Country TV service comes with perils

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Country TV service comes with perils

Late last summer is when this saga began. Out here in the country, one cannot get “Cable” television, so we are relegated to watching two local channels and PBS, which is more TV than one needs anyway. However, our last kid at home years ago subscribed to a satellite TV system, and we kept it on. Paid with a bank draft averaging about fifty bucks a month. Mistake #1 – the bank draft.  

When we lost reception and called the service number, the voice sounded foreign but a serviceman came. The Little Black Box into which the cables screw was bad and he’d have to bring us another. I remembered that we had a second Little Black Box out in the Store, our guesthouse. Since no one was rooming there regularly, it was deactivated for the present: could he not re-program that one?

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Sure enough, he did so, and installed it on the den TV. He took the bad LBB and went merrily upon his way.  Mistake # 2 – get a receipt for Little Black Boxes.

A month later, a deliveryman brought an empty packing box to pack up the bad LBB so he could take it back. I told him the repairman had taken the bad LBB with him. I didn’t remember his name.  Mistake # 3 – know your repairman.

We got a couple of calls from foreigners asking for the Dish Network Little Black Box. We explained in good English that we didn’t have it; the repairman took it, okay? Hokay. Then about Christmas shopping time, when we’re running around buying presents for the whole family, we got a call from the bank (yes, Virginia, there are still banks that call!) saying we were overdrawn. We had a certain amount of overdraft privileges, and were not over that, but every OD check cost us $22. And during that season, when you get the call, you know that more checks will come in before you can get the problem determined and transfer some money into the ODed account. Those $22 charges mount up quickly, Hokay?

Our TV provider, Dish Network, had drafted us for nearly $500 instead of the usual $50. When we called, it was – you guessed it – the charge for the Little Black Box! We explained that we didn’t have it, and had told them that several times. We explained this to people in India, the Philippines, and probably many other foreign places who man the complaint phones for Dish Network and our other good ole American Corporations. Finally, a woman understood us, checked to see that we were right, and promised to return the money to our account within a week, which would have been before Christmas. (Sigh of relief here, Hokay?)

Christmas came and went. No money. No satisfaction calling between Christmas and New Years. Finally, about a week into 2007, we got a lady who said the check would be cut within a week. Why could she not just put it back? Well, I had (Duh!) cut off their bank draft. Hokay, ve vait for de check, Hokay?

No check weeks later when I called again, determined to get someone who could handle the problem. To every India person I simply said, “Give me your supervisor.” When I got as far as I could in India, I demanded an American who worked for Dish Network.

Finally, after three hours on the phone, I got an American voice. By that time, I was understandably peeved, but he was a nice guy, who within a week got us a check for $35 less than the original overcharge, but said for me to figure up the rest plus the OD charges, and he’d pay them, too.

They owed us about another $300, and I sent that invoiced out to him in Colorado. Never heard another word, so when I’d get a Dish monthly bill, I’d deduct that amount from what they owed me, with a receipt and a nice letter with the name of the Dish official in Colorado. They still owed us about $91 when they electronically disconnected our service in mid-April.

Here it is, in plain English, Dishmen: I’d like to get the rest of what you owe me, in American dollars. Then you can have your Little Black Box and satellite receiver off my house. I don’t want any more of your television service, Hokay?

Who is YOUR TV provider?  Do they draft your account for the bill? Better make sure there’s a cap on that draft, or cancel it, or else learn to speak several Asiatic languages, Hokay?