Problem Solved: DirecTV Billed Me $80 for a Cinema Connection Kit That Doesn’t Work

Photo (cc) by Keith Allison

Question: I just experienced the absolute worst customer service ever with DirecTV. A few weeks ago, I tried to get help with receiving DirecTV programming on my laptop. A representative recommended a Cinema Connection Kit, an adapter for my DVR that connects to my computer.

DirecTV didn’t tell me there would be an $80 charge for the kit. I agreed to try it, but I haven’t been able to connect the device.

After I received the connection kit, I opened a “chat” window through DirecTV’s website to get help. The representatives couldn’t make it work. I called and was connected to another employee who was very condescending and rude to me. He never resolved my issue or offered any other options to fix the problem.

To make matters worse, DirecTV is billing me for the Cinema Connection Kit that doesn’t work, even though it never informed me there would be a charge for it.

I haven’t paid my DirecTV bill because I need the charge for the kit to be taken off before I pay for it. I’ve dealt with issues before where this happened, and I ended up having to eat a mistake a company made just to maintain service. I wish I wasn’t in a contract or I would cancel right now. Can you help? — Abdul Blakney, Valley Village, Calif.

Answer: I feel your pain. I spent some quality time on the DirecTV site to find out more about the Cinema Connection Kit and how much you’d pay. I’m fairly certain the kit isn’t free. I see it listed on Amazon for $45.

Unfortunately, this is one of those “he said/she said” scenarios, where the customer claims a representative implied the device would be “free” and the company claims no such conversation took place. The only way to know for certain would be to either have an email, in which DirecTV promises to send you the kit at no additional charge, or a recording of the phone conversation.And unfortunately for you, the only party with access to a recorded phone conversation is DirecTV. You can, of course, record such calls and request an email confirmation (for which you should wait before ending the conversation).

Parenthetically, I’ve always felt that when the “record” button is pushed, both parties should have easy access to the tape. It levels the playing field, and in an age of cheap memory and reasonably good IT, how hard can it be to email a customer a call recording?

Well, I said “reasonably” good IT. If it were actually good, then you wouldn’t have had any trouble connecting to your Cinema Kit.

Of course, there’s no excuse for being clueless or rude to a customer. DirecTV should have done what it promised: sent you the kit, made it work and charged you what it said it would. How hard can that be?

I might have appealed to someone higher up at DirecTV in writing. I list the names, numbers and emails of the appropriate managers on my consumer advocacy website. A polite, written appeal to them might have helped resolve this quickly.

I contacted DirecTV on your behalf. It reviewed your complaint and credited your account with the $80 for the Cinema Connection Kit. It also contacted you directly and offered to help you install the device.

Christopher Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). You can get real-time answers to any consumer question on his new forum, elliott.org/forum, or by emailing him at [email protected]

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Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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