Why is Dish punishing me with porn?

After several unpleasant exchanges with a Dish representative, Michael Peasley makes a shocking discovery on his bill. Did an employee try to punish him by subscribing him to every adult channel?

Question: I recently experienced some trouble with a popular Dish service called On Demand. When we tried to order a movie for our family to watch, it wouldn’t download. The service failed to work for quite some time and after several calls to Dish, it still hadn’t been fixed. So once again, I called Dish customer service to address the problem while my 12-year-old son waited patiently for the movie to start.

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The customer service representative I got on the phone clearly did not understand my problem and the two of us were not communicating well at all. I suspect our communication issues resulted from a combination of my frustration, his frustration and a language barrier. I tried repeatedly to communicate the problem and he insisted on fixes that had been tried numerous times to no avail.

I admit that I was frustrated and less than my usual polite self, although in no way inappropriate. I was certainly not guilty enough to warrant the punishment that I was about to receive.

After a long time on the phone with him, I demanded to speak with a supervisor. After arguing with me over that request, too, he finally let me do so and we started again with the process of diagnosis, again to no avail.

A few months later, I saw that my monthly Dish bill was $413, as opposed to my usual bill of $178. What’s more, I found that my bill for the previous month had been $557.80 and my “on file” credit card had paid it.

Freaking out, I looked everywhere to see why in the world my bill was so high. What I found was devastating, to say the least. I discovered that I had been signed up for every pornographic channel available on Dish. We are not talking about an inappropriate movie mistakenly ordered on my account; this is 24 hours of porn a day on eight different channels.

I think any reasonable person reading this would realize that no normal person would call Dish, have a problem with a customer service representative and say, “Oh, by the way, order me up eight channels of nonstop porn, please.”

I was furious. I called Dish and was transferred to “The Office of the President” — whatever that means. I was assured that a full investigation would be conducted by Dish in order to find out which employee had spoken to me and whether he had done this horrible thing. They told me that the call record from my interaction with the employee failed to note any issue with the call, but noted that “the subscriber requested the addition of the adult services.”

I asked Dish to please review my account, which I had held for a very long time, and see if this requested subscription change seemed in keeping with my normal viewing habits and if the addition of every channel seemed normal to them. They checked my account and realized that in my entire time with Dish Network, I had never once ordered any adult service, any adult movie, any adult channel or anything else related to pornography.

How can my bill increase by some 300 percent — from pornographic channels to boot — with no flags flying at Dish? They said there were no safeguards in place and promised a full refund of the overcharges, which I received, although a portion of it was in the form of an account credit that I did not want.

But I never got an answer to my main question: What about that rogue employee? I reminded Dish that they have recordings of our call and was assured they would be reviewed. Still, I have heard nothing. The best Dish was willing to offer me was subscriptions to other pay channels at a reduced rate but — wait, there’s more! — the cost would increase after a trial period. That’s the same offer they would give to any customer who called in.

I doubt that I need to point this out to you or your readers, but what if my children had stumbled on these channels after they were added to my account? There could have been permanent consequences to that scenario.

I am very upset over what happened and even more upset that I have not heard a word from Dish. Quite honestly, I don’t even remember hearing “The Office of the President” apologize. Can you help? — Michael Peasley, Valparaiso, Ind.

Answer: This certainly looks like the work of a rogue employee. Based on your own description of the incident — the frustration, the language barrier and the escalation to a supervisor — it appears someone tinkered with your bill.

Obviously, you always want to be polite, even when you’re upset about your service. If you can’t remain calm, take a timeout or ask someone who is more serene to make the service call. Also, make a note of the person you’re talking to. If possible, get an extension or employee number, so you have a record of the person you spoke with.

Always review your monthly bill, even if you’re on autopay. It took you almost three months to catch this apparent act of corporate sabotage. (If you wait too long, you’ll miss an opportunity to file a credit card dispute.)

Dish had an opportunity to fix this, but it failed to do so. A refund and an apology is a given, of course, but what you really wanted to know was: What are they going to do with the employee?

I think you could have pushed your case by writing to Dish’s executives. I post their contact information on my site.

I got in touch with Dish on your behalf. A representative called you, apologized and offered you a month of service at no charge and three on-demand movies. You were also offered assurances that the employee had been “handled.” You were satisfied with that resolution. And if you’re happy, I’m happy.

Did Dish do enough to fix this customer's problem?

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