Note: this is a tried and true method that worked for me and several readers!
A while back, I wrote about how there’s almost no way to escape DirecTV’s enormous cancellation fees, and it’s really not clear in the fine print that every time one of their crap DVRs breaks down and they replace it, your contract automatically renews for another 1-2 years. Surprise!
Well, I am blessed with some really smart, savvy readers here at Snappy Living. Several of you tried various ways of getting out of your cancellation fees, or getting them refunded. Doug found the solution, and it has worked consistently for various readers (see the comments) for a couple of years now:
Don’t waste your time with their customer service department (800-531-5000). Forget billing dispute (the Colorado address you have to write to). Call or write their corporate headquarters in El Segundo, CA, and it’s like you’re dealing with a whole different company.
I wrote a letter to John Malone, who is Chairman of DirecTV in El Segundo, California, explaining my “frustration.” I have no idea what he’ll do, but I explained that I will do everything I can to make people aware of this ridiculous business practice. I also read about the class action lawsuit in California, and emailed the lead attorney to get some more information. If he writes me back, I’ll post here.
This worked for Doug, who received a polite response. The letter did not accept any blame or fault – they’re making a “business” decision to settle things “amicably.” Read: “Oh, noes, we’re already gettin’ class action sued! Better play nice!” But hey, he got his money.
Around the time Doug got his lovely reply, I got a meaningless form letter back from Billing Dispute in Colorado saying that the cancellation fees I was charged were appropriate. I decided to skip the letter writing and just call the El Segundo number Doug found: 310-964-5000. To my surprise, the entire phone call only took about 7 minutes.
At first, you get a recorded greeting, and then it starts ringing. It may ring quite a few times – over ten both times I called. Then someone answers, and you tell him you’ve got a problem with a cancellation fee and Customer Service isn’t being helpful, and he puts you through to the “Office of the President”, where someone answers immediately. In my case, she listened to my complaint, then put me on hold to review my account, and came back within two minutes to announce they would refund the cancellation fee.
I was afraid it was too easy. She had also said it might take ten business days to show up on my credit card. I gave them that, and it still wasn’t there. I called them again, and this time the call took only about three minutes. I was reassured that they were processing the refund that day and it would show up on my card in a couple of days. And so it did.
Here is the contact info for the El Segundo office:
John Malone, Chairman of DirecTV
2230 East Imperial Highway
El Segundo, CA 90245
Good luck! If you care to share, I’d love to hear in comments how this works out for any of you who try it. This company really needs to be forced to revamp their policies. I don’t have a problem with contracts and termination fees in general, but there are two big problems with theirs: (1) their DVRs never last two years, and getting them replaced means your contract auto-renews but nowhere in the fine print does it say you’re agreeing to this, which I consider a pretty sweet little totally deliberate scam, and (2) their cancellation fees are ridiculously excessive.