I have a buddy who always jokes that he’d divorce his wife, but between the attorney fees, alimony, and the cost of finding a new wife and training her, it’s just cheaper to keep the one he has. (Hey, don’t yell at me, he’s the male chauvinist pig!)

I was reminded of that when dealing with Dish Network recently. During the burglary and vandalism of our RV, the creep or creeps trashed our Dish Network receiver and I needed to replace it.

We have been Dish customers for at least eight years, and have had the same old receiver forever. They are always advertising that new customers get a free whiz bang receiver that will watch one show while digitally recording another on a different channel at the same time, preprogram itself to record a show while you are out, and I think it will also rotate your tires and make your morning coffee, too. If you sign up for a long enough contract, they’ll give you two of the receivers. So you’d think they’d give a longtime customer who pays his bills on time some consideration too, wouldn’t you? Well, don’t bet on that!

I called Dish, explained my problem, and learned that for just $100, plus a $100 installation fee and a contract to keep on paying my bill on time, they will put me into one of those newfangled receivers. Huh? $200 big ones for what they’ll give some bozo off the street, who may or may not pay his bill and be a steady customer, for free? What kind of deal is that?

I pointed out that I am a longtime customer, but the English-as-a-second-language customer service rep I was talking to just kept repeating what he read off his cue card from a phone room on the other side of the world. I asked for his supervisor, who spoke even less English, but enough to tell me that as a good customer, I was indeed going to be penalized for my loyalty. No freebies here, fat boy! Now where is that guy we never heard of? We want to give him a houseful of electronic entertainment goodies!

Now, I don’t know much about a lot of things, from women to nuclear physics, but I do know a thing or two about business. And one of the first rules of business is that it’s much cheaper to retain a good customer than it is to go out and find a new customer. A new customer has no track record. He (or she) may or may not stay with you. They may or may not pay their bills. They may or may not constantly be in contact with you, complaining and wanting special services beyond what they contracted for, which costs you money to address.

Somebody should tell Dish Network (and Direct TV, which has the same policy) about that. Of course, it would have to be somebody who speaks the same language as their customer service reps, whatever the hell that is.

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23 Comments on Cheaper To Keep Her

  1. Caroline Fennell says:

    We went around and around with Dish a couple years ago. We checked into switching our service in our sticks & bricks house from Comcast to Dish. We have Dish in our RV and figured it would be cheaper to combine them. Same story, couple hundred bucks, even though we were long time good customers. The only way out was to cancel our account for 6 months (if I remember the time frame), then come back as a new customer. We didn’t change service.

    Yep, being a long time good customer doesn’t count for anything…. sad!

  2. Linda says:

    I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’ve heard that if you cancel your service & wait about 30 days you can re-subscribe as a new customer & get all those goodies from Dish. We had a second receiver we paid full price for. When local channels became available Dish provided a new dish but they made that second older-style receiver compatible by putting some little switch in the line. A couple years later the switch dies. An area dealer told me I had two choices—-replace the switch every couple of years at $80 a pop or get a compatible receiver for $125. The switches were proprietary to Dish. We’re also long-time customers and they couldn’t care less.

  3. Michele says:

    Nick,
    I totally agree with you. I have, many times and with many companies, tried to understand why they will give free stuff on top of free stuff to someone who hasn’t done anything to deserve it. Cell phone companies, internet service providers, even stores will provide discounts and freebies for the new guy who walks in for the first time while you can’t even get a small discount when you’ve done business with them for years. Then they wonder why those same people move on to the next “free offer”. Whatever happened to the days of loyalty being worth something?

  4. Phil and Rudee says:

    Ran into the same thing with Good Same Road Service. They jack the price up for loyal customers and offer incentives for 1st timers. Has to make you wonder what are these companies thinking?

  5. Joseph Jones says:

    You could have canned them, and then let Miss Terry subscribe as a “new” costumer.

  6. Redbear says:

    Our last landline provider kept pushing to have us sign a contract to stay with them. They must have been afraid of losing customers to cable TV phones. They even went to the point of having some college kid go door-to-door. She was offering to add features we already had. When we said “no,” she kept filling out the form and then asked us to sign a contract. No way.

    Later, I once checked about dropping some features to cut the bill down. After 10 years with the current features and at least 20 years on the account, they gave me 2 options. I could sign a contract to keep my current features for $20 extra per month, or I could drop features by signing a contract for an extra $10 per month. If I changed anything, I could not continue service month-to-month. I “did the math.” DUH.

  7. Darrell says:

    Yep, you’re right, Nick. And it sucks. One way to beat it is to swap companies every time your contract ends (phone companies as well) or, like Joseph said above, let Terry subscribe one time and then you subscribe the next. By the way, this all started with magazines; remember how Motorhome magazine offered a half price subscription to the first time customer? Another solution would be the one we use – don’t subscribe to satellite TV at all. I know, you would have to go through television withdrawal all over again!!! It’s been bad enough this past few weeks, hasn’t it? And That would be too painful to go through all over again, wouldn’t it?

  8. Denise Gray says:

    We had Dish on our sticks and bricks home for a short while when we were supposedly hit by lightening. When the tech came out he said that the installation tech had never grounded the wires which caused us to loose the entire system. They then wanted us to pay the entire cost of replacement. We went back and forth and finally they replaced it after some grueling discussions. Then it happened again. This time they refused to replace the equipment because they said it was too old. By the way, we had never been hit by lightening before or after, so I think that never happened to begin with. So we moved back to Comcast. Then the phone calls started. They called daily trying to get us back. I kept telling the sales people that they should have treated us better to begin with and we might have stayed with them. Finally they offered us free everything. Told them no, they should have done that from the start and to stop calling! When we finally move into the motorhome, we plan on trying Direct, but I assume we will have the same issues…. Denise

  9. Martin says:

    I have DirectTV and this summer asked to upgrade to HD which required a new receiver (ours was over eight years old) and a $!00 charge. Reminded them I had been a customer for 15 years and they said they would wave the $100 for the box, install for free and my HD service would be $!0/mo. additional. My requirement was to sign for another 24 months. So Direct TV and Dish do not have the same policies from my experience. Why don’t you just switch service? and get the new customer package from DTV? The service provided is essentially the same as Dish Net.

  10. Janice Pringle says:

    As a long time customer of DirecTV, we had the same problem. No good deal to upgrade for exisiting customers. So we asked to cancel our account and were immediately switched to someone who had the authority to offer us a great deal. Not sure if this occurred because we were persistant or threatened to cancel. By the way, DirecTV said we could never become “new customers” by cancelling our account and reopening it at a later date.

  11. Helen Moll says:

    We too upgraded to the HD receiver with Direct TV and guess what? Direct TV is now in my name and everything was free. I still let Bill pay the bill though. Be sure you write down the name and phone # on the new account somewhere because if you need to call for anything it is hard to remember which one you used. LOL

    Helen

  12. JerrieLea Hopf says:

    We had a problem with DISH as they said our receiver was too old and needed to be replace for “only $79”.

    I had the cell phone plugged in so the battery wouldn’t run out, it was the weekend so the call was free and the TV didn’t work anyway so I stayed on the phone for about 4 hours going thru about 4 levels of “customer service” people.

    Every time I told them to cancel my service the price of the receiver was reduced. I finally told the last person for him to go tell his boss that he just lost a 7 year, pay on time customer for $29. I got the new receiver for free.

    When we sent back the old one, the lady at the post office said we were about the 4th or 5th person to send one back that week – and this was a little town of about 1,000 people.

    Wonder how many receivers went bad (or were just shut off) for the full price??

  13. Dennise Ziaja says:

    Nick, the Fedexman can write volumes about the customer service at Dish. Sometimes he gets a “real” rep, that actually speaks English well, works in America and then there are the off shore reps who are “not so good”. You need to ask to talk to some one in America according to Paulie. I have read the same things about Direct TV. You can’t win. Paul was even so p*ssed when he saw a commercial he called and actually argued with one of the reps. I told him to just give it up…they have you just where they want you, just like those rat b*astards in the insurance companies. No wonder there is “discontent” amongst the masses. Maybe we are all getting fed up with the baloney…but how do you fight back?

    In Sympathy…
    dennise

  14. Ed Hackenbruch says:

    A few months ago we got a card from Directv thanking us for being a long time customer. In that same batch of mail we got a notice that our rates were going up 5-6 bucks a month. I called them and told them i thought that that was kind of a lousy way to say thank you for my patronage. They said that they would waive the charge for 6 months. I guess i am helping to pay for all of the incentives for new customers. :>(

  15. Carol Davis says:

    We threatening Dish with changing to Direct and they came out and put us a DVR receiver in our RV so that we could watch one TV in the living area and the other in the bedroom on 2 different channels. In fact when we were in Florida this year we blew the DVR along with other appliances and they mailed us another one without charge if we would just return the old one. We had been customers for about 4 years when we threatened. Guess we were lucky with the person we called. I have gotten so I ask for a person in the U.S. when talking to any company.

  16. Kay F. Brown says:

    Glad to see you got your dish. Hope you like it as much as I do. We upgraded to our DVR before we went on the road. We had to pay for our upgrade too! Darn Dish, thinks they need money too.. imagine that.

  17. Hey Nick….been with DirecTV for 7 years, and they have great customer service! I know, because I’ve had occasion to call them a few times. I never have had to threaten to cancel to get stuff for free, or something fixed. Had trouble with my DVR about 6 months ago….2 of them went bad shortly after installation. In each case I called, and after just a few minutes a new one was being shipped, free of charge. The second time they added free subscription to Showtime for a year! On our most recent trip the receiver I use in the coach lost its programming, inspite of it being plugged in continuously. I called, and it was reprogrammed with 4 minutes…I was on the road 800 miles from home. I cannot say enough good things about them.

  18. Jim@HiTek says:

    I’d suggest you call, write, and email them letting them know you are dropping them because of their policy, and why.

    Then stick to that threat. You can live without their service, billions do every day. I’m one of them.

    JMO.

  19. Allan Webster says:

    We had decided to drop Direct at the end of our contract time but about 6 months before that we moved out of our house when it quickly sold. We contacted Direct who said “no problem, leave the dish on the house and Direct would install a ground dish outside our trailer for free’ We took them up on the offer but when it came time that our contract was up and we wanted to cancel they told us we would have to wait another year because when we moved our contract was extended. We went round and round about that and finally got back about half of what they had withdrawn from our bank account after we dropped them. So much for automatic deductions

  20. Allan, the state of Washington Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against Direct TV on this and other issues. If you live in Washington state you might want to contact their consumer protection division.

    I was just notified by the Attorney General that after trying to automatically extend my subscription XM has finally given up “as a courtesy” to me. I paid by check. This automatic renewal stuff needs to be banned. They even turned over my account to a collection agency. It took nine months and a call to the consumer protection division to get them to drop it.

    Nick, we have a vacation home rental business. We always gave breaks to our returning guests, but not first time rentals. We had lots of complaints from first time guests wanting discounts.

    For years, I felt this was the right thing to do. But probably a bad business decision. Well, then 2008 hit. We took a major hit from the drop in first time rentals, but our returning clients stayed with us. We are still in business and barely surviving, but surviving thanks to our long-time clients.

  21. Art says:

    We used to enjoy Tom Massie’s Gold Prospectors show on the Outdoor Channel on our Qwest cable. But Qwest decided they didn’t want to play cable anymore and switched us to
    Direct TV. We pay $60.99 a month for “Choice Extra”. Two hundred channels plus 65 music channels, no Outdoor Channel.
    I called Direct and offered to give up 180 of my TV channels and all 65 music channels in exchange for Outdoor. The Zombie on the other end said, “No problem!” All you need to do is upgrade to Premier (265 channels + 65 music for $109.99 a month). I wish my wife didn’t like watching television so much.

  22. Jim Burnett says:

    I wonder if the program packages a person has or the amount of pay-per view one purchases has any bearing on the deals and service they are willing to offer ….

  23. Padraic says:

    We are prefer customer at DirecTV. We got free HD DVR free last year and a free receiver three years earlier. Our bill is over $100 a month for the benefit. Same for Sprint, prefer customer status. Get free router and waiver for some service.

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