Through the Years with Satellite TV

directv-logoThere’s something particularly entertaining to be on the phone with a representative of DirecTV and hear them perform a double-take when they look at the screen to see just how long I had been a customer before departing in January.

No, I had not been with DirecTV from the beginning; that predates me by about four years.

I purchased my first dish in November of 1998 for two reasons. A) I couldn’t find a bar showing my Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing and got fed up; B) since I lived in a brand new subdivision (Fletcher Heights in Peoria, you may have heard of it), Cox Communications had not yet deigned to provide service to the area.

So in my then-wife and I walked into Best Buy, I bought myself a dish and receive and the next weekend my dad and I installed it on a back post of my now ex-house.

One dish. One receiver. One wire. One remote control. That was it.

Eventually we added a second receiver, which I took with me when I got divorced and purchased a new dish for my apartment. (And my apologies to the fine folks of the complex who had to repaint the balcony because I clandestinely mounted the dish on the balcony wall.)

When I moved into my first house on my own, and then my current house with my current (and final) bride, I called and took advantage of the whole movers’ deal. That, for the most part, was the first time I’d bothered anyone at DirecTV in about three years.

But then … things started to get complicated.

Somewhere around 2005 or 2006, I don’t recall, I bought a receiver with DVR and then had lines run to my eldest child’s room so she could have satellite as well. Her receiver eventually died and I just sort of let that part go.

HD? Hell, I didn’t even own a flat-screen television until about a year ago when my old set fried. Just not one of those things where I had rushed out to get the latest and greatest every time something new happened. (Hello and goodbye, plasma.)

Technology passed me by and, well, DirecTV kinda forgot about me.

Last year I wanted to add Showtime and the Movie Channel. Apparently, they were now available as part of some neat new bundle I never knew existed. I had the same programming package that I’d had in place since 2003. If it works, why change it?

Oh, sure, there probably was a sales call offering them to me that I probably stiff-armed away. But still … so many ways to reach a person, a sales call for me tends to be the least effective because it’s overly invasive. I love e-mail.

Whatever. Package changed, I saved a little cash and all was well.

Then we decided to move up to real HD programming. And here is where, after pricing things out, I decided to go to Cox for digital cable.

When I called DirecTV I heard the speech … “why didn’t you call, you’ve been here so long, it would be so cheap to add the Genie (which was brand new). Of course, I’d spent considerable time on e-mail and chat with sales “reps” who didn’t know their ass from their elbow outside of the autoresponses they could put on the screen.

I rarely ever contacted DirecTV but on the occasion they did, I expected better.

Fast forward to last week when I decided to price out the Genie versus Cox Whole Home DVR. I call Cox and talk to a sales person who seemed like she was performing advanced calculus in determining what the cost would be. I already was looking at it on my screen but was waiting to hear if there were any special offers. Nope.

On to DirecTV. And here came the red carpet. Discounts for how long I’d been there, discounts for coming back, discounts for being curmudgeonly … at the end of the day, my current bill is a fraction of what I was paying and, more importantly, will remain a fraction of what I paid once upon a time for far less programming from DirecTV.

Now, honestly, it’s hard to blame the company. As long as I was happy with what I had, why bother letting me know I could be getting so much more for the same price. It’s not much of a problem … until I learn the reality of the situation.

Having said that … I’m getting my NFL football for free. The wife and eldest have Bomb Girls back. I lose Pac-12 Networks, but so be it. Someday one side or the other will give. And, at the end of the day, I’m back with the provider I’ve known since before DirecTV was DirecTV (I was with Hughes.)

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some special offer on e-mail versus a sales call. A man can dream.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at