A flag on the play after “free” NFL offer from DirecTV

Why is DirecTV offering — and then rescinding — Donavon Frater’s premium subscription TV package? The company doesn’t have a clue. Time to call for help.

Question: DirecTV offered me multiple discounts by phone this summer. One of the items was a “free” NFL Sunday Ticket, a premium package for live football games.

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For the first three weeks of the season, I watched with no problem. Then, when my September bill came, DirecTV charged me for the NFL Sunday Ticket package. So I called and spoke to a supervisor and they said they would fix it. Then Sunday came and none of the channels for Sunday Ticket worked.

I called in and they said, “Sorry, we’ll correct it.” But the next Sunday, the channels were not working again. I called, and this time a supervisor said I should have never been offered the NFL Sunday Ticket for free, since I received it last year.

I told him to listen to the phone conversation in July. He said that still won’t change things. So I canceled my service. The representative said I would have to pay an early termination fee. I said, “Why should I, when what I agreed to is not what was given?”

I called back today to cancel and was transferred to someone who offered an additional $25 off for 12 months if I didn’t cancel. But 10 minutes later, I got a voicemail saying I had too many discounts, so I couldn’t qualify for the offer. Can you help me get my $369 back from DirecTV? — Donavon Frater, Apopka, Fla.

Answer: This is a real case of discounts gone mad. DirecTV tried to entice you into signing a new contract, and overreached, promising you something it shouldn’t. Then it rescinded the offer — a bad move — and when you tried to cancel, stuck you with an unwanted, and unwarranted, early termination fee. (An early termination fee, which you agreed to when you signed on for another year, can only apply when a company delivers what it promised — and DirecTV didn’t do that.)

I think it’s funny that DirecTV made you another offer and then rescinded it again. Hello? What’s going on over there?

I’m particularly troubled by the attitude of the representative who basically told you that facts don’t matter, and that what someone told you on the phone wasn’t relevant. I would beg to differ. What an employee promises by phone most certainly is relevant, and you are correct to request a review of the call center recording.

When something goes wrong, you’re better off putting your grievance in writing, first through DirecTV’s site, and if that doesn’t work, to one of its executives. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of DirecTV’s customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site.

I’d love to know what happened behind the scenes at DirecTV with your account. But when I contacted the company, it wouldn’t reveal much more than the fact that you had, indeed, been offered the NFL Sunday Ticket for a full year. A refund check is in the mail.

5 thoughts on “A flag on the play after “free” NFL offer from DirecTV

  1. We seem to hear a fair amount of complaints about people’s television bills; mostly not seeming to receive the offers they were promised.
    When I am made an offer, I always have the representative send me a copy of the offer in writing. So far, I have never had an issue with AT&T Uverse and the offers I have been given when I am at renewal time.

    1. Some cable companies refuse to put their offers in writing. I’m now a Spectrum customer in Florida. I switched to them about a year ago. Spectrum had just purchased the cable assets of Bright House Communications and, at first, retained many of the Bright House policies. When I asked the agent for the offer in writing, I was told that their procedure was to have the installer bring out the customer agreement for me to sign. If I didn’t like what it said, I could cancel the installation without penalty. I asked to speak to a supervisor and she confirmed what the agent had told me. I decided to go with Spectrum because my other choice was FIOS which had just been taken over by Frontier Communications and was having horrific service issues.

      When the installer showed up at my door, I asked him for the agreement and kept him waiting for several minutes while I read the document and made certain that everything that was promised was included. When I was satisfied that everything was correct, he was able to start the work. To me, Spectrum’s refusal to provide advance paperwork would was not the most consumer friendly way to handle this transaction and had it not worked out, they would have had to pay a technician for his time and travel if I sent him away.

  2. Having been a DirecTV subscriber since 2002, I’ve played the “Free NFL Sunday Ticket” lottery for years. Usually I end up getting it for free or close to free (pay but get huge monthly discounts to offset the cost). When AT&T took over, those discounts became much more difficult to obtain.

    1. Same here. We have been with DirecTV since 96 and service has been in a downward spiral since AT&T took over. Never had a problem until the merger and it has been an ongoing challenge ever since, I always record and save all calls I make to them.

  3. Doesn’t anyone just offer a fair product for a fair price anymore? Can I even sign up for a TV service without having to wade through things like:

    Free HBO* (*for the first 3 months; $19.95 per month automatically charged thereafter)

    Service for $47.95/month* (*promotional rate, with two-year contract; normal rates apply after introductory period)

    Get a $200 Visa Rewards Card* (*$35 activation, early termination fee of $20/mo. for each month
    remaining on agmt., equipment non-return & add’l fees apply. Price incl. SELECT Pkg., monthly service and quip. fees for 1 HD DVR & is after $5/mo. instant discount for 12 mo..)

    I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like sales tactics. I don’t like having to call in and threaten to leave once a year. Will you please just quote me an effing per-month price and stick with it?

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