I just cancelled DirecTV.

I only had to say, "No really, I just want you to cancel my account" twice, and "Let me talk to your manager" once.

(They were trying to tell me "we're going to charge you an extra fee if you don't mail your receiver back to us -- the receiver I bought, did not rent, at a local store -- until after the third time I said, "No, that's not going to happen" and he put me on hold for 30 seconds and pretended to consult with his manager.)

Previously.

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38 Responses:

  1. Mark Welch says:

    Is any other form of mass-programmed corporate media (i.e. cable/satellite TV) still a part of your incoming media stream? I think I finally threw off my addiction to one-way TV for good this last year. (The cable provider, who provides excellent Internet service, still insists on putting a TV box on the line. I keep it tucked away, shut off and out of view.)

    • jwz says:

      No, I don't have cable or an antenna either. I understand that The Internets provide many better alternatives, including legal ones.

      • Dan says:

        What finally sent you over the edge? I've seen you mention DirecTV issues before, what finally was "too much"?

      • gryazi says:

        The antenna is fairly worth it, particularly for the usual basics like "what is on fire right now?" My entertainment consumption lately is mostly limited to 'I am choking something down in the kitchen, is there news or anything on PBS?' but the 1080i->p still looks stellar.

        I was going to gronk that timeshifting is probably still a pain in the ass, but since you run a commercially-popular OS it's probably just a matter of buying a $30 USB tuner and using whatever software already comes in the box.

        • gryazi says:

          P.S.: On my (opposite) side of the country, the only use commercial TV has found for the extra substreams is to run movie stations playing the sort of delightful crap the independent stations used to play when there were actually still "independent stations." And one actually even plays these things called "music videos" that apparently people are still making even though there's no cable network that runs them?

          • Nick Lamb says:

            Music videos are for uploading to Youtube. As if there'd be a whole TV channel which shows music videos. What would you even call such a thing?

        • Nick Lamb says:

          I timeshift on an OS that is popular but apparently not so much as Jamie's choice. But I never seem to get around to uploading the software to github. One of these days.

          In this country (don't know about others) the DVB metadata contains URIs for every individual programme, the different broadcasters cannot (of course) agree on a single coherent URI scheme, but within a broadcaster it is consistent so I just pick a series and the timeshifting software records the first available broadcast of every programme it finds for that series. Presumably the "series record" feature on a commercial DVR works the same way. By keeping the "seen" list forever the biggest boon isn't the timeshifting so much as never again seeing a repeat episode of anything. Life is far too short.

    • Mork says:

      Don't you just love how people use parentheses these days?

  2. Glenn says:

    Not that every problem needs to be fixed by legislation, but one law that would probably make sense: it has to be possible to cancel subscriptions by the same means that you started them. If you can start a subscription with two clicks, you can't require a mailed, notarized letter with three forms of ID to cancel it.

    • captain18 says:

      I understand the idea behind this, because hurdles put in place to cancel some services are unreasonable. But I would be concerned about unintended consequences arising from such legislation. If you have to be able to cancel with two clicks same as you started, you'll have people irritated that you didn't do something more to stop them.

      I used to do call center work and I lost count of the number of people who I talked with who said with all seriousness, "When I said cancel, I didn't mean cancel!" I've also dealt with as many situations where one ex-spouse is trying (or was previously able) to terminate service out from under the other party on the account, when the hurdles to turning things off were set too low.

      The trick is figuring out how to separate the hurdles that are in place for the sake of being difficult from hurdles to reasonably reduce shenanigans and possibly allow for a bare minimum cooling-off period.

  3. jwz says:

    Pulling the plug on the fantastically obsolete SD DirecTivo box was strangely satisfying.

    • All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

    • MattyJ says:

      If you huck it off your roof, I would like to see some video.

      • Rick C says:

        Hucking it off his roof wouldn't be nearly as fun to watch as giving it the Office Space treatment. PC Load Letter, indeed.

        • MattyJ says:

          Oh, much better idea. I'd pay 5 bucks to participate in something like that.

          Or maybe those high-speed camera guys will accept a donation.

  4. cryptomail says:

    I read 'previously' and it sounds like any/every other $BIGMACHINE, and at the risk of generalizing: The consumer is a fish. The big system is designed to funnel fish in one way only, and handles exceptions very poorly. I'm glad you found a solution and can move forward. As for mine own part, I've just been reading more and more, and watching very little video content.

  5. Phil says:

    Missing the "firstperson" tag!

  6. Shiv Menon says:

    Do you still use ted?

    • jwz says:

      No, that was crap.

      • MattyJ says:

        Anything relying on others to upload your shows is crap.

        What torrenters and most networks do not realize yet (though some are coming around) is that consumers want it to be simple. Most people don't care about DRM as a concept, but when it intrudes on the ease with which you can watch TV, it makes us unhappy. Something like ted makes in even worse. If you have a somewhat non-technical wife living with you, anything less than 'Turn on TV, watch shows' is suboptimal.

        Plus, you know, some of us watch TV on actual TV's. Sending video from a laptop to a TV is still stupid difficult and shitty.

        • Mike Marion says:

          I've gotten a few TV show seasons via the iTunes store and you're right.. it's simple and I don't really care about the DRM involved because it's never an issue. I'm about ready to cut the last cable TV cord bits (cancel all but the most basic for local channels) and simply buy the shows I want. If they're not on iTunes and I know I want to see them, I get the DVD later, then usually rip that into itunes myself.

  7. JonC says:

    I cancelled cable last summer and bought an Elgato gizmo to feed over-the-air digital signals to my Mac. Don't use it. There's still nothing on worth watching.

  8. David Krider says:

    Hrm. I just got DirectTV. I'm right on the fence about wishing I hadn't. I called the next week to cancel the "free" 3-month movie package trial, and they wanted to charge me $10 FOR EARLY CANCELLATION OF THE FREE TRIAL! Like most of us, I'm fairly used to being abused by the vendors of the products we use, but this was an all-new low for me.

  9. Elbow Freemason says:

    Be a little careful. If it was an HD DirecTV box, it may have had license terms affirming that you were just borrowing it, and that they are entitled to it back. That's what happened to me. I got them off the phone fine; 4 months later, I was in collections.

    • plums says:

      Midway down the comments:

      Pulling the plug on the fantastically obsolete SD DirecTivo box was strangely satisfying.

      Sucks that you got burned that way though.

  10. Liam says:

    Other bills just convinced my missus that the time is right to cut the cable TV -- we just got an AppleTV, so can rent movies online if needed and I hung up a $17 RCA indoor antennae that came with a little amp and we can get all the OTA channels that are apparently wizzing about the ether here. So I am hoping that with a few days trialing the new arrangement the drip-feed out of the bank account will go.

  11. Jeremy Wilson says:

    That must be incredibly satisfying.

  12. MattyJ says:

    In related news, this can't possible be true. Is it April 1st?

    "Hulu, which attracted 31 million unique users in March under a free-for-all model, is taking its first steps to change to a model where viewers will have to prove they are a pay-TV customer to watch their favorite shows, sources tell The Post."

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/tv_in_real_dime_ph0GiKk7rC9agDUEkHae2I

  13. Dan L says:

    What will you do for Game of Thrones, etc.?

    • Al Iverson says:

      Not watch it? My wife and I ditched cable, watch the 3 shows we actually care about via iTunes or Netflix, and ignore the rest of it. There's this thing that the networks don't want you to know: You don't wither and die if you don't watch that crap. It's easy to get to a mind set where you just go, oh, okay, I don't have a way to watch that, and who cares, I'll keep reading more books. I don't actually need what HBO is selling.

  14. Roy Rico says:

    JWZ: do/did you use sickbeard?

  15. mikecotton says:

    "if you gotta ask, you'll never know."
    -- Louis Armstrong