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Loren Berlin
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DirecTV Puts Man Through Hell Just To Get His Satellite TV Installed

Posted: 04/ 9/2012 4:27 pm Updated: 04/ 9/2012 4:35 pm

Richard Soto
Richard Soto, 27, paid nearly $3,000 for a home theater system, including television service. Two months later, he was still waiting on its installation.

We've all been there. The company says it'll come at a certain time to set up your premium TV service. You reschedule your life so you can be home to meet the installers -- and then they're late.

In February when Richard Soto took the day off to wait for installation of his DirecTV service, the workmen did arrive on time.

That was the only thing that went according to plan. Soto, a 27-year-old mechanic who lives in West Covina, Calif., went through what can be generously described as customer service hell to get his satellite service installed.

Soon after the two men arrived at Soto's home, DirecTV told them to leave, claiming that there was a fraud alert on Soto's account. The satellite TV company then called the installation team back, telling it to disregard the alert. Minutes later DirecTV called again and told the installers to leave.

Soto watched in disbelief as the installers packed up their gear. "I was like, 'Am I on 'Punk'd' right now?" he recalled in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Eventually Soto resolved the fraud alert confusion by providing the necessary documentation to DirecTV. Then Smart Circle, the third-party provider who had sold him the service, called: Smart Circle could not let the installation proceed because it had detected an large outstanding balance on his account with DirecTV.

Fed up with Smart Circle, Soto called DirecTV to inquire about receiving service directly from the satellite TV company. DirecTV agreed to sell him the service but under more expensive terms.

Previously Smart Circle had offered Soto a two-year contract whereby he would pay $50.99 a month for the first year and $65.99 monthly during the second year. Now DirecTV agreed to offer Soto the same monthly rate in the first year, but the second year's monthly fee would increase $15 a month to $80.99, according to Soto.

Frustrated by these terms, Soto reached out to DirecTV's management three times but never received a response. Instead, he was left waiting for nearly two months. He still really wanted DirecTV, though.

"I know, how stupid am I, right?" Soto told The Huffington Post. "I'm still willing to take the service from them. Pretty stupid, I know. But I do ultimately like the product."

After The Huffington Post contacted DirecTV last week, the company reached out to Soto and offered him a $550 credit to offset the pricier contract. Over the weekend, the company installed the television service, according to Soto.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this experience may have caused Mr. Soto," said a DirecTV spokesman in an email to The Huffington Post. "DirecTV customers are encouraged to call 1-800-DirecTV for more information regarding their account or to address their customer service needs."

Smart Circle did not respond to repeated requests for comment. More than 80 consumers have filed complaints against the company with the Better Business Bureau.

"I'm happy about the end result," said Soto, who spoke with The Huffington Post after the two companies addressed his concerns. "But I'm not happy about what I was put through to get it. Yeah, they've done what they should've done, but it took going to a reporter to get it."

Has a company disappointed you with lousy customer service or faulty products? Or has one really surprised you with excellent customer service? Tell us your story. Email: gripeline@huffingtonpost.com

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