Cord cutting was a mistake

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.

 

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.

Goodbye Dish, I’m cutting the cord

We currently get TV through Dish. To save money we have the cheapest plan they offer, the Flex Pack. The base price for the Flex Pack is $34.99. It’s limited in what it offers. For instance, it includes CNN, but not MSNBC or Fox News. It also doesn’t include any local channels. For that, it costs an extra $10. The local channel pack for the Washington DC area includes:

  • CBS
  • NBC
  • ABC
  • Fox
  • Univision
  • Ion Television
  • Telemundo
  • Unimas
  • PBS

Three of these local channels are Spanish language channels, a language I do not speak or understand. I live in Hagerstown, Maryland. I don’t live in Juárez, Mexico.

Missing from the local channel pack are the local sports networks, MASN and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Currently, I’m unable to watch the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Nationals, the Washington Capitals, The DC United, or the Washington Wizards. To add those local channels, I would need to upgrade from the Flex Pack to at least America’s Top 120 Plus just to add the Multi-Sport package. When you have Flex Pack or even America’s Top 120, the ability to add the Multi-Sport package is grayed out.

Here is what it would cost to make the switch:

Goodbye Dish, I'm cutting the cord - Bent Corner

This means that if I wanted to watch the Washington Capitals, my local hockey team, I would need to pay an extra $38 a month.

That’s ridiculous.

It gets worse. It would actually be cheaper to buy a year of NHL.TV.  I could then watch every NHL game in full HD on my TV, computer, iPad, or iPhone. I could watch games live or later at my convince. I could choose the home or away TV coverage. With my military discount, a full year of NHL.TV would cost $90.97. It would pay for itself in less than three months.

The only problem is that Washington Capitals games would be blacked out. The reason? Because the Capitals are my local hockey team, I can only watch them on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. It’s a channel Dish doesn’t consider a local channel. I would only be able to watch Capitals games on NHL.TV 48 hours after they originally aired.

The cable and satellite TV industry is an anti-consumer racket. I’m more than happy to pay for the TV I want to watch. What I resent is being forced to pay for channels I don’t want or need.

Consumers should be able to pick the channels they want without being forced to pay for other channels they don’t want. Instead of including three Spanish language channels in my local TV package, Dish should include regional sports channels. Do they not understand what the word “regional” means?

Because of this regressive way cable and satellite TV providers deliver content to consumers, I’m going to become a cord-cutter.

A cord-cutter is a person who doesn’t have a satellite or cable TV subscription. It shouldn’t be that hard to make the switch. We already watch a lot of our TV shows on Hulu, streamed to our TV through a Roku device. The problem is, we have channels on Roku that we’re only allowed to watch because we pay for Dish. Before accessing some channels on the Roku, you have to log into your Dish account and activate an access code.

There’s ways to get around that. I need to familiarize myself with those ways.

 

Dish dropped NFL Network too?

Not only has Dish dropped the CW Network and WGN America from its lineup of programing, they’ve also dropped the NFL Network.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The NFL said Dish is the first distributor to drop the channel in its 13-year history. If the dispute isn’t resolved in the fall, Dish will also no longer carry the NFL’s RedZone service, which is a specialty channel that carries live action of all games every Sunday throughout the regular season.

Evidently Dish got rid of the NFL Network sometime last month. I didn’t realize it until yesterday while going through the channels. If they continue with this retarded game of chicken into the NFL season, it’s going to be their undoing. One of the main reasons I went with Dish was because they included the NFL RedZone channel in their basic sports package. To get RedZone on DirecTv, I would need to pay for the entire NFL package which included every out-of-market game. I didn’t want every out-of-market game. I just wanted to watch RedZone.

I’d like to cut the cord entirely and just switch to streaming. The problem is, a lot of the networks that offer content online make you go through either local cable, Dish, or DirecTv before you can stream. For example, before I could stream CNN Go on my Roku devices, I had to activate it through Dish. Without an active satellite or cable account, you can’t watch CNN through a streaming device. I should be able to pay a couple bucks a month for CNN without going through a gatekeeper.

America is a great country.