A shocking problem with DirecTV

By | January 30th, 2014

Patricia Wilson’s TVs are blown out. DirecTV blames her internal wiring, but she thinks the company has something to do with it. Now they’re at an impasse. Or are they?

Question: I have been caught up in a nearly month-long claim with DirecTV over faulty equipment, and I’m hoping you can help. We had two TVs blown, two receivers blown, and a fried HDMI cable. A DirecTV supervisor inspected my house and concluded that their coaxial cable was “hot” at 121 volts. But after not locating the source, they packed their bags and told us it was an electrical problem on our side.

The funny part is these supervisors took apart the dish and took with them the transmitter and conveniently pulled the “hot” cable out of the house. A DirecTV damage claims representative even told me the items taken were not for them to take, since technically these are my items when I sign their contract. The supervisors provided no explanation for why they did this. I’m left to assume something was faulty with either or both of these items.

I am now trying to get a hard copy of the claim rejection from DirecTV, but they are not returning voice mails or emails. We are still paying for service as if everything was working fine and can only avoid being charged if we completely freeze service at my location until things are resolved. But we have a functioning dish and TV in the garage and have been using this in the meantime.

I should note that DirecTV’s supervisors confirmed this garage dish was not installed properly and is missing a grounding wire, something its damage claims department was made aware of but chose not to address.

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I am at a loss on how to move forward. Any assistance you might be able to provide would be so appreciated. — Patricia Wilson, Los Angeles

Answer: Whether it was the wiring or electricity in your home that was to blame for this dust-up, you deserve a straight answer from DirecTV about your service.

I can’t tell based on a reading of your account what might have gone wrong. To be honest, even if I could pay you a visit in person, I wouldn’t know the difference between an electrical problem or a shoddy DirecTV installation. To paraphrase Dr. McCoy, I’m a consumer advocate, not an electrician!

Here’s what I do know: Based on your account, if a DirecTV supervisor showed up and removed some equipment, then we may never have a smoking gun — or in your case, a smouldering wire — if, indeed, there’s one to be found. The employee may have tampered with the evidence, so to speak.

Why get rid of the equipment? Well, some DirecTV dishes have reportedly been improperly installed, creating a potential fire hazard. Maybe these supervisors were covering their tracks on an improper installation.

You shouldn’t have to pay for service you can’t use, and DirecTV should respond to your emails and calls instead of stonewalling you. I’m not entirely sure the company was giving you the cold shoulder, though. Your case came through during the busy holiday period, when supervisors tend to take time off. I’m hopeful that eventually DirecTV would have answered your questions.

By the way, you may also consider calling an experienced electrician to verify that your home is properly wired. If the initial supervisor is correct, then there may be a more serious problem than a non-working subscription TV service.

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If you ever feel you’re being ignored by the company again, you can always contact one of DirecTV’s executives. I list them on my consumer advocacy site.

I contacted DirecTV on your behalf. The company offered to pay $464 for one of your damaged TVs and agreed to consider covering your electrician’s bill. DirecTV also replaced the dish, cabling and receiver in your home.

Who do you think is to blame for this mess?

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