A little over six weeks ago, we decided to change satellite TV providers. We switched from Dish Network to DirecTV.
And thus began my odyssey to close our Dish Network account, return our equipment to them, and get a refund for our remaining (prorated) balance.
Yes, I realize that this is rather long, potentially tedious, and likely to be of little interest to many of you. If that’s the case, please feel free to skip this article…
I’m mostly detailing things here in hopes of helping others who might experience similar difficulties in the future. And to vent — at least a little. 😉
In the beginning…
In early June, I contacted Dish to say that we wanted to discontinue our service. We were out of contract so it was a (seemingly) straightforward request.
They did the usual “is there anything we can do to retain your business” song and dance, but there wasn’t. We had made up our minds for a variety of reasons and weren’t looking to cut a deal.
The rep took down the information, informed us that we had to return the leased equipment within 70 days to avoid fees of $100-$400 per receiver, and assured me that they were shipping boxes to us to facilitate the return.
And with that, I was done — though I did this via their online chat so I was able to print a pdf of the chat transcript and stash it in Evernote for future reference.
Where are my boxes?
Fast forward a month. The boxes were supposed to arrive within 7-10 days of our cancellation request, and we went out of town shortly after the initial chat. Thus, I asked a neighbor to keep an eye out for them while we were away.
Unfortunately, the boxes never arrived.
After returning from our vacation and settling in, I contacted Dish again to inquire about the boxes. The clock was ticking and I was anxious to get this wrapped up.
I explained that the boxes had supposedly shipped roughly 30 days earlier but that they had never arrived. The rep was apologetic, saying that there had been a “glitch” in the system and that the boxes hadn’t shipped.
She assured me that she had re-processed the request and said that we should be receiving the boxes within five days. I crossed my fingers, printed a pdf of our chat, and went on my merry way.
What about our balance?
As I logged out of the chat session about our missing boxes, I noticed that we had a sizable credit against our account. Since Dish charges for their service at the beginning of the month, I’m assuming that this is a common thing when people cancel. Unless you time it exactly right, they’ll owe you a prorated refund.
Unsure of how they would handle this refund, I sent them an e-mail to ask. And guess what? Despite receiving an auto-reply stating that they would get back to me shortly, they completely ignored my inquiry.
Oh well, I figured, it’ll probably show up. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to follow up with them, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Wait, you’re charging me?
Two days later, I received a robocall from Dish stating that they were going to charge us for unreturned, leased equipment. They didn’t give me an amount but, knowing that it was likely in the hundreds of dollars, I was furious.
The robotic voice also gave me phone number to call if I had any questions. Did I have questions? You bet I did! Why were they charging me for unreturned equipment when they hadn’t even sent me the boxes yet, and the return window was still open?
Upon contacting Dish, I was told not to worry about the call. Another “glitch,” I guess. And when I asked about tracking information for the boxes, the rep was able to dig that up and give it to me.
Shipping our hardware back
A few days after the wayward robocall, the boxes arrived as promised. After packing things up, I decided to go ahead and use the pre-printed shipping labels (at a cost of $17/box, billed by Dish) instead of paying UPS directly.
Why did I use the overpriced labels? Mainly because I had lost faith in Dish Network’s customer service and didn’t want them trying to blame a screwup on me. Sure, I could’ve saved a few bucks by paying for the shipping directly, but it wasn’t worth the possible headaches down the road.
I kept an eye on the packages as they progressed through the UPS tracking system and was pleased to see that they arrived as scheduled. All done… At least with that aspect of the cancellation process.
About that refund…
About a day after the packages arrived at Dish’s receiving facility, I received a robocall saying that they had received the boxes and asking me to call them to settle the balance for the shipping labels.
Since I already knew that they were the ones that owed me money, even after accounting for the shipping labels (and ignoring my e-mail about the balance), I called to straighten things out once and for all.
Unfortunately, I only succeeded in getting through to an automated system that assured me that “no payments are due at this time.” Right. That’s because they owed me. But there was no mention of that, and no apparent plans for getting that money back to me.
Frustrated, I eventually managed to get a human on the line. I asked about the credit and he acknowledged that it was still there. He couldn’t refund it to me, though, because they hadn’t processed the billing for the shipping labels yet — even though their system had phone me and asked me to call in to settle my bill.
After a bit of wrangling, he agreed to manually deduct the cost of the shipping labels and process a refund instead of making me contact them (again!) later in the week. Thank goodness for small favors…
At this point, I was curious. What would have happened to that credit balance if I hadn’t followed up and insisted on getting it back? When I asked if they would’ve given me a refund if I hadn’t followed up, he gave me a one word answer: No.
Seriously? If I hadn’t noticed that we had a credit on our account, they would’ve just absorbed that money? Nearly $100? Great customer service, huh?
Summary (the tl;dr version)
To make a long story short: Dish Network bungled my attempts to return our leased equipment; they threatened to charge me for not returning said equipment even though: (1) the boxes for return shipping still hadn’t arrived, and (2) the return window hadn’t closed; and, finally, they tried to keep our prorated refund.
I had to contact them no less than five times over six weeks to finally get things straightened out. Oh, and I’m still waiting on the promised refund to show up.
Fun, fun, fun. Oh well, at least we’re rid of them.