Dish doesn’t work even after “re-education” visit

Her mother’s Dish TV service doesn’t work despite repeated calls to the company. But now it refuses to waive her early termination fee. Does Denise Omelia’s mother have no choice but to pay up?

Question: I’m writing on behalf of my mother back in the States, who has a problem with Dish TV. Her service was installed a few weeks ago, but has been faulty since day one. She’s never had a full day of Dish.

The service freezes, the remote control won’t change channels. It’s the same issue every day.

On the first day when I was visiting her from the U.K., I made three late-night phone calls from my mother’s home to Dish after the remote started to freeze. A phone technician started to troubleshoot. We reset the remote three times, but nothing worked. A technician came to her home, but the problems continued.

Dish ordered a new box, which my 80-year-old mother had to install herself. She had to ask one of my friends to help her,since I had returned to Europe. The new receiver box didn’t work. The TV works for a while and then the remote freezes.

Last night, I spoke with the customer service center supervisor and she said if there are three visits for the same problem, my mother would be released from her contract. Problem is, one of the visits was cleverly labeled a customer “re-education” visit, so Dish won’t release my mother from her contract and insists on charging her a $500 early termination fee.

Meanwhile, the remote is still freezing. This issue happens in the evening, when the TV has been on for a while. Can you help? — Denise Omelia, Watford, U.K.

Answer: Your mother’s TV service obviously doesn’t work, and despite repeated efforts to address the problem, it seems unfixable. I’d say Dish is in breach of its contract and should let your mother out of her contract immediately.

The Dish TV agreement she signed is a fascinating example of an adhesion contract, which is to say it applies to her but not necessarily to the company. Under the terms, it can terminate its service at any time and for any reason, without penalty. But if you decided to leave, you must pay an early termination fee.

But implied in the contract is that the Dish service will actually work. And Mom’s service doesn’t — no one’s disputing that. The “three visits and you’re out” clause appears to be an unpublished policy, but you’re right, it appeared Dish was trying to give itself a little extra rope in this case.

Calling the visit to your mother a “customer re-education” visit made me think she was being detained in North Korea, or that someone at Dish had read one dystopian novel too many. The actual reason for the visit is unimportant, which the supervisor you spoke with should have understood.

A single call to a Dish manager wasn’t your mother’s final option. She could have just kept calling the company until it had the required three visits. A brief, polite email to a Dish executive I list them on my site — would have been her next step. Email addresses at Dish follow the convention

I contacted Dish on your mother’s behalf. A representative contacted you and offered to waive her early termination fee.

Does Dish make it too difficult to waive its Early Termination Fee?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • andi330

    Tis article appears to be incomplete…

  • Christopher Elliott

    Oops. I forgot to close a tag. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Dish sucks, but they are useful when I need to get AT&T to lower my rate. “Well, I could just switch to Dish if you’re not going to offer me the same rate as new customers.”

  • Christopher Elliott

    I think the part about this story that bothered me the most was the “re-education” visit. Seriously, that’s what they call it? I wonder how many travel companies would like to “re-educate” me about their questionable practices. Wait, hang on. Is that a knock at my door? I’ll be right back …

  • Kevin Mathews

    “re-education” implies that they educated her in the first place… Did she attend some sort of class on how to use Dish? Did she have to pass a test in order to sign up and qualify to use her remote control?


    Dish should have either fixed the problem or terminated her contract. They failed at the first option and denied the second. Glad you solved this problem.
    And I appreciate the laugh for the day. I cannot believe they called it a re-education visit. Chris–you are so right when it brings up visions of North Korea. I am simply howling over it.

  • John Baker

    Chris I heard that and pictured the “re-education” camps in oppressive nations or the one in Red Dawn (80s flashback for you)

  • Christopher Elliott

    Red Dawn is one of my favorite 80s movies. The remake was an insult. Patrick Swayze is rolling in his grave.

  • John Baker


  • sirwired

    I expect the intent of such a visit is for when they have to roll a tech for “user error.” It appears that coding was not correct in this case, but the existence of such a code is not particularly bothersome.

  • Andre_K_FL

    This type of stuff is so widespread and rampant with Dish Network and DirectTV that it’s not even funny.

  • Raven_Altosk

    The men in white coats will be along shortly.
    Also, the cake is a lie…

  • EdB

    If Dish cannot provide the service being paid for, they need to let the person out of the contract with no penalties.

    But the problem described is interesting. The remote freezes? And only at night? Dish boxes do not use IR for their remotes like most devices do, but rather a UHF signal. If it is only happening at night and then works fine the next morning, wasn’t able to tell if this was the case or not, I would suspect some sort of external interference. There are some radio stations that are allowed to increase their broadcast strength at night. Could be a local short wave radio operator. If the problem still existed after a second, and they should have tried a third, then I would guess it was something external to the system.

    It would seem the re-education visit should have been used for the tech to learn how to better troubleshoot the problem.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    So, had they made Dish make yet another trip to the house which wasn’t a re-education call, then THAT would have given them their third call which would have released them from the termination fee? Seems to me that once all the equipment had been replaced and the problem continued, Dish was down to just hoping the problem fixed itself somehow. Why mess with more service calls at that point?

  • emanon256

    Dish’s take on “Re-Education”:
    If your remote stops working, suck it up and don’t change you channel. Stop calling us about it.

    Wait, she called again? Go re-educate her and tell her its not our problem, and to stop bothering us.

  • emanon256

    Ha! I completely agree, my theory is they system would actually work for her, if they techs new how to do their job.

    I was thinking it was IR based (Its been 11 years since I had dish) and some of the old CFLs give off IR that mess with receivers. But since its UHF, it could be so many more things and hopefully they would be able to flip a switch or a setting to change the frequency, change the gain, etc. and see if that clears it up. These companies don’t realize that by not properly training their own employees, they are loosing customers. Though they probably don’t car so long as they get the early termination fee.

    When I had dish I lost my picture anytime it snowed, and I had to go up on the roof and brush the dish. I also lost it sometimes when it was cloudy. I re-aimed it many times and it was always in perfect aim. The techs always told me its normal to loose service when its cloudy or snowy. That’s one of the many reasons I have never gone back.

  • jim6555

    The technology used by the remote should be of no relevance to the customer. If the remote works at her location, Dish gets to remain her TV signal provider for the next two years. If it doesn’t work at her home, Dish should be offering to allow her to terminate the contract without penalty.

  • moonshin

    wolverines!!!!!!! (and i liked the remake but its no where near the original)

  • EdB

    What about this case where it only works sometimes?

    Knowing the technology used by the remote is important for diagnosing the problem. Should the customer have to know this information? No. But if they do, and they have the knowledge, they can assist in the troubleshooting.

    My point was made in the last sentence of my post. It is the tech that needs the re-education, not the customer. I included the technical information to give a possible reason for the problem. Something the story didn’t say the tech tried in solving the issue.

  • Christopher Elliott

    I agree. I think the technology should learn to serve us, not the other way around. A “re-education” visit should not be necessary. Ever.

  • fshaff

    Loss of signal such as you described happens with any sat signal, whether it be DISH or DirectTV. Happens to my DISH all the time. I also have sat internet (different company) and I lose my sig there too.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I guess I don’t have an issue with “re-education” as a label for a service call – IF, and I repeat IF, genuine training took place with the call. I too have an elderly mother (in the next room) and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to repeat the instructions for turning on the microwave, her hearing aid, the instructions for administering her insulin and so on.

    I am in no way, shape or form suggesting that Ms. Omelia’s mother requires that kind of memory management, just that everyone assumes that an 80 year old woman can’t remember things on her own. Some can, some can’t. However, Ms. Omelia is the one handling the service problems and not her mother (remember, one of Ms. Omelia’s friends had to help set up the receiver box), I’m going to guess that the lady is not technically proficient.

    Now, if no training did take place and DISH just slapped that label on the service call because the customer is elderly, that’s just wrong.

  • SallyLu

    Our remote also freezes, but in our case it is usually after we have just turned the tv on. It will work fine for about a minute, then nothing. It started happening after we got a new HD tv and awitched to the HD package. My husband called Dish so many times, they sent us a new box, a different sort of remote (I think with a different signal, but not sure) and nothing worked, until finally on one of the calls, he got someone who actually seemed to know what he wss talking about. According to this guy, some of the newer tvs interfere with the signal, but he said that if we leave the tv on for a while, it should warm up and the interference would be reduced. This has worked for the most part, but accassionally the remote will stop working after the tv has been on for hours. My husband likes dish and doesn’t want to change, and he watches way more tv than me, so we just live with it.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Or maybe not.

  • EdB

    Have you tried reposition the box further away from the TV to see if that help?

  • JewelEyed

    Even if training did take place, if the thing is still broken, it’s irrelevant.

  • Freehiker

    I refuse to tarnish my memory of the original with some horrible remake =)