Dish Network – Why Oh Why?


I understand customer service is a difficult job.  I really do.  In my job each day I help other programmers and I know how it feels to try to solve a problem or answer a question without having my hands on the keyboard and seeing the code.  But sometimes, just sometimes, it seems customer service really goes out of their way to screw things up.  This time, Dish Network was no exception.

As you may know, we recently moved and were looking for a television service provider.  We focused our research on Dish Network, DirecTV, and Comcast.  While all of them were a whirlwind of a ride, Dish Network really kicked the bar when it came to poor customer service.  Now for the story.

First of all, The Mtn (pronounced and hereafter spelled “The Mountain”) is a television channel that has some exclusive rights to air BYU sports events.  Like it or not, we have to deal with it.  I had definitely heard that DirecTV and Comcast had The Mtn but wasn’t too sure on Dish Network.  I didn’t think so, but I thought maybe with one of their specialty packages they might just pull it off.  Even if they didn’t, I thought I’d give Dish Network a shot and see if their cost was low enough to forgo The Mtn.  We can always go watch with friends or family if needed.

I called them up and talked to a lady (Daphne?) who seemed like she knew what she was talking about.  One of the first things I asked was, “Is there a way to get The Mountain?”  After taking a look at her computery stuff, she says, “Yup, it looks like you’ll get The Mountain as part of the local channels. It will be channel number 37.”

Interesting.  Channel 37 just so happens to be The Mountain on Comcast, which is what we had at the time.  Plus, The Mountain is fairly local compared to most other channels.  So she gives me the pricing which included a $5 fee because we don’t have a landline in the new home.  She says the $5 fee is because if we have any issues with our cable box they won’t be able to troubleshoot it remotely.  Okay, fair enough.

I let her know I’ll check out DirecTV and Comcast and get back to her if Dish Network is our best option.  Then she starts laying on the heat talking trash on DirecTV and Comcast…fine, somewhat expected.  Then she says if I call back later I risk getting a different salesperson with different pricing, as though she’s really going out of the way to give me a deal.  Really?  Should I expect different pricing each time I call in?  Strange.  Anyway, I finally bail to check out the competition.

After looking around and talking with my wife, we thought Dish Network would indeed be the best option if they really had The Mountain.  But do they really have The Mountain despite Wikipedia explicitly stating, “The Mtn. is not currently available on Dish Network satellite television.”  But Wikipedia never lets me down!  So I call back and another woman picks up.  The first thing I ask is, “Can I get The Mountain somehow with any of your packages?” She takes a while to look at her computery stuff and returns saying yeah, they have The Mountain on the America’s Top 100 Plus package.  Well, that’s two different salespeople saying they have The Mountain.  Strange that the first one said it would be on our local channels, but whatever, this one says it’s on a “plus” package so maybe she’s got something.

I ask about the $5 fee the last salesperson talked about and she says, “No, that’s actually waived because you’ll have a dual-tuner DVR.”  Okay, whatever, sounds great.  I ask one last time, “Are you sure you have The Mountain?  The M-t-n?”  She assures me we’ll have no problem getting The Mountain, so I decide to move along in the process.

Next comes the credit check.  I hate credit checks, but hey, we want TV service and they seemed like the best deal.  We went through the credit check, checkout, scheduling an appointment, all the long-winded statements, disclosures, and fine print that she has to rattle off and I have to accept.  “Okay, before you go, will you just verify one last time you have The Mountain?  I’m not seeing it in the America’s Top 100 Plus package’s channel listing and I don’t see The Mountain’s logo anywhere.  The logo usually says T-h-e M-t-n-. with a circle in it.  She puts me on hold, comes back, and says, “Yes, we have The Rocky Mountain.”

“Wait a second. The Rocky Mountain?” “Yes, FSN Rocky Mountain.”  “Hmmm…..yeeeeeaaahhh….that’s not The Mountain.  That’s FSN Rocky Mountain.”

She quickly puts me on hold once again.  About 10 minutes later she comes back and says, “Well, it looks like we actually don’t have The Mountain but to compensate you for your time we’re going to throw in five bonus cards.  You can give these cards to anyone you might see at work or on the street and if they sign up with us you’ll get $50 back!”  Really?  Will you?  I love advertising for an unknown and untrusted television service provider over the water cooler at work!  Love it.  Can you throw in a few more just as an added bonus?

Then it really goes downhill.  I try asking what other options we have to make things less expensive, maybe to compensate for the unnecessary time, credit check, frustration, or just something reasonable to get the deal done.  Each time she sets her phone to mute or on hold or something.  I’m not sure if she’s trying to ignore me or hits the mute button and forgets its on, but every time we look like we might have progress on our conversation I find myself talking to myself.  Finally I just get fed up and ask for the supervisor.  She asks why.  Really?  I made a half-attempt at explaining that not only did I want to get signed up in a fair manner but I was dissatisfied with her performance and if I was her boss I’d want to know about it.  Then I realized I was talking to myself again.  “Super-viiiiisooooor.  Pleeeaasse.  Hello?”  Eventually we got around to making the transfer.

Now, when I or anyone else I know asks for the supervisor, I always think in the back of my mind she could just pass me off to her cubey-buddy and I wouldn’t know the difference.  For all I know she could be forwarding me to her boyfriend back at home.  This time I seriously think she did.

I get transferred to someone who says he’s part of the customer loyalty team but his supervisor would be the one I would want to talk to about my situation.  He says it’s usually quite the lengthy process but if I wanted “to get started” I could.  I thought I was getting a supervisor in the first place.  Maybe this next guy is a superdupervisor.  I don’t know, so I say let’s do it.

Over the process of the next 30 minutes I wash the blinds in our old house while the on-hold tunes play on speakerphone and each five minutes the guy comes back and says it’ll be just a few more minutes.  Okay, I’m in this for the long haul.  That is until my battery starts dying.  By this time it’s been a full 75 minutes since I made the call.  The next time the guy comes back I say, “Hey, my cell phone battery is dying so could you have him call me back on my wife’s cell phone?”  “Actually, our systems are only set up for inbound calls.”  Really?  That’s kind of strange that a customer loyalty team’s telephone system is only set up for inbound calls.  I make sure he’s really being serious and I just toss out an idea for a customer service rep to go above and beyond, “Could you….maybe….just pick up your cell phone and give me a call then?”  “No, actually cell phones aren’t really supposed to be allowed around here.  They mess up the systems.”  Are you on a jet taking off or something!?  What kind of system are you on?

I’m amazed.  Well, not much of an option now…I’m in it until my battery dies I guess.  About eight minutes later he comes back and says, “Okay, he’s ready now, I’m going to transfer you.”  So I wait.

“This is the voice mailbox for…(some guy’s name)…” Are you serious?  Really….no, seriously….really?  Cussword.

Needless to say, that was the last time we talked to Dish Network.

On the flip side, we’re already a week from the end of our cell phone billing cycle and have already hit our limit, something rarely done around this household.  I called up T-Mobile to take my lashings and, to my pleasant surprise, they kindly added 150 minutes to each of our lines for the current billing cycle–for free!  Done and done.

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12.05.2008 / Andy said:

Oh boy I thought I was the only person that got stuck with bass-ackwards customer service. We had a similar experience but with Sprint instead of Dish. Everytime I call “customer service” I get a different person, different explanation, different pricing, different attitude, different vocabulary… basically a different company. We were suckered in with an amazing promotional deal that we jumped on with both feet (this included shelling out $350 to cancel our 2 year agreement with ATT) because the monthly rate to features was laughbly inexpensive; but to our horror the “customer service”, reception / stability, and overall quality is superduper inferior !! Rather than make a bad situation worse and shell out another $300 to cancel I am determined to stick it out and then archive Sprint into my “Fun four letter words that you never say in front of your mother” dictionary.

I am glad you got out before being stuck with a crappy company that thinks its more important then their customers.

12.07.2008 / Nate Ross said:

Yeah, I probably should have warned you about that :). Dish Network’s customer service is abysmal. The only thing worse then that would have to be their tech line for when you are experiencing technical difficulties. I used to install for both Dish and DirecTV during the first 2 summers after my mission. When I first started, I relied on the tech line for trouble-shooting quite often. DirecTV was usually very quick and accurate. Dish Network, on the other hand, would sometimes take hours. You would start off with someone who barely knew how to operate a receiver who would tell you to reboot the thing a couple of times before she exhausted her technical “expertise”. Then she would give up and escalate the call. Then the next guy would start off asking you if you did a reboot as well and then he would suggest one more worthless thing before he realized he was out of his league and escalate the call again. Note that each escalation would require longer and longer hold times. Finally you would get someone who could actually help you figure out the issue. Meanwhile the customer is looking at you suspiciously wondering why it is taking you so long to install his dish. It was so embarrassing…

So the short of it is, unless you have some installation experience or skills with satellite systems, you might find yourself very frustrated if you have problems (and every cable provider will have their share of occasional problems). So get one with good technical support (definately not Dish Network).

01.05.2009 / bryce said:

What a whiner. Who needs to watch byu sports? Whats wrong with the Rocky Mtn?

09.04.2009 / samramirez said:

I have been using Dish Network for months now and I am satisfied with their service so far. Im glad I found your post here and learned more about Dish Network.

< spammer kickback link clipped >

09.04.2009 / Aaron Hardy said:

Hey Sam, get your spammer comments off my blog. I removed your spam kick-back link to your website, but you bet I’ll post your email for all the spam-bots to pick up:

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