a break if its just about budget limitations?

    How about a library? Maybe parking your kids in front of the tube everyday is just one in a string of horrible decisions.

  • Helio

    She had two major complains – one justified, and other didn’t.

    The justified one was the US$25 discount sorry, no discount. Legit complain, Chris seems to have fixed it.

    The other one was she wanted DTV to keep her bill low, because she is a single mom, with disability, not able to afford even a 10 dollars raise. This complain is the reason for all the comments, IMO. And don’t either agree it is a valid reason for complain. If you cannot afford, you cannot have. One of the best things my parents teaches me.

    She played the disability and fixed income card, to get sympathy. In fact, she did it before – I just googled her I found last year she asked donations for her cat Subba who lost 5lbs in one month, because she couldn’t afford a vet. She couldn’t also afford a dentist (she had a cavity) and a ophthalmologist (her glasses were 8~9 years old). She also stated she was a single mother, on disability at that time.

    I’m really sorry for her and for her cat (she didn’t raise enough money for the vet), but we need to live under our limitations. In her shoes, I would have cancelled cable at that time to afford a vet for my pet, but it is me. And to fix my cavity and to replace the glasses, at least in order to allow me to watch… TV!

    Air TV isn’t so comprehensive as cable/satellite, but it can provide entertainment too. And are free of charge, perhaps a one time investment in an antenna.

  • Raven_Altosk

    That is a straw argument. I could easily say, “The internet is important to me because I like porn.” I mean, c’mon.

  • ShrimpBoy

    Talk about conjecture! Maybe she is just like the rest of America and too dim to find something else. You know, society survived pretty well before everyone had three TVs and cable.

  • ShrimpBoy

    And your inferences.

  • ShrimpBoy

    No, just sloth, entitlement, and greed said in a different way.

  • VoR61

    No, I very clearly caught the “single mother on disability” statement, and I consider it as a simple explanation to Chris of her circumstances and why TV is important to her. That is reasonable, and not a play for sympathy (unless you have spoke with her and can testify to it).

    And it is relevant in establishing her limitations.

  • VoR61

    Appalling sir. “Too dim”? You would say that about someone with a disability?

  • VoR61

    You are wrong. I said only that it was important to her, and that I can understand that.

  • VoR61

    It’s reasonable that TV is important to a disabled person. Not the same as your “porn”. If you can’t see that or you disagree, that is your right.

  • VoR61

    And your point?

  • Michael__K

    You impose your pet peeves on a case where they don’t fit once we read past the headline.

    The OP would be happy to sign a contract at the right price if she could get something in writing that her monthly bill won’t go up WITH a contract. In the past, her monthly bill went up WITH a contract.

    The OP doesn’t assert any entitlement to service at a particular price. She cancelled her service because she couldn’t get a price she could afford. If there is any “entitlement” here, it’s on the other side.

    What entitles DirecTV to offer her retention incentives that they can’t or won’t deliver on? What entitles DirecTV to offer her credits without disclosing the strings attached? What entitles DirecTV to shut off her service 5 days early?

    Are DirecTV agents entitled to collect customer retention bonuses when a customer cannot be retained by honest, deception-free means?

  • chickadee

    I assume that if she cannot leave the house to buy a wireless box, she could use Amazon. If she cannot hook up the box herself, then the person who must be doing her grocery shopping or cooking for her would be able to do so. If she cannot perform simple tasks due to her disability, then SOMEONE must be doing them for her.

  • chickadee

    She could drop the television and add internet services, which alone can easily be far less than $60/month.

  • Helio

    I do believe it was offered, and she declined:

    … and though I don’t watch most of the channels I get, if I change my package I will lose some of the few that I do love!

  • Helio

    It seems DTV offered her a cheaper option, but she declined, because she wanted a particular channel selection.

  • bodega3

    We canceled Dish Network for Direct TV due to accounting issues with Dish Network. Awful service with them. So far, 3 years and counting, we have been satisfied with Direct TV…except we pay too much for nothing to watch. 200 plus stations and between us we can’t find anything worth watching.

  • MarkKelling

    When you were in that financial situation, were you paying for cable or satellite TV? Or did you just watch the free broadcast channels?

    I know if I was down to eating the 59 cent tacos as a meal out, I definitely would not be paying for TV. But then that is just me.

  • Helio

    She was offered a lower pack, but she declined because she wants a particular channel selection.

  • bodega3

    As kids, we got terrible reception. One of us would have to sit next to the TV with our hand on the rabbit ears to get a clear picture. We would take turns during the TV show we were watching.

  • Helio

    Did you never heard about a side use for steel wool? ;-)

  • VoR61

    Point taken – thanks.

  • VoR61

    At that time I do not recall what I paid for TV. The cable provider had a $15 per month package at that time. My point was that I could not afford to do anything else …

  • bodega3

    Back then, no. Interesting! I do use steel wool to plug the holes around pipes. Keeps mice out as they don’t like touching it.

  • Michael__K

    Did you read the original article past the headline? Because if you did, I would expect your parallel scenario to read something like this:

    I have a Ford Focus, and I’ve been paying $200 per month for it. The dealer raised my bill to $250 which I can’t afford. I called to say I can’t afford it and would have to cancel, and they issued me a one-time $60 credit and told me to call back next month to see if they had promotions available to get my price back down to $200.

    But they reneged. This month’s bill is over $250! I called again, and spoke to no less than 15 different people since then. They lowered my bill to a little over $225, but I was having trouble paying it when it was $200, so I explained that I cannot afford it and would need to cancel and return the vehicle.

    I scheduled to turn in the vehicle in 5 days. They call me repeatedly to convince me not to cancel. They try to make me think they’re helping me out, but in the end, upon pressing for details, they are still raising my monthly cost and in order to get this great deal, I have to sign a contract. And they won’t even promise in writing not to raise my price during the contract.

    Now they just contacted me again and suddenly informed me that I must return the vehicle today — 5 days early — and that I also have to pay back the $60 one-time credit they gave me last month. They never told me that when they issued it.

    Too bad, so sad, the dealer is entitled to operate this way, “Case Dismissed”…. right?

  • VoR61

    Not for anything reasonably fast. Everything here is $45-50

  • Helio

    No. They offered one month discount in order to see if in the next month DTV will have any promotion which could fit her desires.

    When next month arrived, there weren’t any new promotion, she cancelled, and they requested her to pay back the US$25 “discount”.

    DTV never met her requests.

  • Blamona

    She didn’t sign a contract, and was not willing to-

    DirectV has smaller line-up packages, but she obviously wants more channels

    She can try Dish, but will probably have to sign a 2 year contract

    She can try cable, will probably require 2 year contract (but can pay for $89 monthly for 2 years includes phone and internet too–this will save her tons)

    This notion of long customer (I’ve been DirectV customer for 20 years, and sign for commitment when I want discounts)

    Why should there be exceptions? I live paycheck to paycheck, work my tush off, yet don’t get discounts

    I sound harsh–not fun to have a disability, but to expect a company to cover it is out of line. We all have reasons to want discounts–have you been to the grocery store lately?

    Christopher, I’m surprised you’re even getting involved with this one–tell her to change companies, sign 2 year contracts which everyone requires these days, get less channels, etc.

    I work hard and never qualify for discounts, grants, etc. There’s competition in this country, shop around.

  • Helio

    I don’t think cars make a good example… Maybe mortgages with variable interest?

  • Gerry Pong

    I gave away my TV a year ago but had to return cuz I like NFL too much. The streaming with NFL.com was unsatisfactory, it is on a 24+/- hour delay. This year I bought a new TV but with a antenna/signal scanner. Voila! I can receive all the local stations and it is all free. No cable required. Can LW receive any local signals in her area? For NFL on ESPN or other sports cable stations, I’m forced to visit my son-in-law(yuck) or go to a sports bar.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    She canceled…

    My service is scheduled to be canceled in 5 days. They’ve called me every day since then to convince me not to cancel. They try to make me think they’re helping me out, but in the end, upon pressing for details, I find they are still raising my monthly cost by $8, and in order to get this great deal, I have to sign a contract…

    According to the LW they lied…

    A DirecTV representative yesterday lied and told me that after a guaranteeing me a $29 credit each month, which he offered by phone, my total would be $58. But when I looked at my old bills, I discovered that my cost, before credits, is $103.

    and finally…

    The worst part of all this is that they are now telling me that the
    $25 one-time credit they gave me last month will have to be paid back now. They never told me that when they issued it.

  • Raven_Altosk

    You’re splitting hairs. Once again, substitute her situation for: “I’m disabled and I need to surf porn on the internet but Comcast raised the rates.”

    It’s the same thing, bro.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Oh, so she’s a cyberbegger. That changes everything. Probably one of those who sit on crappy social-networking sites like Tumblr and post all day.

  • Raven_Altosk

    It has been discovered (read below) that this woman is a chronic cyber-begger. Probably one of those who sit on Tumblr all day looking at pr0n of her favorite TV characters.

  • VoR61

    No, Raven, it is not the same. What you call hair splitting is my unwillingness to assign words to someone that she did not say, and motive where there is no irrefutable evidence. You are clearly convinced that she is asking for help “because” she is a single mom who is disabled and has to have her TV channels. I cannot agree ..

  • Extramail

    I play this game with my cable company once a year. “Your contract is up therefore we can raise your rates as much as we want, take it or leave it.” I call and ask why I can’t be treated like a brand new customer and get the new customer rate. Of course not, that is for our new customers only. Well, then cancel my service and I’ll be a new customer next month. No, no, no, we’ll find something for you. I have yet to understand why a new customer is more important than retaining a tried and true customer. And, it’s not just the cable companies who behave this way.

  • Vox_Rationis13

    And this is exactly the crux of the matter – “importance”. Most people feel that TV isn’t “important” or a “need” in the same sense that food and shelter are. So if you are complaining that you can’t afford things, then non-necessities, like TV, should be the first to go.

  • The Original Joe S

    Let me be succinct [for once]!
    The lied to me twice when I signed up with them.
    They lied to me about the upgrade to hi-def. [Checked w/them, then cable co, back to them; they refused to honor the rate they’d quoted an hour before.]
    Ran over to cable co just before closing, got a box, plugged it in [old outlet from yesteryear]. While it was booting up, guy called begging me to stay.

    TOO LATE! Went and got cable box.
    What can we do to make you come back?
    You could stand on your head, spit wooden nickles, and whistle Dixie, and I STILL ain’t coming back. The cable box just finished booting up. Good bye!
    Epilog: Letters arrive “We miss you!” Too bad no SASE!

  • Vox_Rationis13

    Ummmm. I believe “LIBRARY” is an alternate provider solution.

  • Vox_Rationis13

    She has more than one TV. She can sell them and buy a laptop! (I jest… kind of…)

  • chickadee

    Do you live in the same place as this woman? And I think AT&T can offer internet service for less than that.

  • The Original Joe S

    They LIED!

  • VoR61

    Got a direct quote from AT&T for $50

  • The Original Joe S

    you got it right again.

  • The Original Joe S

    well, the price is REALLY $10,000, but for YOU, this month, it’s $29.95. This is a really big savings for you! Yup.

  • chickadee

    ETA I need to read locations, thanks very much…

    Okay — Kingston, NY, is served by Verizon…

    Basically, she could get high-speed internet for under $36/month.

  • VoR61

    Again you’re substituting your values for hers. Unacceptable to me …

  • The Original Joe S

    If you can’t get a Mercedes, get a BMW…. or a porcupine. With one, they’re on the outside, and the other, they’re on the inside…..

  • Vox_Rationis13

    You actually do assign words. You said earlier: “Her disability must be a factor in any recommended approach for this OP.”

    That’s not true. Whether she has access to cable TV or not has NOTHING to do with her disability.

  • The Original Joe S

    You DO have a bathtub, don’t you?

  • The Original Joe S

    If it ain’t in writing, it don’t exist. Pay WHAT back?

  • Vox_Rationis13

    Nice sleuthing… Life is all about the decisions we make. Some of them are tough. Totally unrelated — warning — I just watched “Fed Up” and even though food corporations are evil, it’s still up to us to make wise choices and not blame others for the choices we make. Put down the sugar / remote and do something healthy for yourself.

  • VoR61

    I wrote those words not the OP. That was MY opinion. I have not assigned any statement to her.

  • chickadee

    The OP’s area has Verizon internet service for under $36/month, which is less than $60/month, even when you add Netflix or Hulu+

  • The Original Joe S

    Or: “EAT DIRT! 300 Trillion flies can’t be wrong”

  • The Original Joe S

    That the main point is that they are prevaricators and dissemblers – that’s what you need to keep in mind.

  • The Original Joe S

    It was rote in plane ‘Murican. I got it the first time.

  • The Original Joe S

    The question is “Do they promise you stuff, and then reneg?”

  • The Original Joe S

    She’s entitled to be told the TRUTH, which is not the modus operandi of that company.

  • VoR61

    And Verizon is 4G (not very fast). We could debate prices all day, but to get semi-fast internet anywhere, you’re going to pay $40-60.

  • The Original Joe S

    Yup. Interesting, ain’t that?

  • Daddydo

    But here comes the Red Herring back. I am a single mom on disability and the internet company is too much to afford. No netflix, no Hulu, no streaming. Entertainment has a cost from any and all perspectives. You pay for what you get. HBO STARZ SHOWTIME MAX, ESPN 1-100. I want them all!!!!!!!

  • Lindabator

    Just because you catch a break one month, doesn’t mean that have to keep doing it. If you know you are hard-pressed to pay $60 a month, time to ditch the dish!

  • Lindabator

    But she says she cannot afford it, so DirectTV should lower HER rates. I was taught by my folks – if you cannot afford, you DO NOT BUY!

  • emanon256

    I think you are referring to the mall jewelry store.

  • emanon256

    I went with a new car because dealers always offering different prices and the OP had no contract, so DTV can change her rate every month.

  • Lindabator

    That’s all fine and dandy. But if I have only $100 to spend, and what I WANT means I need $150, guess what I WANT is to get rid of the extra debt. Either find something less expensive, or find something else to lose. You are the one who seems to think that she should just have it “because”

  • SallyLu

    No, she didn’t say that. Go back and read the story.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    why is a person on welfare getting cable ? She obviously can’t afford it.

    This is partly the reason the world is in such a mess. Everyone wants everything & thinks they can pay for it later.

  • SallyLu

    He never once said she shoud have directv just because. In fact, he has stated directv in no way owes her a lower rate. What he has said, if you would have read his comments, is that he understands why she feels that tv is important to her, since she is disabled.

  • cate

    I have had Directv for over 13 years and will keep it forever. I read about how you can get local channels for other cities if you claimed you couldn’t get your own local channels. I told them I couldn’t and was able to get NBC E/W, ABC E/W and FOX E/W for minimal costs per channel. This meant that living in a city in the Midwest I got those local channels for NYC and LA which I love. Couldn’t get CBS….then Congress passed a law that said cable companies couldn’t sell these channels anymore so I lucked out. I call Direcv all the time asking for discounts and remind them of my loyalty. Sometimes I get $35-40/mo. discount and other times $15. But I always get something. Over the years I’ve had to drop down to a lower package because the expense was escalating every year or so. I feel for this lady because I’m retired and living on a fixed income but I justify the expense by saying I don’t drink, smoke, or eat out much. But I still pay a horrendous fee that I often question.

  • The Original Joe S

    I refer to most of the cutesy-pie establishments which mark UP the goods and THEN put a “sale” tag on ’em to make people think they’re getting a wonderful deal. There’re a few out of the many which don’t try to pull the wool over the eyes of the customers…..

    In the case of this particular company, I have observed that it’s not only I who have seen them constantly prevaricating, but others ON THIS BLOG have expressed similar opinions of them. As I related elsewhere, it was laughable that the guy called me, while the new box was in the process of booting up, trying to get me to stay / return to them. It would appear that they are well-versed in this scenario of brinksmanship. They play chicken to see who will blink first. Sometimes, they encounter someone who means exactly what he says, and sticks to it. The lady here told ’em she’d drop ’em, and did. I told ’em I was dropping them, and did. Maybe they convince others with their horse radish, but that nonsense merely makes me angry and brings out the stubborn streak in me. Once I made the decision, that was it. Case closed. They were history. Since their antics continue to resurface, I can’t refrain from putting in my 2¢ worth when the opportunity presents itself. If I can show someone who may not be familiar with their avarice just how low they are, I might be able to let that someone avoid trouble with that gang of mauraders.

  • SallyLu

    In my area, internet access at a speed high enough to use Netflix runs about $60 a month. Up until about a month ago, we were still experiencing a drop in speed low enough that the show we were watching would stall out for a few minutes or longer. Sometimes it happened so often we’d give up and turn it off. I wish we could get high speed internet for $5 a month!

  • mythsayer

    I subscribed last year when we bought our house and they added NFL Sunday Ticket “for free” for the first year with nothing to say that it would be automatically renewed. It’s a six month subscription every year but we don’t watch NFL at all so we don’t need it. I just lucked out that I looked at my bill in July before they charged the first month so we were able to cancel the whole thing. Otherwise it’s a prorated cancellation. I know there was no information that it would be renewed in my paperwork because the same thing happened to a friend this year. We both agree we never were told it was on there “for free” nor were we told it would automatically renew.

    And when I called to find out why my bill had gone up from $110 to $225, I was told it was because of Sunday Ticket as well because I lost my $10 per month first year promotion. When I tried to get the price down, I was only able to get it down to $160 with taxes and that was with cancelling HBO, Showtime, etc. They offered me a $5 discount on the premium channels… so I had been paying $49 for all of them. They offered me only 3 of them for $30… which was a $5 discount off the regular price, with fewer channels.

    I miss them but we mostly live with my parents during the week since my husband works all the time and he doesn’t watch the movie channels so it’s okay. But what irritated me is that my mom has had Directv for years and she has no contract now. When SHE called to get their bill down they threw a pile of discounts at her. Nothing like that for me. She’s got all the premium channels for about $120. I have the same package with NO premiums for $160. But she has no contract and I DO have a contract, so they can jerk me around all they like. That really irks me.

  • mythsayer

    That’s just what I was thinking.

  • mythsayer

    A kid’s clothing store, Justice, does this. They ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) have a 40% off sign. ALWAYS. Their prices are outrageous, but you get 40%! What a deal!

  • mythsayer

    Chris wrote that headline, not her.

  • VoR61

    Not true. I have never said here that I support her request to get the DirecTV package she had for the $60 she wanted – never! What I have said consistently throughout this discussion is that I understand and support the importance of a TV subscription for those who are disabled and may have mobility issues.

  • mythsayer

    See my post… and you’re right. It DOES go up, even with a contract. They will write in there that you get a certain price for a year. After that, it goes up. So she understandably wanted it to stay the same for 2 years.

  • VoR61

    Great for you and your grandmother. Not everyone has your preferences.

  • TonyA_says

    I was waiting for you to ask if her disability is a fraud or somehow related to watching too much TV.

  • VoR61

    What is your evidence of welfare?

  • Michael__K

    Wow… do they at least disclose the price for year2? If not, what is your recourse if they raise the price by 1000%?

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    sorry in OZ, you only have to claim disability to get welfare. Not many people in OZ actually work. We have millions on extremely generous welfare & millions more employed by 3 levels of govt. who do stuff all (or less) but get paid enormous salaries for it(another form of welfare).
    We only have a population of 23 million.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    yeh she’s disabled (she can’t get out of the chair from sitting in it to long)
    As if disability is relevant. Next she’ll be saying she’ s a soldier injured in middle east.

  • VoR61

    Okay. Here they get Social Security disability which is technically separate from our “Welfare” program. Going forward you can safely refer to this type of benefit in the USA as “government assistance”. Note that this is not the same as earned Social Security paid out at retirement age.

  • VoR61

    It is relevant only as it relates to it’s importance to her as a disabled person.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    everyone in OZ gets welfare including illegal refugees. No one earns welfare in OZ, which is probably why we get some many freeloaders trying to enter the country, legally or illegally.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    in other words it’s totally irrelevant.

  • VoR61

    Can I come then? (teasing)

  • VoR61

    No, it is relevant. In asking Chris for help she is establishing the context. For those who are not disabled, options are plentiful. Being disabled gives validity to her pursuit of a TV subscription that meets her budget. Note I am NOT saying DirecTV or anyone else should grant her request.

  • TonyA_says

    Strange that the LW isn’t complaining about the price of food, rent, insurance, heating, and gas. But Sat TV is more important. Might be a fake.

  • jet2x2

    If lying was the only reason people cancelled their cable or satellite tv, all of those companies would be out of business. I can’t count the number of times TWC reps have lied to me about service and cost issues.

  • sirwired

    I didn’t say High Speed Internet for $5 a month, I said adding wireless to an existing internet connection was about $5/mo, or free.

  • Poley King

    What’s interesting it’s when it comes to tv it’s a free market but it’s a big deal if an airline does I something similar?

  • EdB

    I said ‘one’, not the only. Yes, other places lie too, but it seems in my experience, DirecTV has turned it into an art form.

  • jet2x2

    I believe you.

  • JenniferFinger

    They’re certainly free to charge whatever rate they see fit, but they need to be honest and transparent about it instead of passing their customers from rep to rep and having their reps make promises that they then refuse to honor. That’s flat out bait-and-switch, which in turn is flat out bad customer service.

  • chickadee

    For the purposes of streaming Netflix, it’s fine. And yes, we could argue all day. But the point is, if you can’t afford it, you don’t have it. Use slow internet or none at all. It’s not a right, and neither is tv.

  • ploughmud

    Sad that so many people feel they “have to have” without seeing what other options are available at a much lower or even no cost. Free local TV is available everywhere. We get 18 channels on an antenna.This includes kids channels, national network, public and more! With Roku there are thousands of options inc. more of the already listed and even more options such as religious, political, & international. None require a mo. fee with the exception of $8 for netflix. So our mo. bill is $8.!

  • Karen Kinnane

    Dear Yonta, This is a gift. Instead of lounging in front of the TV wasting hours every day, you can get some kind of piecework, pet sitting, online or telephone work to help with your monthly expenses. You can earn up to $700./ month while on disability which will make you prosperous. Paying even $60. per month to sit in front of a TV set will not help improve your life.

  • VoR61

    No one here, including me, has said that any service is a right. And 4G might work for streaming IF you’re in an area with a strong connection (at least that’s what I read)

  • VoR61

    Duplicate post (sorry)

  • VoR61

    The OP never said she “had to have” it. Only that it was important to her.

  • VoR61

    You attribute statements to the OP that she did not make. She has a fixed budget, for which she allocated $60 toward a TV subscription. She asked for Chris’s help to see if DTV could keep her at that price.

    And she did cancel DTV …

  • marie

    And I want a Mercedes Benz, unfortunately, I can only afford a Toyota so that’s what I have.
    Remember, this isn’t about honesty or dishonesty. It’s about finances. What she milks from her cable bill, you and I as subscribers will eventually pay for. It doesn’t cost the cable co. It costs me & you

  • Cindy Winter Huner

    I am also disabled and get tv for free with antenna tv and get movies at our local library with a library card. Who on disability has extra money? All money goes for medical bills who on disability has money for cable?

  • sunshipballoons

    LW can’t afford more than the $60, apparently, so this is a moot point, but: If you sign up for the contract, they cannot raise your rates during the term of the contract.

    Shame on Chris for publishing the LW’s incorrect information on this topic and not correcting it in his article.

  • mythsayer

    Well… it’s more like they give you “discounts” for the first year, and then you lose those. But you get a lot more than just $10 off a month. I had “free” Sunday Ticket and also had all the movie channels for 3 months. I didn’t realize Sunday Ticket was on there at all, and it’s a 6 month deal. There was nothing saying 1) I had it, and 2) that it would renewed. And if I wanted to get rid of the movie channels, I had to call, of course. So by the end of my first year, my monthly had gone up from $120 to $220. That included $70 of Sunday Ticket and the movie channels. And when I called to get rid of those, I found out my $10 per month was gone, too. I’m still not sure where the additional $20 I’m being charged came from.

    So it’s basically that you lose all these discounts you had. Other than that, i don’t think the price goes “up” during the second year. But it’s substantially more expensive. My base cable cost is $75 but my total bill is around $160. So that extra is all equipment leasing costs. Not super fun. As I said above, they wouldn’t even make a deal with me to keep the movie channels. I was going to go from $50 per month for all channels to $35 per month for only 3. They offer EVERYONE that. My mom, on the other hand, has all the movie channels and was able to get her TOTAL bill down to $110. Because she’s not on contract, so they know she can leave. I can’t. So they’ll make a deal with her to keep her, but not me, because I’m stuck.

  • mythsayer

    Do you think well of ANYONE? I am sure she pays for all that BEFORE she pays her cable bill. That’s why she was having trouble paying $60 before. That was probably a big portion of her discretionary income… actually she probably has no discretionary income. She was probably using all of it for food, rent, utilities, etc. And this was part of her bundle. But now I guess she’ll have $60 extra per month.

  • mythsayer

    And clearly she doesn’t “HAVE to have it” because she cancelled it. But she probably just lost her main form of entertainment. And I like how everyone is on her case to read books. I love to read. Doesn’t mean I don’t also watch TV. Maybe she also reads. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • TonyA_says

    SURE. But why should I think well of THIS ONE? I question her priorities. Since when did Sat TV become a need?

  • flutiefan

    normally i agree with you. but as someone who was out on disability for quite some time (and unpaid disability, at that), i can tell you that TV was extremely important for my sanity. JMHO.

  • emanon256

    Well, unlike some people, I know I can’t afford the Mercedes or the BMW. I am happy with my used Honda.

  • flutiefan

    and i agree with VoR61, just FYI.

  • flutiefan

    nowhere does she say she’s on government disability. for all you know, this could’ve been a work-related issue and her job may be paying her out. my goodness, you’re angry.

  • flutiefan

    finally, someone with some sense (and reading comprehension skills)! i thought only a couple of us were left here…

  • flutiefan

    the new kid in class always gets the fresh box of crayons!

  • flutiefan

    who said she is on welfare? her job may be paying out her disability. stop ASSuming.

  • ploughmud

    I never said anything about books, only that there are many options to getting TV that would fit her budget other than Direct TV.

  • Lindabator

    +1000. My parents always taught us that just because you wanted something didn’t mean you got it. It was a matter of choosing your priorities. My sister is a great example – we were travelling on Crystal cruises (NOT inexpensive) for a dream vacation. One of her co-workers asked how she could afford it. My sister said instead of paying big bucks for Coach purses, hair salon appointments or getting her nails done, she saved that money and used it to travel with. Sometimes you just have to choose – and if you still can’t afford it, find other options.

  • Lindabator

    Great post! She might “want” more channels, but cannot afford them. Sometimes we just do not get what we want. But we can STILL have something.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Let the TV go and get library cards for yourself and your kids. A library card is free. You have better ways to spend your limited funds than television. Television rots the mind.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Soooooo true! When I contracted for DISH, they just flat out lied about the charges. But when you’re married to a sports freak, who’s gonna take away his games? Somehow I think they know this.

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.