Cord cutting was a mistake

When you don’t have a cable or satellite TV subscription, you just can’t count on or look forward to watching something.

Back in November of last year, I canceled Dish Network. I decided I wanted to try cord cutting. A cord cutter is a person who doesn’t have a cable or satellite TV subscription and instead gets their TV directly off the Internet or with an over-the-air TV antenna. I wanted to be that type of person. At least that’s what I thought.

As it turned out, the cord cutting lifestyle wasn’t for me. Last week, I called Dish Network and signed up with a new two-year contract.

Watching live sports

The biggest problem I had with cutting the cord was watching live TV. I paid $10 a month for CBS All Access. Along with being able to watch old episodes of Big Brother, It gave me live access to CBS WUSA 9 out of Washington DC unless whatever I was watching was also being watched by more than 12 people. If what I wanted to watch was something popular, for example, an NFL playoff game, my streaming experience was constantly interrupted with an annoying “Loading, please wait” message.

It wasn’t my Internet connection. CBS All Access was being overloaded with subscribers.

When you don’t have a cable or satellite TV subscription, you cannot count on watching anything. You can’t look forward to watching a live football game. That posed a giant problem for me because I like to look forward to things.

I also didn’t realize how much I was addicted to the ability to record things with a DVR. With cord cutting, DVR functionality is almost impossible. Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming service supposedly has the ability to DVR things, but I didn’t have a PayStation Vue account, so I can’t confirm that.

That’s another thing about cord cutting: you cannot trust any of the streaming providers to provide what they promise. Just because a streaming provider says something on their website, it doesn’t mean it’s true. For example, AT&T’s DirecTv Now.

DirecTv Now sucks harder than a car wash vacuum

DirecTv Now is an abomination. It doesn’t work. Their customer service is terrible. You can’t use a Roku streaming device with DirecTv Now. They promise access to local channels, but depending on where you live, that promise may or may not be true. If they decide you aren’t geographically close enough to any of your traditional local channels, then they don’t let you watch them even though you pay the same amount as everyone else.

DirecTv Now was constantly throwing errors. I canceled it on day five of my 7-day free trial. At least I thought I did.

When I signed up for DirecTv Now, I signed up for the three-month plan. It came with a free Apple TV. DirecTv Now told me in an email that they would send me the Apple TV in two to three weeks. I assumed this delay was because of the 7-day free trial. It was not.

As it turned out, when you sign up for a three-month plan, you don’t get the promised 7-day trial. Not really. Instead of allowing you to try the service free for seven days and then charging your credit card, they charge your credit card immediately.

I contacted DirecTv Now support on December 27 through their chat app, the day after I canceled my free trial. I explained that I canceled five days into my free 7-day free trial. The support agent told me that because I pre-paid for three months, the free trial was added to the backend of my three months. I didn’t know I pre-paid.

They went on to say that I was getting a “free” Apple TV. I told them I didn’t want the Apple TV. I told them not to send me the Apple TV. I closed out the chat with telling them that if they don’t close my account immediately and return the funds they took from my credit card, I would be forced to file a chargeback.

The following day, I filed the chargeback.

A few days later, I received the Apple TV. I was first told they were gong to send it in two to three weeks. I looked at the shipping label to see when it was shipped.

Cutting the cord was a mistake - Bent Corner

It was shipped the day after I canceled my account. It was shipped the same day I had the online conversation with the DirecTv Now support agent telling them not to ship me the Apple TV device.

I didn’t open the Apple TV from its shipping box. My hope is that I can send it back after the chargeback I filed has been fully resolved. Worst case scenario is that my credit card company rules in AT&T’s favor and I’m out the cost of the three months of DirecTv Now, a service I am not using. I could then sell the Apple TV on eBay. I don’t know how much I would be able to get because I don’t even know what model of Apple TV it is.

Even if my credit card company doesn’t rule in my favor, at least AT&T has to pay for the chargeback investigation. Considering how many people are dissatisfied with the service, I think eventually a state Attorney General somewhere will investigate AT&T for the fraud they are perpetrating on its citizens. Once one or two states get involved, more will follow.

Conclusion

I’m really happy with Dish Network. They now have a much better receiver, the Hopper 3. It’s a work of art. The remote control has been simplified. The entire viewing experience has been improved. Even though cutting the cord turned out to be a mistake for me, at least now I know.

 

Stay away from DirecTv Now, it’s a trap!

On December 22, I signed up for DirecTv Now, the new streaming TV service offered by AT&T. I signed up for the “Go Big” package, normally $70 per month, but currently $35 per month for as long as I keep my DirecTv Now account. I also paid $5 extra a month for HBO. My monthly total was $40. The package also came with a 7-day free trial.

When you sign up, it presents you with different options. If you agree to pay for three months upfront, they will send you a free Apple TV. I chose this option because if I decided to keep it after the 7-day free trial, I most likely be keeping it well beyond three months.

That was a huge mistake.

The DirecTv Now service is terrible. The picture quality is awful. It’s heavily pixelated, and it always buffers. Switching from one channel to another is time-consuming. It takes far longer than it should, far longer than it does on similar streaming services. The buffering at times makes whatever you’re watching truly unwatchable. It reminded me of watching Netflix six years ago on DSL.

They should change the name from DirecTv Now to DirecTv QP1502. That’s the error you constantly get while trying to watch content.

The channel lineup is also terrible. I’ve never heard of some of the channels they include. Justice Network? What’s that? They also don’t provide ABC or NBC, even though they claim to on their website.

DirecTv Now also doesn’t include any on demand features. If you want to watch a show, you have to watch it when the network streams it. Having a DirecTV Now account doesn’t allow you to sign into network apps to watch on demand content there like you can if you are a DirecTv, Dish, or cable subscriber.

DirecTv Now is also a bandwidth hog. After using it for a few days, our cable Internet provider contacted us to inform us we’ve already used 70% of our monthly data. I can only imagine what would happen if we watched DirecTv Now for a full month.

Stay away from DirecTv Now, it's a trap! - Bent Corner
You need a magnifying glass to read it, but it says they will not charge your credit card until AFTER the free trial.

Taking all this into consideration, I decided to cancel my DirecTv Now account. I thought that since I was still on the 7-day free trial, I was covered. It turns out I was not. After logging into DirecTv Now and going through the process of canceling my account, I was informed that my account would remain active until April 1st. I then noticed that they had already charged my credit card the $120 for the three months. They weren’t supposed to do that. According to their website, I wouldn’t be billed until after the free trial. It says so in the fine print.

The Apple TV they promised I would receive for signing up for three months would not be sent our for another two to three weeks. I assumed that was because I was still under the 7-day trial. No, it turns out they’re just slow and they don’t care about customer satisfaction.

I contacted DirecTv Now customer support. They said because I already paid for three months, there was nothing they could do. I told them that I didn’t know I was charged the $120. I explained I thought my credit card would not be charged until after the 7-day free trial because that’s what it said on their website. They said that the 7-day free trial was added to the end of my subscription. That’s why my subscription doesn’t end after exactly three months. It’s active until April 1st.

They also said DirecTv Now does not issue refunds.

I don’t understand how what DirecTv Now is doing is even legal. They are selling a service that’s buggy and doesn’t work correctly and they have a no-refund policy. I also didn’t understand how my 7-day free trial would be tacked on to the backend of my three-month subscription. How can that even be considered a trial?

I will be contacting my bank and disputing the $120 charge. I will also be contacting the Maryland Attorney General. If enough people do this, maybe AT&T, will be forced to change their ways.

I signed up for DirecTv Now

I signed up for DirecTv Now, the online streaming service from AT&T. I got the “Go Big” plan for the promotional price of $35 a month. It will eventually convert to $60 a month, but my subscription is locked in for $35 a month as long as I keep it. I also added HBO for another $5 a month.

It has a lot of channels I cannot get through conventional cord cutting means. Most of the network channels on the Roku require you to log into your cable or satellite TV provider to prove that you are authorized to have access to this content. Being that I don’t have a cable or satellite TV account, this can be problematic. It means you have to find someone who does have a cable or satellite TV account but doesn’t partake in streaming. It’s not too difficult, but it can be a pain in the ass.

With DirecTv Now, I will no longer need to borrow anyone’s streaming rights. I’ll have my own.

The only problem, so far, is that I can only watch TV on my computer. We have three TVs, two with Roku and one with built-in streaming apps. DirecTv Now is not compatible with Roku. They say they will be sometime in 2017.

The good news is that they offer a free fourth generation Apple TV device is you pay for three months up front. Apple TV is compatible with DirecTv Now.  The problem with that is according to an email sent to me after I signed up, I can expect to receive the Apple TV in two to three weeks. That’s a long time not to be able to stream content to your TV.

I signed up for DirecTv Now - Bent Corner
The $39.99 Amazon Fire Stick.

To make up for the delay in getting my Apple TV, I went to Amazon and purchased a Fire Stick. They’re only $39.99, and unlike anything made by Roku, they’re compatible with DirecTv Now. I’ll need one anyhow for the second TV if I want to watch DirecTv Now on it.

I have an Amazon Prime account. One of the features of such an account is that they ship my purchases to me with two-day shipping for free.  That said, I ordered it yesterday, and I will not be receiving it until December 28.

I’m assuming Jesus’ birthday has thrown a monkey wrench into the finely tuned gears of the Amazon’s shipping system. Of course, the man known as Jesus born over 2,000 years ago in Roman occupied Palestine wasn’t born on December 25th. Why let the facts get in the way of religion?

I’m happy to get away from Roku. Not only are they not fully compatible with Funimation, but I also hate how they’re constantly changing my background screen. They most recently overrode my settings to show a Christmas theme. I don’t want to see Christmas on my TV. I hate Christmas. If and when there is truly a war on Christmas, I’ll be one of the first volunteers to enlist and request to be sent to the front lines.