Dish Network lied to me; executive customer service guy is a douche

Update: I had also sent an email in to a bunch of corporate email addresses at Dish, and today (Aug. 18) somebody got back to me with an apology for my customer service experience and promise to make the appropriate “adjustment” to my account. Hopefully this is a long-term change in what they are charging me.

As I mentioned about six weeks ago, Dish Network killed off my 942 HD-DVR and other older models either as part of their TiVo mess or just as policy during their big HD expansion. Whatever the reason, Dish called me up, told me that my 942 wouldn’t work come August 1 and offered to send me a new 622 HD-DVR on a no-cost lease (the post I linked to above says just that). I specifically asked about being charged for leasing a unit after I had already purchased the 942 they were killing, and I was specifically told by the Dish person that I would not have to pay the lease fee on the new DVR because I owned my 942.

Pretty darn clear – they called and said I would no longer be able to use my 942 and they needed to set me up with a 622. And because I own my 942, I would not be charged a lease fee for the 622. Crystal clear, no confusion, no doubt.

Ha. Right.

Checking the activity on my Visa this morning, I noticed my Dish Network auto-pay charge, and it was way more than my normal monthly bill. I knew this season’s ESPN GamePlan charges would be kicking in this month, but this seemed above even that. So I logged in to my account and checked out the most recent bill. Problems abounded.

- The “DISH Network DVR Service Fee” was $17.94 for August, and there was a pro-rated $5.20 fee for July as well.

- An “Addl Receiver Access Fee” of $5.00 had appeared in August, along with a $4.35 pro-rated fee for July.

- A “Leased Receiver Fee” of $7.00 had appeared in August, along with a $6.09 pro-rated fee for July.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Poking around the Dish site, I saw that they think I have three active receivers – the 622, the new 722 (which they brought instead of the 622 they said), and my old 942. Awesome that they didn’t actually deactivate the 942 like my 722 installer asked them to. So that explains the too-high DVR fee and the additional receiver fee – Dish thought I had three DVRs, not two. A call to customer service (India) quickly resolved that issue. They deactivated the 942 and put in reversals for the charges associated with it.

But then I asked about the leased equipment fee. The Dish policy is this: the first receiver you lease is no charge. Each unit after that is charged a monthly lease fee. For an HD-DVR, that’s $7 a month. I explained to the nice Indian lady that Dish had called me last month to tell me that the equipment I purchased would no longer work on their network, but that they were happy to send me a new HD-DVR at no cost and with no monthly lease fee – because it was replacing equipment I purchased. I specifically asked about this at the time because I wasn’t very happy at the prospect of incurring a lease fee when I was being forced to get rid of purchased equipment. So I am very, very, very sure the Dish woman who called me told me I would not incur an equipment lease charge because of this change from my 942 to their 622.

The Indian lady could offer nothing but explanations about their policy on lease fees for multiple receivers. I asked to speak to someone with more authority than her, and was given to a nice Indian man, who told me the same thing.

Very little satisfaction on this issue came from my Indian conversations. They said nothing other than “this is the policy” and offered a temporary courtesy waiver, so just for giggles I asked if there was anybody in America I could speak to. Somewhat to my surprise, Mr. Indian transferred me over to “executive customer service”. And that’s where I encountered one Mark Rodriguez.

Mr. Rodriguez also offered little relief – just the same 6-month waiver “as a courtesy” – and just kept insisting this was a “valid charge”. Valid, I guess, because Dish Network doesn’t have a problem with its agents lying to customers.

And that’s what bothers me so much – that their agent would call me up, tell me I could no longer use the equipment I purchased, and flat-out lie to me about the fact that the company will charge me $84 a year for the use of this new receiver I didn’t ask for.

Mr. Rodriguez, however, is a real piece of work. I mentioned at one point that if the person who had called me hadn’t lied about the no-cost equipment lease, I would have considered canceling my service rather than being hit with that charge. At that point he jumped in with “I can help you out with that request if you like.” A total douchebag – working in their “executive” customer service, no less.

When I finally got sick of him, I asked for the name of his supervisor so I could file a complaint about him. I’d resigned myself to the idea that six months without the fee is the best I could hope for after being lied to, so I wasn’t looking to continue that discussion – I just wanted to complain about the douchebag I had to deal with.

His response was that his supervisor is “Melissa”. I asked for a last name and he said he does not have to tell me her last name. I asked him for her phone number, and he said he does not have to provide that, either. So I asked him for the main number of his office and he says it’s the number he gave me at the start of the call as his contact number. Asked if that wasn’t his direct line, he said it was – and that he didn’t have to give me the main switchboard number.

Boy do I feel special. I then ask if I can speak to “Melissa”, and he says she is not available. I asked if he can transfer me to her line anyway so I can leave a message, and he said yes. And he transferred me … to the number one would call in to fetch voice mail messages. An immediate call back to Mr. Rodriguez got no answer, went to a voice mail box identified as being his, but one which is full and I could not leave a message in.

That, friends, is awesome customer service. You can, by the way, try to reach Mark Rodriguez yourself if you’re having a problem with your Dish service. I can’t promise he’ll answer or you can leave a message, but he’s at 915-298-5706.

And my takeaway from this experience? I doubt I’ll leave Dish over it (I’ve been a customer of theirs for eight years now … not that they seem to care about that) because I hate Comcast and like the Dish DVRs quite a bit. Though I do hear AT&T is expanding their video service … But it greatly lowered my opinion of Dish and pushes me away from the “satisfied customer” column. Oh, and I switched back to paper billing so I can see what charges they might try to slip by me now. That’ll eat in to the profit they’ll be making on my leased equipment fee, I suppose.

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9 Responses to “Dish Network lied to me; executive customer service guy is a douche”

  1. Howard Fore says:

    DirecTV isn’t an option for you?

  2. Cap'n Ken says:

    DirecTV is an option, but I’m not yet at the point of jumping ship. Looks like they have an HD-DVR now, but I’ve never seen their DVR hardware in action.

  3. Meathead says:

    I am the DirecTV version of you. Been with them for 8 years. Have purchased an assload of equipment over those years, and now they are going to a “lease” model like Dish. I got the same jerk around when they decided to move all their HD channels from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4. Guess which one the old purchased receivers I have can receive? So now I have put all my purchased equipment (totalling probably $2500+) in mothballs & I have 4 leased receivers that if I ever deactivate one of them, I will have to send it back to DTV & repurchase if I ever wanted to add it back.

    I have seen the DVRs from both DISH & DTV in action & I prefer DTV, but that is just me. In the end, you will still be a slave to satellite, you just serve a different master.

  4. TCL says:

    You guys should count yourselves lucky. (Which is not to say that you shouldn’t be pissed off about the lack of customer service.) I can’t get HD satellite at all, so it’s Comcast for me. Stupid trees.

  5. Check here for executive customer service contact info for Dish network…

  6. John says:

    Ok, Ken, if you weren’t pissed off enough…here’s a comment for you.

    Turn off the TVs. You’ll be better for it.


  7. Garrett says:

    I just had my own miserable experience with Dish’s “customer service” dept. First of all, it should be renamed the “let me keep repeating our policy” dept.

    What a joke. They have you hold, cut you off, etc. etc. but will NEVER agree to have any call you back. They keep insisting they can’t do that.

    I’m calling DirectTV……….RIGHT NOW

  8. Old Gal says:

    Ordered Dish in early August and was quoted $64.99 for Dish 250 with DVR for two and one extra. My bill was $79.36. When I asked for an explanation was told $5 more for extra receiver, I’m OK with that. Then they told me is was $5.00 more because I did not have a telephone line connected to my primary receiver and $7.00 more because I did not want HDTV. Said I would connect the telephone line. Scary how they knew it wasn’t connected and what do they know about me when I do connect it – Big Brother-ish? Asked why I had to pay for something I didn’t want – no comment – but they said it would cost $3.00 more if I did want HDTV. How can they charge for something I don’t want? How do you fight that stuff?

  9. Guthrie, OK says:

    I’ve been a Dish customer for about eight years. Upgraded to two HD receivers about a year ago which is when I learned that I would have to start leasing the equipment after owning the previous seven years. I did find a place in the yellow pages that said they could sell me the equipment but it was a long wait and would take nearly 6 years to pay for itself. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay with Dish that long. I’m still not sure.

    My first bill came in with two lease charges. Took 20 minutes with customer service to figure out that one was for the charge for the actual service to the extra box. Not only do you have to lease the box, you have to pay extra for service that’s already coming into the house. Not happy with this but DirecTV is the same and cable not an option.

    Also, I recently dropped their new “Platinum HD” service which was an extra $10/mo. for about five channels, the only one of which I would ever, ever watch was Smithsonian. Customer service guy then said my new monthly payment would be an amount that was more than the bill with Platinum. Took 45 min (no kidding, 45 minutes) to get that straightened out. Guy was friendly enough, but geez.

    I’m happy enough with the service but ever since we upgraded to HD, we lose service in the slightest thunderstorm. With the old equipment I don’t think we lost service five times in seven years.

    And to the guy who suggested turning off the tv: I’m actually cool with that. Grew up without television and am a voracious reader. Husband, on the other hand, is a sports junkie and would wither and die without ESPN and Fox Sports. I would miss him so we’re keeping the tv.

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