by Mike Chen on 09/29/09 at 01:00 PM ET
Pretty much everyone knows that the NHL has suggested that DirecTV subscribers call DirecTV and bug them about Versus. As a longtime DirecTV subscriber, I decided to do just that to see what they’d say. After doing a little research, I saw that some people were getting free stuff for complaining.
I’m not necessarily advocating that you do this, but it never hurts to try. Here’s what happened and what I got:
First, I got a thickly accented customer service representative who was utterly clueless. He told me that “The Versus” is no longer available and didn’t really know anything about it when I said that hockey season starts this week. Finally, when I told him that I’ve politely been a loyal customer with no complaints but I basically only watch hockey, and Dish Network has what I need, he read me a prepared statement (he put me on hold for a minute, presumably to load the statement on his screen). I then asked to talk to his supervisor.
The supervisor spoke more clearly and I politely (key point) explained that all I watch is hockey and while I already have Center Ice, Versus has exclusive games and the playoffs. This guy was much more with it and apologized, said they were getting flooded by Versus calls (he said that their call center has spiked by 3000% since then). I then threw in the caveat that while I still haven’t upgraded to HD, I was planning on doing it for this hockey season and Dish Network would get me Versus and a bunch of free HD stuff if I jumped ship.
First, he tried to offer me either free Starz or Showtime for three months, along with a six-month discount. I again emphasized my point about Dish Network and he said he could give me both channels and the six-month discount. I said I would talk it over with my wife because Versus was really important to me. He then said that he could offer me that package, then transfer me to another department where they could give me a promotional price on a new HD DVR (they usually force you to pay $200 for this unless you haggle with them). He promised that negotiations were happening with Versus and that their representatives were repeatedly telling the higher ups about the amount of calls they were getting, so the pressure was on to have the negotiations happen fast.
(Re: You’ll get it. Here’s free stuff. Don’t jump ship.)
I told him that sounded good and he instantly turned on the movie channels and transferred me to another guy in “packages and promotions” (which I’m assuming is customer retention). I explained the whole thing to this guy and he said they’d give me the HD DVR for $100, but that’s essentially free because of our monthly discount (though I had to pay out of pocket). We also had a random conversation about The Beatles Rock Band—hey, you gotta get on his good side.
So to sum up, I talked with three guys:
1) Utterly clueless CSR who couldn’t speak English.
2) His supervisor, who first offered a discount, then a movie channel, then discount with two movie channels.
3) Customer retention, which upgraded me to HD with $100 off of the HD DVR in addition to the aforementioned stuff.
I told a friend about this tonight and he managed to get free Center Ice ($160 value) out of them. They went through five CSRs to do it, including the first one who essentially blew them off.
News of this opportunity is spreading around the web—I’ve seen it on both bargain message boards and hockey message boards. I don’t know if you’ll actually get anything out of it, but I figured it was worth a try. Some people got more, some got less, and some got a metaphorical door slammed in their face. It all depends who you get and how you act, but I found that the first person who couldn’t get me a thing was willing to pass me along when I was politely difficult.
That still doesn’t solve the Versus thing, but the more people that call and do this, the more pressure it puts on DirecTV to get it done.
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