I’ve had DirecTV service since 1996. Its just worked ever since I got it, with a few very small exceptions. It’s like dialtone to me, I often just forget how reliable it is.

The very few times its stopped working, 3 times was DVR failure, and 2 glitches with access cards being unauthenticated. The DVR failures weren’t DirecTV’s fault, in all cases it was hard drive failure, fixed by a call to weaKnees for a disk upgrade.

Sometimes I think about that. Going on 12 years, and the signal has never gone out. I compare that the few times I’ve had cable. I know things are better all around these days, but I can’t think of another service I’ve had that has worked, day and night, for 12 years.

But, it’s not just the uninterrupted, always on service. When I’ve gotten a new box, and had to activate it, aside from the occasional 15 minute hold time, every time I’ve called DirecTV to activate, or rarely troubleshoot, or change programming, by the time I got off the phone, my problem was solved. OK, now that’s just unheard of. I also know I’m lucky in this regard, I’ve recounted this to others, and they haven’t had the same flawless experience. Some of that is related to the newer HD services, and the fact that they’re way more tempermental to cabling and signal loss than standard definition.

Recently, I got a new DirecTV DVR. I loved my TiVO’s. I have 3 of them, but the drive just died again on the oldest 1st generation box. Since it was painfully slow compared to the newer boxes, I decided to try the new DirecTV DVR. Well, long story short (for a change), 2 weeks later, it stopped working. First symptom, it couldn’t play recorded content, the screen just went black. OK, I tried that a few times, decided to restart it. That was the end of that, it wouldn’t reboot. Did a “checking the disk” screen, then said it couldn’t start up. So, I figured the disk died, the new business model for DirecTV DVR’s is sending you leased, remanufactured boxes, and this one probably was on it’s last leg.

I called support (and at 9pm I might add), expecting we’d go through the reset dance a bit, then find the box was dead, and swap it out. And, that’s just about exactly what happened. I got another good customer service representitive, and we started. Now, one thing about DirecTV’s phone support, these folks seem to mostly know their stuff. They’ve got their book/screen for “try step a, then step b”, but they seem to actually understand what they’re saying, and when they get a response they don’t expect, they almost always can look it up, or find another path. I don’t feel like I’m talking to someone who has no idea what they’re actually talking about.

We go through the standard resets, try disconnecting the satellite feed, a few different front-panel tricks. Nothing. Finally, he said “well, looks like we’re gonna have to swap out the box. But, there is one more thing to try, it’ll reformat the disk, and you’ll loose your information”, well I’d loose it anyway, so we tried it. Viola! The DVR was working again. I was sure it was toast, but the last resort worked. Yet again, off the phone with my problem resolved (although I would have considered a box swap as resolved too).

Just reflected on the far less than stellar customer support I’m coming to expect, and then having one service be so head and shoulders above the rest. I read a lot in the forums about less than satisfactory service from other vendors of TV programming, and that’s actually stopped me from signing up with anyone else, along with the much higher cost, after you factor out introductory and multiple services discounts. Now only if DirecTV was able to make a healthy profit!

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