A couple years ago, we switched from Dish Network to DirecTV. I was amused and surprised by the follow up phone calls and incrementally aggressive offers by Dish. They came close to matching the DirecTV intro offer. Of course all this did was make me cranky, because it indicated how I’d been overpaying for months and months. Yes, most people know you have to call the TV providers and wheedle and threaten every once in awhile to keep them honest.
So last month, when AT&T came by with an offer to combine TV and Internet, we decided to take them up on it. The Internet connection was the key: we wanted to move up from DSL, and with AT&T Uverse we finally had an option that did not oblige us to either keep a land phone line or subscribe to outrageously expensive cable TV.
Upon breaking the news to DirecTV, they transferred me to their retention department, who made an attempt. They tried to bundle some stuff, and they did reduce or eliminate a lot of the annoying fees that got me to start comparison shopping in the first place. They couldn’t match Uverse though, and I also noted I couldn’t quite get to the price offered to new customers signing up.
When I pointed this out to the DirecTV rep, she didn’t have much to say. This just tells you that DirecTV would rather sign up new people than retain customers. Their business model appears to be predicated on hooking you for cheap, then gradually increasing the fees and add-ons until you’re paying way too much. It’s sort of similar to a dope dealer or nanny-state government programs.
Not that I expect much different from AT&T. Of course all their promotional offers fail to mention the additional fees for HD programming (which should be automatic at this point). Of course my rates go up after a few month. And even the installation guys let me know that to keep the rates decent, I’d need to call and complain every once in awhile. “Threaten to switch,” one of them told me.
It’s too bad we as customers have to threaten and cajole to get the best rates and decent service, but that’s the game. Don’t forget it.