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Satellite Dish? Stick with Cable

It was one of those weekends that my husband was working nights and there was nothing that interested me on regular TV, so I decided to rent a movie on Pay Per View. In March, we changed to DirectTV, when we figured we could save about $40 a month over cable. We had DishNetwork in Florida, which we got for a great deal, but it cut out every afternoon, especially in the summer, when South Florida thunderstorms rolled in. Try explaining satellite transmissions to a three year old who can’t watch “Blue’s Clues.”

So when we moved back to New Jersey, we signed up for Comcast Cable, since we were already using them as our ISP. But the bills were astronomical, and after a year or so in our new home, we were sucked into the DirectTV commercials, especially saving money. We set up an installation date that was almost three weeks away, which we weren’t happy about, but could live with. The day came, and an installer came out to the house. The first problem was we had a pre-existing dish on our back right corner of the house. The installer said he could use that one for wiring in the controller in our family room. But the upstairs was different. We wanted a DVR in our bedroom and a regular receiver in my office. The installer called in two more installers for help, and between the three of them, they decided to add a second dish over our garage and feed the wiring through that for the upstairs receivers. But the DVR, which had been reconditioned, didn’t work, and he had to change out that one for a new one. After three and a half hours, the installation was complete.

All was well until the following week, when the downstairs receiver wasn’t giving sound. We called DirectTV and out they came again to replace the receiver. And all were happy. I got used to recording shows for my husband to watch on his days off and use the TV in my office while I was working. Until this past week, when the receiver downstairs again stopped sending out audio, unless we hit it hard. And then this weekend, the picture on the two upstairs TVs started breaking up, including the audio. Going to their website, I saw the “24/7 commitment to customer service.” What that doesn’t tell you is that YOU, as their customer, has to do the work. Unscrewing cables from the back of armoires. Waiting, and then waiting longer for the receiver to find a satellite signal. It never did work. And the first day a technician could come out was Tuesday. I get a lot of my story ideas from television, and this means two days of fewer ideas. Oh, and to replace the faulty receiver box downstairs would cost us $20! It’s THEIR EQUIPMENT! Why should their customers have to replace equipment? The customer service rep says the receiver is out of its ninety-day warranty.

So, I told my husband we’d go back to Comcast and pay the extra $40 a month. But nooooooo ... You see, you sign a contract with DirectTV and have to pay for each month still outstanding on your contract. It would cost us $400! If we had $400, the equipment would be in the trash on Thursday morning. (Regular trash or recyclables?)

We did get one thing—our $4.99 for the movie I rented Saturday night and couldn’t watch because of the screwed up picture. And it was a good movie, too. I think I’ll rent it from Blockbuster!