Buying a Car may be easier than switching from U-Verse to DIRECTV

Over the past few months while shopping at Costco, it’s hard not to meet or see a sales representative from DIRECTV as you enter the store. I typically shy away from sales individuals while at Costco as my focus is on coffee, yogurt and produce (and a little bit more as one knows about Costco). About 3 weeks ago, and after examining the increased price of U-Verse, my wife and I decided to survey their offer. After listening to his sales pitch, we crunch a few numbers and decided to switch our TV service from U-Verse to DIRECTV. Besides saving money per month, we received a $300 gift card and the sales representative claimed the picture would improve over the U-Verse picture. Would it be a straightforward process? One hoped.

packing slipOur install schedule was set for the next Friday between 1 and 6 pm. Because of this time frame, one of us had to be home during this time. At around 5 pm, we received a call that it would be another 30 minutes or so…about 45 minutes later, another call, apparently still working on an issue in Mundelein. We never heard from the prospective installer again.

After a call to DIRECTV, we scheduled another appointment for one week later on Friday morning, trying to get this resolved ASAP. At around 4:30 pm on Thursday, we received a call from Louis, a DIRECTV installer asking us if we wanted it installed now. Because of some of the past snags, I agreed to the install. Because our cabling was not the proper hardware for this dish install, Louis had to rewire from the outdoor box to our TV. After about 2 hour, which included adding a dish to our roof, the install was complete. At this point, if anyone would have asked, I would say the TV picture looked quite good. I hope this continues.

front of new gatewayAt this point, my wife called AT&T to cancel our U-Verse TV, which required us to mail back the old hardware. They mentioned we’d get a slight discount on our Internet now that AT&T had recently purchased DIRECTV. In addition, they would increase our Internet speed. No other things were mentioned. A day after going to UPS and sending in the hardware, we received a new AT&T gateway in the mail. They required us to replace the old with the new and would also involve one more trip to UPS to ship back the old gateway.

Being ambitious and full of energy I decided to switch gateways. Before proceeding, I read the directions and took several pictures of the old gateway to ensure I could reconnect all cables correctly to the new device. The enclosed directions claimed the install time would take around 25 minutes, I had my fingers crossed but felt I had all Friday evening to troubleshoot. After connecting all the cables where I thought they needed to be, the DSL1 and DSL2 buttons were solidly red on the new gateway. I suspected there was a hardware issue. After reviewing the troubleshooting tips and trying different cable connections, the buttons remained solidly red. Time to call  heir tech support.

Mind you, AT&T would rather have you troubleshoot than call tech support. Most people realize their motivation. I reluctantly called tech support and dealt with the IVR system. After about 25 minutes of holding, a recording mentioned I had to call back for technical support…not sure why. I quickly pressed ‘0’ and then ‘1’ to be redirected to the operator, it worked as I was connected to a technician, Sebastian. He tried a few basic troubleshooting steps before ascertaining a tech was needed to be onsite to further investigate. Even though things were not progressing smoothly, I appreciated Sebastian’s phone etiquette and unique Canadian accent. Much to my surprise, a onsite tech would arrive the following day between 1 and 4 pm.

Frank from AT&T called me about 2 pm and said he’d be there within 30 minutes. Just by briefly talking to Frank, I sensed he was professional and competent. I was not to be disappointed.

After he arrived, I briefly explained the situation and suggested this issue was hardware, either the gateway was bad or the wiring was not compatible with the increased speed. He agreed and had to replace all coaxial cable with Cat5 cable from the outside box into the basement and above the ceiling tiles all the way to the back of the TV on the first floor. After rewiring and installing the new gateway, things did work. He also explained the reason for the wiring and helped us with potential troubleshooting options if the situation arose in the future.

gateway and stereoFrom my recent experience, buying or leasing a new car is not like the experience 10 or 15 years ago. We shopped at several dealerships and mentioned being Costco members and they automatically subtracted a few thousand from MSRP. To validate, my wife and I did some extensive online research to confirm our quoted price was quite competitive. No haggling. No threatening to leave the dealership in the hopes of getting a better price. No going back and forth between the salesperson and their manager. If you want the car, the price is quickly determined with some key information.

When will switching TV or Internet providers become so simple and straightforward?