Hey DirecTV! Lying to customers isn’t a good way to drive business!

I’m incensed, and I don’t mind saying it here on my blog. I came home from a busy day yesterday to find a flier taped to my door handle that started out with the following:

“Attention Resident,

The Feds are mandating everyone broadcast in digital in just a few short months! DirecTV is 100% digital now. If you don’t upgrade, all you will see is snow!”

Mine was the wrong door to put this flier on because I am very familiar with the transition to Digital TV and have even written about who needs a digital TV converter box.
And, to be blunt, their flier is at best remarkably deceptive and at worst? An outright lie.
It is true that we are transitioning to an all-digital broadcast system in early 2009 (with some exceptions for smaller, local, public service and rural channels) but no-one needs to “upgrade”, which implies the outlay of a significant amount of money. Indeed, after rebates, most people with older TVs should be able to pick up a digital converter box from Circuit City, Best Buy or similar for about $40 one-time cost.
Most TVs don’t need these boxes, though. To quote the gov’t:

“If you have a digital television (a TV with a built-in digital tuner), you are already prepared for the DTV transition, and can enjoy the benefits of digital broadcasting today…. if you use a digital-to-analog converter box, you will still need to use an antenna to receive DTV signals. It is also important to know that if your television currently receives good quality reception on analog channels 2-51 with a broadcast antenna, it should be able to receive digital television signals, including high definition television (HDTV) signals, with the same broadcast antenna. You do not need to purchase a ‘DTV antenna’ or an ‘HDTV antenna’ to receive DTV or HDTV signals.”

Let me reiterate those important points: even if you’re using a terrestrial antenna for your TV, if you’re hooked up to a TV with a built-in tuner, you’re good to go. Even if not, you don’t need any sort of cable or satellite service to be able to receive the new all-digital programming, even HDTV programming.
Certainly nothing explained in the flier I had taped to my door yesterday by a local DirecTV affiliate.
So what’s the story, DirecTV? Looks to me like an affiliate of yours is really pushing the envelope, selling fear and misinformation. Is this a good, ethical way to drive business?
I don’t think so.

6 comments on “Hey DirecTV! Lying to customers isn’t a good way to drive business!

  1. I hear you. I was at Best-Buy yesterday and this DirecTV guy was really pestering me and wouldn’t let go. I am on the fast Comcast cable subscription. DirecTV has nothing I would want.
    I also get about 3 calls a day for dish installations being ready for me. As annoying as Viagra calls. Someone needs to put the brakes on these guys.
    The flyer at your doorsteps is just the last drop in the bucket. I am glad you got it:-)

  2. Love the rant. I’m just sick of the constant “fear” messaging – it’s so pervasive. It is as if advertisers, politicians, so-called journalists don’t even have to come close to telling the truth anymore – as long as it sells and is accepted for the truth.
    Great, now I’m all pissed off again. 🙂

  3. Dave,
    DirecTV is engrossed in convincing customers they cannot live without DirecTV. I am and will be a DirecTV customer because of the superior packaging but have had several run-ins with them over offers and messages.
    Like James, fear-messaging is so common some companies cannot help themselves but drink from that poisonous well.
    I am glad you posted this.

  4. I am a directv subscriber and want to know why they do not say that 44 of the channels are ppv.
    In fact I would like to know why a subscriber should pay extra to view some shows. Don’t they make enough from the commercials and subscriptions to pay big bucks to the dudes that run the company?

  5. Wow, that is one way to get customers I guess. Did you also know to get your full new customer promotion with DIRECTV, you have to: Order online or submit and online rebate application, agree to receive marketing e-mails, and wait 6-8 weeks from the startup to star receiving your promotion. I work at DISH Network and can tell you that with DISH you will receive your new customer promotion from the day you sign up.

  6. I picked up an hdtv antenna back in 2009 during the digital transition and I’m still amazed that I can pull in 50+ channels here in Chicago for free. I can still remember when the biggest cable package was less than that.
    Now if you could only get the NFL Network on an antenna! 🙂

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