I’ve avoided upgrading to an HDTV for a number of reasons. For one, I’d have to give up my wonderful DirecTivo receiver for someone else’s craptastic DVR.
Once you’ve used Tivo’s elegant interface, the though of using another receiver made by Dish, DirecTV or Comcast is almost too much to stomach. It would be equivalent to using Apple’s OS X operating system for eight years until you’re told the only way to get on the internet is to move to a netbook running Windows 3.1.
But the idea of watching Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones in HD has begun to trump the idea of taking a major step back in usability. I tell myself that if I can setup a Season Pass for my favorite shows, I’ll be OK. Or is Season Pass only available on Tivo? I’ll Google for it.
Since I’ve been a DirectTV customer since 1997, I decided to call them first to see what they could do for me. I told the rep I needed to swap out my DirecTivo for an HD DVR and add another HD receiver upstairs on the small TV.
The process was fairly painless. The rep told me on three occasions that I was already receiving their best deal. Translation: don’t ask for any discounts.
She walked through my programming selections. I told her I did not want to upgrade to more premium channels nor did I want to change my programming package.
“But I can offer you Showtime at a discounted rate for six months.”
“No thank you. We only watch HBO.”
"Are you sure? I could add it now.”
“No, I’m happy with my current programming.”
And so it went for the next few minutes. She wasn’t getting off the phone till I added Showtime. I have no need for Showtime and wasn’t budging. I can only imagine that Showtime is running a spiff and she’s making a run up the leaderboard. It was evident in her voice that she was unhappy I wasn’t willing to accept her offer.
But I’ve played this game before where a company makes it easy to add a service, but nearly impossible to quit. Welcome to the Hotel California where you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.
I’m sure DirecTV has a metric based on extensive research that shows “for every person offered Showtime, you will close “X” number of sales”.
What that metric doesn’t calculate is how many customers you anger in the process.
The customer becomes merely a number to bombard with “special offers”. Some customers will hold firm. But many will accept the “free” programming with every intention to call back and cancel. Good luck with that.
The problem with this is that it leaves the customer feeling like a punching bag. Navigating the phone tree is tiresome enough without having to continually rebuff offers that have nothing to do with the reason I called. Why would any business want their customers to get off the phone feeling harangued?
What I find baffling is that DirecTV is regularly rated at the top of Consumer Reports based on their high customer service marks.
In the meantime, give me Don and Joan in HD for Christmas and I’ll forget it happened.